Thursday, December 27, 2012

Apollo Server Maintenance

...third time is a charm, right?

On Friday, December 28, 2012 between 4:01am and 7:01am EST (1:01am-4:01am PST), we will perform needed maintenance on the Apollo server. A reboot of the server will be required. We generally do not expect the downtime to exceed 30 minutes, but it is based on many variables and may (rarely) exceed an hour. The data center will be actively monitoring the server for the duration of the maintenance.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Apollo Server Maintenance, redux

Some issues from the maintenance done on Dec. 19th are being corrected. There could be 15-20 minutes of downtime in the next hour. We apologize for the inconvenience. 12:29pm PST UPDATE: All maintenance and hardware replacement is complete, thank you again for your patience. All systems a go, ahead warp factor one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Server Maintenance

On Wednesday, December 19, 2012 between 4:01am and 7:01am EST (1:01am-4:01am PST), we will perform maintenance on the Apollo server. A reboot of the server will be required. We generally do not expect the downtime to exceed 30 minutes, but it is based on many variables and may (rarely) exceed an hour. The data center will be actively monitoring the server for the duration of the maintenance.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Domain Name Registrar Maintenance

Our master domain name registrar will be migrating their services to a new data center late tonight, November 23rd. They have specified a 4 hour maintenance window beginning at 8pm PST, 5pm EST. All domains will continue to resolve as normal, and the only difference you'll notice during this brief time is you won't be able to make any domain name record changes, such as name, address, or DNS changes. You're probably too tired from all that shopping at 4am to do any work tonight, anyway. Am I right?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Domain Renewal Email Frequency Adjusted

Because your domain name is so critical to the continued functioning of your website and email, it's customary for all domain registrars to send repeated reminders of the upcoming renewal date, typically beginning at 60 days out and at intervals of every 15 days.

We have always adopted this industry standard, but also realize that the repeated emails can become rather annoying, and like those not-so-lovely and extremely repetitive TV commercials, after a while you may tune them out. At the same time, without enough notice, anything that only happens once a year (like your anniversary*) could slip your mind and catch you unaware (like being on vacation when your domain name renews). This would be very bad.

When the billing software we use had a major upgrade a couple of months ago, they added a new feature, yet another domain renewal reminder email, sent out on the 11th of each month. As I understand how it's supposed to work, those customers who have more than one domain name registered with us that expires within the next 30 days should be getting this email. Unfortunately, the email is both going out to every customer with a domain expiring that month; and there's no way to shut it off.

While trying to find a way to shut off this additional (and in my opinion, unneeded) email, the frequency at which domain renewal emails are sent was reviewed, and a new more sensible schedule has been adopted.

Domain renewal reminder emails will now be sent at 60 days and 30 days from the due date. Invoices will continue to be generated and emailed 10 days prior to your due date. There may still be a 3rd reminder email sent to you, on the 11th of the month. We apologize in advance for that, and if we can find a way to stop that email, we will.

Please remember that your domain expires ON the morning of the "expiration date." Do not wait until THAT DAY to renew your domain!

All domain due dates are set to the day before the expiration day for this reason.

For any questions about our domain name registration and renewal policies, please see our Domain Name Registration FAQs.

* Perhaps emailed reminders, every 15 days for 2 months, might work for anniversaries and birthdays?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Last Call To Check For DNSChanger malware

This truly is the last call to check your computer for DNSChanger malware and clean it up (if you're computer is infected) so you can still access the Internet after today. DNSChanger has been in the tech news for a couple of years, but since April 2012 there's been a massive public information campaign, with social media posts and mainstream news everywhere. Google is warning users of DNSChanger infections, and even Comcast is attempting to contact their users whose computers are infected (it's easy for a cable provider to match users with IPs, since cable Internet users typically have the same IP for a very long time, verses an IP change daily from DSL). The reason the media blitz is continuing, right up until the final day, is because hundreds of thousands of users are IGNORING the warnings.

