Ming the Mechanic:
Server Change

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Server Change2005-12-22 18:08
by Flemming Funch

This server here is due for a change, and it looks like today's the day. Well, as soon as I've worked out a few annoying details, that is.

The old server is hosted in the data center of a company I used to work for, more than a year ago. They're nice people, but they might easily forget about it, and need to take it down some day with a moment's notice. Actually I'm sure the people who let me have a server there have forgotten all about it, even though I've made very sure the sysadmin hasn't. And, you know, it is a big operation with hundreds of servers, and a number of them are just standing around, forgotten, because they were replaced with something better at some point, and nobody bothered to dismantle the old one.

But I can't keep leaching on their bandwidth forever, and, more importantly, the server has started to run slower the last couple of months, and most likely one of the disks is on the verge of giving up. So, it seems to be time to move on.

I have two other servers, but it would get a little too crowded to combine them, so I went looking for a new hosting deal.

A dedicated root server goes for around $100 per month nowadays. However, the pricing plans vary enormously between different companies, and they frequently leave out something important in the cheaper deals, and suddenly you need to pay a couple hundred dollars more to have the one with more memory or with any meaningful bandwidth quota.

My two other servers are with 1and1 and 1-800-hosting. I got the 800 hosting server first, and at the time the only server I'd be able to pay for would be with 512MB of RAM. Now, that's more or less a mistake, but I needed the server at the time. But 512MB is way too little for any serious server. Oh, it is fine for static web pages and images, but very skimpy when it needs to do mainly dynamic pages with lots of database access. But they provide lots of bandwidth, 1800GB per month, and they have excellent service.

1-and-1 says they're the biggest hosting company in the world, and they certainly know their stuff too. A 2GB server from them, with 1000GB of bandwidth, and that's more useful for some serious activity. They're rather cumbersome to deal with, however. Their U.S. company only wants to provide servers to people who're in the U.S., so one had to give a U.S. address and phone number and they will actually call back that phone number right away, to check that one really is there. OK, I can manage that, but it is a bit annoying. And, half of the time, if I call them or send them an e-mail from outside the U.S., they'll complain about it. And they had various other bureaucratic obstacles to put in one's way. But nothing wrong with the server.

Now, when I looked for the next server, I was surprised to find that the best deals are in Germany. Like, 1and1 has their mother company in Germany, with fantastic deals. Mirrorred RAID drives, unlimited bandwidth, 2GB RAM, etc. But their signup forms make it equally difficult to sign up unless one is in Germany and pays with a German bank transfer.

I don't know what is going on in Germany for them to compete so much on server prices. I'd expect to find good deals in the U.K. but I found nothing I could use. There are some cheap servers, but that would be with 512MB RAM and 50GB traffic per month, and if you want more it adds hundreds of dollars, or pounds, rather. 1-and-1 is in the U.K. too, but they charge more there. And nothing useful in France, or the Netherlands, or Denmark, or other places I'd consider.

So, I ended up with Server4you in Düsseldorf, Germany. A branch of a U.S. company. I don't know what it is with the cheesy company names (Server4you, 1-800-hosting), but as long as they know what they're doing, I'm fine.

The server I got has an AMD Opteron 148 processor, 3GB of RAM, 2x200GB mirrored SCSI drives, 6000GB monthly traffic, for 79 euro per month. And after two years they'll send me the server in the mail. Can't beat that.

The only thing is that they speak German. My German is getting very old, and stuttering myself through a support call with them isn't overly easy. Luckily there isn't too much I should need them for.

Anyway, I'm speeding up the moving schedule, as the old server is getting a lot of traffic, and it is acting up a little too frequently, particularly when I sleep.

I have the content all replicated, so mainly what is in my way right now is that I decided to change mail server programs at the same time. From Sendmail to Postfix. Incoming mail traffic had started to consume a sizable percentage of the CPU, and I need something more efficient. But a whole bunch of things have to change at the same time. The server has many mail accounts and many mailing lists, and mail will be stored in different format (Maildir rather than Mailbox format), so a lot of things have to be converted.

