You may have noticed that everything posted since 2011/12/20 has been lost, and thus are wondering what the hell happened.
Well, let me tell you what happened and why the Chaotic Dreams website will be moving to a new host soon.
First things first, who am I - I am the person who currently hosts (and manages) the Chaotic Dreams website, including the forums and the ChaosUT2 official server.
If you want the short version:
The forums were offline for so long (and the data lost) due to two bugs in two different pieces of software (PhpBB2 and PhpMyAdmin), combined with the dumbness of my host.
I am leaving the host because I am really angry with them -- "angry" for the lack of a better word which would describe what I really think about them.
As for the long version, here it goes:
Yesterday, on 9th Jan 2012, at about 19:30 UTC, me and RFlagg have decided that it's about damn time that the board is updated to PhpBB3 - The current version, 2.0.22, has not been supported since sometime 2009, and is probably riddled with security holes (among other bugs, as I was about to find out).
The plan went something like this:
- Backup the database and files, just in case
- Copy the forums database to another database, for later upgrade
- Install PhpBB3
- Check if everything is okay, and if it is, move phpBB3 to its final location
So I install the forums, import old forums, and guess what - everything from the old forum was imported correctly, except for all the topics and posts. So I meddle around some more, reinstalling and reimporting who-knows how many times...
Finally, I have a look at the copy (where PhpBB3 was reading from for import) and guess what - phpMyAdmin has correctly copied most of the data, but has somehow failed to copy a single post or a topic.
Good thing I have the backup, right? Wrong. I try to import it and guess what -- it's corrupted. Apparently, PhpBB2 has a nasty bug with exporting large databases; how they've managed to have a bug in one of those features where it's absolutely imperative that they don't go wrong is beyond me, but there I was with a backup that did get corrupted, in other words, I was without a backup.
(Note: If you're wondering at this point as to why I didn't do daily or at least weekly backups myself, well, I've tried to get them done, but none of the scripts would work, probably due to the size of the database and thus them timing out.)
Good thing that just about every decent host does regular backups; so this is where the host comes in and the reason why I'm leaving it.
So I contact the host and I find out that they do daily and weekly backups - if you're wondering how can they do both since daily cover weekly anyways, I just assumed that weekly are off-site and daily on-site (which would make perfect sense). They do cost 15 USD, however, which is just dumb and annoying...
Nevertheless, I did need that backup, so I figured "what the hell". Therefore, I contact their support, but guess what - they don't do daily backups - the latest they had was 20th Dec 2011, an almost 3 weeks old backup.
What the hell would they do if something happened to their datacenter and the data got corrupted?
So now they're not asking 15 USD for a recent backup, but for one that is almost a month old. Well, I was sort of desperate, so I went ahead anyways...
...a bit later, they give me the backup and charge me 15 GBP instead of 15 USD. Now wait a second - they told me that they would charge 15 USD, and yet they charge me 15 GBP (which is around 1.6 times more at that date's exchange rate) - and for a 20 day old backup at that.
Not only did they charge too much, but there also was no invoices - it wasn't listed in closed invoices, I didn't get any email, nothing... I wouldn't have even noticed that had I not checked how much money I have on account about 30 minutes ago.
I tell them about both issues (currency and no invoice) and all I get is "we apologize for the inconvenience" -- that's it. No refund, no free month or similar (my previous host has this practice when things went awry), nothing. Not even an invoice to fix the invoice problem.
Well, I've decided to let it be -- for now -- I figured I'd rather not piss them off until I see if that backup actually works.
So I try to use it from PhpMyAdmin, but guess what, an error - out of memory.
I contact them about this, ask them that they import it themselves (I do not have SSH access to that account, so I can't do it via the terminal...).
I was told that SSH access was now free (yeah, they used to charge for that), so I figured I might as well ask for that, for every single account, to ease migration (because at this point, I knew that I wasn't going to stay on this host anymore). In case you're wondering what SSH is, just look it up on Wikipedia, but long story short, it would allow me remote access to the server's terminal.
Guess what, they wanted IDs -- no, not just one ID (which would be odd by itself since they don't know how our IDs look like anyways), but an ID for every single client I have (it's a reseller account). I found that very odd since I already had an SSH account, and only I would be using those anyways.
After waiting around 15-20 minutes for a reply to either ticket, I go to sleep at that point because it's around 2:30 AM here already.
So, the next day (today), I finally receive a replies to both cases. I'll explain what happened regarding SSH later, but as far as the import goes, well...
Instead of importing the data themselves, they instead increase the amount of memory, which sounds fine - at least it'll work the next time.
It still didn't work, so I was expecting for them to simply do it themselves at this point to get it over with (remember, I needed it fast because I wanted to bring the forums back online ASAP, and they knew this).
Take a guess what they did. Yup, that's right - they've increased the memory in some other setting yet again; note that every time they did they, they asked me to test this, instead of testing it themselves -- I mean, how hard is it to login into an user's control panel and try it, especially if it doesn't work for the 2nd time?
When it didn't work for the third time, they've finally figured out that maybe they should upload it and said (I paraphrase) "If you want, maybe we can upload this for you? Just say so if you agree."... Well, that's what I've asked you to do in the first place!
I had to go to the university in between (this was around 2 and a half hours ago), and when I came back, the database was finally restored. I've quickly restored the forums back to their working state and started writing this message about what the hell happened.
So, what about that SSH access and the incorrectly charged price?
Regarding SSH, they told me that they wouldn't need IDs, but signed forms from every client for enabling that. They sure as hell did quickly change their mind as to what is required, but this is still a problem as I'd have to hunt those people down to get them to sign that. Either that, or I can sign some form of a waiver myself that would basically say that I'm the guy responsible if a client screws anything up in SSH -- I find that very odd, because, well, how the hell is it my fault if someone else screws up?
Then I got yet again different info - since I'm a reseller, and only I would be using SSH, they can setup my main SSH account to be able to access all the sub-accounts; that's even better, I thought, since there's no relogging to do.
Guess what, different info yet again - what I've just typed above isn't true, and we're back to either clients signing those documents or me. So yeah, that has pretty much made me abort any and all plans I had about getting the data off the server with minimal pain (or to import that database, since the issue still wasn't resolved at this point).
Regarding the price, after a really long complaint in a ticket, I've finally made them to return part of the overly charged expenses... I don't know if they've returned the full amount that was overcharged or not, but frankly, I didn't feel like talking to them anymore, I've had enough problems as it was.
All in all, restoring the backups should have taken a few minutes tops -- but due to the combined effort of PhpBB2, PhpMyAdmin and my webhost, it took a total of around 8-10 hours, and that's without counting the time when I was sleeping or at the university.
So that's that folks - now you see what happened and why Chaotic Dreams will be moving hosts soon.
Yes, that does mean there will be another downtime soon, but trust me when I say it has to be done. On the positive side, that new host will be a dedicated host, and so the official CUT2 server will be able to be ran from there.