You should not only know what DNSChanger is, but you should be sick of hearing about it by now. Sadly I still get asked about it, as recently as late June...what it is, and if "all those people will really lose their Internet connection in July." Average users are reading the headlines....but nothing more.

I see some in the tech industry getting frustrated over people not paying attention to such a massive media campaign that's for their own good, with one Znet.com blogger even going so far as to list five reasons DNSChanger victims deserve to lose the Internet. Though it's a little harsh, I agree with it. A couple of years ago we had a payment policy change. A notice was included in the email that goes out with every invoice (the actual invoices are .PDF attachments with the email). This notice of an upcoming change that would affect every customer was in the invoice email for a solid year, yet there were still customers who were unaware of it when the switch occurred.

When you own a car, you get a license (which includes passing a test to make sure you know the basic rules of the road), and you learn what the different parts of the vehicle are and how they work. If it's a manual transmission, you learn how to shift gears without grinding them, you learn that if you run out of gas the car stops, you learn to put in oil. A computer is no different, if you own/use a computer you need to learn how to maintain it or pay someone to do this for you, just like a car. Think about it, if there was a recall for your car, would you have it checked? Of course you would.

It's a simple 10 second process, and there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for any computer user to not verify their computer is clean.

This website will show if you're infected: http://www.dns-ok.us/

http://www.dcwg.org/detect/ also lists DNS checkers for countries located outside of the US, or you can also use the list from the FBI's page. The FBI page is a little more difficult to use, since you'll need to enter your IP (sites like whatismyip.com will tell you).

If your computer is clean, you should be good to go. IF NOT, not only do you need to clean the malware infection from your computer, but you need to check your DNS settings, also! A lot of articles I've read about the DNSChanger infection aren't addressing that issue. The malware changes your DNS settings and redirects your computer and sometimes your router.

The DCWG.org page also lists how to manually check to see if your DNS settings have been changed.

Here's how to check if your router is infected and what to do

Lastly, no one is "losing" their Internet access. The Internet will still be there...you just won't be able to connect to it if you're infected, unless you use a websites' IP address, instead of the much-easier-to-remember domain name. Once the malware is deleted from your computer and your DNS settings restored, your computer will be able to connect to the Internet once again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Microsoft Vulnerabilities Workaround

The attack code has been made public for two unpatched Microsoft vulnerabilities. The attack code for CVE-2012-1875 integrated into Metasploit targets Internet Explorer 8 on Windows XP with Service Pack 3.

As described in Microsofts' Security Advisory:
The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted webpage using Internet Explorer. An attacker would have no way to force users to visit such a website. Instead, an attacker would have to convince users to visit the website, typically by getting them to click a link in an email message or Instant Messenger message that takes them to the attacker's website.

Microsoft has yet to release a security patch for this vulnerability. However, a Microsoft "Fix it" tool that blocks the attack vector is available for download.

The public availability of exploit code for both of these vulnerabilities increases the chances that they will be exploited in new attacks. Users are advised to install the security patch for CVE-2012-1875 and the Microsoft Fix it tool for CVE-2012-1889 as soon as possible in order to protect themselves.

CVE-2012-1889
Because the link to Microsoft's Knowledgebase article (contained in their security advisory) is a 404 (not to mention the advisory is extremely confusing at best), I'm posting direct links here to Microsofts' FixIt Tool for the benefit of our readers.

Microsoft FixIt
As an interim work-around, Microsoft has provided a Microsoft Fix it solution that blocks the attack vector for this vulnerability. It's suggested that you save both files so that you can disable the solution prior to installing the update when it is released.

To Enable Microsoft Fix it 50897 http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9811924

This will download a file, MicrosoftFixit50897.msi to your computer. Double-click on the file to run it, accept the licensing agreement, and allow the Fix to install.

To Disable Microsoft Fix it 50898 http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9811925
Do this after a patch is released.

CVE-2012-1875
Microsoft has released a security patch to address CVE-2012-1875, you can install this by visiting Microsoft update. More information about this vulnerability can be found here: Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (2699988).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

AtMail Webmail plugin to be removed


AtMail, one of the four webmail plugins we offer, will be discontinuing their open source product and switching to a commercial (paid) licensed product only. cPanel has announced they will be removing AtMail from cPanel as of August 2012. We've decided to disable it on our servers as of July 1, 2012. 

