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The Nerd Awaketh.

It’s been a while since the last post and you’re probably expecting an update on the redesign project I so vigorously announced in my previous post. But I never really got started on that because life has a peculiar way of screwing you over when you have other plans. It’s not as dramatic as it might sound, of course – I’ve been labeled a drama queen more than once, but that’s mostly by Hallvard – there was simply something else more important, though related to this site, that surfaced.

There is a lengthy technical, nerdy rambling ahead, by the way. If you don’t enjoy servers, RAID controllers, Postfix and similar intriguing subjects, you might as well move along.

A few weeks ago I changed web hosts and moved to GreenGeeks. I choose GreenGeeks because of their environmentally friendly image and because they convinced me, with the information provided on their website, that they knew how to host a simple web site like mine.

Now, three weeks on, I’m not so sure if the latter is the case.

It all started December 5th, when GreenGeeks suspended my account for no apparent reason. I contacted their support people. who were unable to help and referred me on to their billing department. After a while, they replied to my e-mail, confirmed that I’d actually paid my bills and my account was opened again. No reason for the sudden suspension was given, and I, as the fool I am, didn’t ask for them to give me one.

Then, five days later, on December 10th, it happened again: My account got suspended. This time I was actually able to get hold of a helpful techie, who told me that the account was suspended because it was using “excessive resources on the server”. Weird. My site gets around 500 unique visitors per day, not a load that should use an excessive amount of resources on the server. I even looked through the statistics from Google Analytics, and they didn’t show any extreme site leeching.

After a while, the GreenGeeks techie re-opened my account, but with a warning that they would monitor it closely and shut it down again if it misbehaved. I can totally understand that an account hogging resources on the server should be suspended, but I just couldn’t see how my usage could do that.

And it didn’t stop there. On December 15th my account once again fell off the grid without warning. This time I was not even greeted with a “this account has been suspended”-message when I tried to view my site, it was simply not responding and the requests timed out. Once again I e-mailed GreenGeeks support. Their reply was that they had been experiencing problems with the RAID array installed on the server I was hosted on and the array was currently being verified.

I’ve been fiddling a little with server hardware myself, and I thougth that the point of having a RAID array was that you could replace disks, rebuild the array, verify the array and other RAID related tasks without taking the server offline? Unless the entire RAID controller is broken, of course.

This was when I started working on hosting my domains on my own server and that’s what I’ve been working on since we last spoke. I decided to try to set up everything in time so I could use the 30 day money back guarantee I had with GreenGeeks. And I made it! You’re now looking at www.vegard.net hosted from a Mini-ITX box sitting behind the TV in my living room.

It’s not too powerful, but probably powerful enough to host my site. The box has been up and running and accessible from the internet for two days now, and I have yet to see any excessive resource usage. In fact, you can have a look at the resource utilization yourself at vbox-host.com. That’s the domain name for the server, which is hosting both this site and buingo.com. It’s also running the e-mail accounts for all the domains.

Taking this crash course in web and e-mail hosting was great fun. I learned how to set up Apache, Postfix, Dovecot, SquirrelMail, SSH, Postgrey, Munin and a myriad of other services necessary. I also wrote my first Bash script and set up a few cron jobs. It was so much fun that I’m considering buying another Mini-ITX box because of the limitations of the one I’m using now: It wouldn’t hurt it to be a tad more powerful and I need something with passive cooling because its quite noisy. One alternative is to disable the chassis fan, though, and that’ll probably be something I’ll try.

So now I’ve canceled my GreenGeeks account and I can’t say I regret doing so: Yesterday the RAID array went tits up once again and the server was offline for another 30 minutes.

But “hang on a second”, you might say. “Wasn’t one of the reasons you changed hosts to make sure the site was hosted green?”. Yes, you are absolutely right. That’s because I took it upon me to change the electricity provider I use in my apartment to one who could guarantee that the electricity I use come from renewable energy sources. It’s not much work to change electricity provider, you simple fill out an online form and sit back.

For me it was even less work. During my research I found out that my current provider already delivers electricity from renewable energy sources straight to my wall sockets.

So, right now, it’s all happy days in web hosting land.

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