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Author Topic:   Moving to Cloud Server
Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


(2)
Message 1 of 52 (844946)
12-09-2018 5:01 AM


Some of you might have noticed that the website was down for around an hour or two earlier tonight and might be wondering what happened.

Well, it was just your typical Saturday evening, my wife cooking dinner in the kitchen, me tending the fire and doing just a little pre-dinner scan of the op-ed pieces, when the website went down. Not to worry, sometimes the Apache server goes down, just have to restart it. So I go to the server's control panel, but it's down, too.

That usually means the server itself is down, that it's crashed. This doesn't happen very often, and in fact it hasn't happened in at least a couple years, but after a couple years of continuously running without a single reboot (one of the huge advantages of a Linux server over Windows) it was overdue.

I had set up a server monitor with the webhosting company to send me an email if the server goes down, and normally I don't check for this email, I just make a reboot request, but this time I decided to check the email now. There was no email. So I went to the webhosting company's control panel for my server and checked the server monitor. It was set to use my work email, but I'm retired now and haven't used that email in a while. I have a gmail account for my alternate email. I updated the email address and then waited for five minutes (the monitor checks that your server's up every five minutes), but still no email.

So I opened up a chat with the technical services department of the webhosting company, asking why I wasn't getting any email notification that my server was down. I also submitted a reboot request through the control panel.

The chat guy said he'd be glad to help me, just give him a minute to look into it. When he came back he said he couldn't reach my server and that he'd have to switch me to the technical services guy on location at my server's site. But a few minutes later he came back and said he couldn't reach the technical services guy out there, that he must be in the server room. Then a few minutes after that he said that ticket #623075 had been opened for me and that I should monitor that for my server's status.

So I go back to the control panel and check the ticket status, and the technician says:

quote:
The server was off when I went out to it. I tried turning it on but it wouldn't post. I currently have it on the workbench so I can take a look at what is wrong.

I'll update you as soon as I have more info.


I append to the ticket, "Uh-oh. This doesn't sound good."

A few minutes later he replies:

quote:
Nope, it's fine! Either the motherboard or the CPU decided today was it's last day on Earth.

I went ahead and swapped your hard drive and NIC into another server of the identical type and it's booting up now.

Give it a couple of minutes and you should have access again.


I append to the ticket, "Pardon me if I'm amazed. Aren't servers of my type more than 10 years old?"

He answers:

quote:
At least that. I can't even recall when we started leasing out the Conroe. We don't offer them anymore on our website, but we do still have some for times like this.

The Conroe is an old model server they used to lease out, but still very capable, 4 processors, 4 GB memory, 200 GB disk, very nice. But they don't make them anymore, and it sounds like they're cannibalizing old Conroe servers to keep the ones still in service going. So we lucked out and EvC Forum marches on!

A few months ago I looked into moving from our old server into the Cloud, but we need a minimum 2 GB database, and no one could answer my question about how big a database they let you have in the Cloud, so I didn't pursue it any further. I think maybe it would be a good idea to look into this again.

Edited by Admin, : Renamed thread from "Dodging a bullet..." to "Moving to Cloud Server".


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

Replies to this message:
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Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 3 of 52 (844953)
12-08-2018 11:15 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Minnemooseus
12-09-2018 6:03 AM


Re: Date and time is way off
Time problem should be fixed.

--Percy
EvC Forum Director

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


(1)
Message 19 of 52 (846041)
12-27-2018 10:57 AM


Just some brief status. The cloud server is all set up, has been for a while, but I took a hiatus as we got closer to Christmas. As part of the testing I've just now set the cloud server to use the database on the old server, making it possible for me to post messages from the cloud server to the discussion board, which is why you're seeing this.

Here's what will happen when I'm ready to switch over to the new cloud server:

  • I'll send out an announcement that we're making the switch and that the board will be going down for an hour at a specified time. Unfortunately the amount of lead time I can provide will probably be only an hour or so. I have some other things going on that make my time availability unpredictable.

  • Shut down board.

  • Copy database on old server to a file.

  • Copy database file to cloud server.

  • Load database file into cloud server's database.

  • Update the database access information on both the old server and the cloud server to be for the database on the cloud server.

  • Copy over to the cloud server any new avatars people might have uploaded.

  • Update the nameserver information at the registrar's. The updated information will take 12-72 hours to propagate to Internet root servers (TLD (Top Level Domain) servers) around the globe. Those who have access to dig can use "dig evcforum.net +short" to see if the transition has happened for them. The old IP is 209.160.41.193, and the new IP will be 66.148.117.70.

