Today I went to visit a subdomain of mine that I use regularly, to find that it didn't work. After opening another tab to visit slickhouse.homeip.net it appeared that the DNS was non-existant. This domain is a 'catch-all' for my webserver, that ensures people can find their way around even if they mis-type a URL.
All my domains are registered with GoDaddy and the DNS is handled by ZoneEdit - but the aformentioned domain is provided by another Dynamic DNS provider - DynDNS. The reason for this is clear, if an update on ZoneEdit fails, I can fall back to DynDNS and force an update - and vice versa.
However, after finding a forced updated of the IP via DynDNS didn't work, I realised my account no longer existed either. It appears the DynDNS had deleted my account without any prior written notice!
And to think, 12 months ago, I was tempted to purchase their services for all of my domains. Imagine if you woke up one day to find your account (along with the related domains) had disappeared?
If any of you out there are currently using DynDNS' free service, let me know if you've experienced similar issues. If not, I'd recommend you look for an alternative Dynamic DNS service, as you too could end up in the same situation, without any written notice.
For those of you still looking for my 'fall-back' domain, it has been moved to hosting.slickhouse.com
Over the past few weeks I've started the switch-over to a self-hosted solution for slickhouse and the other sites I maintain.
The first hurdle was leapt over with few problems - as I've now got a decent web server up and running within slickhouse itself. A full article will appear within the near future, once the software configuration has been completely tweaked. In the meantime, I can confirm it's running Windows Server 2003 R2 with IIS6; Pearl; PHP and MySQL - the latter two of which are required for WordPress.
The web server is running under within Microsoft Virtual Server 2005, with the host O/S being another 2003 install. The host machine is my upgraded Fileserver - consisting of an Athlon XP 3000 (Barton); 2GB PC3200 DDR; MSI K7N2; 120GB main drive and 4 x 250GB data drives. So far, benchmarks have proved that the setup is on par with the current machine that slickhouse is hosted (shared) on.
Although there's currently only a holding page on the web server, for [domain no longer active], it'll soon host slickhouse.com; lazlow.net and babysfirstblog.com, along with any future domains.
The server itself has been up and running for a few weeks and has already received a few hack attempts - mainly via ftp, but none have so far been successful.
Initially, I was going to be running 2 Virtual Servers in tandem - the first being Server 2003 for static sites and the second being either CentOs; Litespeed or Ubuntu Linux Server. However, as I work with Windows web servers on a day-to-day basis at work, I eventually opted for purely Server 2003. After many late nights of trying to get PHP and MySQL playing ball, I got WordPress working successfully too on IIS (more detail coming soon).
So, all that's left now is to transfer several domains that are with my current host (UKHost4U) to GoDaddy, my new domain registrar. This is where the tricky part has taken place - it's a lot of hassle to transfer a single domain from one registrar to the next; even more hassle when transferring several, with differing TLDs. I'm still awaiting slickhouse.com; slickhouse.net; lazlow.net and babysfirstblog.com to be transferred. Unfortunately, GoDaddy don't currently support the transfer of .uk domains, so I need to find an alternative way to control slickhouse.co.uk.
Once the domains are all within my control, I can then start setting up DNS for them all - via DynDNS.com. Coupled with my recent router upgrade to Smoothwall, this will allow me to host the sites from a dynamic IP. Then it's just a case of pointing the domains from their current IP to the new web server, in slickhouse.
I'll keep you updated with how the Switch Over goes. Hopefully there will be minimal downtime to the sites during the coming months. If anyone's looking to host their domain/site at slickhouse let me know, as there's plenty of space!
Over the past few days we've been experiencing a lot of Internet down-time. At first I thought it was Virgin playing up with their broadband, or that they were starting the upgrade in our area - 4MB users will be upgraded to 10MB before summer!
However, although there has been down-time in the past, it has never been for more than a few hours.
The next point of call was the cable modem itself, but it appears that they're as rare as rocking-horse shit to purchase. Plus I didn't feel like phoning Virgin in case it ended up being my hardware that was at fault.
So the last option (as it was affecting all networked devices) is the router - an ageing Linksys wired router. It has proved to be very capable for the past 5+ years, even handling DynDNS duties over the past few months.
Luckily, Simon had a spare Buffalo cable router lying around (as he's in-between an upgrade) which I've borrowed for the next day or so to confirm if the Linksys router is at fault. If we don't experience any down-time, then the Linksys will have to go.
In its place I need a router solution that is compatible with the original NTL cable modem and that will also work with DynDNS' Custom DNS service - as I'm planning on hosting a few websites in the coming months, from slickhouse itself. Unfortunately the Buffalo router (on loan) doesn't meet the latter criteria, due to its fairly limited options. The one thing that the Linksys router does have over the newer Buffalo, is that it has far more administration features, even though it is some 6 years old.
So, I've decided to replace the Linksys - if it's faulty - with my own solution. Utilising the Mini-itx EPIA 5000 (550Mhz Via; 512MB RAM) should prove to be successful, with Smoothwall as the OS of choice. Whilst browsing the Internet for a suitable operating system for a router, I found several Windows Server options, along with a multitude of Linux apps and even full blown distros, dedicated to router duties. Smoothwall appears to be the best on offer, or at least the most straight-forward to setup and use for us non-Linux users.
I'll let you know how the Buffalo router testing goes. If we experience any more downtime, then I'll be phoning Virgin - otherwise I'll be whipping out the Dremel once again and fitting another PCI network card to the Mini-itx enclosure. Stay tuned...