Brief server upgrades August 2019 (completed)

Update August 21, 2019: The maintenance described below has been completed for all sites.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be retiring some old servers and moving sites on those servers to new (often faster) ones. Migrating a site takes just a few seconds in most cases, so it’s likely that neither you nor your visitors will notice this happening.

If someone does view your site while it’s being migrated, they’ll see a maintenance screen with a link to this blog post, like this:

If your site is in the small minority that has a large database (more than a few hundred MB), the migration could take a little longer — perhaps a few minutes. We try to do migrations during slow periods for each site, minimizing the impact on visitors.

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Network Outage for Subset of Customers July 23, 2019 (resolved)

There was an intermittent interruption of service for certain customers this morning (July 23rd, 2019) from about 9:15 AM – 10:00 AM Pacific Time.

During this time, a hardware failure in a router at one of our upstream data providers would have dropped incoming traffic for sites hosted in the 74.114.88.0/22 IP address range.

Once aware of the issue, we were able to reroute all traffic for that range through our own routers directly and avoid the issue. We’ve confirmed with the upstream provider that the faulty hardware has been identified and replaced.

We apologize for the trouble this caused customers who were affected.

PHP 7.2.20 and 7.3.7

The PHP developers recently released versions 7.2.20 and 7.3.7 that fix several bugs. We’ve upgraded the PHP 7.2 and 7.3 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.

4th of July 2019 holiday hours

Our business offices will be closed on Thursday, July 4 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.

WP Super Cache 1.6.8 with Cloudflare (and other add-ons that set cookies)

If you have a WordPress site, and you use both the WP Super Cache plugin and the Cloudflare content delivery network, the latest version 1.6.8 of WP Super Cache may not properly cache your pages by default.

This is because of a quirk of the update: A new setting makes it think all Cloudflare visitors are “known users” because they have a “cookie” set. If you had the old “disable caching for known users” option turned on before the update, it won’t cache pages for Cloudflare visitors after the update.

The same thing can happen if you have a WordPress plugin that sets a “cookie” for each visitor for some other reason.

This problem is easily fixed by changing the new WP Super Cache “Cache Restrictions” setting from “Disable caching for visitors who have a cookie set in their browser” to “Disable caching for logged in visitors. (Recommended)”. We’ve updated our WP Super Cache page to reflect this change, and if we notice that a site hosted on our servers suddenly has higher CPU resource usage because of this, we’ll update the setting for you to make it work as it did before.

Special offer: $50 savings on new hosting through July 20

50 years ago this month, humans walked on the Moon. To celebrate that anniversary, we have a special offer for new customers: sign up now and save $50. This still includes free domain name registration, and still has no setup fees.

This offer expires July 20, and is for new customers only — so sign up now if you’re in the market for hosting service.

By the way, this plan is still eligible for our Referral Rewards program (you’ll get 33% of what the new customer pays during the first year). So if you have friends who need hosting service, let ’em know about this offer.

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PHP 7.1.30, 7.2.19 and 7.3.6

The PHP developers recently released versions 7.1.30, 7.2.19 and 7.3.6 that fix several bugs. We’ve upgraded the PHP 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 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.

Having trouble with special characters in your PHP scripts?

After recent server updates, two customers contacted us with a problem: their pages that used correctly to display “unicode” non-ASCII characters (like “©” or “curly quotes”) started showing invalid characters like “�” instead.

If this happens to you, it’s likely to be caused by a bug in your script that’s only now visible because of a security change in recent MySQL database versions. For example, the problem happened to the two customers we mentioned because they were using old versions of the Joomla and TextPattern software. Updating each of those fixed it, so if you you have trouble, be sure you’re using the latest versions of any software like that.

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Memorial Day 2019 holiday hours

Our business offices will be closed on Monday, May 27 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.

Scheduled maintenance May 24, 2019 for some servers (complete)

Update May 24 11:00 PM Pacific time: The maintenance described below has been completed and all services are running normally.

Over the last year, we’ve been slowly upgrading our servers from Debian Linux version 8 (codename “jessie”) to version 9 (codename “stretch”). We’ll be finishing that process soon, with brief scheduled maintenance on each server.

The upgrade requires that each hosting server be taken offline for a few minutes over a three hour maintenance window and then restarted, causing brief scheduled “downtime” for websites and email on that server. The total downtime for any site should not exceed ten minutes during this three hour period.

Mail arriving while a server is being restarted will be queued and delivered after a short delay. No mail will be lost.

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

  • Friday, May 24, 9:00-11:59 PM Pacific: servers ending in digits “4”, “5” and “6”

So, for example, the “web05” and “web14” servers will be updated. This page explains how to find which server a site is on. (Servers ending in digits “0” – “3” and “7” – “9” have already been updated.)

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