Lost website

I have a domain and a site, that was transferred over to us from another entity.

The only problem is, the hosting was owned by them, here at Dreamhost, and that site is now gone, as of yesterday, at least. the ns records were at dreamhost as well (which we’ve changed to try to get email working).

We have the original wordpress template, and some content files, but we don’t have a backup of the database and newer content.

Is there any chance Dreamhost can help restore those files, that have seemed to go away? I have the IP address, domain name, etc… and control of the domain, but we’ve lost the actual site.

Is it hopeless?

according to domain tools the IP associated to the site used to be, along with 26 other sites.

using NSlookup for the domain, and pointing the dreamhost name servers that have been set in the DNS records for years, gives no response.

All this is just to try to solidify the premise that this was a dreamhost hosted site, until something changed recently, and I’m really hoping there might be a way to reactivate it, or recover any automated database and content backups that may have been running, even though we weren’t the owners of the dreamhost account.

Total long shot, I know, but its a site devoted to a good cause, and I’d really like to help them out.

Has anyone ever heard of a recovery like this being possible?


Right there is the problem. Dreamhost simply can’t be in the business of passing information between customers, it’s not for them to decide whose property is whose. While you have painted an emotional picture where it’s a site for a “good cause” so this must be the right thing for dreamhost to do, on the other hand the previous site owner might have very purposely NOT given the content to the previous site, they may have made the choice, I don’t want to run it anymore and I’ll pass the name on, but choose not to pass the content. If dreamhost decided, “well we should just copy the site over–after all it is the same domain.” That might be expressly what the original site owner didn’t want. (Or perhaps the original owner offered the content for a price, and that was declined… there are many scenarios.)

Now after saying all that, there is still hope for you. Contact the original account owner and ask THEM for site backups and database backups. At the time they deleted hosting for the domain, so it could be added to a different dreamhost account, all that happaned was the DNS was removed and it was deleted from the apache config of the server. The files and databases for the site are NOT deleted by those actions. For the database and files for the site to get deleted someone would need to manually do that, or the entire dreamhost account would need to be cancelled. So as long as the account is still in good standing, and they didn’t expressly delete the content, it does still exist on the original server.

If the above fails, it may still be possible to reconstruct the site using archive.org, but that takes more time and skill.

Thanks for the suggestions. It’s along the lines that I’d have guessed, and I wouldn’t have bothered asking, if hope weren’t an thing. Though you did remind me about archive.org, and I’m grateful for that much. I think we have some of the original wordpress content we can start with, and some of the details on the wayback might help move it along.

I’ve also tried reaching out to the developer, and maybe hope will work there…

One more question: What if the site is still up, but the DNS registration expired at Dreamhost? What might be options there? Would you think I could take over that registration at least?

Thanks again.

hmmm, perhaps i didn’t understand your question before, I thought you already had control of the domain but not the content.

If the domain is expired, it will go thru the same process all domains go thru. First there is a grace period, followed by a redemption period where the domain is still available to whoever owned it before, but the price goes up. I don’t know how long redemption lasts anymore, it used to be 30 days but I have domains that expired in April that still show available for redemption. After redemption, they go up for auction, this is where some big players compete for domains, how “back orders” get filled etc. You might have noticed pages that show related content and a search box, somewhere on the page it will also show the domain is for sale. These were snapped up in the auction period based on name appeal and or previous traffic volume. Eventually the domain will fall back to generally available for “new” registration, but it might take awhile, how long depends on popularity. GoDaddy has an article here: https://support.godaddy.com/help/article/572/when-can-i-register-an-expired-domain-name that explains the process, you can also google “domain expiration redemption auction” for more info.

Unfortunately the only way for you (or anyone) to short circuit that process and acquire the domain before it becomes generally available is to contact the previous owner and have them redeem the domain, then transfer it to you.

Hmm, that’s not quite accurate. For an overview of the standard domain “lifecycle”, please see:


The redemption period on expired domains is always 30 days. The length of the redemption period isn’t under the control of registrars — if you have domains that have been showing as “redemption” for more than 30 days past their expiration, something’s not right; please contact DreamHost Support with details. (They’ve probably been deleted already, but we didn’t pick that up for some reason.)

Domains that are deleted after a redemption period are, after a 5-day “pending delete” phase, made available for registration by anyone, just as if they had never been registered before. Domains can only be put on “auction” (or “for sale”) if the registrar retains expired domains themselves instead of allowing them to go into redemption and be deleted. Some other registrars do this; DreamHost does not. As a result; there is no way to get special access to domains that expire with DreamHost; your best bet is always to get in touch with the owner before they lose the domain.

The contents of expired domains are an entirely separate issue. Any files or other data that was hosted at an expired domain remains the property of the DreamHost account that hosted that domain; ownership of this content is not transferred if the domain changes hands. If you want access to this content, you will need to contact the original owner of the domain, as it isn’t ours to give away.