A proposal to help reduce costs

Hi. So due to some recent changes in my health and my wife’s employment status (she’s on an extended medical leave due to a nasty infection in her foot) I have got to find a way to cut costs. I’ve been looking into options to reduce the total cost of hosting stuff for others and I have found a way to actually cut costs quite a bit and actually increase stability in the long term. The catch to this proposal is that in order to make it work I actually will need enough money to keep this server online for an extra month in addition to paying for the cheaper solution.

So here’s my proposed solution: Moving everything to VPS systems hosted at Digital Ocean. I’ve actually got the bulk of my smaller stuff running on one of their $5 VPS systems, which combined generates a load similar to what this site generates on its least active days. Based on this sites current storage/bandwidth/CPU usage their $10 VPS setup would be more than sufficient to run things at their highest usage since they wouldn’t be fighting with the other sites for for CPU time and RAM.

I’ve actually done the math and including moving all my friends stuff, this site, and my own sites I can get the cost down to around $50, with a bit of redundancy built in. Why is that $50 significant? I just got notified today that starting in November the monthly cost for this server will go up to $158. So, yeah, save $100 by moving to VPS servers that can do everything I need except one, and that one thing can be handled via other means now that my ISP has done a free upgrade of all accounts to 50Mbps Down/2Mbps Up :slight_smile:

So here’s my plan if I can get the funds necessary to do it.

  1. Move everything to VPS servers at digital ocean, including putting this site on it’s own dedicated VPS separate from the rest so downtimes are minimized if an upgrade goes horribly wrong for one of my sites (this has actually happened before FYI)

  2. Migrate the databases to the VPS servers that will host the related sites and point the existing site configs to use the new servers. This will require about 2 hours of downtime for this site.

  3. Point the DNS entries for all sites to the new IP addresses of the VPS servers hosting them.

  4. Decommission the current server once all traffic ceases to hit it. This will take roughly 3 weeks to happen.

  5. Enjoy the much needed separation of my personal stuff and my friends stuff from you guys to maximize stability :slight_smile:

Sound good? Then I need a little help to make this happen.

I can’t afford to pay for both the new VPS servers and the current server out of my own pocket so to make this become a reality I need enough funds to cover the cost of this server for a month. So at a minimum I need $125 to cover the next month of the current server so that I can keep it on long enough to do the migrations. If you like the sound of me not having to beg for ungodly amounts to help keep everything online, then please help out with one last big donation push and check out this page for info on how to send donations to make this happen.

As I said, $125 is what is needed to make this happen, but if you want to help out with general donations towards either future costs of the new setup or to help cover my wife’s medical costs I won’t say no to that either. Just make sure you include a note telling me if you want the funds to only be used for the site or in general :).

Also, totally unrelated but I just got officially confirmed as a Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo although I haven’t been made an official mod of my regions forum yet :smiley:

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

Uh… if you tried to send me a PM about this and it didn’t go through please try resending it. I was testing something related to a bug report someone sent last night and I accidentally blocked anyone from PMing me LOL!

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

I will let you use one of my droplets for a month. I was using it to build patches and packages for the Linux distro i work on but I will be unable to do any of that until about November so it’s just sitting there. I can’t donate money for various reasons but i can give services if you need them

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

This is awesome, although it might be noted that the Municipal Liaison for the region I am in is the best ML ever. I hope you reach her level of awesome.

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

The problem isn’t really paying for the droplets, well other than the two they want prepaid for a month because of the age of my account, it’s the keeping this server on long enough to let the DNS records propagate fully. I’ve already started reducing the TTLs though, so that will help if/when the actual change over happens.

I can literally create the droplets and migrate everything in under 20 hours so it’s the DNS side that’s the sticking point for this really. If it wasn’t for the DNS I could quite literally take this site offline right now, copy the files and encryption keys and copy the database and have the droplet handling everything but the actual web traffic in 2 hours, and most of that time would be the time necessary to transfer the database over :slight_smile:

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

I’ll have to disagree. The Tulsa region ones are the best ever and I totally hope to achieve their level of awesome. :stuck_out_tongue: Of course if I exceed last years MLs for the region I’m the ML for I’ll be happy. Not that it would be hard… One ML who moved out of state and never told anyone and didn’t participate in NaNo at all, and the other wasn’t available after the 4th day in the regions forum or the chat. Hell they made me the chat mod for our region last year because of that stupidity :slight_smile:

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

Moral of story don’t host your own DNS if you can avoid it. :slight_smile:

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

It took me an hour to propagate DNS when I moved my server. Mostly of the delay I think was because I opened up TCP on port 53 and couldn’t figure out that I needed UDC open for DNS. Once I figured that out, I could could find the server on both the carrier of my phone and tablet and via google’s DNS at I used GoDaddy and just had to change the ip addresses to my DNS server on their site.

I think an hour of downtime is acceptable for the amount of traffic we get. I’d go with 24 hours of overlap though.

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

That sounds horrible to move out of state and not hand it over. Our ML held daily write-ins except for Thanksgiving Day, maintains the region forum, has a newslettter for the region made to hand out at the kickoff party and still writes a double NaNoWriMo worth of words. I am sure the Tulsa area is good, but I like my region and ML a lot.

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

Well the TTL was set to 1 day on the records because Godaddy got pissy about the amount of traffic when it was just 1 hour. Incidentally though due to a very unplanned and totally unexpected hardware issue the migrations are in progress right now so it’s less a proposal and more of a “how in the fuck am I going to pay for this clusterfuck” situation.

