Pressable Rolls Back Database Change that Caused Customer Sites to Display Gibberish Content

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Over the weekend managed WordPress host Pressable performed an accidental change to its customers’ databases causing character set issues that caused some sites to display certain characters as gibberish. The company’s system operators published the following status update today:

On Friday, June 10th, at 17:37 UTC (12:37PM Central) we accidentally deployed a platform-wide change that caused the DB_CHARSET value to be set incorrectly on most Pressable-hosted websites. DB_CHARSET is very important, as it tells the web server which character set to use when talking to the database server. It’s important that the values on both the web and database servers match and our change caused a mismatch.

Two hours and 15 minutes elapsed before Pressable caught the error, which means that any content that customers edited or created during this window is possibly corrupt.

“This corruption can appear in a few different ways, but one obvious way is that quotes might now appear as ‘gibberish,'” Barry Abrahamson explained in the announcement. “Unfortunately, the problem is not limited to pages and posts, but can also affect widgets, settings, etc.”

Affected customers are encouraged to contact support to restore corrupted content to normal. In the meantime, Pressable is adding more tests and checks to make sure platform-wide changes like this don’t accidentally happen again in the future.

The company has struggled to regain its footing after a series of attacks and outages in 2015. Pressable is currently going through a transition with leadership changes after receiving an infusion of financial resources from Automattic. Earlier this year, Automattic stepped in to provide an interim CEO, staff, and support, after purchasing a majority stake in the hosting company. According to the official statement from Automattic, the company was forced to take a more active role to protect its investment, but the goal is to get Pressable operating independently in the future.