Apologies for this question, but is your site backed up?
The software is trebly backed up, but the database that contains all the threads and messages and other board info is only backed up when I back it up, which usually happens when the thought pops into my head, "Gee, I haven't backed up the database in a long time," which thought occurred to me yesterday, so I'll probably be doing another database backup today.
A database backup is only a snapshot of what's in the database right at that moment. All threads and messages and new members and member status and etc. from the time of the backup to whenever the database becomes unavailable (disk dies, no more Conroes left, etc.) would be lost.
New avatar images uploaded by members could be lost. Images supplied by me are trebly backed up.
I think cloud servers offer full and automatic website backups, another reason for moving to the cloud.
When I started in this industry the IBM 360 was king and timesharing was all the rage. Secretaries typed our memos on IBM Selectrics. I worked for a company that gradually climbed from #7 to #2 in the industry on the backs of computers no one has ever heard of today, like the PDP-11 running RSTS or RSX-11 and the DECSystem 10 (later 20) running TOPS-10 (later 20), and then later VAX/VMS. But it wasn't the dark ages. It was the Camelot age of our industry, and it lasted until around 15 years ago.
It feels to me that dark ages are what has descended upon us recently. The Internet spawned an egalitarian community where anyone could effectively run a website, but just as cars have become impenetrable cumulations of multiple technologies that have killed off the weekend mechanic (gone are the days of guys spending weekend afternoons working on their cars in their driveways), so has the Internet. The ability of a complete novice to build a meaningful web presence without significant assistance (provided at a price, of course) or a huge investment in time and study is no more.
At the very least your hosting company should look at switching you to a virtual server.
I think they are very happy leasing me a machine they purchased in bulk over a decade ago. And I'm very happy as long as nothing goes wrong, because not having to change anything means less work for me.
Running that on highly resilient shared infrastructure would mitigate against pretty much any hardware fault from single component to whole physical server. This would also be more cost effective for the company in question in terms of running costs (cooling, power, rack space, support likelihood etc etc.)
I don't know if they make more money on the cloud approach - it looks like they charge less for the equivalent of a dedicated server, though it's hard to tell. Detailed feature lists seem to be a thing of the past. They want you to pay your money for a month or two and figure out for yourself if it works for you. I know exactly what I need - they just can't tell me, at least not in the sales department or at the website, if that's what they provide. So given what you say next:
And, as you mention, cloud is the obvious destination here (which in practical terms is the same as the above but on an industrial scale with the economies of scale that brings). AWS would have sizing/costing tools for IaaS which would include database estimations. Is it worth simply running one of those to get an initial idea?
Maybe I should look at AWS - maybe they provide better up-front information. But if I have to lease a cloud system for a month to figure out if it will work for me then I may as well do it with my current webhosting company - they've done a good job overall, I'm used to them, and they've been fair about pricing - as my server has gotten older they've been willing to offer me discounts - I now pay about 75% of what I paid a decade ago, and that's not taking inflation into account or the general rise in price of dedicated servers.
By the way, if you're wondering why we have a dedicated server instead of a shared server when our requirements are so meager, it's strictly the database size. Shared servers restrict database size to a few hundred megabytes at most, and we're way past that.
But a 10 year old physical server sitting in a data centre, slowly popping it’s bits and relying on graveyard extractions for ongoing survival - You don’t need me to tell you that isn’t a long term solution.
Well, yeah, like I said, I did try to investigate cloud computing through my current webhosting company, but though I do feel the need to move off the dedicated server, I don't like to feel like I'm jumping off into the wild blue yonder, either.
If you want what you have now but.... then it’s got to be worth asking if they can do a P2V conversion of exactly what you have now and what the running cost of that VM would be going forwards.
I'd like the same capabilities I have now, the most essential being at least 2 GB of database, but I'd like to move forward to the latest software versions. My current server is stuck with an old OS because the Conroe can't upgrade to newer versions for some reason, and because I'm stuck with an old OS I can't upgrade the control panel, because newer versions of the control panel require newer OS versions.
I plan to start looking into a cloud server again soon. I just checked their webpage again and the cloud offerings are different from a couple months ago. I'm wondering why they provide so little detail. For example, I'd like to know what OS's and control panels they make available on the cloud servers, but they don't say. I wonder if you just get an empty cloud server that you have to set up as a webserver yourself.
Funny how complacency sets in after 18 years of nothing going catastrophically wrong. I hadn't backed up the database in 22 months. It's backed up now, and I'm downloading an extra copy to local storage.
I've investigated the cloud and that's where we'll be moving. Not sure how long it will take - it seems straightforward, but we'll see what happens (gee, now Trump's even got me saying it).
Moving to the cloud shouldn't cause any observable change for users, but we will have to go down for about an hour when I make the transition. Once I shut down the website at the old server the most time consuming portion will be saving the database to a file (it'll be around 1.9 GB) and transferring that file to the new server.
It might also be necessary to use the new IP address instead of the URL for a couple days while it propagates to nameservers. I'll post anything interesting that comes up to this thread, and I'll issue an announcement when the time comes.
It has backups built in, but I don't see how they're useful because only the entire backup can be restored. There's very little documentation, so I don't know if the backup includes the MySQL database, though you'd think it should since the database must ultimately just be files somewhere on disk.