Yesterday’s downtime

You may have noticed that Canadian Atheist was unavailable for a few hours sometime during the last 24–48 hours. That was expected, and unavoidable.

As I’ve mentioned a couple times, CA is moving to a new host – and not just a new host, we’re also moving the domain name and the DNS servers. With such a massive move (and without the extra cash to buy temporary duplicate stuff to avoid disruptions), it’s inevitable that we’re going to go down for a few spells during the transition.

What you noticed yesterday, if you noticed anything, was the first and probably most disruptive of the transitions. If you’re curious about what happened, the nameservers were changed. You see, Canadian Atheist actually exists on a machine with a specific IP address… which is currently 66.96.160.130. The DNS nameservers are what map the human-readable text address “canadianatheist.com” to the IP address 66.96.160.130. (In theory, you could access Canadian Atheist via http://66.96.160.130/whatever, and it will work the same way as http://canadianatheist.com/whatever. In practice, that won’t work, because only spammers and hackers use the IP address, so access via the IP address is blocked for security.)

When we switched to the nameservers, there was a brief period between when the old one was made invalid and the new one was accessible to you. That was unavoidable – it takes time for these changes to trickle through the Internet. During that time, your browser was unable to connect “canadianatheist.com” to an IP address… so it couldn’t find CA’s server machine… so you probably got some kind of “host not found” error. But if you’re seeing this now, you are using the new nameservers, and your browser obviously managed to find out the IP address behind “canadianatheist.com”.

So, sorry for the hiccups, but they really were unavoidable.

Of the three major things that have to be moved, that’s one down, two to go. I am right now in the process of preparing CA’s sexy new host machine – the actual (or rather, virtual) computer that will host Canadian Atheist for the foreseeable future.

Actually, our new machine needs a name. It’s currently just named “server”. But surely we could give it a more interesting name. Any suggestions?

Once the machine is ready, I will turn the current machine “off” (you’ll see a “currently down” message). This is necessary because I don’t want the data on the old machine to be changing while I’m copying that data over to the new machine; that would mean comments and posts could get “lost” (if they’re added to the data on the old machine). After a few hours – days at the worst – depending on how fast you are, you’ll either start seeing a different “currently down” message… or you’ll see CA again, but now in its shiny new home. (And that may come with some extra surprises!) That’s the hope, anyway.

Remember, if problems persist, check out our Twitter stream to see what’s up, or to get in touch with us. (Note that during the changeover, email addresses “@canadianatheist.com” might not work.)

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