SSH, or Secure Shell is something any web developer will have come across. Personally, every single website I deploy involves SSH where I’ll upload and extract a single compressed archive. This is simply good practice and most importantly, much faster than normal FTP. There are a plethora of further benefits in having SSH access – I won’t go into these here though. However, as common a feature as SSH access is, gaining SSH Access on a Heart Internet hosting account surprisingly, turns out to be pretty darn hard to get.
Moving on, I’m at the point in a project whereby transferring a rather a large WordPress (Eurgh!) based website to Heart Internet is required. I quickly jump on the Heart’s take on Cpanel, ala “eXtend” and look for SSH access. I am greeted with:
SSH server access allows you to log directly into the server your website is hosted on. You can manipulate your website files using Linux commands. SSH access is for advanced users.
If you would like to enable SSH access on your account please click here to download our SSH access request form which will need to be returned to us by fax or email.
All true of course – yes, only a web developer type of person (or similar) would require SSH and there is scope to make large changes to your hosting by typing in some tiny commands. Clicking on the link will take you a PDF, the contents of which are, in my opinion, frankly insane. In summary:
- You will fully indemnify us against any damage caused to the server by yourself or anyone who logs in using your credentials
- My full name, postal address, email and driver’s license or utility bill
- To enable SSH access it will take 72 hours (!?!??!?!?!?!)
Heart Internet also go on to say that to enable SSH access I agree not to:
- You will not leave your home directory
- You will not attempt to view or edit other users files
- You will not attempt to run permanent server side processes
- You will not attempt to gain extended user privileges on the server
- You will use your SSH server access purely for managing the website hosted on that account
- You will not start server processes.
Personally, if SSH access is setup correctly, I shouldn’t able to do things like leave my own directory or edit other user files. That’s up to Heart Internet in my eyes. I know when I’m logged into SSH with say tsohost.co.uk I can’t access directories other than my own.
You’re most likely thinking why not just sign the document and be done with it. There are a few reasons.
The account is not my own, my client has decided to use Heart Internet for hosting – I (well, the company who employ me) should not have to agree to criteria that indemnifies Heart Internet if anything messes up. Secondly, I don’t fancy giving them personal details (my photo card driver’s license – wtf Heart Internet?). Thirdly, 72 hours is a long time. I’m aware Heart Internet have internal processes they have to follow, but enabling a feature on a hosting account should take so long.
I did inform my client that they’d need to sign their life away to Heart Internet. Of course, they aren’t overly keen on that either. No surprises there.
SSH Access is something very common and in my dealings with a lot of web hosts, Heart Internet have definitely made it particularly painful to get. When I compare this to one of my preferred hosts, tsohost.co.uk whereby I click a button titled “enable SSH access”, wait 10 minutes (yes, that 10 minutes, not 72 hours – usually SSH is enabled within a couple of minutes) Heart Internet’s take on SSH seems even more odd.
SSH Access is something VERY common and something every web developer will require at some point. I fully appreciate Heart Internet are saying with SSH you can cause damage or even delete all files/databases within a few keys strokes. However, most people who require SSH know what damage SSH could potentially cause and so do tend to read about the topic i.e. act responsibly. Hell, SSH access is pretty much a must now for and Lavael 4 based website as it’s all composer orientated.
Granted, in this instance and the stance I’m sure Heart Internet will take, is that FTP access if fine for now. Which it most definitely is – for small websites. However, the site is question has thousands of files and is ~ 3.7 GB in size. Downloaded and uploading that amount of data on an 11 Meg ADSL connection will take a serious amount of time. I’d go as far to say that for sites this large, SSH access is required. Hell, I personally wouldn’t like to even attempt to upload a Magento website without SSH, it would simply take too long to complete.
However, amongst the latter, having to fill in such paperwork simply drags out a normally quick/simple process into one that can take days to complete. This annoys me more than anything – like all developers, I have far too much to do and appreciate when jobs can be completed.
Finally, why isn’t something like this automated in such a large company, especially and Internet related company? I pity the poor soul having to wade through SSH access request forms. Talk about monotonous!
Having an account with Heart Internet used to manage and register roughly 70 domain names (domain registration only, I’ve never really liked their hosting personally) for a a few years ago. I will make use of Heart Internet’s “feedback” section to raise this issue with them – to be fair to them, I’d prefer feedback that way. I’ll update this post if I receive a response.
Interestingly, on their main web hosting features page there is a tiny popup that says:
SSH server access allows you to login directly to the server hosting your Website. You can manipulate your Website files using Linux commands. This feature is for advanced users.
Really, this text should have “…and is initially disabled. You’ll need to sign an insane agreement and enabling SSH will take several days” 🙂
Has anyone else had a similar experience with SSH access requests with Heart Internet?