Last Wednesday, I went to log into the site to publish a review and something bad happened, very bad. The back-end of halfwheel began to move at a speed most internet users have simply never seen. Not even my faint memories of dial-up solicited an experience similar to watching the cms move at the speed it was. Worse, I knew it wasn’t going to get any better.
You read about issues of blogs struggling with servers a lot. It’s nothing new, part of the business, but cigar blogs for whatever reason seem to be more affected than the average website. Some of it probably is self-inflicted by lack of maintenance, some of it because these are cigar blogs, not server maintenance blogs. We have had our fair share issues over the last year, but there’s a noticeable difference between us and others. halfwheel has full-time employees, so it’s a crisis at work.
In order to upload a single picture (~200 kb), our mid-level dedicated virtual server had to be restarted each and every time and then I needed some luck. This sort of slow down was new, not good and eventually by Wednesday afternoon, was simply no longer working.
For the last six months, we have been running a lower mid-level virtual server at anywhere between 80 to 500 percent of its CPU limits. (How we ran north of over 100 percent is a question for Media Temple, it actually makes no sense.) After the trade show in July, we spent north of a thousand dollars to upgrade our server resources. But then we were suddenly capped.
No longer was halfwheel able to run at the 200 percent cpu power the site normally clocked in at, and we were stuck. Our upgraded server at 100 percent was more than a fraction of the speed of the redlining lower-level server, it was stalled. Thanks to a heavy dose of caching (plus Livefyre, a CDN and more), the front-end of the site was displaying fine, but even after a pretty big database clean, the back-end was a virtual standstill.
Last Wednesday, we began the migration over to a new host. One that sort of specializes in sizes like us—sites that are bigger, more specialized and resource hungry, but with problems that have gotten too far out of the owner’s hands. If you are reading this now, migration of the blog portion of halfwheel is working.
Content will resume today, perhaps even with more than a review a day for a bit of time-being as we make-up for some lost days of posting, but the forum might be out for a few weeks as we find a different host for that. I was hoping to delay this process until later this year and definitely would not have made it at a time where both Brooks and I were traveling, but things happen.
For you as readers, I think you will notice the site to be quicker, we will be able to better test and implement updates and most importantly, we will have more time on our hands to produce content, rather than manage how it is getting transmitted.
Finally—and most importantly—thank you for your readership. For those who lost parts of their daily ritual because we weren’t able to be your distraction at work, I apologize. It was equally as frustrating for myself and the other writers to sit on our hands, not able to publish, but I think we have a solution that is capable of handling halfwheel and its needs, which is a victory for everyone.