Switched to SYN Hosting, Outage is Over

Hi everyone. The website’s been down for the last 18 hours, since 7:30 A.M. (EDT) this morning, but I’m back now. I discovered it when I awoke at 2 P.M. (I’m happily unemployed), and immediately began trouble-shooting. It wasn’t on my end at all; it had to be Netfirms’ fault (they’ve given me trouble before). Netfirms wasn’t serving up anything from the MySQL database, which cripples me, because this blog is all dynamic.

Netfirms has been growing progressively worse in the past two weeks… FTP has been terribly slow, the website is slow, it’s gone down a couple of times because of them, etc. I called them… and after 30 minutes on hold, hearing only an automated message telling me how “extremely important” I am, I just hung up. By then, it was 3:30, and I decided to give up and switch web hosts. Even though I have Netfirms’ first-year $10 special ending on August 2, I can’t stand it anymore. I did an hour of research, and picked SYN Hosting because they sound good and honest. I sent in the request for an account, and then headed for school (my night class was from 5:30 to 9 P.M.), not being able to do anything more for the time. I had a test in precalculus algebra, and I did poorly on it (will find out Monday). If I do well on Wednesday’s final (2008-06-25), the grade is dropped, so that’s what I need to do now. I should be fine with 85% on the final.

So when I got back home, I got my email from SYN Hosting. I’d already started downloading the files from Netfirms before leaving, and it was done. I promptly switched DNS servers in my triple.com control panel and began uploading files to SYN Hosting. Still haven’t done everything (the stock photos are ~160MB and will take hours). But the site’s back.

It takes a long time on my slow ADSL connection with just 128kb upstream bandwidth. Especially when you have 3000 small files, like with my WordPress MU installation and army of plugins. And I had some trouble importing the MySQL database, since it is so large (23MB). I got it all worked out finally. I’m glad to be back, and sorry for the trouble.

All of the thripp.com network was down. I’m posting this here, because I get 60% of the community’s traffic.

SYN charges $8.34 a month for their basic plan, billed every six months. I searched first, and found the SAVEME offer. Basically, if you’ve had your domain for over six months and are hosted elsewhere, you get three months free. I sent this emphatic message in the notes field when I registered:

Save me! I’m using Netfirms now, and after four outages in the past two days (one right now), and no one to answer their phones, I’ve had it, even though I have a over a month left on my contract. SYN Hosting is a lot better, I can tell.

Boy, was I surprised to log on and see that I’d been given six months free. Here’s what my invoice looks like:

SYN hosting paid

Mind you, I haven’t actually paid them anything. I was expecting to get an email to do so, or at least provide credit card or PayPal billing information for their security, but no. You don’t often see this kind of commitment from hosting companies.

What I’m really enjoying, is the fast loading times. Checking on this website speed test, I see my page takes under a second to be compiled:

thripp.com loads quickly

In my last days with Netfirms, it was often over 4 seconds. Waiting isn’t fun.

Netfirms claims to give me something ridiculous like 2TB of disk space and 2000TB of bandwidth. SYN Hosting keeps it real: 6GB disk space and 120GB bandwidth each month. And their interface and control panels are better. You can even see how much CPU and RAM resources you’re using. That’s far more important than bandwidth, because with a dynamic, database-powered site, bandwidth isn’t what drags you down.

Managing your own website is hard work. I’m glad now I can stop worrying about it disappearing. Go ahead and try out SYN Hosting; they’re a real gem. Make sure to enter the coupon “saveme” and tell them who you’re transferring from in the notes, if you want a few months free. I’m looking forward to much more enjoyable days here, for my readers/viewers and me.

“No input file specified” error

I checked this site about an hour ago and got the error message, no input file specified, with a blank page. I was trouble-shooting the problem, and found that disabling the Netfirms Pretty Permalinks plugin fixed it. I blogged about this in January, as Netfirms wouldn’t support URIs without “/index.php,” without the work-around. Apparently Netfirms fixed this one month ago, but I didn’t have any clashes till now.

Now everything’s fine (it was about twelve hours that pages except the home page were broken). Also, Canonical URIs work now, so one like richardxthripp.thripp.com/index.php?p=139 (generated by yak, my shopping cart plugin) will redirect to richardxthripp.thripp.com/photo-spores-of-the-sun-139, like it should. I complained about this in my bugs list; still, www.richardxthripp.thripp.com won’t go to richardxthripp.thripp.com, and changing the title of a post in the URI will work without redirecting as long as the post ID is correct, but it’s a step.

Registrar Transfer

Thripp.com was down from 2008-03-04T15:00Z to 2008-03-06T00:00Z. My domain name expires on 2008-03-16 and my current registrar charges $35 to renew, so I got started transferring out. I chose Triple.com because they were running a cheap special ($5.55; a loss for them), but they reset my domain’s name servers even though I said not to.

This is what I set before initiating the transfer on 2008-02-28:

Triple.com domain-transfer settings

When the transfer finally went through on 2008-03-04:

Thripp.com outage

I changed them back on the Triple.com control panel, but it took nearly a day to go through. Then, none of the dynamically compiled pages (the home page, and most everything else) were loading, for no reason on my end. It turned out to be my host, Netfirms; I called and complained, and was told they don’t support WP-Cache, but the person I spoke with reset something so my site became livid. I have to use caching so the site loads quickly and doesn’t die when more than a few people visit, so I’m keeping it on and will keep watch in case I disappear again. If I do, you can still see my work at my deviantART gallery, but I’d prefer to have no outages.

