Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Overnight DNS Issues Resolved

Overnight (or in the wee hours of the morning, depending on the time zone you're in) our nameservers failed, apparently due to an upgrade of BIND (the DNS server) pushed by cPanel. The upgrade configuration file (yum.conf) was written to exclude BIND for automatic updates (so they can be done when we're watching, to fix any issues immediately), but that configuration file was over-written at the same time, presumably also by cPanel.

The update erroneously added duplicate entries to the DNS server configuration file, which caused the failure.

For those unfamiliar with how DNS works, the (DNS) nameservers are what translates your domain name to the physical server's IP address. The physical server was technically up and functioning (email continued to be processed, etc), which is why the typical error alerts that are sent by SMS after business hours didn't go out. In addition the overnight support staff weren't set up to monitor the nameservers. Those have both have been rectified (as well as some new alerts added), should this ever happen again it can be fixed immediately, and a bug report will be filed with cPanel support.

Including backup DNS for all accounts (at no additional cost) has been in the works for some time, and using an external DNS provider has also been considered, it's just been a question of finding the right, reliable DNS provider. Testing and research of these will be bumped up to a higher place on the "to do" list.

We apologize for the downtime and have taken steps to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fantastico Updates and Installatron is Coming

The following application updates are available through Fantastico:

* 4Images Gallery: 1.7.7 -> 1.7.8
* Coppermine Photo Gallery: 1.5.6 -> 1.5.8
* Drupal: 6.16 -> 6.19
* Gallery: 2.3.1 -> 3.0
* LimeSurvey: 1.87+ -> 1.90+
* OpenX: 2.8.5 -> 2.8.7
* PHProjekt: 6.0.1 -> 6.0.4
* TikiWiki: 4.3 -> 5.2
* Typo3: 4.3.3 -> 4.4
* WebCalendar: 1.2.1 -> 1.2.3
* WordPress: 3.0 -> 3.0.1
* Zen Cart: 1.3.9d -> 1.3.9g

Unless you're brand new here (and/or new to using Fantastico to install web applications), you've probably noticed that Fantastico is consistently lagging on providing application updates, even when it's a critical security update. To be fair, an auto-installers job is to do the initial install, not keep an application updated. The problem is when you install some applications within Fantastico, they can only be upgraded through Fantastico, or problems arise.

Fantastico's sluggish updates have long been a concern for most of the web hosting community. In particular WordPress updates really need to be done ASAP, since WP is such a targeted popular script.

We've offered Fantastico for many years (5-6, if memory serves), many users come to expect it to be a part of any hosting package, and it hasn't been until recently that Fantastico has had any real competition.

Enter Installatron. It's been getting rave reviews, comes with a ton of cool features, includes scripts and applications Fantastico never has (and likely never will)**, will convert applications installed by other auto-installers (like Fantastico), and the best part...

How often are the application installers updated?
We add critical updates within hours of release, guaranteed within 24 hours, but normally in less than 12 hours. This includes non-business day releases.

Non-critical updates weigh speed with stability, and in some cases the developers actually let us know when they think the latest version is ready to add to Installatron. Standard releases for stable or popular web applications usually follow the "critical" update path, while larger version changes (and certain applications) might be given some breathing space to ensure stability.

12-24 hours for new version releases, compared to typically weeks with Fantastico. Score! We're performing testing on Installatron now, and will announce as soon as it's ready and been added to all hosting accounts.

**please note Hello World Web Hosting excludes some applications deemed security risks, as most good hosting companies do