Archive for the ‘Hosting’ Category

Website backup to pCloud

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Another SOC website related posting – this time on the subject of backup. The website is backed up by the club’s current hosting provider (Krystal – who, a year in, I can highly recommend) but I was informed that the club had bought a large quantity of cloud storage for the purpose of storing its map archive and, for belt and braces, it made sense to also include backups of the website there.

As it turned out, the cloud storage was courtesy of pCloud who are best described as a Dropbox clone i.e. the expected interaction patterns are via the web UI, mobile, or sync from the desktop app. A quick search turned up rclone which describes itself as “rsync for cloud storage” and, amongst the list of supported backends, includes pCloud.

Install on hosting provider was straightforward. The configuration process is interactive (opening a browser to log in to pCloud) but the docs also cover how to create the configuration on one machine and copy them across to another. A copy is then as simple as:

I started out looking to use drush arb to create a backup but, as the same hosting is used for a WordPress site, it was easiest in the end just to write a script using tar and mysqldump to create the archive of the file system and database tables. This is then triggered nightly on a cron job. Each backup is around 0.5GB so I wasn’t too concerned about incremental backup and, with 2 TB of storage to play with, it will be a while before the question of cleaning up old backups comes back to haunt me!

Back online

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Shortly after moving my blog to an EC2 instance I received an ominous email stating:

We have noticed that one or more of your instances are running on a host degraded due to hardware failure.

The risk of your instances failing is increased at this point. We cannot determine the health of any applications running on the instances. We recommend that you launch replacement instances and start migrating to them.

After a bit of searching around it seemed that, as my instance is EBS backed, I should just need to stop it and restart it and, in all likelihood, it would move to another host. Sounded simple enough but the stop seemed to be taking forever. After downloading the command line tools I tried to force the stop but still no luck – except when I logged in again the following night it was finally showing as stopped. Unfortunately, when I tried to start it I received the following error: “Server.InternalError: Internal error on launch”.

I posted a question on the EC2 forum and, as you can see, was told that the root volume was in an “abnormal attachment state”. You’ll also see that my attempts to force a detach via the AWS Management Console appeared to fail or at least, the console thought the volume was still attached and therefore wouldn’t let me reattach it. Reverting to the command line utilities again allowed me to successfully detach and reattach the volume and then start the instance. Another delay whilst the DNS refresh took effect (perhaps I should try out an Elastic IP) and, about three days after I first hit stop, the site is finally back online. I’m putting it down as a learning experience!

Server hacked

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

When attempting to post the image for my last blog entry, it failed to be resized. When I logged in to the server to see what was up with ImageMagick, I didn’t appear to have permission to execute ls. Or ps. Or netstat… A quick Google suggested that these were the hallmarks of a rootkit attack. Unfortunately the files had been modified prior to the oldest Slicehost backup that I had. At this point I realised the server was still running Intrepid, limiting my chances of picking up packages to detect and remove rootkits. After a reboot of the server I discovered that I had lost all connectivity. Booting up a Slicehost rescue image I was able to retrieve all of the data I needed. Now to get things up and running again. Earlier in the year I had been playing around with a free micro-instance on EC2 and this seemed like the ideal opportunity to switch across. The instance is running Apache rather than nginx as on my Slicehost image. This needed a bit of tuning down to prevent segmentation faults. Everything seems to be running smoothly now. I just need to switch the DNS records away from Slicehost and then I’m done.

Upgrade weekend

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

Finally had a chance to put in place a whole upgrades on this site. First up was WordPress 2.3.2. I then needed to upgrade Gallery2 for the latest version of the WPG2 so that’s now at 2.2.3. The WPG2 plugin now acts a lot more like I’d expect a plugin should. Two minor niggles. Firstly, it adds its own page which appears with all the others on the right. You can rename it but I’d rather like to get rid of it completely! Secondly, it doesn’t work with Gallery URL rewrites. Need to investigate that further but it is mitigated to a certain extent by enabling Lightbox support so you won’t usually get to the image page from a blog post anyway.
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Changing servers

Friday, July 13th, 2007

So, it’s been a little bit quiet on this blog for the past few days. The main reason is that it’s been on the move from the hosting provided by our ISP (PlusNet) to my SliceHost slice. Things would have been much quicker had I not decided to switch Apache for the increasingly popular (due to its low memory usage) nginx.
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Google Apps

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Just to show that I do listen to you dear reader, I’ve followed up on Oliver’s suggestion and moved our e-mail over to Google Apps. The process was pretty painless: sign up for an admin account, verify ownership of the domains, setup users, modify the MX records and then configure our e-mail clients. A day or so delay whilst the DNS records replicate and everything is now working smoothly. POP3 and SMTP access is via SSL which is a bonus and means I no longer need to rely on my FastMail account to send when away from home. The spam filtering is excellent – I’ve even got a 12 year old e-mail address (a spam trap if ever there were one) coming back in to my main inbox again. Other than that, the only noticeable effect is that my incoming messages are no longer tarnished by a “Virus checked by PlusNet” footer. Oh, and of course there is the GMail web interface should I ever feel the urge…

Hosting by the slice

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

A couple of months back I was looking for somewhere to host a Ruby on Rails app (of which more in another post shortly). In the end I settled for a Virtual Private Server from US firm Slicehost (who are themselves Rails developers). For just over £10 a month I get 10GB of storage, 100GB of bandwidth and 256MB. Bargain! I’d love to use a host in the UK but I’d easily be paying twice that and getting half the spec (unless someone out there can point me at a good deal I’ve missed).
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PlusNet lose database connectivity

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

Anyone trying to access this site yesterday will have just received an error message about lack of database connectivity. Fortunately, some twelve hours later, PlusNet have managed to restore database access and, on this occasion, without losing any data. Memo to self: backup tonight and increase urgency of search for new host.