Friday, September 18, 2009

Web Hosting Woes..

Well I've been wanting to do things like put a link to Echo's sales page (this one ) on my site somewhere that is easy to get to. Right now it's not linked up to any pages. You have to get to it from one of my ads somewhere like on MH$P.

Anyhow, I also have a goodly # of unpainted resins by other artists I'd like to sell. And a few minor word changes (one ugly mistake too!) on a few pages. All of these I can't do because my web host has been having issues for .. well hell! A WHILE now.. I haven't been able to get into it to change a thing for a week now.

So, as patient as I am, it's time to move.

Hahaha on me, I did something really stupid a while back, I designed my site to have info "feeds" through a microsoft server (only supported) document type called "asp". If you went to look, a good # of my web pages still have this 'asp' instead of 'htm'. Well none of the good hosts screw around with microsoft servers anymore (probably for the same reason 'security' has rendered my site very static and unhelpful). Long story short, it's all got to be renamed at the least/but that means a million links redone.

OR that I finally simplify it. I've had my site/plan/hosting for 9 years now. There are a couple of other folk's sites on there. Quite a bit of files for non-relavent things as well. In other words, starting fresh wouldn't be so bad. And that's what I'm going to do. It's far easier to dump the old words into a new design rather than try to find and replace site-wide and port the whole (very very convoluted and BIG) site over to a new host. Also, I simply need to add a few horses for sale in a clear way to the main page. And the way some of the side bar navigation links are worded cannot be too clear because these are questions I get a great deal.

I used to run my company's web sites (plural). There were several actually. The trickiest part of my job however was creating on-the-fly websites within an hour for investors. The financial quarterly presentations were given to me in Powerpoint which converts to web formatting and flat images ok, with a few major exceptions (at least the programs I had did some ugly things). So it was a lot of mental prep, dry runs, and then a checklist because the shareholder calls and shareholders viewing/listening needed the files at a very specific time. So for example, my boss would be on the call at 9am introducing the CEO/CFO et al. I would need to have a live link that he knew in advance. I was outside of the conference room, they were inside. It was tense moments when a server or Powerpoint default setting threw a curveball.

After a year or so of this every quarter we'd pretty much worked out the steps. I even did it once from the Radisson in KY during my vacation at Breyerfest (because I refused to give up my vacation for an hours worth of un-delagatable work). That was different (they have wonderful and outrageously priced breakfasts!) but also went very smoothly.

The bottom line is, between having to time links to these absolute to the minute deadlines, and also have links up online all the time minutes after a press release goes out... I am just ASTOUNDED that any hosting company would still run in this day and age with people locked out of website changes on shared servers. There aren't many companies that need the space of a dedicated server, but there sure are millions of companies that need info put up online when they say they will.

The baffling part to me is that all companies seem to have some amount of downtime woes. There are ways to get around this like server mirroring - if one goes down, another automatically picks up the slack via an automatic DNS redirect of your domain to the one that isn't broken.

Regardless, I won't go on about techie stuff. Notice that I don't offer web hosting/design even privately anymore? lol! Actually there are a couple of web sites about to disappear from the world wide web in a day because I want a cleaner web site.

Here's an interesting example, relavent to sculpting & such, when I held my 'egg hunt contest' (and can you imagine if I'd gotten locked out? that was my biggest concern and I did have a little problem I'll explain in a sec..). I hid egg images throughout my site. The WAY I did this was to upload the pages to appear (with the little egg image in it somewhere). Thus if you'd been through the site too early, you might actually not see it, due to browser caching, so folks were supposed to wait until I gave the go-ahead. There was no way to cheat early, because there were no traces of the egg pages until after I uploaded them. When the eggs were found I pulled down the pages.

The problem was essentially though that my site traffic spiked unbelievably for a brief period. The same way site traffic spikes badly when you release a new horse. This is why businesses go with a business host plan - one mention somewhere 'big time' or a great new product goes up and your site could be down or you could be charged silly fines (or both). ANYHOW -> what happened was that some folks used web-bot-crawlers to try and find the eggs. This jammed up my site mighty bad for me to even finish uploading them all! I'm not sure even the best server could've handled that one too easily. At least not in pushing 20 or 30 or so pages up and down fast.... plus the fact that web bot programs were used makes it all unfair to the rest. I studied the results of that long and hard and am at least satisfied that many real finds by real human users happened too. A few rampaging bots can jam up a server far faster than 800 hobbyists though can. I'm guessing they were programmed to search for web pages that had been modified. Maybe someone sluethed out what the egg images were in advance (not that hard to do despite that I have the bare bones 'no bot searching' settings set up on the site for those areas). If you found out what those were, you could then easily reprogram the names into the bot to find the page that contained the name. The bottom line for me though was the my server was so taxed it took far too long to accept the transfers (normally they would only take a second or two for me)... some pages took a minute or two to transfer it appeared - and by then I'd have 20 emails saying the egg was found on it and need to pull the page back down. I'm guessing a bit of that was ordinary traffic, but there were the dreaded bots working over the server too. I'm just lucky (or not? I dunno!) that the server didn't ruin it for all by clamming up at the bot intrusion. Btw, I say "bots" but they also can be looked up under web crawlers...
It's hard to think of fun games that'll work sometimes.

That's one that definitely should only be done in single instances (of 1 prize at a time) on that scale.

That said, I am doing the blog contest polls ("People's Choice" Oktoberfest contests over there to the left side of this page???). WEE!!!! :)

Lets hope blogger sticks around and stays reliable. ;)

Alrighty.. back to work cutting and pasting my web site over. I will be happy to have a better company to work with. There are things like shopping cart features and forms that my last company just never could resolve the 'glitches' for and I just never took the time to push the issue or leave them before this... I look forward to utilizing some forms and making things more interesting hopefully in the future. :)


Becky Turner said...

Im curious what new service your going with..Im thinking of moving mine... I also need a new site design but dont have time nor do I want to do it.. I hate web design.. know anyone who wants to trade resins for designing? I dont want anything fancy.. nothing like my site is now.. Oh and what octoberfest poll? I dont see anything here on blogger?
Rebecca Turner

Morgen said...

I'm going with InMotion... we shall see. I'm having issues right now overall period with the computer. The last hosting company is delaying my domain transfer by about 3 days.. but if I can limp along here my new website look might be up this weekend... I dunno. I'm loving computer issues. Anyone want to trade spending all day on the pc and phone for resins? lol!

Sorry I can't help ya Becky. I'm in the same boat (while I can design I hate it after a short bit)..

Polls are off to the right side of my blog under the photo of the mare's hoof, 2 links under the text"Oktoberfest contests". Good luck w/ your website! :D