If you're a regular Webmail user, please check out the other three webmail plugins available: Horde, SquirrelMail, and RoundCube. With Webmail you aren't tied to any one application...all three take you to the same email. Each has different features as well as a different look and feel (and different levels of theme customization), but they all take you to the same email. 

I'll admit I'm going to miss AtMail. It had a nice, clean interface...though in my opinion it's in no way worth what they're charging for it. Roundcube is a close second as far as look and feel. Though cPanel has no immediate plans to replace AtMail, we may start looking around at other Webmail application options. 
 
If there's one you've always wanted, please feel free to let us know! We always encourage user feedback, and try to implement as many user suggestions as possible.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Installatron Temporarily Disabled

Installatron, one of the two script auto-installers we offer, has been temporarily disabled until a bug can be fixed. This won't affect any current script/software installations you have done through it, only affect installing any new software. It should be just a day or two before we will either re-enable Installatron, or replace it with another auto-installer.

UPDATE: 5/25/12 6:57pm PDT  Installatron has been re-enabled on all hosting packages.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Apollo Scheduled Maintenance Notice

Tonight during the overnight (off-peak) hours of Thursday May 17th we will be performing scheduled maintenance on the Apollo server. There will be some brief anticipated downtime of approximately 15-30 minutes during the maintenance window of 4-5am EDT / 1-2am PDT (for other time zones please adjust accordingly).

Friday, April 27, 2012

Apollo Server Brief Downtime Resolved

The Apollo server had some brief downtime around 1am PDT due to a hardware issue with the network node, where a hardware component needed to be replaced. A reboot was necessary in order to bring the server back online. The reboot has finished successfully and all services have been restored. We apologize for any inconvenience this interruption may have caused.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Email Issues

MailScanner released an upgrade today (v4.84.5), which may have a bug in it (there have been 2 versions released today) and MailScanner is refusing to start/stay running.

While we debug this issue MailScanner has been disabled. Email will still be delivered, but you may see a slight delay in delivery as we stop and restart email processing services in order to work on this issue. You may also see spam slipping through until MailScanner is fully functional once again, as that's MailScanners' sole purpose in life: to filter spam.

We're working on fixing this issue as quickly as possible, and will update this blog post when the issue is resolved. Thank you for your patience.

EDIT 8:18pm: The MailScanner issues have been resolved and it is once again humming right along, like a finely-tuned spam-eating machine.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Brief downtime to repair server quotas

The quota system on the new Apollo server has not been reporting correctly. It was supposed to be fixed when the server was first commissioned, but I noticed today that it's still not correct.

The data center is running a fix on it, which will incur 2-10 minutes of downtime. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Post-Migration Issues Being Cleared Up

Like true love, the course of server migration doesn't always go as smoothly as planned. While most users didn't notice even a hiccup, we're currently working on repairing a few permission and database issues that happened when transferring accounts from the old Apollo server to the new Apollo server.

1. If you're currently unable to reach your website (or ours), it is likely a DNS caching issue, which can happen when the server IP address changes. Just like when a browser will cache a copy of a web page that may have recently changed, browsers also store a DNS cache (depending on your settings). To flush your local computer's DNS:

On Windows:
  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Go to Run.
  3. If you do not see the Run command in Vista, search for "run" in the Search bar.
  4. In the Run text box, type: ipconfig /flushdns
  5. Press Enter or Return, and your cache will be flushed.

On Mac:
  1. Go to Applications.
  2. Go to Utilities.
  3. Open the Terminal application.
  4. Type: dscacheutil -flushcache
  5. Press Enter or Return, and your cache will be flushed.

After flushing your local DNS cache, it's also a good idea to reboot your computer.

I personally use and recommend using Google DNS instead of your ISP's DNS. I've found their DNS servers to be very fast and super responsive to DNS changes. Here is one tutorial on how to make changes to the DNS server your computer uses.

