We apologize for the downtime

Here’s the full story about what happened, because I think it’s pretty interesting.

This site is currently hosted on a shared server, which means there are many other sites being hosted on the same server. Someone decided to launch a massive distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack against the server. A DOS attack is when a server gets flooded with so many requests that it can not handle them all. Consequently, legitimate requests get stalled out, and the server literally chokes under the load. In this case, the DOS attack came from multiple countries and multiple IP blocks, making it hard for my host to filter it out. That’s why the site was down sporadically between Monday and about Thursday. My host had largely filtered out the attack by Thursday, and the server was up and running again. Some of you have had no trouble accessing the site since then.

However, because of the immense amount of traffic caused by the DDOS attack, some of the major routers along the internet backbone blacklisted the shared server I was on in order to stop propagating the DOS traffic. Consequently, anybody being routed through those servers was unable to reach my site (and from what I can tell, that was most of you). My host is still working to get the shared server unblacklisted, two days later.

In the meantime, I requested (and was granted) a server transfer, which took place this morning. We are no longer hosted on the same shared server that was the target of the DDOS attack and subsequently blacklisted. Consequently, this site should be available to everyone again.

As an interesting aside, when all of the servers at a hosting company get filled to capacity, they’ll open a fresh server, and start putting new accounts on it until it fills up. However, because there are so many new accounts, odds are that a few of them are going to be problematic -- they’re going to do something to make somebody angry enough to DOS the server, they’re going to run an insecure piece of software that’s going to get hacked, or they’re going to run a script that eats all the CPU time. Consequently, new servers tend to have lots of issues at first. As these problems get taken care of, and the offenders removed or educated, the servers tend to become less problematic and more reliable.

Hopefully the new server we were moved to is able to avoid these issues. We’ll find out. But in the meantime, our week of pain is over, and we can get back to building content.

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