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TGO David

TGO Moving to Newer Server -- Sunday, Sept 25

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TGO David    6,897

On Sunday, September 25, 2016 I will be moving the TGO web site to a newer web server.  When I do this, there will be a complete service interruption of a few hours.  This move will change our site's IP address which means that you all will slowly begin regaining access to the site as your Internet provider's DNS servers update with the new address.

If that sounds like Greek to you, just know that it could take anywhere from 1 to 24 hours or so depending on how aggressively your Internet provider updates its records.  We have zero control over this, unfortunately, so there is no way for me to speed up that process.

 

Why is this happening?

Web servers, much like your computer at home, run an operating system that eventually becomes "end of life" and requires replacement.  Think about when Microsoft retired Windows XP and told everyone that it was time to upgrade to Windows 7, otherwise they would stop supporting you.  Well, very similar in this case also.

Our current web server has taken care of us since 2011, but it is time to move to a new one.  I have already moved a few other web sites to the new server and it is doing fine, so I predict no problems with moving TGO.  However, TGO is undoubtedly the largest horse in the stable so I am going to be taking extra care to move it.

While some performance improvements are possible as a result of this move, that is not the primary motivation.  The real improvements for performance are planned for after I get us moved.  More on that is to come.

 

I'm going to go through withdrawals!

A lot of us will. :)  Be sure to keep tabs on our Facebook page and our Twitter feed while the move is underway.  I will post updates on both of those places as I can while I work.  If you don't already follow us on those two social media outlets, you can click below and then add them to your bookmarks.

 

So when exactly does this start?

I am not sure of the exact start time yet.  You'll know when you see the site go offline and our maintenance notice go up. Just check back in a little while after that happens and you'll eventually be able to sign back into TGO and participate in the forums.

 

Thanks for your patience!

 

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TGO David    6,897

Update...

Timing for the start of this, currently, looks to be around late-morning to early afternoon.  11:00AM - 1:00PM Central.

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TGO David    6,897

Update 9/26/2016...

I completed the migration to the new server yesterday at around 7:00PM.  It undoubtedly took a few hours longer than I had anticipated, but delayed arrival beats never arriving, in my book at least. :)

Performance tuning of the new server is ongoing.  I have quite a few things that I intend to change over the days ahead, including moving a lot of our graphics and files over to Amazon S3 cloud-based storage to take advantage of their Content Delivery Network.  Basically this means things should speed up even more for us.

I also have an upgrade for the forum software that will likely happen sometime today (Monday).  If you notice us offline for a while today, that is why.

I again want to thank everyone for being patient while I got things moved over to the new server and for your continued patience while I keep tweaking and tuning the new server for the best possible performance.  Hopefully the work over the next few days will make TGO an even more enjoyable place to visit.

 

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TGO David    6,897

UPDATE 9/27/2016 @ 6:10AM Central

I am continuing to fight slowness on the new server and frankly it's driving me up the wall.  Unfortunately there is little I can do to improve it today as it's "back to work" for me which means TGO will have to survive on its own for the next 10 hours or so.

More to come.

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TGO David    6,897

UPDATE 9/27/2016 @ 5:15PM Central

I was able to make a minor change to the server today at lunch and it seems to have moved the needle in the correct direction but there is more to do.  I am going to monitor TGO through the evening and may have to take it offline at some point to try my next planned change to shore things up further.

I appreciate everyone's patience with me as I continue to chip away at this and get our new server tuned for optimal performance.

As before, more to come...

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TGO David    6,897

UPDATE 9/30/2016 @ 8:15AM Central

Several improvements have been realized over the past two days.  During off-peak hours, most TGO pages seem to be loading extremely fast.  During our peak times of early morning, midday and evening hours, the site is holding its own and page loads aren't abysmally slow the way they were the first few days on the new sever.

You may also notice that all profile photos, file attachments, emoticons, forum icons, etc. are now serving off of Amazon Web Services.  Those things load just as quickly as you would expect from Amazon's insanely powerful web delivery engines.  Over time I will move even more of our content to AWS so that we can leverage their infrastructure.

In the meantime I am continuing to chip away at things and will be bringing some new features online that I think you will enjoy. :)

 

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TGO David    6,897

UPDATE 10/1/16 @ 8:45AM

Switched database engines to something supposedly a little faster.  Tweaked PHP caching a bit.  Fingers crossed.

