The OS Quest #31 Trail Log: Host Blues Edition

Things began to go bad Monday night, although I didn’t know how bad until Tuesday. On Monday I got an email from SiteUpTime saying my site was inaccessible and sure enough it was – for about 45 minutes. Bluehost said the server was experiencing performance issues and was looking into it. When the site came back online I checked it through my stats package URL instead of a WordPress URL, so while I got a response from the site I didn’t realize that the WordPress DB was corrupt. Now since I don’t know exactly what happened I can’t absolutely blame Bluehost for the corruption – but I don’t believe in coincidence. Anyway, the long overnight outage was my fault since I hadn’t bothered to properly check my site.

When I noticed the lack of traffic the next morning I checked the real site and found WordPress had gone into install mode. A repair on the WordPress DB showed the config table was corrupt and now fixed, although it took awhile to get to that point. Surprisingly the settings themselves were fine when I went through them. I later found the the WordPress portion of the .htaccess file had been blow away (I assume by WordPress when it went into install mode), breaking all URLs except the main one. That was easy enough to fix from a restore. The last thing I noticed was that all the static pages were missing. They had been converted to regular posts. I considered blowing everything away and just restoring from backup and maybe I still should. But I decided to restore the pages via cut-and-paste and make sure the URLs stayed the same as the pre-crash URLs. It was certainly quicker than a full restore although I waited until Saturday to do it.

Bluehost continued to have problems earlier in the week. SiteUpTime reported 4 more outages over April 1st and 2nd. Three were under 30 minutes each and the fourth was between 30 and 60 minutes. Not a good week for Bluehost, or me. I experienced the biggest downside of using a shared host.

On the fun side of things, I scoped out running a website on Apache, using my Ubuntu Server VM. I think I’m ready to install WordPress and get a test site going.

I was looking at my site stats and noticed that in March there was a pretty big jump in visitors using Windows, although Mac users still account for over half the visitors. Mac users dropped from 60 to 53% with Windows picking up those 7% to hit 39%. Linux was level at 7%. IE users were up almost as much, by 6%. Firefox and Safari lost 3 points each to IE although IE is still in third place at 20% of visitors. Most visitors (43%) use Firefox and 32% use Safari.

Software Updates

Apple released some software updates this week. I usually apply them right away, at least to one of my Macs, but this time I didn’t want to take the chance of encountering any more problems so I delayed everything. On Saturday I finally went ahead and updated my iMac although my MacBook and Mac Mini remain unpatched for now. iTunes 7.6.2 was described as having “…bug fixes to improve stability and performance.” There was also QuickTime 7.4.5 which includes security and other fixes. There’s four possible QuickTime download, depending on the OS and this one requires a reboot on Macs. Front Row 2.1.3 was released to improve iTunes compatibility. Finally, Keynote 4.0.3 addresses problems when dealing with large documents (not something I worry about). I didn’t have any problems installing these on my iMac, but like I said, there was a restart.

Frustrations

The web site problems were certainly on the top of the frustrations list this week. But there was more. The main reason I installed the updates on my iMac is because I was having iPod problems and figured I try the new iTunes. While infrequent, my iPod has developed the ability to crash iTunes when it connects. And then when iTunes restarts and connects it sees my iPod as a new device. While the iPod retains all the information I have to re-establish my sync settings. It’s a pain but at least it doesn’t try to replace everything on the iPod at the first sync. I’ll see if the iTunes update helps. If not, it’ll be an iPod restore next.

I’ve also noticed that Safari is crashing more since the last update. It’s not a lot, not even once a day. Maybe two or three times a week since I installed it, but it’s still up from zero before the update. No noticeable pattern and it’s on sites I visit frequently. Anyone else seeing this?

Mozy also contributes to my frustration every now and them. It’s still pre-release (although now officially a release candidate) for Mac so problems are to be expected. The most annoying one is where the status reports nothing is backed up and last the last backup(s) sent nothing, although it shows a status of successful. The log file usually either says the user account is in use or it couldn’t register the machine on the account. Mozy doesn’t provide a way to unload and reload the software so I end up restarting my Mac and the next backup works. Since the backup after the restart always works this seems to be a client problem.

The Week Ahead

I think it’ll be another slow week for site updates unless something unexpected catches my attention. I’ll probably work on getting WordPress running on my Ubuntu VM and look into upgrading to WordPress 2.5. I figure I’ll hold off on the upgrade until I check out my site a bit more to make sure I don’t need a full restore due to remaining problems.