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July 22nd, 2002

Cyberwings

A few months ago I found myself in need of more webspace. My personal site was taking on more of a visual approach, and I simply needed more space than I had through my (fine!) IPP, WebServePro. I started perusing various sites for others’ opinions.

I checked out the forums for Movable Type and there, a few people spoke of a host called Cyberwings. They were nearly fanatical in regards to the company: I was told they not only had great prices, but incredible service and a total respect for the customer. Given that I’m big on good customer service, you can imagine that this resonated well with me. So I hopped over to Cyberwings’ site and was amazed. They were offering webspace for as low as $1/year. A year! Most IPPs charge $5 to $10 a month for basic webspace. I checked out the Cyberwings forums for a few weeks to get a feel for their business, and it was all good. The CEO himself was responding to many messages, and others helped others left and right.

I was looking to do some more web goodness, so I signed up for three domains through Go Daddy and bought space from Cyberwings. Three packages cost a total of $11.70 for the year. Not a large investment, but still a slight gamble. And things were wonderful for the first two months or so: no downtime that I could see, fast servers, good service and great support. Spectacular.

Roughly two months into my hosting package, though, things began to turn sour. My sites were down for a few hours one day. That can happen, so I gave Cyberwings the benefit of the doubt. But then I started noticing that it was getting very, very difficult to access my sites – via the web or FTP. It was consistent. And Cyberwings’ sites? They were down, too. I started to sweat a bit.

But I stuck with it until about three weeks ago. My sites had been down for a solid day – something rather rare for an IPP – and I was fed up. I waited for the Cyberwings sites to come back for some verification. The downtime was attributed to Lightship, the upstream provider for Cyberwings, and would be resolved. But what was posted next shocked me: Cyberwings was moving its oft-trumpeted data center from Maine to Virginia, and all servers would be offline for a whole weekend! All servers. It was astounding, to say the least, and the reaction was surprisingly mixed. Some devotees held on and looked towards the future, telling disgruntled customers to leave. I did.

What unfolded next was nothing short of astounding. A separate site, cwstatus.com, was established to update people on Cyberwings. Customers were told fantastic tales of a new data center with biometric security, triple-redundant connectivity, and free upgrades for all. A golden age of Cyberwings was forthcoming, people were told. But someone at the WebHostingTalk forum uncovered that Cyberwings was in default. Comments poured forth, saying that this couldn’t be true, but it ultimately was. The CEO of Cyberwings, Shawn White, threatened legal action against people at the forum – and later threatening people in the CW support chat room.

But the final plug was pulled yesterday. One of the two data centers affiliated with Cyberwings shut down its CW sites yesterday, leaving customers officially out in the cold. Everything was officially off the Internet and showed no signs of coming back. And Shawn? He walked away with the money of a lot of people.

Patrick Grote wrote a two-part series on Cyberwings. Read part one and part two. Part one links to some interesting information from the Wayback Machine; part two summarizes the madcap fraudulent activity that occurred once everything went down.

Posted in Miscellaneous

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Monday July 22, 2002 -- 1:03:22 am
Interesting: within the last few hours, Cyberwings.com came back online.

I've been following this closely as I had two of my less important domains hosted there... I figured if they went under, the most I'd be out was $6. :)



FROM: Paul [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday July 22, 2002 -- 8:14:37 am
It hasn't made it to this side of the Internet yet, but man, what an epic.



FROM: Mike [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday July 22, 2002 -- 8:38:31 am
If you're looking for a new home, I recently signed on with Softerweb hosting for a new domain of mine and am very pleased so far. I'm about to transfer poofle over to them because they cost half as much as what I pay now, and are offering more than double the resources (disk space, transfer, subdomains, etc.). Support has been extremely quick (replies within minutes) and helpful.

This may be (or already have been) a different ping, but I'd be interested to hear other's horror stories or success stories with all the various hosts out there. The worst I've come across is Valuable Host.



FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday July 22, 2002 -- 9:34:44 am
ODonnellweb has been hosted with digitalspace.net for a bout a year with no problems. A basic account is $3/mo



FROM:
DATE: Saturday July 27, 2002 -- 1:12:00 am
ay!!



FROM: Nobody Special [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday September 10, 2002 -- 10:21:26 pm
An interesting saga indeed! I watched the chats on this site turn from helpful to downright virtual fist-fight amongst unhappy customers.

I should have known that after it took 1 week and a half to get my domain hosted something was fishy.

Come to find that just last month (6 months after my original signup) that CW had taken 150 out of my checking account, with no reason whatsoever!

Interesting to say the least, as my original purchase was only 5 bucks.

Maybe Shawn J White is collecting money to make bail?

Check your statements all!

See ya,

Gump



FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday September 11, 2002 -- 12:38:28 am
What payment method did you use -- 2Checkout or Paypal?



FROM: Kris
DATE: Friday September 13, 2002 -- 10:48:53 am
This cyberwings sucks, everithing was a lie I waited a full month to get my server info, after that the site stay 3 weeks up and then ......you all know the storie,I've been triying to contact them but they are not answering phones, or e-mails, I hope they answer notices from mt attorney.



FROM: Gump [E-Mail]
DATE: Saturday October 5, 2002 -- 3:39:34 pm
I used 2CO. They did fix the problem thankfully.



FROM: marko
DATE: Thursday October 24, 2002 -- 10:55:56 pm
They made a vain effort, but a very silly one. I think the company was great while it lasted: good uptime and a no-nonsense style. It could have worked!! The sad thing is that it promised way too much (they should have abandoned all support for its bare-bones pricing structure) and collapsed under its own mismanagement and self-consumptive style. I had three sites hosted here... they are gone and I'll never host another domain for as long as I live. I'll buy web space at my university and let my domains expire. I'm tired of this private gambling of other people's lives, foundations, and reputations. I haven't lost a lot, at least, as all were personal sites.

Wonder if Shawn White will ever refund anyone's money or rebuild people's sites like he promised? (Bah!) A man is as good as his word.

But, I'll repeat... the internet is getting faster and hard disk space is getting cheaper: an ultra-low-cost host could succeed with the right formula! It's too bad that Cyberwings screwed this notion up!



FROM: marko
DATE: Thursday October 24, 2002 -- 11:06:51 pm
I should clarify: by "no-nonsense", I meant Cyberwing's image as a host that appeared to not have a lot of fluff on its support pages, unlike other hosts (such as Worldzone, who brags so much about support and being so cheap, for example). Not that Cyberwings is or was never about nonsense! :-) (I think you knew that, but I thought say this before someone would not read between the lines and chop my head off.)



FROM: net4ward
DATE: Tuesday July 29, 2003 -- 10:36:47 pm
Shawn J White goes to Jail. Unfortunately not for the hosting scam, but for a scam he did prior to the hosting business.

Check out the information at:
http://www.cyberwingssucks.com/develop.htm



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