First off let me just say that it really bothers me when I cannot deliver what my client desires. Though everything is not my fault but I pride myself as someone who delivers.
Today I had a client come back to me needing help with a website that was completed in 2012. I remember the project and client, we did three projects for them and also got referrals from them. The websites were informational in nature and worked great (I'm told) until late last year (2017).
They are one of my clients from before GoDaddy Pro and before I required maintenance plans. My method at that time was 90 days of support included then I'd suggest a maintenance plan. They didn't get a maintenance plan and made the decision to go with another company for hosting. At any rate we completed the websites and went on to our next project.
Over the years I've tried to catch up with them when I was in their area hoping to meet them for lunch but that never quite worked out. They are on our mailing list (I mean snail mail) so they did get our end of the year mailing. We even got a holiday card from them. Today I get a random call to fix their issue.
Seems that someone dropped the ball on hosting payments and their websites are gone. Funny how that happens when you don't pay hosting right? I'm thinking they received several emails and notices before their hosting was cut? Knowing the hosting company I surely couldn't guarantee that though. At any rate the specific ask was "Do you have backups of our website? I remember one time you mentioned something about a backup plan?"
The answer is I did... I take full archives of completed projects and always have but after the 90 days if you don't get a plan then there is no need for me to keep backups. I typically retire drives after a year so I in theory have a 2012 project drive (somewhere). The most I have so far resurrected was two years (that's another story). Part of me is wanting to dust off the drive, plug it in and look for the archive and another part of me is thinking that would be bad?
Put yourself in my shoes or maybe you've been where I'm at? What do/would you do? How long do you archive a website project for?
Hey @rd - I'll try to take off my moderator hat and answer your question
I can definitely understand your dilemma. On the one hand, you want to uphold your business model, encourage client responsibility, and avoid setting a bad precedent. On the other hand, you probably just want to be helpful and provide a service to a customer who's in a bad spot. Tough decision.
I think the best solution would be to let the client know exactly what you've said (that you would have definitely had the backup if they had had a maintenance plan with you), that you generally don't have backups that long, but you're willing to check to see if you have it on the off chance that you do. If you do have a backup, that means you've been storing their website for them for quite some time. I'd focus on that as a service, come up with a fair price, and ask them to pay it. I'd make sure to emphasize exactly how lucky they are that you have the site at all and encourage them to reconsider a maintenance plan too.
Anyway, that's my two cents.
Puts mod hat back on.
It seems like you understand my dilemma quite well @JesseW.
Back in 2016 I made the switch to only taking clients who additionally purchase a maintenance plan. To make that transition I reached out to clients who were not on maintenance plans, some took advantage and got on a plan but this individual did not. We warned clients and promoted the need for such support but you can only take a horse to the water.
We had several platforms that clients had been designed on, in some cases we rebuilt brand new websites. We were at WordPress 3.9x at the time and migrating websites that are still on 2.x but that cost was absorbed into the price of the maintenance plan. It would have been a different thing if she came to me and and "I messed up a template" or "My menu is fubar", that I could easily handle. I wouldn't even know where to start building a WordPress website that old from scratch?
I did find out that our project archive is just five years though so I unfortunately could not restore this client's website. Things happen in my business and I always feel like I have to do more. Going forward we'll make an attempt to contact clients before their project disappears from our project archive.