Dud DNS upgrade at Freeparking disrupts service providers and customers

Ian Simpson (The Logic Studio)

Credit: provided

An upgrade to hosting company Freeparking’s domain name server has disrupted the services of several New Zealand users and service providers.

Dawid Sadie, director of Auckland-based IT services provider IT Live, said the upgrade had been carried out in a way he felt could only be described as “complete incompetence”.

The upgrades affected several local businesses, including an IT Live customer, taking DNS-related services offline, Sadie said.

Last week Freeparking informed users that its domain name servers would be updated on July 21 due to “ongoing platform improvements”.

“During the update, we expect it to go as smoothly as possible,” reads a notice. “However, if you encounter any unforeseen issues, please let us know immediately.”

On Monday, the company notified users of irregularities on the new Free parking dashboard including email control panel button not working, irregular domain statuses and missing domains.

“Our Free parking the developers and engineers are already aware of these bugs and are now working to fix them,” the company said. “Please let us know if there are any other irregularities you noticed on the new platform. “

After issues surfaced, support teams and Freeparking team members were unreachable and no escalation points were available, Sadie said. Reseller News.

“There’s no one else we can call or complain about,” Sadie said. “There is no turning back and no way to fix it. We just have to be offline and wait.”

A proposed workaround was, he considered, a security flaw and “not really a workaround”.

Freeparking support finally got in touch on Monday, three days after the upgrade attempt. An engineer called from an “unknown” number so there was no way to reach him again, Sadie said.

“He didn’t want to discuss how we got here, just wanted to focus on fixing the problem. He advised that they should change the client’s domain name to use the ‘old’ name servers used before the Freeparking changes from Friday night.. We didn’t even know the nameservers had changed at this point.”

On Tuesday, Freeparking support admitted that the issues affected all Freeparking reseller and technical accounts and they planned to move those accounts to the “old platform” and leave other customers on the new system.

A large IT Live customer’s sales team using Salesforce was “effectively crippled” as the delegated areas needed to develop end-to-end solutions and tools used by the customer were also affected.

IT Live has now implemented its own name servers.

Ian Simpson, managing director of Dunedin-based web developer The Logic Studio, also reported issues.

“It looks like Free parking the migration happened this weekend,” he tweeted. “Just for a change, it’s a shitshow. The client got a second IP address added to all of their domains, so there’s now a 50/50 chance that their site will work.”

Later, he reported that he fixed the faulty DNS by moving web forwarders to a “better place” and transferring all 19 domains and DNS services from his client to locally owned Sitehost.

“Issues are now permanently resolved, no money going to Dreamscape Networks, and getting started is cheaper,” Simpson tweeted.

Freeparking is one of several DNS and hosting service providers to have been acquired in a phased roll-up by Singapore-based Dreamscape Networks, which is in turn owned by Florida-based Web.com .

Freeparking joined the group after being sold by local IT service provider Umbrellar in November 2020. At that time, it served more than 90,000 customers and operated three other brands: Open Host, Domains4less and Discount Domains.

These and other acquisitions now appear to operate under a new entity called Newfold Digital, created when Web.com Group and Endurance Web Presence merged in February 2021.

It looks like the band is trying to consolidate the many different systems they acquired during the roll-up.

Simpson said he’s already dealt with migrating from Webdrive to Openhost and then Openhost to Crazy Domains, both of which caused a lot of trouble.

Trying to move thousands of customers at once was always going to create problems, he said.

His client was using Freeparking for DNS and AWS for hosting, a fairly common arrangement, but after the upgrade he found extra records added and broken URLs.

If the client had web hosting with Freeparking as well as DNS, the upgrade might have been more successful, Simpson said. But they didn’t, no one checked and it “broke”. This then took a lot of manual work to fix.

In March, Newfold Digital reached an agreement to buy Hostopia Australia, the web hosting business of Deluxe Australia, which served more than 50,000 small business customers and hosted 250,000 websites.

Email inquiries to Newfold Digital, Dreamscape Networks and calls to Freeparking have so far not been returned.

Freeparking’s network status website page and others were returning 404 “Oops, page not found” notices.

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