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The joys of web hosting...
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Written by WATYF on Wednesday, 11 January 2006 (7306 hits)
Category: Nerdery

So... I'm sittin' around, minding my own business last Friday, and I go to check something on my website (can't remember if it was email or the home page or whatever), and I notice that my website doesn't appear to be responding. I figured that the site was down.... again.... which actually isn't all that abnormal for the web host that I was using. But I couldn't do anything to fix it, because first thing Saturday morning I had a band coming in to do some recording, and then right after that, I had to run out to go..... wait for it......... camping. Yeah... that's not exactly part of my normal weekend activities. Needless to say it was a last minute whim someone had while we were hanging out Friday night that I got suckered into.  (ok... so I liked it... but that doesn't make me any less of a nerd.)

So basically, I was busy, 24/7 for the next two days and had no way of finding out what was wrong with the site... so I just left it at that and hoped that they'd have it back up in a reasonable amount of time.... but boooooy was I wrong.

See... the last crash that I had with this host (who shall remain nameless, so's I don't have to deal with any defamation lawsuits for what I'm about to say ) was only a couple of months ago. They attributed it to a "hardware failure" that, of course, was "not their fault". My site was down for a few days, and when it came back up, they were unsure if they would be able to restore any recent data... so I was looking at losing weeks of blog entries and site updates. Fortunately, they somehow managed to get backups restored that were only a couple of days old. But after that scare, I decided to start running my own backups of the site, just so I didn't have to worry about their utter incompetence causing me the loss of all my data.

First, I had to automate a few downloads of the site backups. Now... it took me a while, but I finally found a great piece of software that would do it for me. It's called TaskRunner.... maybe you've heard of it.  Anyway, I added a new feature to it (just for this specific purpose) that allows you to use "date text" in the URL of a web download. That way, you can download files that get stamped with a date (such as website backups). So instead of putting "http://www.mysite.com/files/backups/Backup-1-11-06.tar.gz" you would put "http://www.mysite.com/files/backups/Backup-\M-dd-yy\.tar.gz" and it would download whichever file had today's date in it's name. Further instructions on how to use the date text are included in the TaskRunner Help documentation. So anywhoo... I've been downloading the home dir backup and all my MySQL backups for a couple months.

Well, when I got back from camping.........sorry... I'm still getting used to saying stuff like that. Anyway... when I got back on Sunday, I checked the site, and lo and behold... it was still down. Well now I'm kinda bothered. See... I put out TaskRunner 3.0 on Dec 10th... and it was January 9th.... and TaskRunner has a 30 day trial period..... you do the math. If there was anyone who downloaded TaskRunner on the first day it got released, their trial would be ending right about.... oh... I dunno.... NOW!! So if anyone planned on actually buying it.... (hehe..... sorry... I tend to giggle at the prospect of that ever happening. ) then they would be stuck without any way to do so.

So I check with my web host, and notice that they have a "status" page up detailing all the horrible things that went wrong and how none of it was "their fault" (seems like that's a running theme with them). But this crash was even better than the last one. Not only is the server totally hosed in a "how could you possibly have screwed up that bad" kind of way.... but they are pleased to announced that they've lost ALL backup data on the server as well. My first thought is.... what kind of absolute, blithering moron keeps backups in the same place as the originals?!?!? I can accept that a hard drive failed and you're gonna have to restore my site... sure... I'm not a heartless dictator or anything... mistakes happen... but to tell me that all recent backups are gone and I'm gonna be stuck with whatever they can manage to recover from old data is just absurd.

So eventually, they announce (as if it were some kind of accomplishment) that they were able, by the grace of God, no doubt, to recover all of our data........... from September of 2005.




Sorry... if I hadn't been keeping my own backups, then I would have surely broken my desk in half.... with my face... and then proceeded to beat myself over the head with each end... profusely. But since I did have my own backups, and I knew that I could just upload them whenever the site comes back up, then I had to just laugh at the colossal stupidity of the people that made this all possible.

But by that point, I'd pretty much decided that I'm going to switch to a new host. Two major crashes in 2-3 months is just crazy (no matter who's fault it is). On top of that, my site was "up" (technically) but the data on it was months old, and the web host was telling us that we couldn't update files or databases on our sites yet because it was causing problems with the recovery. So if I had stuck with them, my site would still be in absolutely worthless condition.

Fortunately, I already had a new host picked out. I was setting up a website for a local business a while back and I found a really good host that has a good reputation, some pretty crazy-low prices, and lots of disk space/bandwidth. It's called Site5. Check them out if you're in the need of a host. So I setup a new account, uploaded my backups (although, I did wrestle with this process for a good while), and five days after my site went down, I'm finally back to normal operations on a new host. Sure, I went through days of agonizing helplessness followed by mind-wracking torment because nothing would "just work" when I was trying to restore my backups... but like they say, "Adversity makes you a better person." or some crap like that. And I'm sure that was said by someone who had never worked with computers before... but hey... it sounds good on paper.


So if you tried to purchase TaskRunner (*snicker*) over the last few days, or tried to download it... or do pretty much anything else... then go ahead and try again. Everything should be working fine now.... and if it isn't... I don't want to hear about it.



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Ironically I'm two days from my trial expire and *was* trying to purchase it. *laughs*

Posted by Voxorb, on 01/12/2006 at 09:41

Holy crap... I didn't know people like you actually existed. You're like a rare spotted owl or something. I mean... I've always heard about people that actually pay for software, but I never thought I'd actually SEE one... don't move... I gotta go grab my camera. :o) (seriously though, thanks man. :op) WATYF

Posted by WATYF, on 01/12/2006 at 10:28

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