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>> September 16, 2022 - Don't use a fake name with Hetzner

About a week ago, I decided that I didn't want my site to be hosted by Neocities anymore. I wanted my own domain! I wanted my own site! I wanted to host other things too!

I looked into cheap services, and I found Hetzner. I don't really think hosting a site takes that many resources, so I made an account, put in a fake name by instinct, and went for (I think) the second cheapest option they had and spent a bit of time setting up the site.

It was all working great, and I was super happy with everything. I was looking forward to hosting more stuff, but uni has kept me extremely busy, so I decided to get back to it during the weekend.

Well, two days later, when I checked my site, it was fucking down. And the server was down. And my Hetzner account was disabled. I didn't find that out through an email or anything, either. I only found out in the password reset screen, because my credentials were suddenly not working. Only in the password reset screen, in tiny red text at the bottom, did it say that my account was disabled.

I understand that companies have the right to terminate customers whenever they want, even if it's inconveniencing to them, and my dumbass did break TOS by putting a fake name out of privacy concerns. The thing is, though, is that Hetzner has an identity verification process. It offers you two options:

1. Send a picture of your passport. Yes, your passport. To a company that I'm gonna pay 5 bucks a month for to host a website and maybe two other small things. Hell no!

2. Prepay 20 euros into your Hetzner account through PayPal. I don't know how that verifies your identity all that well, but it's probably also a privacy concern. I figured I'd rather that then them having a picture of my passport, though, so I did that instead. I also like having money in accounts ahead of time anyway.

The reason this is an issue is that when they shut down my account, they did not return the funds to me. I failed their identity check due to the fake name, but then, they decided they could keep the 20 euros that were requested for identity verfication.

I sent them an email asking for the unused funds, and I asked why my account was deleted. They replied three days later and completely ignored my request for getting the unused funds back, and told me that they could not tell me why the account was disabled. I replied again, on the same day, saying that I understand that they cannot tell me why the account was deleted, but I wanted the unused funds back. Within two hours, I had gotten it back. They did not send an email back about it - they simply silently processed a return on PayPal.

I understand I fucked up and broke the TOS. I do not understand why they tried to skip out on giving me the 20 dollars back by initially completely ignoring the request for it. I also do not understand why a hosting company insists that all its customers, large and small and absolutely tiny, insists on identity verification. I understand abuse prevention is important, but Hetzner does not allow their customers the chance to establish trust in them before demanding extremely personal and identifying information. Lastly, I wish it was clearly communicated to me that my account was disabled instead of shutting it down silently. It's not fun to find out your account got disabled in the password reset screen.

Overall, I don't know how to feel. Just don't use a fake name with Hetzner if you're going to use them.

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