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BEWARE auto prune!

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How's this for a WHMCS feature?

Imagine you have a customer who has registered a domain for 10 years and has paid for 3 years hosting.  They are a happy customer and never open tickets or log into the client area.

You unwittingly have auto prune set to 'Automatically Delete Inactive Clients' after 30 months.

You likely didn't realise that deletion occurs "After no invoice or transaction activity has occurred for the following number of months" whether or not they have active products!

I just found this out the hard way.

Of course, it isn't be a bug, is it @WHMCS John?  It will be "by design" thanks some lazy coding WHMCS has implemented without any consideration of the possible impact.

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Not sure how it's lazy coding to have something that explains what it does do that very thing. Perhaps it should have checked "invoice, transaction and no active services", and I'd say it would be better if it called attention to the admin it recommends deletion  and the reason, rather than carrying that out as soon as the condition is met. 

This is the very reason we've rarely used any "automatically do this" stuff in any software, much less something as important as billing. Too easy for something unexpected/unwanted to occur. Much rather have the inconvenience of manually reviewing things than the alternative.

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On the fence here! It shouldn't allow people with active products to be deleted - That's just daft! 

But it does state it clear as day! 

It's just another half baked idea that was implemented 🤷‍♂️

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Hi @123host,

I'm sorry to hear you've suffered data loss.

I appreciate it's little comfort afterwards, but I feel it worth mentioning for the purposes of the discussion, that data retention pruning will only remove client accounts in Inactive or Closed status: https://docs.whmcs.com/Data_Retention_Policy_Automation#Automatically_Delete_Inactive_Clients

Those statuses are in-turn only applied automatically if the client account contains no active services, domains, addons or billable items: https://docs.whmcs.com/Automation_Settings#Client_Status_Update

 

All this means that it's very unusual for this to have happened totally unattended.  I'd suggest reviewing the client's Log tab, to see whether the status was perhaps updated to Inactive or Closed by hand?

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Posted (edited)
Quote

I appreciate it's little comfort afterwards, but I feel it worth mentioning for the purposes of the discussion, that data retention pruning will only remove client accounts in Inactive or Closed status

@WHMCS John which is what someone told me in ticket TGJ-548448 about this.

Quote

the status was perhaps updated to Inactive or Closed by hand

Out of curiosity I just did that with an account and it is definitely logged

Client Profile Modified - Status: 'Inactive' to 'Active' - User ID: nn
Client Profile Modified - Status: 'Active' to 'Inactive' - User ID: nn
Client Profile Modified - Status: 'Closed' to 'Active' - User ID: nn
Client Status changed to Closed - User ID: nn

In the ticket I have challenged them to go back to the log and show me where the client that was deleted by auto prune was set to closed or inactive. 

Of course I offer this challenge because I already know the answer, it wasn't. 

Standing by for next excuse from WHMCS...

Edited by 123host

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Posted (edited)

This is going to make you all laugh and likely deserves a post of its own.

From the ongoing tech support ticket where they seem to be getting desperate to prove the data deletion was my fault - but I keep showing them it isn't...sigh...

Quote

Deletion of a client account removes everything related to that client from the WHMCS database, including log entries.

WTF?  WHMCS deletes entries from the log!!!!!

As I said 'WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU DELETE HISTORY FROM LOGS??????????????????????? This specific case demonstrates exactly why logs are kept. Another idiotic "by design" feature.'

FFS!

Fortunately I have a database backup from before this debacle - i.e.  before the log entries were deleted   (insert face palm emoji here)  - and can show that the client was NOT set to inactive or closed.

Edited by 123host

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Have to say, up to the deletion of the logs, it all seemed normal and expected for automated pruning *if* the conditions were actually met. Removal of the logs makes no sense, as you'd want those to show why and when. I know the point of pruning is to clear out old info, but that's just too far. 

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Hi @123host,

Sure thing, please do keep working with our support team, and we'll be pleased to review the available logs to your satisfaction.

The client deletion function has always been complete and irrevocable:https://docs.whmcs.com/Clients:Summary_Tab#Delete_Clients_Account

 

P.S. Tidied up the thread of unrelated commentary to focus on OP's issue.

 

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Just to finish this off for those following.  WHMCS acknowledged that the UI was incomplete and confusing.

The documentation states "This setting deletes client records after a given number of months without invoice or transaction history."

The automation interface says After no invoice or transaction activity has occurred .

Those statements make it perfectly clear that any history or activity should prevent record deletion.

An invoice had been issued just over 6 weeks before this all happens, so there had been invoice activity.   I received an apology, but wasted way too much time recovering data and proving the point to them.  The one thing no one ever hears is  something like "here's 3 months credit since it was our fault".  We shall see how quickly they fix the documentation before someone else falls for their trap.

As for logs being deleted.  The excuse used was EU GDPR.  But that is a complete nonsense.  Not all of us are in the EU so it should be an option whether or not to delete logs.

But the idiotic part is that most of the logging is anonymous anyway "client 25 status changed to inactive".  If the client data is gone, the log is effectively anonymised.

There is no excuse for not keeping complete logs as a history of activity.

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Thanks for the follow-up @123host,

I can confirm that the documentation was updated on 18th August to clarify this behaviour: https://docs.whmcs.com/Data_Retention_Policy_Automation#Automatically_Delete_Inactive_Clients

We have also opened case CORE-16974 to refine the description in the UI later this year. Space in the UI is limited, so out documentation will always contain more information about each option in the UI.

 

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On 8/17/2021 at 9:06 AM, 123host said:

WTF?  WHMCS deletes entries from the log!!!!!

As I said 'WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU DELETE HISTORY FROM LOGS??????????????????????? This specific case demonstrates exactly why logs are kept. Another idiotic "by design" feature.'

BTW: if WHMCS really do this, I think it's one of the few cases where WWHMCS fully respects GDPR.

According to GDPR, when you delete a user, you are required to delete also ANY data referred/belonging to this user (apart from data that you're required to save for, i.e., fiscal reasons, such us invoices copies)

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3 hours ago, Remitur said:

BTW: if WHMCS really do this, I think it's one of the few cases where WWHMCS fully respects GDPR.

 Most of the world is not in the EU and therefore GDPR does not apply.  It should be an option.

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9 hours ago, 123host said:

 Most of the world is not in the EU and therefore GDPR does not apply.  It should be an option.

Most of the world is not in US,  but WHMCS adopted accounting and invoicing logics belonging to US... 

We're running towards a Frankenstain software... 🤣🤣🤣

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2 minutes ago, Remitur said:

Most of the world is not in US,  but WHMCS adopted accounting and invoicing logics belonging to US... 

We're running towards a Frankenstain software... 🤣🤣🤣

True, but if a product can't handle international needs, it should not be sold as a global solution.

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