  • Open the board. Total down time is estimated to be about an hour.

--Percy
EvC Forum Director

  
Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


(1)
Message 20 of 52 (847620)
01-24-2019 11:46 AM


We're in the Clouds, er, Cloud
We have switched over to the cloud server, though there may be some with straggling root servers that are still using the old server. You can tell whether you're using the old server or the new cloud server by looking at the address box at the top of your browser. If it begins with "http" then you're still using the old server. If it begins with "https" then you're using the new cloud server.

Why "https" instead of "http"? The "s" on the end stands for "secure". All interactions with the website are now secure. The possibility of any data being stolen is much diminished, including passwords.

You can still access the website using "http". The software will automatically switch it over to "https". You can also access the website as just "evcforum.net". The software will automatically switch it over to "https://www.evcforum.net".


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

  
Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 21 of 52 (847627)
01-24-2019 1:06 PM


Problem with YouTube
I just noticed that YouTube videos posted before 15 minutes ago aren't displayed because the software used "http" instead of "https". I'm going to fix all old messages in the database to use "https" for YouTube.

Post a note to this thread if you notice any other issues.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by Admin, posted 01-24-2019 1:24 PM Admin has acknowledged this reply

  
Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 22 of 52 (847629)
01-24-2019 1:24 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Admin
01-24-2019 1:06 PM


Re: Problem with YouTube
YouTube problem is fixed.

Again, please post a note to this thread if you notice any issues.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by Admin, posted 01-24-2019 1:06 PM Admin has acknowledged this reply

  
Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 23 of 52 (848511)
02-08-2019 8:37 AM


YouTube dBCode Default Aspect Ratio Changed
The vast majority of YouTube videos now have a 16:9 aspect ratio, so I have changed the [utube] and [youtube] dBCodes to also have this aspect ratio as the default. The actual pixel size is 599x337. Naturally you can specify any size you want. For example, this [utube] code produces a size of 400x300:

[utube=4XB2wKAjaVQ,400,300]

See the dBCode documentation on the [utube] and [youtube] dBCodes for all the details on how to use them.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

Replies to this message:
 Message 26 by Phat, posted 02-08-2019 2:45 PM Admin has responded

  
Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


(1)
Message 27 of 52 (848571)
02-10-2019 11:33 AM
Reply to: Message 26 by Phat
02-08-2019 2:45 PM


Re: Cloud Server
The cloud server is faster and more reliable. We don't actually possess an actual physical server anymore. There is no EvC Forum dedicated server that physically exists and can be removed from the rack and placed on a lab bench like the old one. What we actually have is a set of resources in the cloud: 4 cores, 4GB ram, 160 GB disk. It can handle more data then we could ever generate. Even after nearly 20 years of messages the EvC Forum database only takes about 1% of total disk space.

Because we don't actually run on a specific machine we're protected against crashes - each request is funnelled to the next available cloud server. If a cloud server handling an EvC Forum request crashes then that request might be lost, but the website remains up. The crashed cloud server will automatically reboot and be ready to handle the next request, which could be for any website. If the crashed cloud server has a more serious problem it can be removed from service, fixed, then returned to service.

Managing a server in the cloud is both harder and easier. There are more options, but more functions are automatically taken care of. For example, OS and server control panel upgrades should be automatic. Note that we're now a secure website (uses https instead of http), and accomplishing that on the old server would have been more difficult.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by Phat, posted 02-08-2019 2:45 PM Phat has acknowledged this reply

  
Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 28 of 52 (849907)
03-25-2019 12:44 PM


Automatic Firewall Installed
Yesterday I installed an automatic firewall. It detects repeated failed attempts to access email accounts, webpages, or the server itself and blocks the IP address from further access. In less than a day 842 IP addresses have been blocked so far.

I'm renaming this thread "Moving to Cloud Server".


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

Replies to this message:
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Admin
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Posts: 12686
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Message 36 of 52 (849955)
03-27-2019 9:50 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by Stile
03-27-2019 8:58 AM


Re: Automatic Firewall Installed
Stile writes:

Do we know if we are on a Virtual Server?

Yes, we're on a virtual server.

Most VM software (like VMWare) is really easy to setup along with a VM-backup tool. Something that takes daily backups of the VM.
Then, if anything goes wrong - the previous day's (or, say, a week ago's) backup is simply loaded in and things carry on.
In this scenario, you would lose "1 day" (or 1 week) of data.

There is a control panel option for enabling automatic backups, but I haven't tried it yet.

