We're trying to save a website a former employee maintainted. What's the best way to do that?

Ed Shnatter
Ed Shnatter used Ask the Experts™
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An employee that took care of hosting the company website was fired yesterday.

We're doing some checking but likely he has the keys to the website hosting account - it's likely using a personal email address of his

I am the domain owner with Godaddy,  The name servers point to the hosting company that hosts the website.

The website is still up, but I would expect he could / will take the site down.

What's the best way to try to download the site at this point?  Again, we don't have access to the account / just FTP all the files as an admin.  I'm thinking we have to do what we can using the public facing part of the website? (I really know nothing about web development, hence this other guy offered and the owners went with him for that).

I remember apps years ago that would just go to www.domain.com, save that page, and go to all the links to pages on that website, downloading each, following links untill they download everything.

The public pages might not be usable depending on the language the page is written in? (ie if a page is written to show today's date for ecxample, the html we download will have todays date. but not the script / code that set it as today?  Open that page tomorrow and it might say today's date?).

But at least we'll have the look and feel of the site.
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IT / Software Engineering Consultant
Top Expert 2016
Commented:
The one I have used from time to time is below.  It has some options you will need to try, but I'd take a shot anyway even just as a worst case backup...

HTTrack Website Copier - Free Software Offline Browser (GNU GPL)


»bp
Chinmay PatelChief Technology Ninja
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
What about emails and other data? Also as he controls hosting he can change FTP as well. Your best chance is to get the hosting account control back. Or move to a new host and start from scratch.
Hi,

First try to contact the employee to get the login info and then change the login info and email.

If you have FTP access just download the files
Try to login on your web hosting account with the same credential.
So this way you can get DB data and change login

Check on employee computer to see if there any recent backup, if a web service installed look for www or httpconf PHP  folder.
(wamp xamp, easyphp are maybe installed on his computer).

You can try to contact the web hosting company to see the options ...

You can create a new hosting account change the DNS and create a new website
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Commented:
1. You are correct in that if you download the pages today, they will likely not be usable for much, if anything. Virtually all sites these days are written in a scripting language so whenever a visitor goes to a page, that particular page is generated specifically for them. While you might be able to retain look and feel to SOME degree, if you're using any kind of specialized theme (e.g. if you're on a WordPress site, then you likely have a theme which is like a bunch of files that all make up the look-and-feel), then it's probably not going to help too much.

2. Your best bet at this point is to call the hosting company directly and explain the situation. Don't email or just leave a ticket - be the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. Since you own the domain, they can likely walk you through steps of verifying your identity/ownership (e.g. changing a name server) and then they can start steps to reset credentials.

3. If there's no phone # for the hosting company (there really should be, if it's a good company), or a live chat option, then definitely start scouring the employee's old workstation for FTP programs, since those will often have saved credentials and often one the same username/password is used for everything on shared/managed hosting.

Author

Commented:
Thanks!

I had called the web hosting company and they low level tech said to send an email.  

Call me jaded - I'd expect they say the hosting account belongs to bob.  Even though it's for YOUR website, bob designed the pages / he owns the copyright?

Realistically, if you were paying bob (or an outside company) for the website design, it is beyond the hosting company to decide who holds the copyright.

And he worked at home on this so no local computer to check.

Yeah, the consolation is that we own the domain and can just change the DNS zone to another hosting company if he takes the site down or puts up a 'screw this place' page ; )

Any recommendation on a website copying app these days?

Commented:
Whoever is paying the hosting bill should ultimately be the one in control of the account. I would assume that would be the company owner. It doesn't matter if there was another guy who was working on the site - I don't get the rights to content that I produce for an employer, and no hosting provider should turn down the person who is paying the bill - they shouldn't be questioning a copyright or anything like that (precisely because they wouldn't know).

Author

Commented:
Gr8 - you are the expert so I'm just going with my jaded paranoia.  Yes, I asked the bosses to check if they are paying the hosting bills.  Yes, I'd think that adds some leverage for them. But trying to get anywhere in a big hosting company (WIX) seems like it'd take a long time ./ frustrating.

even if they get control of the hosting account, whoever takes over management of the website might not like / know the scripting language it's in and want to start from scratch in the language they know.  (ie going though hoops with the hosting company might be more time than it's worth / the ex employee deletes the files and wix doesn't keep backups long enough or at all : )

Author

Commented:
Oh, and I used HTTtrack to save the site at least for the look and feel / images.
Bill PrewIT / Software Engineering Consultant
Top Expert 2016

Commented:
Welcome, glad that was helpful.


»bp

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