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Posted by on Apr 6, 2010 in BlaBla | 13 comments

UniForum the .co.za Domain Registrar Crashed

Uniforum "Advocating Open Computing"?? Right. NOT!!! The UniForum .co.za domain registrars’ website has been down since sometime late on Saturday. That’s about 72 hours now that the only source for Top Level domain registrations for the entire .co.za domain space has been unavailable.

No one (including private companies that offer domain .co.za registrations to their clients) has been able to check the availability of domains, confirm any who-is type information for existing .co.za domains, nor change, update or register any new domains at all.

UniForum are the only licensed agency allowed to provided access to .co.za registration services. And that service is (when the site works) pretty tedious and administratively long-winded as it is.

The system to update an existing domain for example involves submitting requests via email, waiting for 24 hours for “voting tickets” to be processed, and then only getting your requested changes processed. For things like changing Domain Name Server information when you move your site to a different host, this is a ridiculous waste of time and trigger for all sorts of issues with the site.

That’s what we wanted to do over this past long weekend. Thinking that the Interwebnets would be pretty quiet we put into place the long-standing plan to move BlaBla from our existing host (see here for part of the reasons why) to a new and improved provider. Files were copied across, settings were checked and all that had to happen was the submission of the new hosts’ server details to the registrar. And that’s where we are now. Still. 3 days later.

And we are not alone in our frustrations with the situation of essentially having the nations’ entire top level domain space controlled by a single organisation, using an archaic system, and dealing with the problem with the “screw you” attitude typical of monopolies:

From one of the threads tracking the problem on the MyBroadBand Forums:

  • Just called them now and spoke to their tech support. The guy I spoke to wasn’t phased at all that the only .co.za registrar in the country has been down since Saturday “because they don’t work weekends” and that “we should be up soon” .
    When I asked him if “soon” meant today his answer was “maybe”. I kid you not, .co.za “may” be up today sometime or tomorrow.
  • This is causing havoc with my business.
  • We have a dozen or so domain to register since Saturday and some people are getting very testy.

There are many other irritate comments just like it here as well.

So who do we bitch to about the situation?

Update @ 10:30PM/06-04-2010: Statement from UniForum Director Calvin Browne as reported on MyBroadBand. Despite what he says in the interview, the site is still not functioning. Still finding it hard to understand why such a crucial service has no backup servers, plan or crises management process in place. 3+ days to restore services to a power spike damaged system? Please. Their servers shouldn’t be subjected to a power spike in the first place!

13 Comments

  1. No one gives a crap about speedy internet response, not even the internet geeks themselves.

  2. I'm a hosting reseller. My host forgot about my unique server names and moved servers. Now my clients' sites give "server fail" and I can't update them. I would have been in time but their Uniforum accounts came through right then, preventing updates – and one can't pay in advance at Uniforum .. Why don't they ask some high school kids to develop them a modern system?

    • Hi Morris, & welcome to The BlaBla Blog!

      Couldn't agree more with your sentiments. Got to be one of the most idiotic approaches to the task. Why no live web-enabled interface that can be accessed and used to updated in real-time? Something like eNom that I use for .com domains. The whole situation is entirely beyond me. You have my sympathies, and I can only suggest that you link your clients to our post here and the statement on the MyBroadBand site to show them that the problem is beyond your control at the moment.

      Good luck!

  3. Wednesday 07 April 2010 @ 10:50am
    .co.za / UniForum is still down

    • Hi Eugene & welcome to The BlaBla Blog!

      Agree – it's beyond pathetic now. The forum boards continue to be flooded with irritate posts, many of them touching on the "couldn't give a damn" attitude being displayed by the UniForum support staff.

      There has been some progress in restoring services today. You can access the status of things via their coza.net.za site at: http://www.coza.net.za/news/2010/outage.shtml

      What is most irritating is the arrogance in their press release here: http://www.coza.net.za/news/2010/04.01.shtml – the line that says "this outage only affects new domain registrations, updates and deletions" just kills me.

      I mean FFS! What the heck is the point of a domain REGISTRAR that can't provide any form of registration services??

  4. Wow I've been trying to register a new hosting service and domain for a client and I have had no such luck thus far … very frustrating indeed … thanks for the article, at least I now know whats been going on …

  5. This is a pathetic state of affairs. It is unfathomable that Uniforum don't have an emergency plan in place. It is now Thursday and they are still down. Un-flippin-believable!

    • Thanks for the info update Deon.

      Like you say though, most of us want, no we NEED, to process new registrations, and get domain updates done. Being able to check the WhoIs info is great, but pretty useless if I can't rake advantage of the oportunity to registration that great domain name.

  6. Just a further update on things from our perspective…

    I received a Ticket Reply Request response from the .co.za automated system a little earlier this evening:

    "The original request was posted at Mon, 5 Apr 2010 11:43:56 +0200 and queued in pending at Thu Apr 8 18:40:23 SAST 2010."

    This is for a domain DNS update I submitted on Monday morning. When I didn't receive the usual "your request has been queued pending voting ticket responses" email was when I first discovered the .co.za site issues.

    It does seems as if the backlog of requests might slowly be getting added to the queue now. The site (http://co.za) itself is still returning the Not Found error, but at least there seems to be some progress in restoring services. We'll see what happens in 24 hours time when the ticket should process…

  7. I see it will only be on the 11th that billing is expected to be back online (and I wouldn't hold my breath on that either). This means that any and all zone changes on lapsed domains are still impossible since they have to be paid first. We have at least a dozen and I suspect others have many more… so the Uniforum nightmare continues.

    Additionally, we had so many items queued (these clowns work by email only) that their spam filters have now blocked most of the queued requests and greylisted others indefinitely. Well done Uniforum!

    Several people have already lodged complaints with ICANN/internic — http://reports.internic.net/cgi/registrars/proble… — and I urge others to do the same. We need to put a stop to Uniforum's insanity and their draconian policies. Hopefully if enough of us make our voices heard, ICANN will step in and we can finally see some new management at this dysfunctional organization.

  8. Only remember why this country is doomed: Every monopoly is just inherited by some uneducated puppet, to enrich some corrupt "minister". This great danger makes it even more unpatriotic of Uniforum to care so little.

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