Friday, 1 March 2013

New beginnings

Sorry that I've not updated the service blog for a while, but I've been a bit busy with the site itself, so forgot.  Anyone that knows me will know that I have possible the worst memory in the history of... something.  I forget.

Anyway.  Toward the end of last week our existing web server became unstable to the point that it was hanging every few minutes, giving us no chance to do anything other than curse as it crashed yet again.  By the end of the weekend, we shut down the web server completely to keep the FTP and database server processes up long enough for us to draw down all the site and database data.

We have struggled with support at times with this server and seem to have had more than our fair share of bad luck with faulty hardware and mysterious software problems that took a while to resolve, so decided to decamp to another host that has their servers in a main datacentre, has 24/7 support and can afford the time to listen to our pseudo technical ramblings when something goes wrong and we don't know enough to fix it ourselves.

We chose a managed server with dual Xeon processors totalling 8 cores, plenty of the latest DDR3 RAM, a large RAID1 hard drive (two drives mirrored for fault tolerance) with a another local backup drive, and a wide pipe to the backbone via the datacentre it resides in.

Our new server was commissioned within a few hours of placing the order, and I began finding my way around it.  Tech support were great, helping where needed, and it wasn't long before I was uploading the database to the MySQL server.  It's a big file, so it took a while from my poxy DSL connection, and during that time I was also downloading the approximately 5gb of files from the old broken server.  As soon as the forum software had finished uploading, I fired up the forums on the .net domain name, to see if they'd splutter into life.  After a few false starts, and some changes to the settings on our new server, we were up & running after a fashion, so myself and some of the reviewers ran through some unscientific tests, posting hither & thither, testing features etc.  After a while, we decided that the best test would be to open the doors and let everyone know via Facebook and Twitter.  We've got a fair following on both, so we quickly had folks trooping in.

As I write this, some people can access the forums via the .com name, while some have to go in by the .net name.  That's because I altered the DNS records late in the afternoon, and depending on where your ISP is on the DNS hierarchy, it can take up to 24 hours for it to propagate.  That's one of the reasons why I usually choose Google's DNS server (8.8.4.4) as one of my DNS servers when I'm setting up my router.  Higher up the tree ;o)

By later today (1st march 2013) the DNS should have propagated for most if not all of us, so I'll switch the server to the .com name, although you'll still be able to access us by the .net, .co.uk or .com names if you'd like to.  The Address Bar will revert to .com when you click on the first link anyway, so you might as well type in .com in the first place.

A long(ish) story, and a few people to thank.  Our previous hosts were great, but Britmodeller just grew too large for their expertise, as the recent Malware incident showed.  I'd also like to thank the "staff" of Britmodeller for their support during this process, and finally to the membership for being patient, and for being one of the main reasons that Britmodeller continues to be the fun place it is.

Mike.

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