Service Migration - February 2024

January 30, 2024 at 12:57 PM

Coming in the month of February, we will be migrating all US-based hosting services (Shared Unlimited, Shared Performance, Reseller, VPS, and Dedicated) to a new datacenter. It is also important to know of some expected changes coming to all accounts. Migrated services will still be hosted in the Chicago area, though some features may change depending on your account type. More information is included below.


Shared & Reseller Hosting: All shared hosting accounts will be migrated over to new hardware in a new datacenter location in the Chicago area. As part of this migration, IPs will be renumbered for all existing shared hosting clients. All hosting account services will automatically be proxied from the old servers to the new servers as part of the migration service, so we do not expect any downtime for shared hosting clients as long as third-party DNS and proxy services (where in use) are updated to the new hosted IP addresses as quickly as possible following the account migration. Further details on this process will be sent to shared account holders directly via E-mail by Monday, February, 5th, 2024.

Shared hosting customers will also be moving to an updated operating system (CloudLinux 8) which will feature access to the latest security updates, database & PHP software versions, as well as improved performance overall. We do not expect to reduce feature support with this update; older PHP versions currently supported will still be available on our shared hosting systems, though the .htaccess directives may change. We will take measures to ensure .htaccess directives are automatically updated where necessary so your selected PHP version(s) remain in tact through the upgrade.

VPS Hosting: All VPS hosting accounts will be migrated over to new hardware and software. IPs will be renumbered, and we will be moving from OnApp to SolusVM for VPS management. We want to keep our VPS services stable and with access to the latest OS templates, which we believe we can achieve to a greater degree with SolusVM at this time, and so we will be moving away from OnApp during the migration. Because each VPS will need to be re-imaged during this migration (to be ported over to SolusVM), we will need to handle VPS migrations on a case-by-case basis and we will be in touch with each VPS client by Sunday, February 11th, 2024 to outline the migration process and what to expect.

Expected downtime will also be on a case-by-case basis; cPanel systems should experience no downtime in most cases. New IPs will be assigned to all VPS services, so changes will need to be made in nearly all cases, so please be sure to keep an eye on your emails and make sure our domain is whitelisted at your email provider so you receive the important details about your service migration. Most cPanel VPS customers will also benefit from this migration in the form of an OS upgrade - CentOS 6 and 7 will be replaced by AlmaLinux 8, offering the latest security benefits and software versions for your VPS.

Dedicated Servers: Dedicated servers will be physically moved from their current location to the new datacenter and will not require IP renumbering. However, this does mean there will be downtime for dedicated server clients as we perform the physical relocation of hardware and transition IP routing over to the new facility. We will send further information on the process and what to expect by Sunday, February 11th, 2024. For clients wishing to transition to a new/updated operating system with cPanel in the near term, we will have alternative options available which would also require less (or no) downtime, but would require IP renumbering and other considerations. We will outline these options in the upcoming email concerning the migration specifics for dedicated server clients.

Service Changes

SpamExperts: We will be retiring support for SpamExperts shortly before the migration window for shared hosting, VPS, and dedicated server customers. We have seen great performance from SpamExperts in filtering inbound spam, but the feature usage has been lower than we expected and the software itself is closed to our administration which has caused a number of headaches for us and for customers over the past few years. We will be implementing stronger spam prevention measures on email systems which presently rely on SpamExperts, and we will be looking at robust alternatives again in the near future.

JetBackup: We will be moving to a newer version of JetBackup which we expect to be more stable for our US-based shared hosting clients. EU servers may also be included in the configuration. Additional backup features will become available after the migration, including possible custom backup and location options for individual clients.

DDoS Protection: Although we have not advertised this feature, US-based hosting clients have benefited from 10gbps DDoS protection since our last encounter with DDoS attackers a few years ago. The new facility features 40gbps DDoS protection which is a significant bump up to our defenses against ransom and takedown attacks directed at us and our customers.

