Archive for 1 February 2015

Moving The Author Websites Again

Five years ago I left the Internet Service Provider (ISP) I was with for 15 years because my websites disappeared during a week-long service interruption. The one-man operation that my writing business depended on had lost both leased lines from separate carriers to the Internet at the same time. Resolving those issues and adding a third leased line prevented the owner from communicating with angry customers. After the service got restored, I’ve already moved my websites to DirectNIC and the owner graciously accepted my cancellation notice. Last month I moved my websites from DirectNIC to DreamHost for entirely different reasons.

I never have any problems with the web hosting at DirectNIC until a server upgrade in 2013 caused my websites to disappear on April Fool’s Day. After I opened a support ticket, my websites got split up to different servers that left some working and some not working. That didn’t get sorted out until I complained on Twitter with the support ticket number. Whenever DirectNIC announces a new server upgrade, it never goes smoothly for my websites.

Over the past year, I started experiencing resource errors—a lack of available CPU, hard drive and/or memory—that knocked my websites offline for a few minutes to a few days. Numerous support tickets got opened, some of which I complained about on Twitter. No one could tell me why this was happening. The CPanel shared hosting interface doesn’t allow me to get under the hood to see what was going on from the Linux command line. The support tickets devolved into a series of “your servers, your websites” finger-pointing that didn’t help anyone.

As 2014 drew to a close, I desperately needed to upgrade and update my websites to the latest and the greatest in technology and contents. That wasn’t going to happen with DirectNIC, as my websites have grown “too brittle” to update without knocking the websites offline for three days. I made the business decision to move the websites to a different web hosting provider.

I searched around the Internet to find DreamHost and immediately signed up for the managed Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting for $15 USD per month. DirectNIC web hosting had my websites shared with other websites on the same virtual server and provided no access to the Linux command line. DreamHost gives me the whole virtual server for my websites and access to the Linux command line. With the Python scripting language installed on the server, I can write scripts for repetitive tasks and experiment with Python-based website frameworks like Django and Flask.

Moving the websites took a few days, but working out the kinks took a week. With access to the command line, I found damaged files that needed replacement and corrected file permission issues. My websites are now loading twice as fast and updating normally without knocking all the other websites offline. CPU usage is less than one percent, while hard drive and memory are less than 30%. I shouldn’t encounter any resource errors for a long time.

DirectNIC still has my domain name registration business, which I’ve never had a problem with in the last 15 years. Changing the DNS addresses for my domains pointed them to the new web hosting. After I opened a support ticket to cancel the web hosting at DirectNIC, I got an apology that things didn’t work out and credited three months of payments to my account.

Switching web host providers was the easy part. Upgrading and updating the websites will be harder, something I’ve been putting off for over a year. Soon I can switch focus from behind-the-scenes technical issues to rebuilding my author platform.

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