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Faith100

Client threatening legal action

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Dear All,

 

I built a website a year ago for a client. The website was working fine but few months ago he told me he wanted to give the work to another designer as the site is now boring. The other designer asked for an FTP access to take all the files. I gave them the access and they came back that they have collected the files. But few days ago I received an email that the files were corrupted and so the client said he would take me to court. I do not have all the files anymore as I have already given for their files to be taken via the FTP access. What should I do?

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Surely you have backups? In my opinion, if you're hosting a site for someone you have a responsibility to take at least an ADHOC backup. Surely for your own sanity to take backups yourself using something like S3 or at the very least, have a copy of the site on your computer? It's seems odd that you'd only have the file on FTP - that's very none standard and pretty bad practice imo. :/

 

When you say you don't have the files anymore what do you mean exactly? Are you saying the other designer downloaded the files and deleted the files on your server afterwards? Allowing direct access to your own hosting is a complete mess and something I try to avoid. If someone wants a backup provide them one as a downloadable link. Currently for yourself, even if the designer had deleted all files on your server, you have little come back - you've left yourself wide open. Your client could now possibly claim you've affected their business.

 

However, a lot of this depends upon what working agreement you have with your client and what you contract says.

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Thank you so much for your quick response. I gave them access to the FTP and not my hosting account. I was helping this person when I took the job as they had a problem with their previous Website Designer so took about £450 to do the website. No contract was signed.

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Hi Faith,

 

First off don't panic, if I had £1 for every time I hear disgruntled people holler 'legal action' without a leg to stand on I would be minted :D

 

Just to check I'm correct in understanding;

  1. The original website was built and paid for.
  2. The hosting provider is not yourself but a third party who the client pays direct.
  3. The new designer has had ftp access to the original working site.
  4. You have not gained access to the site via ftp since handover.
  5. You have had no action in the new website.

If these are the facts then the client has zero comeback. It's not your responsibility to backup a clients site if they do not host with you, but I would say always keep a copy of all sites at your last point of interaction, just as rallport says if nothing else but for your own sanity. By the sounds of things the new designer messed up the new site and the client wants the old site back, tough luck for them if they don't have a backup.

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Thank you "Privileged" for you advice. I am now relieved as I am always careful not to mess up anything for anybody. I helped this person as they had a problem with their previous website. I used WooCommerce and spent weeks to build the website. The previous designer was unable to use WooCommerce but I did this without any extra charge. I have learnt my lesson. 1.Never do stuff free for people. 2. Charge your price 3.separate friendship from business. I contacted my hosting and they said I am no longer hosting the website as the other guy took it somewhere else but I still have the files. I will give them FTP access again hopefully they can figure it out. thank everyone that has contributed.

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if it's a Wordpress site FTP access is of no use to them. They need to backup the database and restore on the new server. Sounds like the new developer doesn't know what they are doing.

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if it's a Wordpress site FTP access is of no use to them. They need to backup the database and restore on the new server. Sounds like the new developer doesn't know what they are doing.

 

You can still get a database backup via FTP only. As long as all the permissions aren't locked down (it's a Wordpress site, so I expect not :|) you can write a small PHP script. E.g. just throw something like https://github.com/ifsnop/mysqldump-php into a directory, get the db setting from the Wordpress config file and you're good. Alternatively, here is a single function you can use https://davidwalsh.name/backup-mysql-database-php :)

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Thank you so much for your quick response. I gave them access to the FTP and not my hosting account. I was helping this person when I took the job as they had a problem with their previous Website Designer so took about £450 to do the website. No contract was signed.

 

From personal experience, that scares me greatly :)

 

To get an idea about pitfalls with web hosting have a read of a very very old post I wrote: https://www.web-design-talk.co.uk/562/website-transfer-guide-pitfalls-solutions/.

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Dear All,

 

The client has now come back that i should restore his website as the other designer said the files are corrupted. The issue here is that his hosting has ended with us. What is the best advice? Should I tell him to look for a new hosting? The new designer is hosting the website at the moment but they got me thinking they can't do the job.

 

Advice appreciated.

 

Thanks.

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Dear All,

 

The client has now come back that i should restore his website as the other designer said the files are corrupted. The issue here is that his hosting has ended with us. What is the best advice? Should I tell him to look for a new hosting? The new designer is hosting the website at the moment but they got me thinking they can't do the job.

 

Advice appreciated.

 

Thanks.

Maybe it's just me, but why is it your problem that 1) they employed an incompetent person and 2) that their hosting has lapsed? From what I can see, your responsibility for this client passed when the hosting stopped being paid for, even if the files had not been recovered yet then, that would not be your problem, if you don't pay your hosting fees, the server is no longer rented by you and any files left are deleted.

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Dear All,

 

The client has now come back that i should restore his website as the other designer said the files are corrupted. The issue here is that his hosting has ended with us. What is the best advice? Should I tell him to look for a new hosting? The new designer is hosting the website at the moment but they got me thinking they can't do the job.

 

Advice appreciated.

 

Thanks.

 

What's the timeframe from giving the new developer the files to the client coming back and saying the files are corrupted?

 

If you have the ability to provide the files again and can test they work as expected, hand them over then tell the client you're done with the project, don't bother hosting the site again. The client has already decided not to involve you in the project anymore, so hand over what you can as a good will gesture and be done with it.

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Depending how long this has been going on, the original host may still hold your site. Not all hosts delete sites as soon as they're cancelled, we suspend and leave them a period of time in case the client changes their mind, not unusual at all. They may also have their own backups going back even longer and could restore from those for you.

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Dear All,

 

The client has now come back that i should restore his website as the other designer said the files are corrupted. The issue here is that his hosting has ended with us. What is the best advice? Should I tell him to look for a new hosting? The new designer is hosting the website at the moment but they got me thinking they can't do the job.

 

Advice appreciated.

 

Thanks.

 

Wow, sounds a bit suspect here be careful. I would suggest if you still have a good copy of the site before they moved away then send it to them in a zip file, let them extract and set it up, it's not your job to set it up unpaid.

 

My concern is if they try and get you to set it up on their host for them, and the new designer has some files in there then there could be some overwriting of their work, then they could turn round and blame you for messing up their work! If they want you to re-host the site to fix this mess then don't, they have already threatened legal action, showing their true colours. Seriously, don't get involved in restoring it, yes the other designer sounds incompetent, a loose cannon waiting to fire, but the client chose this, tough luck for them.

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Thank you so much for your advice. I joined this forum and I am really amazed with the advice received. Do you have any meet up in this forum where we can all meet and share ideas? I am so grateful for all your comments. Thanks a million!

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