 

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TGO David    6,897

UPDATE 10/2/16 @ 8:00PM Central

Folks, I cannot apologize enough.  The switch to the new server has been one frustration after another.  Performance is not what it should be and I am near the limit of my knowledge as relates to tuning it and tweaking it to accommodate our normal workload.

I am investigating other options right now, including hiring someone to either go through our current server and tune it up, or to build a new one for us that is optimized to handle the load.

Please continue to be patient with me. :(

 

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TGO David    6,897

UPDATE 10/5/2016 @ 10:30PM Central

Some of the slowness that we have been experiencing has been tracked back to corruption in the SEARCH database table.  I am rebuilding the search index now, but this process takes a while to complete.   As a consequence, you may find that search results, including the search for new content, may be limited for a few hours.

More to come.

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TGO David    6,897

UPDATE 10/6/2016 @ 6:10AM Central

Search index rebuild is still going.  Currently at about 60%.  By now searching should show you recent threads, but older threads may not be showing up yet in a search.  This will continue to improve as we approach 100%.

 

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TGO David    6,897

UPDATE 10/7/2016 @ 6:20AM Central

The search index rebuild completed yesterday morning sometime between 6:00AM and 10:00AM.

This morning I made a few small tweaks to the database engine.  At this point it is about making minor changes, waiting, and gauging results.  During our non-peak times the speed is blistering fast.  During peak times, it isn't bad but I think it could be better.  I'm working on closing the gap between peak and non-peak.

 

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TGO David    6,897

UPDATE 10/11/2016 @ 6:30AM Central

Hey folks.  You're going to notice some periods today while the site is offline for maintenance.  I'm still making some changes to optimize the server to support our traffic, and some of the changes require short outages.

 

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TGO David    6,897

UPDATE 10/15/2016 @ 9:00AM Central

Hey folks.  It's been a very long 24 hours.  If you missed TGO, the feeling is mutual.  We missed you too.  Or I did.  Actually I really just missed having a server that was functional.  And as much as I'd like to not have to go through the past 24 hours again, sooner or later we're going to have to.

So here's what's up:

Our current web server is not performing up to par.  It's slow and during times of peak traffic for us, it is downright unusable.  If you have tried to use the forum any in the 8pm - 9pm Central time-frame over the past few weeks, you know what I am talking about.  It hasn't been fun for any of us and has consumed 100% of my time which means my family has had to suffer through it as well.

Yesterday I embarked on the task of figuring out what was wrong with the server.  It's new and it should be performing better.  What I found was a myriad of problems that soon made it obvious that the best way to fix it was to take backups of our files and our database, and then burn the server to the ground and start over.  Scorched earth!

That did not go entirely to plan.  Our hosting company had difficulties delivering on a rebuild so, at around 11:00PM last night, I decided to just have them restore the whole server from a backup made several days ago.  That process lasted until around 6:00AM today.

Since then, I have been restoring our database and files to bring us current with the way the forum was right before I attempted anything yesterday.  It appears that this was successful in getting us back online... but it doesn't fix the problem of slowness with the server.

 

*deep breath*

 

So what's next?  We are going to have to move the site again sometime soon.  I am looking at all options.  One of them is just to move to a new server with the current hosting company.  Another option is to leave this hosting company for someone else.

Until then we will limp along.

Please do me a favor and loan me your patience.  I need it. :)

 

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TGO David    6,897

UPDATE 10/21/2016 @ 11:00AM Central

The month of October has not been an easy one for us.  Server issues have plagued TGO since we migrated from an old virtual server to a new virtual server at the end of September.  Performance has never been up to par with what we had previously.

Today I have done two things:

  1. I have upgraded the forum software to the latest.  The software authors say that performance improvements are contained within the code, and we certainly need performance improvements.
     
  2. I have ordered a brand new dedicated server with a different host company.  The new server is very stout and we will share it with no one.  It is 100% dedicated to TGO.  I will be moving us to it sometime this weekend.

 

Basically I am tired of playing games with our hosting company.  They've had a month to help sort this out.  It's time to cut bait and go somewhere else, which is precisely what I will be doing.  It's going to cost me a few hundred extra dollars this month in order to give the old company their requisite 30-day notice to discontinue service while paying the new hosting company their fee as well, but I think it will be worth it.

If you've bought a Benefactor membership lately, thank you.  Especially in light of the performance problems, thank you!

If you haven't but have been thinking about it, every dollar helps me cover the expenses of divorcing ourselves from the previous hosting company.

 

More to come.  Hopefully our bad days are almost behind us.

 

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