They do have a useful feature that is part of the infrastructure, unfortunately I've forgotten the name, maybe it was shadowing. As I understood it, every request is dually executed, if the primary fails (e.g., the machine crashes while executing) then the secondary takes over, and losing a request or data should be a rare event.

SQL databases generally have their own backup-creating tools to dump backup data too. These are easily restored as well.

I can't find anything for databases in the control panel, but I could set up a crontab job for it. The script would be relatively simple, but I rarely write scripts and it takes me a while to recall the syntax and functions, so it would take me a little time to make it create unique names for each backup and then delete the ones older than x days.

There another control panel for managing the webhosting, but it doesn't seem to have any SQL backup features.

But, on the other side, it wouldn't be a shock if they attempted to charge extra or otherwise limit access to such "upgrades."

They're pretty good about not charging for stuff when your managing the server yourself. For example, when I tried to set up a certificate for the server (as opposed to just the evcforum.net domain) I ran into trouble, and their technical staff just went ahead and did it for me at no charge. They have a "managed server" option that is very expensive from my point of view, as in hundreds of dollars per month and up.

I should be posting to this thread as Admin, not Percy, switching back.

Edited by Admin, : Got interrupted by a phone call and left out a little bit, just added it in now.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


(1)
Message 38 of 52 (849990)
03-28-2019 8:39 AM
Reply to: Message 37 by RAZD
03-27-2019 10:46 PM


Re: Photos
RAZD writes:

Out of curiosity ... where are you on being able to upload photos to the server for links in posts?

This item hasn't risen to the top of my list yet. I intend that members be able to upload images and documents. If I determine how to prevent server access by webpages and code then I'll allow them, too.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 41 of 52 (850233)
04-04-2019 8:35 AM


Recent Updates
I have just now updated to the mysqli API and PHP 7.2.16.

Apologies for several 20 second outages over the last 24 hours or so.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

  
Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 42 of 52 (850243)
04-04-2019 6:04 PM


Change to Context Line
One reason traffic has declined here is because Google Search has downgraded us because we don't adhere to some things that have, over time, become important. One of those is the <h1> tag, which EvC Forum doesn't use. I have just added the <h1> tag - it is the last item on the context line that appears near the top of each EvC Forum webpage. While you're reading this message that's the line that says:

EvC Forum All Forums Board Administration Announcements Moving to Cloud Server

This line will likely be displayed incorrectly right now - the last item will appear on its own line in large letters. To correct this you need to force a fresh reload. In Chrome and Safari you do this by holding down the Shift Key and clicking on the reload icon (circular arrow) near the top of your browser. It's the left of the address box in Chrome, and on the right side of the address box in Safari.

AbE:

In Internet Explorer you hold down the control key and either press F5 or click on the refresh icon, which is to the left of the address box.

Edited by Admin, : Add info about Safari and IE.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

Replies to this message:
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Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 48 of 52 (850532)
04-10-2019 8:26 AM
Reply to: Message 46 by Larni
04-09-2019 4:48 PM


Re: Change to Context Line
Larni writes:

What about Safari iOS?

Good question. Working on my iPhone X I tried three different solutions I found on the web and none worked. I won't bore you with the details of things that didn't work. If anyone has an answer please post.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

This message is a reply to:
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Admin
Director
Posts: 12686
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 49 of 52 (850617)
04-11-2019 9:43 AM


Anyone ever heard of ALPN?
I'm gradually improving our new cloud server. I think I already mentioned the automated firewall, and I changed the ssh port to halt the constant break-in attempts, and we're now using HTTP/2, a faster version of HTTP/1

But HTTP/2 also has an association with something called ALPN. ALPN capability (or its predecessor, NPN) is built into the operating system, and ALPN won't work with Centos 6, so to use it we would have to rebuild nginx (something new to me that I think works with Apache) or upgrade to Centos 7. I have two questions:

  • Would ALPN provide any benefit for a site like EvC Forum?

  • If so, has anyone ever rebuilt Apache or upgraded an OS on a Linux box in the cloud who could provide advice?

    I don't want to do either of these things until I'm pretty confident of what I'm doing. The instructions at the CentOS Upgrade webpage seem straightforward on the surface, but they describe a number of things I'm unfamiliar with, e.g.:

    quote:
    If your Apache web server configuration enables SSL security, make sure to only enable the TLSv1 protocol, and disable SSLv2 and SSLv3. This is due to the POODLE SSL vulnerability (CVE-2014-3566). See https://access.redhat.com/solutions/1232413 for details.

    Not that I can't look these things up, but reading about something is not the same as having done it once or twice, so I can easily imagine getting myself into trouble that I can't dig myself out of.

So, any help appreciated.

--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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