NinerNet Communications™
System Status

Server and System Status

Web server upgrade

12 March 2016 12:33:12 +0000

We’ll be sending out an email shortly to inform NinerNet clients that over the next few weeks we will be moving all of the shared hosting websites hosted on servers NC018, NC020 and NC026 to a new server, NC031. While this might look like one server is taking on the workload of three, that’s not quite the case; servers NC020 and NC026 are currently hosting only a relatively few websites that had outgrown the limitations of NC018. On top of that, server NC031 is a shiny new server, running the latest commercially available versions of all software, with far more resources than the servers it is replacing, and an increasing emphasis on secure connections.

The new server is also running a new control panel. The one on server NC018 (Plesk) has served us well. In fact, server NC026 was running the latest version of Plesk when it was set up a couple of years ago, but our experience with the new version has — to put it simply — been disastrous. In fact, we’ve gone out of our way to avoid clients actually using it. We evaluated another popular control panel — cPanel — but we came away with much the same opinion as we’ve developed of Plesk, but for different reasons.

The new control panel we’re using is called Virtualmin, and is based on a control panel (Webmin) that we first used privately in 2006 but which has been around since 1997 … almost as long as NinerNet! There will no doubt be a period of adjustment as we switch — for you and for us, especially as we develop support documentation — but we’re confident that Virtualmin is far better than other control panels that we have evaluated, and we’ve been impressed by their responsive support so far.

With that background information out of the way, here are a few points you need to know:

  • As we set up your domain(s) in the new control panel you will receive an automated email with the log-in information you will need for the control panel and for FTPS (FTP Secure) for uploading files to your server. Please keep this information in a safe and secure place, for future reference. Your website will be moved shortly after that, but not necessarily immediately.
  • Where possible we will move your website without any coordination with you. Where coordination is necessary or desirable, we will contact you at least 24 hours in advance.
  • If you or your web manager, designer or developer would like to contact us in advance of moving your website to discuss any particular needs or requirements, please feel free to do so as soon as possible.
  • We will be starting with websites on server NC026, then server NC018, and lastly server NC020.
  • All files in the “web root” on the old server will be moved. Where necessary (rarely) we’ll rename existing directories if their names clash with directories set up by default on the new server — unless this will cause a problem with your website, in which case we’ll rename the directories on the new server. If you have any files stored outside of the “web root” — the “httpdocs” directory on NC018 and NC026, or the “htdocs” directory on server NC020 — please either download them to your local computer, or contact us so that we’re aware that they need to be moved too.
  • Speaking of the web root, the file path on the server to your website will change. The new path will be /home/USERNAME/public_html , where you will replace “USERNAME” with your actual user name, of course. Most of the time this is irrelevant, but for some web applications it might be important to know this.
  • If the nameservers for your domain are hosted elsewhere — i.e., we cannot access them to update the information for your domain to point it to the new web server — you will need to do this yourself. The IP address of the new server is 173.255.231.250; you will need to know this to point your domain to it after we transfer the files.
  • We will manually check to ensure that your site is online after the move and check a few additional pages, but please check yourself to make sure everything is good. Once a day we’ll email the owners of the websites that were moved that day.
  • Your website will not be down during the transfer. Where there is the possibility of complications, we will leave your domain pointing to the old website until any complications have been resolved.
  • This migration has nothing to do with email in any way. The email server is not involved, and your email will continue to flow uninterrupted while we migrate websites.

One other item to note is that we’re really emphasising the importance of complex passwords. These have always been important to us, but our older systems haven’t always enforced complex passwords. Complex passwords are vital to the security of everything you do online that requires you to log in to view private data (such as your email or bank account) or manage services that unauthorised users should not access (such as the back-end of your website). This is why we set longer (a minimum of 12 characters) and more complex passwords by default. To manage long and complex passwords we use and recommend a program called KeePass, which has versions and clones made for all major systems — e.g., Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS (iPhone/iPad). We strongly recommend this program or one like it. It will make your life so much easier, and more secure too.

