The Walker’s Wife lives to see another day

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The Walker's Wife website

After a five-month hiatus, it’s wonderful to finally be able to write about our hiking adventures again … and indeed to enjoy new landscapes and experiences.

The reasons for my ‘disappearance’ are two-fold. First, after weeks of perfect hiking conditions in early summer, the UK weather turned sour at the beginning of August and our outdoor adventures lost much of their appeal.

Secondly – and more pertinent – this website was hacked. I didn’t realise at first, probably because for several months my attention (and time) was almost entirely focused on property-related projects. From April to September, I was helping my middle daughter with her extensive house renovations, and then I immediately turned my attention to decluttering and decorating our own house so we could sell it and move to Portugal.

Unfortunately, my prolonged lack of engagement with The Walker’s Wife meant it was mid-November, and just days before we left the country, before I realised anything was amiss.

It transpired that some clever and unscrupulous hack had put an instantaneous redirect on my domain name. Rather than landing on my site, anyone clicking onto any of its pages was immediately redirected to a site listing US colleges (it could have been worse I suppose!).

Anyway, despite one very lengthy phone call and two subsequent long online chats (seriously, we are talking up to six hours overall, much of that time spent queuing or ‘on hold’), technical advisers acting for the international company (clue: television adverts) I have been using to host my website since the early days were adamant there was absolutely nothing they could do to reinstate it. One genius even managed to squeeze another £43 out of me for virus protection before he admitted that, the swine. Apparently, unknown to me – and despite paying my £115 annual hosting fee – I’d been put on some kind of legacy plan. This apparently meant my website wasn’t backed up by the host (and, not realising this, I had not backed the site up myself).

The realisation that I no longer had a website or blog was devastating; however, I eventually resigned myself to the fact that The Walker’s Wife was no more. It had been fun while it lasted, but I didn’t know if I had the energy or inclination to start over again. Once I’d come to terms with my loss, I wrote a lengthy Facebook post explaining the situation to friends who’d often told me they enjoyed my blog.

Enter the wonderful John Hilton, a man I knew as a graphic designer but who has proved himself a technical genius to boot. John worked frantically (and without remuneration) for several days to get this website up and running again for me. His determination to erase the culprit malware from my website was humbling and impressive – and has put my 18-million customer host (who have now pocketed over £150 from me in the past two months) to shame.

John has also ensured that the website is now backed-up so that if a similar thing happens again, all is not lost. I will be looking for a new host when my current hosting package comes to an end. Call me naïve, but I expected some level of protection from hackers for my money. Clearly not. Needless to say, I will be looking for another host when it’s time for renewal.

In the mean time, we are now back in the Algarve and enjoying some very springlike temperatures for mid-winter … which is great because it enables us to get out and about exploring this beautiful region.

John, if you are reading, thank you so much for restoring my faith in people … and technology.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is looking forward to an exciting New Year.

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3 Responses

  1. John

    You are so welcome. I like a challenge. I knew how much the site means to you and Harri. Strange thing is I have very little experience with WordPress, but I know most of the information and structure is database driven, and that the hackers work will have manifested itself in there. Due to the plethora of plugins available for WordPress, these can provide a backdoor to hackers to do their damage. Hence the need to keep versions up-to-date as developers will provide security fixes once an issue is identified.

    I’m so pleased to see you’re up and publishing again. You know where I am.

    • TheWalkersWife

      Hi Ruth, I don’t know how I missed your kind message back in December but I did! Yes, it was a bit of a nightmare at the time. I’d almost gave up hope and a friend’s son had managed to recreate the menu so I could cut and paste my blog posts into a Word document. My knight in shining armour was a grumpy Yorkshire designer I worked with years ago. He saw my post on Facebook, is now retired and likes a challenge. I repaid him in wine and chocolates (organised from Portugal with the help of John’s wonderful daughter, who by chance I knew from my running community). All is now resolved (except for Facebook now refusing to allow me to post links from their site) and, needless to say, I will not be renewing my GoDaddy hosting in the autumn. Hope you’re still out there hiking too. Kind regards, Tracy

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