Thank You

We want to say thank you to everyone who has stuck with us through several migrations now, and we hope you continue to enjoy our services in the future. We have seen better connectivity speeds and latency tests at the new facility, and we are looking forward to being able to set some issues aside as part of this migration. If you do have any questions for us, we are always available via email at [email protected] so please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

Domain Registry Service and Pricing Changes

November 4, 2021 at 8:53 AM

We are announcing new changes to our domain registry services and pricing which will impact all domain customers for their next renewals and new domain registrations and transfers starting on 11/11/2021.

Our original registry provider, which has allowed us to maintain excellent domain pricing for a select handful of TLDs for our customers, is unfortunately closing down and discontinuing support for their service. This does not mean any downtime for your sites! All domains will be moved to a new registry provider behind the scenesĀ for continuing service. Your domain will still be with us and you will manage it here in our account portal, but our registry provider will change. This transition comes with both good and bad news: We will now be able to offer (many) new TLDs for registration, however, pricing will increase for all domain registrations, renewals, and transfers effective immediately, and pricing will vary between domain TLDs going forward.

We will have access to nearly all available TLDs, and will progressively add more TLDs to our domain registration and transfer options very soon.

For a long time we've been able to offer extremely competitive domain pricing (for .com, .net, .org, .biz, .us, and .info TLDs) at $12/year to all customers because of our no-frills registry provider that only supported a short list of TLDs. These prices will unfortunately be increasing as this registry provider is retired. The new pricing for these TLDs for new registrations, renewals, and transfers is as follows*:

.com - $15/year
.net - $16/year
.org - $16/year
.info - $21/year
.biz - $21/year
.us - $15/year

* - Note new orders cannot be placed at the old pricing at this time and new orders cannot be accepted until the transition to our new registry provider is completed on 11/11/2021. Resellers will still receive a $2/year discount on all domain registrations, transfers, and renewals. We are likely to see more frequent domain pricing changes and TLD additions in the future as a result of the registry provider change.

We apologize that this announcement comes so close to the time of the impending changes. Please note all domain operations (registration, renewal, transfer, and modification) are presently suspended until 11/11/2021. If you have urgent changes to be made to your domain, please contact us at the help desk and we can put in a ticket with the registry for urgent change requests.

4/25/21 Extended Maintenance Report

April 26, 2021 at 7:49 PM

We want to thank everyone for their patience during the extended maintenance last night and this morning which impacted our US-based hosting services. We would also like to apologize for going far beyond the planned maintenance window. We did schedule this maintenance well in advance, and believed strongly that it would be a 2-3 hour operation, and we added another hour for any possible complications to be cleared up. Unfortunately some aspects of the planned maintenance were changed without being communicated to us prior and these changes effectively caused a 2-3 hour job to become a 6-8 hour job.

All of our US server hardware was to be moved to a location with better infrastructure, and this was communicated to us by our datacenter provider over the past several months. Our biggest concern when moving equipment between locations is always making sure downtime is kept to a minimum - we've managed our fair share of hardware migrations and there are always complications or things we did not expect that end up slowing down the process substantially. Most commonly this can relate to trying to maintain similar cable configurations during migration, hardware being jostled during transport which can increase the risk of hardware failure upon returning the hardware to service, and things one wouldn't necessarily expect to take very long like removing the servers from the cabinet and re-racking them in a new cabinet. In February we received more details regarding the expected process for the relocation, and we were informed the datacenter would be taking care of everything and the process was to be a full cabinet migration without removing and re-racking servers between locations, and the work would be performed by a team that does this type of work professionally. Not only is this the fastest and most reliable method of relocating live servers, but it avoids most of the concerns we typically have in regards to the entire process.

We performed a planned upgrade to the OnApp software hosting our VPS services shortly before the migration was to begin, and unfortunately the update had to be rolled back which caused a delay of almost two hours before the maintenance began. Around 11:45PM CDT the migration was underway and we were still anticipating 2-4 hours for the entire process from that time. After 4 hours it was clear something was not going quite to plan, and when communicating with the technicians on site we were informed they were almost done racking our equipment at the new location and to expect systems to be booting up within an hour. At this point we knew the work was going to go on significantly longer than expected and one hour was likely very optimistic, so we tried our best to communicate this via Twitter while our main site and services were still down.

