What a nightmare – my site was DOWN!

August 3, 2009 · 8 comments

by Lars

The problem

New rules at my previous hosting provider made tripwire magazine go off-line or seriously slow for nearly 2 days or more (Aug. 1st and 2nd). Express selecting a new hosting provider can be quite a stress but I think I made it through now!

Working hard to keep tripwire magazine updated, relevant and popular I have to admit that the last couple of days have been a true nightmare. Because the amount of traffic on the site has been increasing rapidly my hosting provider decided to put my account under some kind of throttling making it nearly impossible to access. This was of-cause without letting me know and giving me a chance to prepare a transfer. Support just claimed that everything was as it should be and that I had very bad PHP code. I didn’t change a line of code though but something had changed significantly. I have decided to write a few words on the situation and what I did to get back online. I’m sorry for the inconvenience that my readers may have had and hope the site will be much faster and reliable now! (seams to be at least)


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The chaos phase

I decided to skip sleep and do a quick scan of the hosting market looking for a scalable and reliable solution with a reasonable cost. With the traffic volumes hitting tripwiremagazine.com I knew it had to be hosting with enough dedicated resources but I wasn’t ready to jump into a fully unmanaged dedicated server. An obvious choice could have been a combination of slicehost.com and Amazon S3 but I was under pressure and needed something that could be ready fast.  It wasn’t that easy because tripwire magazine provides articles with loads of images and I realised that I would run into BIG bills with most hosting solutions having a low amounts of bandwidth available (fx. 300-500GB). Some plans come with unlimited but I’m generally a bit concerned about someone offering unlimited as there’s a risk that it is limited in some other way. Seriously it’s a jungle out there where coupons and website dedicated to give you discounts to get affiliate sales dominate.  I have no idea how the hosting industry ended up this way but its a mess and it is not easy to gain the trust you need to make a decision.

Seeing light at the end of the tunnel

I decided to stop using google and took another approach to find hosting companies. By investigating name servers on popular high end blogs I follow I could get an idea of what others use (simply looking up domain using speednames.com and whois).

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After hours and hours of searching I found wiredtree.com. I never heard about this hosting company I could see that they have very good ratings/reviews. I particular the wiredtree support should have a very good reputation according to reviews. I used the support a couple of times after signing up and response time for ticket updated was 5-10 minutes in average – woow… The reviews where true!  wiredtree is offering a product I wasn’t aware of existed “Managed Hybrid“. It scales, it has dedicated resources, premium bandwidth, runs on good quality HW and the price is OK. I decided to give it a try and as promised I got my account with a few hours after receiving a confirmation / welcome call.

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“What is a Hybrid Server?

A hybrid server is a combination of a powerful enterprise-class server with virtualization technology. We start with a dual processor quad-core Xeon Harpertown SuperMicro server with ECC Registered Memory and a Hot-Swap SATAII RAID-10 disk array and then use Virtuozzo to partition the server into seperate Hybrid server environments. Each Hybrid environment is securely isolated and has guaranteed resources available to it which ensures a high level of performance and responsiveness. A Hybrid server combines all of the benefits of virtualization technology with the performance of a full dedicated server.”

After getting my files downloaded from my old hosting server and uploaded to the new one I managed to configure the web server and WordPress with all data transferred in less than an hour. Even though I was not using Dreamhost I found this guide very useful. Seamless WordPress Migration From Dreamhost to WiredTree – How To. Also with the good documentation and support wiredtree offered it wasn’t that hard really. What surprised me a little bit is that the hosting solution comes both Webhost Manager (WHM) and cPanel given me ultimate flexibility and access. Having a lot of options and features available can seam a bit overwhelming to start with but I’m sure I will love it…

After installing everything and confirming that the site was running as expected (just much faster) it was time to change the A Record for my domain tripwiremagazine.com. I’m using a seperate service for hosting my domains which I consider a advantage. In this case it turned out to be a great advantage because I could switch hosting in just a few hours. No matter how you host your domain changing DNS for it is not something you can do quick. I know that it can take hours and in worst case many hours to have DNS changes propagated around the globe. I found this article that I would have loved to read just a few days ago as it would have limited the amount of time the change took. Basically the tip is to lower your TTL for the A Record a few days before you’re planning to switch Hosting Company: Propagate and Refresh DNS Cache Faster

Back home safe

Site is now fully functional again and I can see that the majority of traffic is now hitting the right server (DNS change has been fully propagated). Im using the mint monitoring tool and it is really great to be able to get an constantly updated view of what is going on. Google Analytics also has great features and I use it but in some case it is just needed to see the activity without a few hours of delay. If you run into any problems please let me know by dropping a comment or an email: mail[at]tripwiremagazine[dot]com.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy Blake August 3, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Hey man,

You’ve got a nice site here. I’ll be back for sure. Glad my migration guide could help you out!

Reply

tripwiremag August 3, 2009 at 4:55 pm

@Jeremy: Thanks for dropping a comment! Your guide was a great help for sure and I hope others in desperate situations will find it too 😉

Reply

tripwiremag August 3, 2009 at 6:34 am

@Hirvesh thanks for your feedback. Yes it seams really OK now 😉

Reply

Dian August 3, 2009 at 6:06 am

glad the problem is solved, it’s fast right now. thanks for sharing the story :)

Reply

Hirvesh August 3, 2009 at 4:31 am

Your website seems alright and fast to me now! Hope you don’t get any problems in future!

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