Server Meltdowns and other fun

I am a huge fan of having root access to my webservers. I’ve used shared hosting for many years and still have accounts around the net on shared servers, but nothing gives you the power that having root access does – or Admin access for people more familiar with Windows terminology.

Lizard Lick Towing

Ron and the Krew move to a new server!

With shared hosting, you are pretty much at the mercy of chance as to what other sites (or bad programming) may be against you. While shared hosting is cheaper than having your own server, it can be really frustrating when things start going south and you can’t do much about it. I have moved most of my new accounts to virtual private servers (VPS) for the added control and functionality that I can get with them.

And I wish one of my customers had this kind of setup earlier this week when the Lizard Lick Towing site started going south. First it was a matter of pages sporadically loading slowly – sometimes not at all. Without root access to the server directly, it’s impossible to actually see the processes running, network traffic or any other number of things that could be causing a slow page load.

Ron Shirley over there thankfully knows how important having a smooth running server is and already had given me the nod to get moving on a new server after the first few incidents of slow page loads.  We already had the basic setup in place on Friday am.  Because they have an online store, it was important to find a time to move the server around when sales were going to be least affected. Granted they were being affected when pages were loading slow, but not detrimentally.

Move was planned for Saturday around 3 am – until the webserver threw a 500 error – internal errors rearing up that stopped ANY pages from being served – and that was the death knell for the server at 5:30 pm on a Friday afternoon. Immediately went about shifting DNS records and all the other things that make a website work. As I am fond of saying, nothing simple is ever easy. We actually would have moved it a couple of days earlier, but one annoyance after another kept things held up.

So I set about getting things in place and we were up and running after about 2 hours – but it always takes some time for DNS changes to propogate through the internet servers. There were probably a number of people that were still pulling up 500 errors from the old server for a while.

But once everything was over there, we could THEN see how our server loads were reacting, view true network traffic and all that other stuff that make life much easier when you’re a webmaster. Looking forward to working with the Lizard Lick Towing site now!

This also sets us up for the new and improved Lizard Lick Towing site coming soon!

Author: Eric Erickson

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