Picture of websites exploding.


This blog is run on the servers of a fairly traditional web hosting service and is a pretty simple static website with just html and javascript files, together with a bunch of images. However, every month or so for the past year, various html files from different parts of the site would just disappear, resulting in the occassional 404 error message and even the entire site falling over when the main page would go. The host’s support team wasn’t particularly supportive so I simply started syncing much more regularly to solve the problem.

Then (suspiciously?) they announced that they were upgrading their entire infrastructure to offer a much faster and more reliable service. All good, so I tested my various sites on their preview servers and did as much of the prior preparation as I could. Come transition time (the weekend of Nov. 17/18th) and my site starts responding with a standard ‘Website not yet configured’ page. Wait a day for the DNS to propagate, but still the same. Okay, assume they’re still having the odd transitional glitch so give them until midnight on Sunday UTC, still the same.

A Partial Solution

It turns out that all of my static sites were actually up and running fine if you access them using the www subdomain (as in http://www.andrewmarsh.com rather than http://andrewmarsh.com). This suggested a DNS problem, so I go to my domain registrar and refresh all the delegations and then back to the web host’s control panel and overwrite what appears to be a line of garbage in the @/A DNS record with the same IP address as in the www/A record. Instant success, all my static sites are now back up and running without the www subdomain. My hope now is that the original line of garbage there wasn’t super important, but I guess I’ll find out eventually.

What About Drupal Sites?

Unfortunately it’s RIP to all my Drupal 4 and Drupal 6 sites. This means that NaturalFrequency.com, the SQU1/Ecotect wiki and EmpressApartments.com are no more. I am in the process of moving and redirecting all the CMS articles from NaturalFrquency.com to static articles at PerformativeDesign.com, but this is pretty slow and tedious work.

However, you can still access them via the WayBack Machine at the Internet Archive:

Why Are They No More?

The problem is that the Drupal PHP files are full of references to the ereg() function which was deprecated in all versions after PHP 5.2 – and the oldest version available on this new infrastructure is PHP 5.3. Yes, I know that Drupal 6.38 is compatible with PHP 5.3, but all my efforts to upgrade my sites on the host server have failed. I have spent most of this last week trying to install old LAMP servers on a couple of my own machines in order to get it running locally to do the upgrade. However, it has some dependancy on a Mediawiki PEAR add-on which, try as I might, I simply cannot get working with all the required older versions of stuff.

At this point, life is too short. I gave it fair crack, but I simply can’t aford to spend that amount of time to resurrect those old sites. I can still access their underlying databases and their content is still available on the Internet Archive, so the best way forward is for me to adaptively reuse whatever I can in my new sites.

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