A technical overview of our server issues

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by BigTex, Jan 9, 2008.

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  1. BigTex

    BigTex Retired WS Staff

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    Hey guys - I thought i would start a new thread that gives some information on what is going on with our server and what is being done to address the issues. I don't want to get too technical but will a little so you can understand the complexity of running a webserver like WS. Let me start by pointing out that the server is the computer hardware and the webserver is software that runs on the server that handes serving web pages to clients (like your Internet Explorer or Firefox).

    First off the various issues we have had with the hosting company are partially misconceptions on what a server hosting company does versus what a web hosting company does. A server hosting company (like ours) provides a server with cooling and power and security but very little application level support (as opposed to a webhosting company which does it all but is *considerably* more expensive). When WS stops working the hosting company will only help by rebooting the box (which helps but is much too severe of an action to be considered a reasonable fix - like replacing the light fixture every time a bulb burns out) and not fix the webserver application (which is what you actually use when you login). I have a server in the same datacenter as the WS server and have never had downtime nor support issues in the 4 years there but that is because I support the applications myself and only use the hosting company for hardware issues. Changing hosting companies is usually done for geographical or power/cooling stability issues (or simply cost).

    Now on the hardware side I do see several issues that I am working on, all centered on the memory subsystem. First and foremost the server had no swap space allocated. Swap space is a temporary space on the disk where the server can move memory to when it is running out of real memory (RAM, which is on a chip). RAM is always better than swap (because it is an order of magnitude faster) but cost of RAM prohibits having an excessive amount and swap addresses when you need some slower temp memory when under load. The lack of swap space meant that when the webserver got enough users on it the server would run out of memory and get stuck and need a complete system reboot to fix it. I added swap space and this has resulted in no server hangs (remember server means hardware) but we are still seeing webserver hangs.

    On the webserver issues I am looking at logs when it locks up and trying to identify the trigger mechanism that causes the hang. This means I might need WS to lockup several more times before we have enough data to do a trend analysis on the failures. Please bear with me while I work on it.

    Finally on the signature removal and why it helps. All the data stored on the WS webserver is put in a back end mysql database. That means that all the information for each user,post,thread,etc is put into and read out of the database. Since the goal is to stabilize the server, the extra work caused by the signatures (especially the larger ones) and subscribed threads just add to the work the server needs to to every moment. If we can stabilize the server then we can re-evaluate signatures but even then I would strongly suggest not allowing the large pictures sigs.

    I know many of you are not as interested in what is going on as you are in just seeing WS available so if you just skipped to this part please be aware that I am working hard to get this addressed and ask your patience while I complete my work.

    Sincerely,
    -BigTex (Sassygerl's Hubby)

    ETA: Fixed the "we" when I meant me, I am used to writing corporate explanations with my entire team rather than just me.
     
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  3. JBean

    JBean Retired WS Administrator

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    I haven't read your whole post yet BT..but want to say thanks for all your work.:blowkiss:
     
  4. j2mirish

    j2mirish Former Member

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    I tried to read it, then just decided to say "thank you " too-- !
     
  5. JBean

    JBean Retired WS Administrator

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    ok I just read your whole post. Funny thing is, that is EXACTLY what Sassy said it was.:angel:
     
  6. SieSie

    SieSie Active Member

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    Hardly understood a word of it (I'm not technically inclined, lol), but appreciate your hard work and help in "fixing" WS. Thanks much, BigTex!!
     
  7. Sassygerl

    Sassygerl Active Member

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    LMAO...see I told you :innocent:
     
  8. chicoliving

    chicoliving Former Member

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    Oh thank you thank you thank you BigTex! :)
     
  9. Jules

    Jules Former Member

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    Thanks BigTex (and Sassy too)! :D :D
     
  10. JDB

    JDB Tybee you will never be forgotten

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    YEA BRAG will ya *STICKS OUT TONGUE
     
  11. christine2448

    christine2448 Retired WS Staff

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    :woohoo: :woohoo: :blowkiss: :blowkiss: :dance: :clap: :clap:


    Thank you for taking the time to try and make everyone understand. Sincerely. (thanks sasser!)


    Anything we can do, just holla.
     
  12. pedinurse

    pedinurse Former Member

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    Thank you!!!
     
  13. LinasK

    LinasK Verified insider- Mark Dribin case

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    Thank You Big Tex for your detailed explanation and your work!:blowkiss:
     
  14. lucimhome

    lucimhome New Member

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    Thank You Big Tex..............
     
  15. LadyLuck

    LadyLuck New Member

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    Do not understand it but wanted to say thank you for working to solve the problem.
     
  16. CW

    CW Former Member

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    I also want to say thank you. :)
     
  17. T-Rex

    T-Rex New Member

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    Thank you--VERY much appreciated! I don't understand all of this, but would it help to limit the quote feature? People don't abuse it a lot, like on other boards, but it is some extra width.
     
  18. Elphaba

    Elphaba Defying Gravity...

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    Definitely a big thank you from my corner of the web!
     
  19. SLY

    SLY Former Member

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    K, I read all the way through, got a headache trying to understand.

    I agree with the rest to just say thank you. Thank you.

    About the signatures... I have always had them on iggy after I found that I could do that. Before I just had to iggy those with big long siggys coz it took to long to scroll through over & over & over & over.

    Sly
     
  20. Glow

    Glow New Member

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    Thank you for such a clear explanation. I think I understand it better now. BTW you have a great wife! (And she is not doing so bad herself) :blowkiss:
    Thanks BigTex for all you have done!
     
  21. rd_jfc

    rd_jfc Active Member

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    That's an excellent point, T-Rex. I almost always click on Reply instead of Quote unless post was from back aways on a previous page. Many routinely click on Quote instead.

    The Quote duplicating posts maybe requires two to three times or more the size of Reply posts which is two to three times the bandwidth needed for the page. So throughout the site bandwidth would be cut in half for example just in terms of Reply versus Quote from most uses of Quote I've seen.

    Of course context is often needed even if the post is right above but if I use Quote I edit it down to the operative sentence or two I'm responding to, obviously taking care not to take out of context. :)

    Much thanks to a hardware/software guy like Big Tex to be working on this.

    rd
     
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