A caveat: Nothing is foolproof. This morning I was able to view our own status blog (and a post on it made this morning, so it wasn't a cached page) on one computer that doesn't use Google DNS, while from another computer on the same network/IP -set up to use Google DNS- could NOT see the status blog. My computer at home, also using Google DNS but on a different ISP/network/IP couldn't see our status blog.

These issues were cleared up when I resynced the blog feed (through Feedburner), which forces a recheck of the current DNS settings. The funniest part is, Feedburner is owned by Google. :)


2. Check to see if your site is up
Here's another quick way you can check to see if it might be a local caching issue. There are many websites that will check to see if your website is up, here's a couple:

DownForEveryoneOrJustMe.com
DownOrNot.com

3. Use a website monitoring service
Another recommendation is to use a website monitoring service, such as Pingdom or Binary Canary that alerts you if your website is down. Both offer free accounts if you only need to monitor one website. This would be another tool to help you know if/when there's a problem, and if it's one with your network/ISP/local computer verses a problem with your website or our server.

4. If you're receiving an error message on your site or when logging in to cPanel it speeds things up considerably if you can give us the error message itself. There's a million things it could be, and a hint as to what error you're getting will help considerably.

5. Apache is currently being recompiled has been recompiled to include the PDO MySQL extension. That was somehow missed when the settings were transferred.

6. If you're experiencing any other issues we're currently available by Live Chat (the icon in the bottom right corner of all pages on our website...if you don't see the Live Chat icon, refresh the page), or you can submit a ticket through our online support desk.

If you ever can't access the support desk/Client Portal for any reason, you can also send a Direct Message to our Twitter account and that will send a smoke signal. Per how Twitter works, you need to be following us and visa versa.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Server Migration In Process

Services such as email, cPanel and FTP will be shut off for the next 30-60 minutes or so while we migrate accounts to the new server and transfer the DNS settings. We don't want you to lose any email in the process of the transfer, so that's why we do it this way.

This post will be updated when the process is complete.

3/10/12 1:41AM
Well, that was a long 30 minutes, wasn't it? There were a few discrepancies between how cPanel is supposed to transfer user accounts, and how they actually did in this case. We were only able to transfer the accounts one at a time, due to a bug in cPanels' "transfer multiple accounts" option.

DNS has been transferred, the email queue on the old server was flushed (all mail holding during the transfer was released to it's intended recipients), and our backup DNS provider is likely earning their pay about now.

We'll be babysitting the process over the next few hours and tomorrow, to make sure everything runs smoothly.

The server SSL certificate will be reinstalled on the new server as soon as DNS is done (it's assigned to the hostname, not the IP), so if you try to access email and get a certificate warning, it's because the server is using the default self-signed one that comes with cPanel, instead of our spiffy official one.

Please be patient as we make the final adjustments and tweaks.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Email Issues Solved

Apparently ClamAV, the email virus scanner, didn't like leap year. At approximately midnight the mail server stopped processing email because the virus scanner stopped. This issue was corrected and all email holding in the server queue was released at 8:00am.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and will investigated further to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Apollo server migration to upgrade CentOS

During the week of March 5th we will be migrating all accounts currently on the Apollo server to a newly provisioned server in order to safely perform a major version upgrade of CentOS, the server operating system. Apollo will be upgraded to CentOS 6.2, and we will also use this opportunity to upgrade the server hardware to a 64-bit machine, which has better memory handling.

CentOS is the Enterprise version of Red Hat Linux. The advantage to an Enterprise version is a longer life/upgrade cycle of five years (compared to other Linux distros that can be as short as 18 months). Why this matters is because though minor OS updates can be done in place, major version updates can not (or more accurately, it's strongly recommended against doing so).


The only noticeable change will be that because we'll need to migrate to a new machine, the server IPs will change. Therefore any IP-based usage you'll need to edit the IPs you're using. After all accounts are migrated over to the new server we'll update the nameserver IP, so the DNS transition should be smooth and uneventful.