Anyway, I'll get back to work. If all goes well, nobody should notice anything. But a bit of downtime wouldn't be completely unlikely.

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22 Dec 2005 @ 18:40 by swanny : Thanks Ming
Thanks Ming for the heads up
I wish I could help out more with
the $$$ but I'm sort of on a fixed
fix of sorts
but I appreciate what you've done
and are doing. And wish you a very
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
from Alberta Canada.



23 Dec 2005 @ 00:46 by Ge Zi @ : contribution
How about that:
There is plenty of readers of this blog and we all enjoy it, right. So how about Flemming gives us his paypal account and we all contribute something like $10 (and everybody with a computer and an internet connection should be able to afford that), that should pay for the server for a while.
Let's see - 1400 readers - about 50% freeloaders - 700 times $10 makes $7000 - divided by $79 that makes about seven years - don't think that server will last that long, but then Flemming can take out his family for a nice dinner - he definitely deserves that for his work.  

23 Dec 2005 @ 03:26 by ming : contributions
Hey, I've learned to not say no. So, by all means, PayPal to ffunch -at- cr8 -dot- com. Don't be shy.

There are some donations from NCN, but, actually it has dwindled to not very much at all. Seems like one has to do a regular fund drive once in a while.

They made me pay for year in advance for this server, so some donations would actually be welcome.

I still remember with horror the time it cost me $1800 per month to keep the predecessor of this server running. For a T1 line. I don't even know how I managed. Now 4 times as much bandwidth, and the server included, goes for 79 euros, so things certainly have gotten cheaper.  

23 Dec 2005 @ 04:47 by judih : 79 euros is a lot more than dollars
i shudder to think how much this costs, but fantastic of you, Ming, to jump in and pay the upfront price.
i'm a kibbutznik with no cash income. i can offer poems or special ed english lessons in exchange for payment to ming? any takers?  

23 Dec 2005 @ 07:29 by Ge Zi @ : peer pressure
OK, guys - the peer pressure is on! I put my money where my mouth is (was) and send $20 bucks. Who dares to continue reading and consuming and using NewCiv without doing the same?!  

23 Dec 2005 @ 11:51 by jazzolog : I Appreciate An Annual Reminder
although you've got a neat link for contributors right on the member Splash Page. Anyway, it's time again. Thank you Ming, for this great platform.  

23 Dec 2005 @ 12:08 by ming : Fund drives
Yeah, it seems to work to call attention to it once in a while. We're all busy, and a little notice becomes invisible along the way. So I guess it takes a little campaign once in a while.

Anyway, thank you all for being around, whether you donate anything or not. It takes good people to make interesting things happen.  

23 Dec 2005 @ 23:12 by craiglang : Echo that
Thank you Ming, for your tender loving care of NCN.
You have made NCN possible, and have sheparded it through the years.
Hats off to you.

30 Dec 2005 @ 02:47 by vibrani : A question about your site
Thanks for the server change, Ming.

I have a question about your site...When I clear out my history and files, etc., and then I start to type NCN in the address bar of my internet explorer, the menu drops down from the address bar and it shows all the rooms I previously visited at NCN. I do have auto complete for typing in urls, but still when my files are deleted, cookies deleted, history cleared, and so on, it should clear. I can't get rid of that NCN history. What is the story on this and any suggestions? Are you using some special software to prevent people from removing files from their visits to NCN? Something like persistent cookies? I don't know, just grasping at straws here. Thanks.  

Other stories in
2012-05-03 00:04: An evolving path
2012-01-02 13:52: 2011 Accomplishments and 2012 Aims
2011-11-17 02:20: Your inner piece
2011-02-01 00:05: Slow Mo Flow
2011-01-22 18:40: Recognition
2010-08-23 00:36: Where's Ming?
2010-07-20 14:24: Getting other people to do stuff
2010-06-22 00:27: Inventory
2010-06-19 23:10: Conversations
2009-10-28 12:31: Then a miracle occurs

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