Server migration complete

After a very long wait, it appears that invisibill.net has been migrated to a new Site5 server hosted at ThePlanet. The migration was not without its issues.

I received the first email Tuesday around 11 AM stating that they were starting the migration on my server. The email stated that I would get another email when they started on my own account, and that I should avoid changing things after that point until I received the third “all clear” email. I received the second email around 1 PM. I got my IP changes ready with my DNS provider, just waiting on that third email before I submitted the changes.

And I waited. And I waited. I checked the new IP Tuesday evening and it seemed to be functional, but I waited for the final email. And I waited. Before going to bed Tuesday night, I changed my DNS to point to the new IP, to avoid having new mail sent to the old server.

Wednesday morning, the main website which was working Tuesday night had stopped working. I checked the Site5 forums which stated that only by submitting a ticket to Support could you find out if your migration had actually been completed. I submitted my ticket around 11 AM. I asked if my migration would be finished soon, and explained that the site seemed to be working the night before, but was now treating PHP files as downloads and returning the default Apache page for subdomains.

I received a response a few minutes later stating that they had updated my DNS to point to the new server. After giving it some time for the change to propagate, I should let them know if I still had problems. Huh? I’m pretty sure that my PHP problems in Apache aren’t related to my DNS settings. My first message implied that I used external DNS (as people using the default Site5 DNS don’t need to make any manual changes) but didn’t explicitly state that, so I replied and let them know. I waited for an hour or so, but had other things to do.

Approximately half an hour after that (based on the system-generated email), they stated they were doing an emergency DNS overhaul and that I would be able to access my sites again after the DNS refreshed. This morning when I got the message, my site still didn’t work, trying to download the PHP file rather than displaying the HTML.

I compared my settings on the old server to the new server. Both servers had an Apache handler and MIME type of “application/x-httpd-php” specified for .php files, which is what the download was showing as. I removed the MIME type on the new server, and the downloaded PHP file started showing without a MIME type. I removed the Apache handler as well, and I started seeing an old HTML file rather than the current PHP file. I renamed the HTML file, and it properly displayed the current PHP as the default file. I then went into my .htaccess file and used the DirectoryIndex option to give the .php file priority over the .html file.

To sum all that up, it appears that my account was transferred over bit for bit, but that my existing settings didn’t match up perfectly with those on the new server. Things that were needed on the old server for proper operation actually made it not work on the new server. Site5′s support was pretty quick to respond, though I ended up fixing it myself in the end. Other than a disk failure one time, I never really had any problems with the old server. My site isn’t exactly huge, so I doubt I’ll notice much difference on the new server’s beefier hardware. In the end, it feels like a lot of work for no real gain.

Out of all of this, Site5′s communication seems to be the weak point. That’s unfortunate, as Site5 has always been pretty good about letting users know what’s going on. I have yet to receive the final email notice, or even verification from Support that the migration was completed. There was no recent notice that they were even planning to migrate my server, so this caught me off guard (away from home without my personal laptop). Their support was quick to respond, but ultimately not very helpful. I still think Site5 is great. I’ve been with a number of webhosts and so far Site5 has been the best for what I need. I just wanted to point out that there’s still room for improvement (just like everything else out there).

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