All accounts (website files, email) will stay on the original server until they have been fully copied to the new server, tested for accuracy, and the DNS has finished propagating. Because of this we anticipate no downtime associated with this upgrade and account migration.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Apollo server briefly offline

Today from 2:10pm to 2:38pm PST (5:10pm-5:38pm EST) the Apollo server was unresponsive and offline. There was nothing wrong with the server itself, the outage stemmed from a temporary network issue in the section of the data center were Apollo is located. The data centers' Engineers resolved the issue and it should not reoccur.

We apologize for this disruption in service, maintaining uptime is a high priority to us. As soon as we are aware of any outage (even small hiccups) status reports are posted to our Twitter account and here on this blog.

3:40pm PST UPDATE: Apollo server is again unresponsive. Our trouble ticket with the data center has been reopened. Updates as we have them.
4:13pm PST UPDATE: Apollo is back up. Again we apologize for this.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOPA Blackout Day Of Protest

Along with thousands of other websites, not the least of which are WordPress, all icanhazcheezburger network sites (FailBlog, theDailyWhat,Know Your Meme, etc), Wikipedia, reddit, Tucows, Internet Archive, Wikipeadia, and Mozilla, our website will be joining the one day SOPA Blackout on January 18, 2012.

Our main website will be "dark", though Live Chat will still be available, as will the client management and support section of the site.

For any of our clients or other website owners who would like to become a part of this protest, there are numerous "Blackout" HTML templates, Wordpress plugins, Blogger templates and Javascript scripts in order to make it easier for you to blackout your website.
As always, please be careful when downloading and/or using scripts from unknown sources. Know what you're adding to your site!


Two Important Caveats Before Your Site Goes Dark


  1. Set your index page to return a 503 status code.

    A 503 HTTP code means "service temporarily not available." It tells Google and all other search engines that your site is temporarily down (Like for maintenance), and also doesn't get the text of your blackout page indexed as new content. More on the details of why you'd want to do this are in Pierre Fars' Google+ post Website outages and blackouts the right way.

    How to set a 503 code header?
    The easiest way is by using PHP. Your page can be plain HTML, all you need to do is change the page extension from .html to .php for this to work. Simple add the following code to the very top of your page, before the DOCTYPE or anything else, like this:

    OPENING PHP TAG GOES HERE
    header('HTTP/1.1 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable');
    header('Status: 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable');
    header('Retry-After: 84600'); // in seconds 84600 seconds in one day
    CLOSING PHP TAG GOES HERE
    DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" (Proper DOCTYPE goes here)

    An important note: Don't forget the PHP tags! You'll need an opening PHP tag and closing PHP tag where indicated (the limitations of the blogging software used doesn't allow for displaying scripting tags).


    Check your page to make sure it's returns a 503 header.
    Upload your blackout page and test the headers using an online server headers checker such as this one. Here's what you should see (with the URL of your website):


    #1 Server Response: http://helloworldweb.com
    HTTP/1.1 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable
    Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2012 04:06:29 GMT
    Server: Apache
    Retry-After: 84600
    Connection: close
    Content-Type: text/html


  2. Turn OFF or pause any server/website uptime monitoring services, such as Pingdom, so you don't spend the 24 hours being alerted that your website is down.



~ Mara Alexander
Hello World Web Design and Hosting

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Verisign Increases Domain Name Prices, But We Don't

Since the revised contract was signed between Verisign and ICANN to maintain and manage the .COM registry in 2006, the price for the most popular TLD in the world has increased consistently over the past few years. And on January 14th, .COM prices will rise once again by a further $0.51, and .NET prices by $0.55.

With this contract, Verisign has the authority to increase .COM prices by 7% every year with a 6 month notice to its Registrars. Furthermore, a similar contract signed in June last year for .NET allows for a rise of 10%.

As a result of this everyone can expect to see domain name prices increase.

Everyone that is, except for our customers.