As always, we strive to ensure that your hosting (and the move to the new server) are without any headaches, and that attitude will apply to this move as well. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. Thank-you.

NC026: Emergency maintenance complete

24 October 2015 08:21:46 +0000

The emergency maintenance on server NC026 started at 07:30 UTC and was completed successfully by 08:09 UTC. The server is now back online and functioning normally.

Thank-you for your understanding and patience.

NC026: Emergency maintenance underway

24 October 2015 07:33:35 +0000

Server NC026 was taken down at 07:30 UTC for the previously mentioned emergency maintenance. We’ll post an update here when it’s back online.

NC026: Emergency maintenance

23 October 2015 00:06:01 +0000

For the same reason as that for the emergency maintenance of servers NC023 and NC027, server NC026 will also undergo the same maintenance starting at 04:00 UTC on Saturday 24 October 2015.

During the six-hour window between 04:00 and 10:00 the server should be down for only up to two hours, but quite possibly less than that.

Server NC026 is a newer web server hosting only a relatively small number of websites, mostly those based on WordPress. We’ll be sending emails out to those clients who will be affected.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Xen security updates

8 March 2015 12:27:53 +0000

Some of our servers use a technology called Xen. Like all software, it is subject to the discovery of bugs and security vulnerabilities.

Over the last week, all of our servers that use Xen have undergone “patching” to address some newly-discovered — but not yet publicised — security vulnerabilities. This patching required servers to be rebooted, and finished this morning.

We thank you for your patience this week during these upgrades.

POODLE maintenance: Complete

23 October 2014 22:54:04 +0000

We have completed the maintenance to mitigate against exploitation of the POODLE vulnerability.

Because the effects of this maintenance could potentially be wide-ranging, please contact support if you have any issues with connecting over a secure connection to any of our servers. We don’t believe there will be any issues with web (HTTPS) connections, but there may be with some email (SMTP, IMAP and POP) connections by older email programs. That said, an exploit against this vulnerability has only been demonstrated using JavaScript and a web browser, so email connections (even if using SSLv3) are not generally considered to be at risk.

Thanks for your patience during this maintenance.

UPDATE, 2014-10-24: Please read some details on this maintenance, and learn more about SSL and TLS and email security, on our corporate blog.

POODLE maintenance: Update 1

19 October 2014 00:33:28 +0000

The maintenance described in our last post is under way, but we are running into some issues that are delaying completion. While there may be sudden and unexpected interruptions in some services for some clients, we are aware of them and are working on them. If necessary, we will revert to old configurations while we re-evaluate the new configurations recommended to defend clients against the POODLE vulnerability.

Thank-you for your patience.

SSL version 3 “POODLE” vulnerability, system-wide maintenance

17 October 2014 05:25:59 +0000

We will be conducting maintenance this weekend to address the above noted vulnerability. Please read more details about this on our corporate blog.

NC026 emergency maintenance complete

2 October 2014 12:14:12 +0000

The emergency maintenance on server NC026 described earlier has been completed successfully. Thank-you for your patience.

NC026 emergency maintenance

1 October 2014 04:40:48 +0000

To deal with an as-yet unpublished security vulnerability, server NC026 will undergo emergency maintenance today (1 October) starting shortly after 15:00 UTC. Down time should be brief, but will be noticeable for websites hosted on this server during the maintenance. Most of the websites hosted on this server are newer ones using more recent versions of WordPress. If you are not sure whether or not your website is hosted on this server, you can contact support to find out.

No email is hosted on NC026, so this maintenance will not affect email flow at all.

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This blog provides information about the status of NinerNet Communications systems. Dates and times of posts to this blog are in the UTC time zone, and dates and times given for events are also in the UTC time zone, although conversions may be offered for some time zones common to our clients. Please use the World Time Server to ensure accurate conversion of dates and times to your own time zone.

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