November 1st, 2005 at 08:59pm
Apoligies for the recent three hours of downtime experienced by this website. The hosting provider performed an “upgrade” without notifying me…or at least, that is what they told me on the phone. I’m not inclined to believe them as the way the website reacted makes me think that something failed.
At first I was receiving “Connection Timed Out” errors which indicates that a service failed, especially seeing as the server was still responsing to pings. This later changed to “Connection Refused” errors, which indicates that the hosting provider probably pulled the plug.
It is unusual in my view to perform upgrades whilst still accepting incoming connections to services you are upgrading. Standard procedure would tell you to deny incoming connections before starting an upgrade, as this helps (in some cases) to prevent incoming connections creating problems with the upgrade. Of course my sense of procedure would also tell you that you should notify the people who will be affected by the upgrade.
I think something failed and the technicians either took advantage of that to perform an upgrade, or they called it an upgrade so that nobody would know that things failed.
I must thank regular reader and contributor John B1_B5 for confirming that the problem was not at my ISP, as this would be the first thing which a hosting provider would tell you to check if you tell them that their servers are offline. I agree with this, but I couldn’t really see a point in yelling at the technician on the phone as it is really a management decision when it comes to upgrades, and I will email them to ask them to inform customers before performing upgrades, and to make the service status visible from an external website, as it is currently only accessible through the hosting control panel website (which was also down).
John B1_B5 mentioned that he was getting a “page cannot be displayed” message. This is one of Internet Explorer’s many “friendly” messages which it will display when something is wrong. The one problem I have with these messages is that they will appear even if the website being visited has a page of it’s own for that purpose. For example, a website may (and most do) have a 404 page for cases where the page you requested can’t be found, such a page is likely to contain some useful links back to the homepage, a site search facility and probably some contact information if you think the page has appeared incorrectly. The Internet Explorer “friendly” page has a link to the homepage of the site, but is incapable of bringing you any other information, such as contact information or any messages which the website has on it’s own 404 page.
The IE Friendly pages on their own are just fine, I just think they should make way for those which the website offers when they are offered. When I was using IE I turned off friendly error pages as they annoyed me, that setting can be found at Tools–>Internet Options–>Advanced–>Browsing–>Show Friendly HTTP Error Messages
Mozilla Firefox and other browsers do not have a similar function that I am aware of.
Anyway, the site is back online now, and I apoligise for any inconvenience which the downtime caused, as I’m sure the hosting provider will to me when I email them.
Entry Filed under: Blog News