In the interest of goodwill, we've decided to absorb this latest price increase, and not pass it onto our customers.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Domain Name Owners And Privacy

When you register a domain name, whether with us or with another registrar, it's required as part of your registration agreement by ICANN and InterNIC, the non-profit governing body of the International domain name registration system, that you include valid information in the registrant contact section, commonly known as the "WhoIs" section. The contact information requested is fairly basic: name, address, phone number and email address, with a fax number being optional.

Why the WhoIs Is Important

Per InterNIC, the reason for maintaining a WhoIs database:
Information about who is responsible for domain names is publicly available to allow rapid resolution of technical problems and to permit enforcement of consumer protection, trademark, and other laws. The registrar will make this information available to the public on a "WhoIs" site.

Providing false and/or inaccurate contact information on a domain name registration is grounds for cancellation of your domain name by ICANN. You will receive an annual notice reminding you to review your contact information and verify it's accuracy.

Typically this only becomes a problem if someone turns you in for having inaccurate WhoIs data, though this happens more than you might think. The Internet isn't lacking for people who are easy to piss off and have a lot of time on their hands.

At the same time you need to be aware that any information included in your WhoIs is made public where anyone can have access to it. This can and does open up domain name owners to spammers, scammers, telemarketers and other types of abuse, especially for those domain owners who either work from home or have domains that aren't associated with a business.

Protect Your Privacy The Smart Way

There are ways to protect your privacy and yet still be in compliance, it just requires a little "thinking outside the box."

Address: This can be any place that is authorized to accept postal mail on your behalf. That includes P.O. boxes, office addresses, friends' office addresses, or mail forwarding services. I would strongly urge any domain owner to NOT use their home address.

Please be aware that you WILL receive domain name transfers scam letters, mostly from the "Domain Registry of America", which has been going on for years, whenever its' owner isn't in prison for fraud. To circumvent US laws they have moved their operations across the border into Canada. Companies like DRoA are why the "registrar lock" option was created, so your domain name can't be transferred to another registrar without your knowledge and consent.

Phone Number: Just like your address this needs to be a valid one, but that doesn't mean it needs to be your home or cell phone number. There are several options available, such as using a free Google Voice number as your contact phone number. Once Google Voice is set up you can uncheck the options to have phone calls to that number forwarded to you, but just remember to check it every month or so for messages.

Email: This is probably the most abused contact method, as WhoIs records are routinely subject to email harvesters. Again, your listed contact email address needs to be a valid one, but it doesn't need to be your main email address. If you have email set up for your domain, you can use an email forward or a new email address created for the sole purpose of use on your WhoIs.

Make Your WhoIs Private With ID Protection

If none of the above options will work for you, then consider adding ID Protection. When you enable Privacy/ID Protection on a domain name, we replace all your publicly visible contact details with alternate contact information so that when a WHOIS query is performed on the domain, an alternate mailing address, email address and phone number are displayed.


  • You retain full ownership of the domain and have complete control of it.

  • Anyone that tries to contact you using the alternate email address or phone number provided in the public WHOIS database will be directed to an online contact form which will in turn email the message to you. All email sent to the alternate mailing address will be discarded. This method weeds out automated submissions while still allowing valid contact.

  • Privacy Protection can be disabled/enabled at any time.


Privacy protection is not available for the following domain names: .CA, .US, .EU, .CO.UK, .TEL

ID Protection can be added to any domain at the time of registration or renewal for only $1.00 per year. If you have an existing domain registered with us and would like to add Privacy/ID Protection, we'd be happy to add it for free for you (just submit a support ticket).

Though it is completely your choice, we don't recommend using a private domain for businesses. For the same reason a legitimate business wouldn't have their business phone number unlisted in the phone book, you shouldn't have your domain name "unlisted." As a legitimate business, you want people to be able to contact you, and it makes your business look questionable when your contact information is hidden. Sadly the private domain registration options are often abused by scammers looking to hide their identities, and that's not something any legitimate business should want to emulate.

Friday, January 6, 2012

eWaste

Many of us got shiny new electronics for Christmas, often replacing outdated models or equipment that's broken and no longer working. By now you may be wondering "What do I do with the old stuff?" And even if you didn't get anything new, every electronic device has a lifespan. What do you do when your mobile phone stops working? Or your computer breaks down?

