We've received several emails and calls from start-ups who've spent a lot of money to create a website but can't get in touch with their developer. This is one of the most frustrating positions to be in because we understand that you've spent your hard earned money and now, you can't even see the fruits of your labor. No one should ever be put in a situation like this. Unfortunately, it happens to many times.
Here are six things you can do to help recover your website files:
1. Email the developer
You may have already done this before but it wouldn't hurt to email the developer a few more times. Try emailing them from different emails but don't ask them about your files just yet. Tell them that you are interested in getting a new website developed. If they respond, then you may proceed to ask them about getting your site files. This can be sticky because they may or may not respond. But, trying doesn't hurt.
2. Call the developer
Whenever you work with any developer, whether offshore or locally, you NEED to get a working phone number from them in case of an emergency. Call that phone number several times. Call them from different phone numbers in case you feel that they are not answering your calls because they recognize your number. If they respond, DO NOT be rude or get angry at them. Even though you are angry, don't let it show. Your goal is to get your files back.
3. Contact your hosting company
Give your hosting company a call to see if the files are on your server. If they are, good for you. You can download the files and store them on your hard drive so that when you find a trusted developer, you can give it to them. If the files are not on your server, then more than likely, your developer was working on it from another server, or they removed it from your server.
4. Freelance website
If you hired them on a freelancing website like elance or odesk, then you have a better chance of getting your website back. Contact the freelancing website and let them know what happened. Most of them will do whatever they can to help you. Unfortunately, it's not always guaranteed that you will get your website back as the developer can take your files and your money, delete their account, create a new one under a different name. This is sad, but it is done one too many times.
5. Pray and keep hope alive :)
After you've done all you can to get in touch with them, at this point, you are at their mercy. Just pray and hope that you hear back from them. If all else fails, then you are left with only one thing to do...hire someone else.
6. Hire someone else
After all attempts fail, you have no choice but to start over. This is not an easy thing to do because you've already invested so much time and money in your other project. But as tough as it is, it's the last and necessary resort.
The bottom line
We once spoke to a client who spent about $5,000 to create a website. Unfortunately for him, after several unsuccessful attempts to reach his developer, he had no choice but to start over. We were very heartbroken to hear his story and many others who found themselves in the same situation. While there are good developers out there, there are also others who make a living scamming hard working businesses like you.