My own (albeit small) internet extortion adventure


Due to a respiratory infection which has knocked me out like a bad coffee, I’m publishing this draft post from December 2012 2013. In light of Naoki Hiroshima’s Twitter extortion, it seemed prescient. Photo of everyone’s favourite rebel by me.

I take no joy in reporting that Switch Fusion appears to be no more. As of today, the Singaporean webhost didn't even renew their domain name.

Switch Fusion were my first paid webhost. In 2001, I registered the domain with them and went on their 2GB plan. Their uptime, performance and general reliability appeared solid, though today I recognise taking two days to enable a vanilla cPanel account for me was a bit silly.

When they own your domain

After three years of service, my burgeoning podcast was testing the limits of my hosting plan. Rather than upgrade, I decided to move shop. I was about to learn the lesson of not trusting suspiciously affordable sites with unlimited bandwidth or storage claims, but that's for another post.

When I first requested the domain to be transferred to my new hosting company, I heard back nothing. Months before my Switch Fusion account was due to expire, I lodged support tickets, emailed and called without success. The situation got critical, and I had to register the interim domain to use with my new host while I worked out the domain ownership. Switch Fusion cancelled my account, and kept my domain.

Eventually, I got an email back from an alleged representative of Switch Fusion with an Indonesian email address. They informed me they could transfer my domain under my name for US$200.00. Initially I thought it was a scam, but further investigation showed it to be legitimate. Switch Fusion's domain broker wanted US$200 to transfer ownership of the domain to me.

I baulked, and walked away

After rejecting their offer, I was certain my beloved old domain would fall into the hands of a squatter, and sure enough it eventually did. I did a whois and marked on my calendar when the domain was to expire, and in 2009 I pounced. I got extremely lucky, and regained ownership of my original domain which you're now reading from.

Lesson learned, don't trust a webhost with domain registration. Use a reputable third party like Hover, for example. Which reminds me, if you use this referral link, I get a couple of bucks off my next registration :).

As for Switch Fusion, I'm thankful for all the help they gave a young high school student starting out on the web, but what they ended up doing to me (and others) lacked class. I like to think it was their legal and financial department letting down an otherwise nice IT team.

Author bio and support


Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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