What Is eWaste?

eWaste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their "useful life." Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, cell phones, Internet devices and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled. Unfortunately, electronic discards is one of the fastest growing segments of our nation's waste stream.


Every year, we throw away up to 50 million tons of unwanted electronic waste – eWaste. That's enough to fill one million trucks that would stretch half way around the entire globe if they were parked end to end.
In addition, some researchers estimate that nearly 75 percent of old electronics are in storage, in part because of the uncertainty of how to manage the materials. Combine this with increasing advances in technology and new products headed towards the market and it is no wonder that "eWaste" is a popular topic.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as much as three quarters of the computers sold in the US are stockpiled in garages and closets. When thrown away, they end up in landfills or incinerators or, more recently, are exported to Asia.

Why Can't I Just Throw It In The Trash?

Simply put, electronic devices contain many types of toxins and hazardous materials which are harmful to humans and wildlife.

PVC contaminates humans and the environment throughout its lifecycle; during its production, use, and disposal it is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics, and can form dioxin, a known carcinogen, when burned. Some BFRs are highly resistant to degradation in the environment and are able to build up in animals and humans.


  • eWaste is the fastest growing waste stream in the US.

  • Only 11% is currently recycled.

  • The average lifespan of computers in developed countries has dropped from six years in 1997 to just two years in 2005.

  • Mobile phones have a lifecycle of less than two years in developed countries.

  • 183 million computers were sold worldwide in 2004 - 11.6 percent more than in 2003. In 2010 346.2 million computers were sold in the US alone.

  • 674 million mobile phones were sold worldwide in 2004 - 30 percent more than in 2003. In 2010 the number of cell phones in use worldwide hit 4.6 BILLION.

  • And the problem will only get worse...


According to GreenPeace much of the world's hazardous eWaste gets exported to countries like China, India and Africa where rather than being safely recycled eWaste is improperly dumped and exposing the local workers to severe health hazards.

With the growth of electronic waste, workers who deal with eWaste and the wider community are exposed to significant health risks. Burning of eWaste to recover valuable resources, as routinely takes place in the backyards of China, India and much of the global South, can form dioxins. Eliminating the substances will decrease exposure and increase the recyclability and reusability of electronic products.

eWaste is routinely exported by developed countries to developing ones, often in violation of the international law. Inspections of 18 European seaports in 2005 found as much as 47 percent of waste destined for export, including eWaste, was illegal. In the UK alone, at least 23,000 metric tons of undeclared or 'grey' market electronic waste was illegally shipped in 2003 to the Far East, India, Africa and China. In the US, it is estimated that 50-80 percent of the waste collected for recycling is being exported in this way. This practice is legal because the US has not ratified the Basel Convention.

Still not convinced it's a big deal? Take 20 minutes (yes, it's a long video and worth it, though there are shorter clips on YouTube if you don't have the time to watch it all now) and watch "The Story Of Stuff." I guarantee it will open your eyes. You can read more on their website, aptly named StoryOfStuff.com




Breaking The Cycle: What You Can Do

Repurpose your old but still working computer

8 Uses for an old smartphone

Buy from companies committed to green policies In 2006 more than one billion mobile phones were shipped worldwide. However, Nokia (the market leader) recycles just 2 percent of the phones it sells.

The major computer makers do little better, with currently an average recycling rate of just 9 percent. That means the major companies don't recycle over 90 percent of their old products.

Recycle responsibly. In most larger communities there are plenty of recycling companies who will pickup your eWaste, free of charge, and/or have convenient drop-off points. I can't voucher for it's accuracy, but I found a nifty eWaste Recycling Calculator, to calculate the amount of carbon emissions saved.

Will It Make A Difference?

In a word, yes. Japan has effective recycling legislation and Sony reports that it collects 53 percent of it's old products in Japan. That's five times better than the global average for major PC makers and shows that solutions are already available. If Japan - one of the major electronics manufacturing hubs of the world - can do it, so can the rest of us.