Thursday, 07 September 2017 09:36

How to hurricane-proof a Web server

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How to hurricane-proof a Web server Aurich / Getty

Editor's Note:
I'm posting this article because it goes into a fair amount of detail about how a web site's hosting account and how its various parts are configured play an important role in handling large spikes in traffic.  Most of my clients never encounter this type of a problem.  It's always good to be ready.  If you're not sure if your hosting account is set up to handle large bursts in traffic, let me know, and I'll put together some recommendations.  For most folks, enabling caching is going to be sufficient.  Others might appreciate the extra protection provided by a service like CloudFlare.

Millions relied on Space City Weather—here’s the configuration that weathered Hurricane Harvey.

HOUSTON—I had enough to worry about as Hurricane Harvey plowed into the Texas Gulf Coast on the night of August 25 and delivered a category 4 punch to the nearby city of Rockport. But I simultaneously faced a different kind of storm: an unexpected surge of traffic hitting the Space City Weather Web server. This was the first of what would turn into several very long and restless nights.

Space City Weather is a Houston-area weather blog and forecasting site run by my coworker Eric Berger and his buddy Matt Lanza (along with contributing author Braniff Davis). A few months before Hurricane Harvey decided to crap all over us in Texas, after watching Eric and Matt struggle with Web hosting companies during previous high-traffic weather events, I offered to host SCW on my own private dedicated server (and not the one in my closet—a real server in a real data center). After all, I thought, the box was heavily underutilized with just my own silly stuff. I'd previously had some experience in self-hosting WordPress sites, and my usual hosting strategy ought to do just fine against SCW’s projected traffic. It’d be fun!

But that Friday evening, with Harvey battering Rockport and forecasters predicting doom and gloom for hundreds of miles of Texas coastline, SCW’s 24-hour page view counter zipped past the 800,000 mark and kept on going. The unique visitor number was north of 400,000 and climbing. The server was dishing out between 10 and 20 pages per second. The traffic storm had arrived.

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Read 317 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 September 2017 09:42

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