PHP 7.0.20 and 7.1.6

The PHP developers recently released versions 7.0.20 and 7.1.6 that fix several bugs. We’ve upgraded the PHP 7.0 and 7.1 series on our servers as a result.

These changes should not be noticeable, but as always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any trouble.

A new feature to help troubleshoot connections to slow external servers

We’ve also added a custom “patch” to our copies of PHP 7.0 and 7.1 that provides a new feature: logging of slow outgoing connections from your scripts.

This can show the cause when a WordPress or Joomla site suddenly becomes slow or unresponsive for no obvious reason. The culprit is often an add-on plugin or component that contacts a third-party server to do its work, but “hangs” when the third-party server doesn’t respond.

Our page about logging slow external connections has more information.

100% SSD hosting for all customers

Last weekend, we removed the final spinning disk from our hosting servers. We now use only solid state drives (SSDs) in the RAID arrays of all our web, database, and mail servers. This applies both to new accounts and to every existing account (unlike many companies advertising SSD hosting, who only do it for new accounts).

Most customers won’t notice any change recently, because we’ve been working on this project for a long time. We finished converting all MySQL database storage arrays to SSDs around a year ago, and many of our hosting and e-mail servers have used only SSDs for several months. But at some point, all sites hosted with us have gotten noticeably faster.

Using SSDs instead of spinning disks makes a big difference for shared hosting. It removes almost all cases of “latency”, which is when a script, database or mail program has to first wait for another site’s data to be read or written. For hosting servers, the drive access pattern consists of lots and lots of small operations scattered around the drives, requiring high IOPS. On spinning mechanical disks, this means waiting for the disk head assembly to move to the right place for each new file, during which time it can’t do anything useful. With SSDs, that “seek time” is completely eliminated, making the drives hundreds of times faster at small reads and writes. Hard disk seeks were once the main cause of delays and load on our servers, but that’s been almost completely eliminated. WordPress sites run faster, database writes finish more quickly, and mail loads without any delays.

Large SSDs aren’t cheap — they currently cost about the same per GB as hard drives did in 2008, and we’re storing more than ten times as much data per customer as we did then — but the result is worth it. We’re proud to offer high performance hosting to everyone.

Brief scheduled maintenance on two servers May 25, 2017 (completed)

Between 10:00 PM and 11:59 PM Pacific time on Thursday, May 25 2017, two of our hosting servers will be restarted: “web06” and “web12”. (This page explains how to find which server a site is on.)

This will cause a brief interruption of service (less than 5 minutes) for each site on these two servers at some point during this 2 hour period. Sites on other servers will not be affected.

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Memorial Day 2017 holiday hours

Our business offices will be closed on Monday, May 29 to observe the US legal holiday. As always, we’ll provide same-day support for time-sensitive issues via our ticket and e-mail systems. However, questions that aren’t time-sensitive (including most billing matters) may not be answered until the next day, and telephone support (via callbacks) will be available only for urgent problems.

PHP 7.0.19 and 7.1.5

The PHP developers recently released versions 7.0.19 and 7.1.5 that fix several bugs. We’ve upgraded the PHP 7.0 and 7.1 series on our servers as a result.

These changes should not be noticeable, but as always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any trouble.

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Brief MySQL scheduled maintenance May 3-6, 2017, for some servers (completed)

We’re continuing the process of upgrading our MySQL database servers from the 5.5 series to the MySQL 5.6 series (specifically, from version 5.5.54 to 5.6.36).

The upgrade requires that each Web server be taken offline for approximately 60 seconds, causing brief scheduled “downtime”.

Over the next few days, we’ll be updating these web servers:

  • Wednesday May 3, 10:00-11:59 PM Pacific: servers ending in digit “5” (completed)
  • Thursday May 4, 10:00-11:59 PM Pacific: servers ending in digit “4” (completed)
  • Friday May 5, 10:00-11:59 PM Pacific: servers ending in digits “2” and “3” (completed)
  • Saturday May 6, 10:00-11:59 PM Pacific: servers ending in digits “0” and “1” (completed)

(Servers ending in digits 6-9 have already been updated.)

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Brief MySQL scheduled maintenance April 29 & 30, 2017 for some servers (completed)

We’re beginning the process of upgrading our MySQL database servers from the 5.5 series to the MySQL 5.6 series (specifically, from version 5.5.54 to 5.6.36).

The upgrade requires that each Web server be taken offline for approximately 60 seconds, causing brief scheduled “downtime”.

This coming weekend, we’ll be updating some (but not all) web servers:

  • Saturday, April 29, 8-10 AM Pacific: servers ending in digits “9” and “8” (completed)
  • Sunday, April 30, 8-10 AM Pacific: servers ending in digits “7” and “6” (completed)

(Servers ending in digits 0-5 will be updated the following weekend; we’ll post a separate announcement about that.)

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PHP 7.0.18 and 7.1.4

The PHP developers recently released versions 7.0.18 and 7.1.4 that fix several bugs. We’ve upgraded the PHP 7.0 and 7.1 series on our servers as a result.

These changes should not be noticeable, but as always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any trouble.

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PHP 7.0.17 and 7.1.3

The PHP developers recently released versions 7.0.17 and 7.1.3 that fix several bugs. We’ve upgraded the PHP 7.0 and 7.1 series on our servers as a result.

These changes should not be noticeable, but as always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any trouble.

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web13 server error March 17, 2017 (resolved)

Between 11:06 and 11:08 AM Pacific time today (March 17, 2017), the “web13” server experienced high MySQL database load that led to some sites being unavailable.

The problem has now been resolved, and other servers were not affected. We apologize for the inconvenience this caused our customers.