After 90 minutes from the time we received the ETA from the datacenter, the re-racking had been completed, and then the re-wiring began which took another 30 minutes or so. One of the older PDUs needed to be replaced which took roughly 15 minutes. Services were finally being brought back online around 8 hours after the downtime began, with almost all customers being back online after 8-9 hours total downtime.

In short, instead of migrating cabinets of hardware in their entirety from the old facility to the new facility, as we were told to expect, each piece of equipment was individually moved by hand. Instead of moving large cabinets, dozens of individual pieces of equipment were disconnected, removed, re-racked, and re-connected. There are far more possible complications with this strategy, and of course a substantially longer amount of time is required to perform the work. If we knew beforehand the plan had changed away from a full cabinet relocation, we would have been on site ourselves and split the migration into two separate parts instead of trying to get all the work done in one night. We are frustrated this happened the way it happened, but we are also glad the work is complete and no more hardware relocations are expected in the near future.

We want to apologize again for the maintenance being pushed back and going over twice as long as originally planned. We have confirmed all shared, reseller, dedicated servers, and managed VPS services are fully restored and operational. If you still see any issues of any kind please let us know in the help desk or send us an email at [email protected] and we will investigate immediately.

Scheduled Maintenance - 4/25/21

April 7, 2021 at 1:22 PM

On April 25, 2021 maintenance will be performed to migrate all physical hardware at our US location beginning at 10PM CST (GMT-5) and we expect the migration window to last 2-4 hours. Our US-based hosting services will be down for the duration of the planned maintenance. We do expect slightly improved network performance and reliability following the relocation of hardware to our datacenter provider's premier location. Some considerations are included below for each service type currently active at our US location.

Shared Hosting (Unlimited & Performance) and Reseller Hosting: Our US-based shared and reseller hosting services will be down for 2-4 hours for the maintenance window. We will shutdown servers manually about 10 minutes prior to the beginning of the maintenance window, and service will automatically return once the relocation concludes.

VPS Hosting: All VPS hosting services will be down for 2-4 hours for the maintenance window, and we will begin shutting down VPS services about 30 minutes prior to the maintenance window, at which time the OnApp control panel may also be inaccessible. All VPS services will be brought back online automatically following the maintenance window.

Dedicated Servers: We would advise dedicated server customers to shutdown their servers or put their sites into maintenance mode 10-30 minutes prior to the maintenance window to help ensure clean shutdowns can be performed. Servers will be automatically brought back online following maintenance.

We understand this is a significant downtime, so we have scheduled the maintenance window for overnight hours to help ensure as few customers as possible are negatively impacted by this relocation. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us directly by opening a support ticket under your account or by emailing us at [email protected].

Update (10:06PM 4/25): Please note we will be kicking off the downtime a bit later than anticipated tonight. We have encountered an issue during a planned update we were to perform just prior to the maintenance, and we are getting that rolled back before the maintenance gets fully underway.

Update (10:42AM 4/26): The maintenance and subsequent service verification checks have been completed at this time. Most users should have been back online around 7:45AM. VPS and dedicated customers about 30-60 minutes thereafter. If you are still seeing any issues and you are on our VPS services, please reboot your VPS and if this does not help contact us at the help desk. If you see issues on shared, reseller, or dedicated server hosting, please contact us via the help desk or [email protected] for assistance. All services should be fully online and operational at this time, and we would like to apologize for the maintenance taking much longer than expected. An additional blog post regarding why the scheduled maintenance window was much more optimistic than we anticipated will come later this evening once we have a chance to triple-check all servers and services, and handle pending support requests.

Outage at Chicago Datacenter - 9/18/20

September 18, 2020 at 11:37 PM

Shared hosting customers may be noticing DNS problems this evening as we have experienced an attack on our DNS servers. We have taken steps to get service restored but it may take some time before all domains begin resolving again (we recommend clearing your DNS cache or restarting your device to help speed this process along).

Reseller, VPS, and Dedicated Server customers may also have seen an outage lasting roughly 30 minutes during the time when we were working with the datacenter to resolve the DNS connectivity issues. These services should now be back to normal operation.