The new VPS for this site has been handling about 80% of the traffic for the last hour. Mostly just seeing a few search engines hitting what’s left of the old server. That’s also why you probably got a white screen when submitting your post. Forgot to install a very critical PHP module for the push notifications system :slight_smile:

Sounds a lot like the Tulsa MLs actually. The only difference being that they usually try to do at least an online write-in on Thanksgiving day. Oh, and I just found out that my Co-ML has never done the ML thing in even an unofficial capacity so apparently by default I’m the official go to ML for our region LOL!

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

I don’t, as I mentioned above since I missed your post originally, it’s hosted on GoDaddy’s servers. That’s true for most of my domains actually. My .com and .net domains are two exceptions. I paid for the DNS hosting on dyn.com (back when it was dyndns.org) for my .com and I’m grandfathered in to a lifetime account so I don’t have any limits with them. My .net is hosted by zoneedit as my original registar didn’t offer DNS hosting at all and dyndns.org didn’t at the time of its registration. The domain that hosts the bug tracker is registered through Google back when you got free apps hosting with the purchase so that’s hosted via enom who they are a reseller for. The other exception is my wife’s domain name which is also hosted on zoneedit.

If I was hosting my own it wouldn’t be an issue because I’d leave the TTL at 1 hour instead of having to eventually reset it to 24 hours to keep them happy. Then again I guess with the number of VPSes involved in this setup I could actually comfortably host my own DNS since there’s enough redundancy to make it possible :slight_smile:

Oh, and funny side story about my domains: I actually have yet to pay full price for my .com, .net, .org, and .info domains because of a major screwup by godaddy back when I first transfered my .com and .net registrations to them. To keep me from taking them to court they renew all my domains except this one and one other at 50% of the normal renewal rate :stuck_out_tongue:

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

I am not sure what my numbers are. This is what I have:

$TTL 604800
@ IN SOA xxx.xxxxxxxx.com. admin.xxxxxxxxxx.com. (
2015072201 ;serial
04800 ;refresh
86400 ;retry
2419200 ;expire
604800 ;negative cache TTL

The domain names are changed to protect the guilty. Anyway, someone set up my zone file for Debian Woody at a linux installfest back in 2001. I’ve just changed the CNAMES and ip addresses over the years. I suppose I should change all the numbers to days and weeks. Do these seem right to you?

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

For a zone that doesn’t change very often and isn’t expected to be retired in the near future those numbers look right for the SOA entries.

A proposal to help reduce costs

Amusingly, with the new setup it’s entirely possible if you don’t mind learning to use an STFP client and ssh keypairs. No standard FTP services and ssh logins via keys only for security. One of the many advantages of the new setup :slight_smile:

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

I always thought reading comprehension was, you know, necessary for using a forum, but apparently not as at least 3 people have blasted me via PM for two points in my first post. Specifically, this combination:

  1. Point the DNS entries for all sites to the new IP addresses of the VPS servers hosting them.
  1. Decommission the current server once all traffic ceases to hit it. This will take roughly 3 weeks to happen.

For bizarre reasons I can’t comprehend, these people seem to think that the 3 weeks thing applies to the DNS changes mentioned in 3, rather than being the time it takes to decommission the old server which is something I can’t do until it is no longer actively servicing sites.

So let me break that 3 weeks down:

  1. Complete DNS changes for all domains under my control: 28 hours (as in how long it took, as I just finished mine).

  2. Contact the friends who control their own DNS entries for their domains (email sent Sunday evening, just confirmed last change with one friend 10 minutes ago). Most of them have 1 Week TTLs on their domains as that’s the default for their DNS providers and they didn’t change it. That’s where 1 week comes from.

  3. Securely wipe the old data on the server. This will come as a shock, but even bare minimuming this step? Yeah that’s going to take awhile with 397GB of data involved since I’m having to do it in stages because I have to make sure the data has been migrated safely to its new home first. The biggest space consumer (my old computer backups)? Right now it’s saying it’ll take 2 weeks, 3 days, 14 hours, and 11 minutes to complete and I can’t wipe much else until it’s done.

  4. Canceling service: I have to call and do this for reasons I can’t get into. This can’t be done until step 3 is done. Hence the estimate of 3 weeks to complete it. I built a bit of a cushion into the estimate in case something takes longer than it should.

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

I suspect that the confusion comes from people forgetting about the back-end traffic - which sounds to be a good bit more than this forum alone would indicate even given that I believe you’ve said it is the largest you host. Without a note about it being back-end traffic, I can’t say it is entirely surprising that some would think point four references point three.

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

No, the messages specifically referenced the DNS changeover. They literally read like someone who read a DNS 101 document and decided they were experts on how the entire DNS infrastructure of the Internet as a whole works…

This is the largest by bandwidth and database space, actual disk space this site is oddly one of the smallest. A friend who is a furry artist who does commissions is the largest “real” site by disk space due to uploading .psd files for those who pay for them. In general my computer backups are the largest and I just never got around to removing them after migrating to a dedicated offsite backup service last year.

And on a surprisingly good note once I could turn off the database and web services the speed of the wipe went up drastically. it should be done in just under 12 hours for the entire server :smiley:

Re: A proposal to help reduce costs

Well, I just re-read your list of steps, and TBH, I have to say it looks to the uninformed like you specify taking care of the back-end traffic in the earlier steps - even I first took it as that, though I dismissed it as a little odd rather than put time into it. Still, they should have thought more before they lambasted you, especially since your posts indicate that you know quite well what you are doing.

Glad the wipe won’t take so beastly long in the end. Thanks for paying attention to what happens to the server once it ends up in someone else’s hands.