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mundens



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:50 pm    Post subject: Website Hosting Reply with quote

I thought it best to start a new thread on this, as some misconceptions have been repeated, and I;d like to get the future course decided so we can plan.

Dale wrote:
1. Website reliability needs to be looked at. If it is decided to keep the existing arrangements, I suggest regularly duplicating (copy/paste) all information from the website here, or on a blog from December onwards.


Copy-and-paste replication would be an awful lot of work. Feel free to replicate the information to a blog under your control, if you have the time! Smile

The website has actually been very reliable, other than when some Russian hackers were trying to use a wiki I'm hosting to pass encrypted messages, which I think I've managed to deal with, the main problem has not been the server but the load on the server, which results in it running extremely slowly, and thus appearing to be down. This mainly occurs when an administrator accesses the full table of pre-registrations or the LARP questionaires.

This can only be handled by
a) making the server more powerful, primarily adding more memory, as it's only running with 256Mb of RAM. But the hardware it's currently on is ancient, and could potentially fail any day, which would force

b) getting a proper hosting service.
I actually prefer this option myself as it means I won't be paying for the site's bandwidth as well. Given the current size of the KapCon site and it's associated sub-sites such as the archive material and SDC, a large enough package to support Kapcon would cost around $30 a month, or $360 a year.

I can subsidize some, possibly most, of that cost, as due to the domain name structure it would be simpler if all the rpg.net.nz sites were on the same host.

Unfortunately this wasn't really an option in the weeks leading up to Kapcon XIX as I didn't have the time available to carry out the necessary migration.

Now that KapCon is over I'd be happy to look at getting it done over the next few months, before we get busy for Kapcon again, but I would appreciate some financial support for it.

BTW Dale, the Fright Night site is currently on the same server as well.

Luke wrote:
Didn't Marcus offer a reliable alternative for this?


Mashugenah wrote:
Website: KapCon must surely be able to generate enough "profit" that it could afford better hosting - Marcus offered a very cheap rate.


No, Marcus did not.

He offered some hosting on an overseas host he's paying for, which doesn't support the requirements of the current site. I could explain why, but it's probably only of interest to technical people. It also makes little sense hosting KapCon on an overseas host.

By the way, this is actually only the second year we've had the current interactive site that allows GMs to add their own game blurbs directly to the site, and supports dynamic access to and updating of registration & questionnaire results.

It is is primarily this shift to using a real CMS, rather static xhtml, which is causing the load on the (tiny) server, but it means the site gets updated much quicker, makes it more interactive, and makes the lives of those running it a lot easier, which is why we made the change.

Finally, I'd just like to remind people that moving to a commercial hosting provider does not guarantee that the web-site will be more reliable. Going commercial could makes us super-reliable, but KapCon definitely can't afford any of the ultra-reliable hosting providers out there!

It will be unlikely to fail for the reason the current web-site is failing, and is likely to have longer periods between outages, but commercial providers are notoriously slack at providing quick service if there is a problem , especially to little people like us, so if it does fail it is likely to be out for much longer. Also, I've never had need to use the back-ups on the current server, I know people who have had restore from their backups up multiple times a year when hosting on a commercial provider.
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xyphoid



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 36
Location: Christchurch

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I could probably set up a static mirror of the site using wget, updating it daily, and get that put at static.kapcon.rpg.net.nz or something. That way there'd be an emergency backup that can be linked from nzrag or whatever.

The obvious downside though is that spidering the whole site might take it down...
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Dale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 286
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Frank:
Copy-and-paste replication would be an awful lot of work. Feel free to replicate the information to a blog under your control, if you have the time!


If no other solution is found, then I'm happy to offer to copy all the basic 'con information and then do a weekly replication of new games and draft timetable to a blog in the leadup to the next Kapcon.
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mundens



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xyphoid wrote:
I could probably set up a static mirror of the site using wget, updating it daily, and get that put at static.kapcon.rpg.net.nz or something. That way there'd be an emergency backup that can be linked from nzrag or whatever.

The obvious downside though is that spidering the whole site might take it down...


I'd have to admit to not knowing whether that's feasible, having only used wget for testing purposes before. Can you, for instance, effectively mirror something like this bulletin board using wget?

As to load we're already being crawled by Google and the other search engines anyway, so another probably wouldn't matter (especially if you use -w), the things that cause real load are not available to anyone but logged in admin users.

Be prepared to retrieve up to 200Mb of data though!
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itowlson



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Posts: 276

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know much about Web site hosting or how the Kapcon stuff is stored so forgive me if the following suggestion is dumb.

Might it be more economical to store large static items (like the SDC PDFs) on S3 (USD 0.15 per GB per month for storage plus USD 0.17 per GB downloaded)? I realise this wouldn't help with the dynamic parts of the site, but might offloading the big items allow us to get down into one of the cheaper hosting plans?
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sophmelc



Joined: 10 Jan 2008
Posts: 782

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm happy to pitch in to help with the increased hosting costs and even to help look at providers if you don't have the time.
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binder



Joined: 02 May 2007
Posts: 67

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:17 am    Post subject: Re: Website Hosting Reply with quote

mundens wrote:


Luke wrote:
Didn't Marcus offer a reliable alternative for this?


