1. Keep on them. They can be amazingly thick sometimes, but they do have a backup of your database, even if it's a few days out of date. That backup should be better than nothing.
I am, unfortunately, I've been getting poorly written responses that don't always even always seem to relate to me. I'm beginning to wonder if they've outsourced and that's when the horrible support began...
2. Do you have an old backup of the site somewhere? If you downloaded a backup through CPanel, then it should have the raw database files inside of it.
No, unfortunately. I tried using their backup tool on cpanel and it just failed with something about my account home directory not being correct. I never tried again after that.
3. Consider switching to Lunar Pages. I used to use iPowerWeb myself, and had very few complaints. I only switched to LP because they offered JSP support. However, iPowerWeb screwed up the domain transfer so badly that I can no longer recommend them.
They look promising. I couldn't find the number of databases they allow (I'm using 3 at the moment). Do you know the limit?
4. There's nothing wrong with using SQL databases. If you're really concerned, set your machine up with a nightly CRON job that downloads a backup of your site. This way, you can be sure that your most recent backup is never more than 24 hours old.
I definately plan on doing that as soon as the site is back up.
I've browsed the database through cpanel for the last few minutes. It appears that everything is there (10,184 post entries in php_posts), etc. There is just something wrong with the php_users or something that causes the phpbb error.