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Your host gets recessionated

What you gonna do?

10:26 am on Mar 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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A recent scare:

Most of my sites are hosted on a single reseller account. This morning, at about 10am GMT, everything suddenly dropped off the radar. Domains, email, clients sites, pop, the hosts main site, support... everything...bang, gone!

My initial reaction:


I'm yet to find out why, but it really scared me there, for about 20 minutes, my livelihood took a nose dive right in front of my eyes.

So I wondered, has anyone taken precaution against this? If your host went bust over-night would you be in a position to clean up the mess quickly?

It showed me how much I rely on one host - I'd be up the proverbial creek if the worst happened...

I do use more than one host, but I don't have a plan, that's where I clearly need help.

1:13 pm on Mar 13, 2009 (gmt 0)


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Keep a development server and/or a concurrent version system in place that contains the latest release of the static documents (html, css, js, code, crontab jobs, ...). Run nightly backups of dynamic data. I do a full monthly backup once or twice a month and differential backups each night. Be sure you have a recovery plan in place and test it thoroughly.
2:24 pm on Mar 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I went through migrating an Oscommerce site a while back. We had solid backups which made things a lot easier. However, it still took a while to get everything configured and working correctly.

Some thougths.

1. If there is any server side data, make sure you are backing that up locally as often as necessary

2. Make sure you have your credentials for your domain registrar handy.

3. Plan on a bit of downtime.

4. Try to have an alternative host scoped out beforehand.

I realize I pretty much stated the obvious but I hope it helps. I have been thinking about the issue. right now, I am using two different hosts. One is large with a lot of clients and seems fairly high end. The other host seems to be something run by larry moe and curley. As to which one could go under first is anyone's guess.

3:48 pm on Mar 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I do use more than one host, but I don't have a plan, that's where I clearly need help.

Plans come in diff colors, I'm sure you'll get some good ideas here. There are diff things I learned a long the way after servers crashing and even "lost backups" of the host service provider (that YEAH, right... make daily backups for you).

Here is how I do it, It has solved many problems for me, hope it helps you:

  • I have 3 diff servers, not on the same company
  • Every server with plenty of space and traffic
  • The sites with less traffic - load are on the same server
  • NO, the sites with more traffic and load are NOT on the same server. Both servers are balanced with equivalent websites, both in traffic and load
  • My domain names are managed via 3 diff companies
  • I make frequent backups from server to server via Cpanel Backup FTP transfer
  • what helps me the most: I developed my OWN CMS and software. There is plenty to say about this, but when I move a site from one server to another, its a piece of cake... no database nightmare. I built my cms around this idea. No complicated configs, mostly relative paths (../) so you get the idea.
  • Some sites have their own backup script zipping all the files preserving their permissions so I can download this important backups too.

It's not a super plan but when a server fails, NOT every one of my most important sites are down, just the balanced half or 35% of the whole. If the failure is severe, I can use a backup to put those sites online again on any of the 2 remaining servers (or creating a new account elsewhere too). The local backups (on the same server) help, but it helps even more to have a backup on another server.

I came with all these after a huge server fail with hard drive death. I feel sorry for the neighbors who lost all or almost all... I was off like 24-30 hours only: used my backup, moved the sites to another server and then updated my dns... I was off only while the dns refreshed.

I heard of it before and it happened to me too: a database rollback another time a VERY OLD backup restored by the host company... both times were a nightmare.

A site online means $$ to me so I can't handle my sites being offline for long. Don't keep all your egs on the same basket and PLAN AHEAD. Tricky stuff that "only X host provider has" will tie you up with them or to any like them.

Simple is better. Good luck, I hope it helps.

4:06 pm on Mar 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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That has reminded me, the original source code for a lot of my pages is on the hard disc of a dead PC. I think I should FTP the whole lot back to the new laptop and then cut a CD as second backup.
11:59 am on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Folks. Plenty to think about now.
12:50 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If youre site is database driven make sure you have a backup of this. The frequency of your back up will refelect the type of site, but simply having a backup on your htdocs folder wont be enough if youre site uses a database on backend.


4:01 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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My setup is very similar to explorador's.

2 servers, different hosting companies, different continents! Both have capacity to spare, although as traffic increases i'm spending more time making sure they can cope - hence my recent thread about considering cloud hosting.


I flattened both servers to a clean OS install, and manage an identical configuration on both - latest versions of Apache / PHP / MySQL etc. and all the modules I need, and they both run an identical Apache configuration, with all sites configured - just not necessarily serving all of them.

Each night, they do a "mutual backup" of data, running mysqldump on the live databases and FTP'ing the gzipped output across to a holding directory on the other server.

All domains are managed with another separate company, so in the event of one of my hosts becoming recessionated I can switch DNS over to the other server and after a few SQL imports here and there it's ready to take over.

Or at least that's the theory.

Currently, site development is a bit adhoc, but I'm working on streamlining that with just this scenario in mind. What i'm setting up is a local development server that will run yet another identical configuration to my 2 live servers. Once i'm happy with the changes, I just want to hit one script to rsync (or something like that) the changes to both live servers at once.

Once my local dev machine is in place then theoretically if both servers went offline I could serve everything off my ADSL! But let's hope the recession isn't that bad, eh?!

10:31 am on Mar 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

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One other thing Limbo, you mentioned that your websites are your livelihood. If you're like me you have at least one heavy hitting site and multiple sites that generate less but they are steady earners.

I asked myself this question 2 years ago and got some good advice then so i'll gladly pass it along. Look for hosting companies who are listed on a US stock exchange either directly or where the parent company is listed. You'll end up with a short list, I can't mention domain companies here but it's a rather small list.

Choose one of those and either move your heavy hitting site(s), or smaller sites, over to the new provider. Multiple providers is a good idea if you can't afford to lose all sites at once. This isn't a guarantee by any means but publicly traded companies don't tend to vanish as quickly in tough situations and if they do... you had advance warning in the form of a stock collapse.