Mashugenah wrote:
Website: KapCon must surely be able to generate enough "profit" that it could afford better hosting - Marcus offered a very cheap rate.


No, Marcus did not.

He offered some hosting on an overseas host he's paying for, which doesn't support the requirements of the current site. I could explain why, but it's probably only of interest to technical people. It also makes little sense hosting KapCon on an overseas host.


I don't mean this come across wrongly - but what more do you need? I have a bunch of options I don't use that can be implemented on the host I have - from SSH through commercial authentication of financial transactions (for a small extra cost) and beyond.

Also, I personally don't see and issue with running a site hosted overseas (especially through one that runs a million other sites). I also know that this provider also supports forums and sites that will likely be much larger than anything needed for the local RPG scene (www.yog-sothoth.com and its other sites).

I'm also happy to ask for nothing for these access (barring any third party costs) as I already stump up for the server space at the moment (and it ain't going anywhere)...

Marcus
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mundens



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Website Hosting Reply with quote

binder wrote:
I don't mean this come across wrongly - but what more do you need?

As mentioned in response to your original proposal, something better than a CPanel host. A CPanel host does not provide the sort of configuration capabilities that the current KapCon site requires in terms of managing host names and DNS entries, and nor did they directly support Drupal or allow proper access to or creation of databases when I checked at the time.

Also, based on current disk usage, we'd need almost 200Mb of disk storage.

binder wrote:
Also, I personally don't see and issue with running a site hosted overseas

Primary issue in hosting overseas is availability, as the international internet links still go down regularly. About as often as the KapCon web-site has been going down, in fact. Smile

Also, overseas hosts are even less responsive to people in NZ than they are to people in their own countries,. often in order to get any support from, say, a USA based hosting provider, you have to make an international phone call during USA business hours.

Finally increased international bandwidth costs for NZ users who don't have flat rate broadband internet connections.
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xyphoid



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 36
Location: Christchurch

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mundens wrote:
I'd have to admit to not knowing whether that's feasible, having only used wget for testing purposes before. Can you, for instance, effectively mirror something like this bulletin board using wget?


After some experimentation (and compiling wget 1.12)

http://www.xi.co.nz/kapcon/ (depth 1)

( wget -rkKpE -l [depth] -e robots=off http://kapcon.rpg.net.nz for future reference, you need 1.12 which only just came out in order to get the CSS parsing )
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binder



Joined: 02 May 2007
Posts: 67

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe we need to sit down and talk at length about what I've got available. I think you're making some assumptions that should be discussed (i.e. support - never an issue - chat interface support is live and immediate, etc. The Cpanel is only a convenience interface, I can access more through SSH).

I guess what I'm saying is the server (or my portion) sits within a company that has an excellent reputation and services 1 million sites. We shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I do understand if there is some reluctance to lose the level of control the owners have over the current site, but the present situation (see the various posts here alone) just doesn't cut it in my opinion for a Con trying to be ever more professional.

I'll be quiet now,

Marcus

P.S. As for space - I'm currently hosting 1.2 gig of Hi-res scans of 'out of print' RPG material (all legally - for the well known RPG rights owner) at the moment. These get accessed regularly, and I've never had an issue.
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mundens



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

binder wrote:
Maybe we need to sit down and talk at length about what I've got available.


OK, PMing you to discuss the site requirements.
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Confusion



Joined: 02 Nov 2008
Posts: 73
Location: Christchurch

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doesn't the refusal of Telecom and Telstra to work together mean that a significant number of users will be accessing any NZ based website via california anyway?

This is pretty much a side note to the rest of the conversation, but as I understood it, hosting in NZ is over pricey, and theres very little in the way of connections that offer cheaper access for national content these days, partly due to the big boys refusing to talk to each other.
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spiro



Joined: 03 Aug 2006
Posts: 66
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Confusion wrote:
This is pretty much a side note to the rest of the conversation, but as I understood it, hosting in NZ is over pricey


I think that it depends on what you're after.. I work for an ISP, and we charge $10 a month for "regular" hosting, and $15 a month for "advanced," the latter of which includes ability to run scripts, some bundled apps, and SQL database.

Even the $10 plan includes a .nz domain name, and up to 10 mailboxes. While that's cheap for businesses, it may be expensive for an individual, but most of what individuals want can be hosted online for nothing, with a domain name only adding a few dollars a year into the equation.

The expensive stuff tends to be virtual servers, or even more expensive, dedicated servers, which is overkill for the majority of people.
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mundens



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiro wrote:
I think that it depends on what you're after.. I work for an ISP, and we charge $10 a month for "regular" hosting, and $15 a month for "advanced," the latter of which includes ability to run scripts, some bundled apps, and SQL database.


Hey Spiro, do either of those plans allow the users to edit the Apache httpd.conf files to set up security and virtual hosts?

And do you have Drupal available in those bundled apps ?
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