Other complaints about Netfirms:
Help needed setting up WP-Cache
WP-Cache and Netfirms
Terrible performance and technical support
Netfirms Database Network Outage
Netfirms WordPress and Pretty URLs (Date and Name)
Netfirms sucks
Netfirms Loses Power, 1 Million Sites Down

They’re not good for anything; neither is Triple.com, though I doubt I’ll have more problems with the registrar, at least. I’m going to move to Lunarpages in July, when my contract with Netfirms is up. It’ll cost me $7 every month, unfortunately. Since I’m losing money even now, I’ve opened up a request for donations, with a great summary of my mission statement for this adventure.

This post is 2 days late. I became ill yesterday, but it’s not a normal cold as I don’t have congestion or coughing; just a sore throat and tiredness. I’m mostly over it today. It was hard to make it through five hours of work yesterday and eight hours of school today (five classes including photography), but I’m on spring break now and am off school till the 17th. If I would’ve missed my classes I’d have missed an important test, plus points for attendance, so it wasn’t an option (they want you to stay while you’re sick).

I have assignments to complete, still, but I’ll have more time open than normal. I’m working on new photography, and on a computer-science article on versatility in computing, which will be the basis for my future tutorials on digital editing.

Thanks everyone! :smile:

Netfirms Loses Power, 1 Million Sites Down

My website was down from 15:00Z to 22:00Z today (10 A.M. to 5 P.M. EST). This was the fault of my host, Netfirms, as they lost power today, and their backup generators failed. More about this here. So, while they claim to host one million websites, for seven hours today, they hosted zero (even their own was down for most of that time).

I get the most traffic on Saturday, so this was quite disappointing for me. I called them and was told I could write to csmgr@netfirms.com, and they may consider compensating me. Here’s what I said:


My name is Richard X. Thripp and I’ve been a loyal Netfirms customer since August. I’ve been using your web hosting service extensively in the past two months, and have found it be good for hosting my WordPress photo-blog/shop at http://thripp.com/.

I was shocked finding my website to be down this morning, and read online that you’d suffered a power outage, which is why your phones and website weren’t working either. It was from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. EST today, Saturday, February 23, that my site was inaccessible. This was a bad time for me, as I’d just completed a print-based advertising campaign that went out to over 2000 people this week, and during the day on Saturday is when my website is busiest normally.

I called in and was told to email you to discuss compensation. It’s not so much the lost sales and ad revenue that bothers me, but rather the distrust and confusion among my clients and readership. The outage came at a bad time for me, so whatever you can offer will be appreciated.


[The “print campaign” started at the beginning of the month; I gave away over 2000 4*6 art prints, with my website on the back, to local art lovers.]

If you were affected, send them a message at csmgr@netfirms.com.

At least I’m back for now. :smile:

2008-02-25 Update: This post has been made at Web Hosting Talk, claiming to be from the president of Netfirms:

Thank you all for your support and patience while we worked on restoring services and fielding inquiries yesterday. I also understand that many of you had to endure a tough Saturday during this service interruption.

All websites are fully functional with data intact and your queued e-mails delivered by now.

To summarize, we experienced a total loss of power at our primary datacenter facility housing the Netfirms corporate sites and a large number of our hosted customer websites. During routine power maintenance by the facility at around 10:30 AM ET, all that redundant power that was supposed to kick in did not. We depend on our datacenter for clean reliable power. Being at a facility with over 18 power generators and housing almost every major carrier in North America, this was hard to swallow. While we got normal power resumed in about an hour, it took us longer to get the network reconfigured and hundreds of servers back online, properly configured.

At our corporate office, with websites being unavailable, we received a massive surge in phone calls, completely overwhelming our call center phone circuits. We had every team member from billing, sales and customer service responding to customers. There are definitely some changes we’ll make to ensure we are able to communicate updates better to you.

Over the past 10 years, our Technology Team has worked hard to ensure everything about our platform is more reliable, functional and redundant including web serving, email delivery, database, dns, file storage, routers, firewalls and network providers. Our Technology team will be making some changes to prevent such an extended service interruption including expanded usage of our secondary datacenter and of course our current power feeds, something we have taken for granted over the years.

If you have any questions, we are here to help.


Thomas Savundra

Netfirms, Inc.

I suppose that sounds reasonable enough. Don’t let it happen again, Netfirms!

Sweet Progress

My pages’ URIs don’t have /index.php in them anymore, thanks to this WordPress plugin (Netfirms Pretty Permalinks). I can’t use canonical URIs because the hack requires them to be disabled. :frown: So, just use the links around here when linking to me, as they’re all fine. Looking at the WordPress forum, I’m glad I can have nice links at all.

I was getting memory errors in the administration panel, but they went away when I disabled MySpace, Facebook, and Xanga cross-posting. 2008-01-04 Update: It was the Google Sitemap Generator; I increased the amount of memory available to it (from the default of 16MB to 64MB), and it works fine. MySpace cross-posting still generates blank screens on my end, so it won’t return. I can’t get the threaded comments reply link to work with the new URIs, so you have to use the list below the comment box.

The Netfirms permalinks plugin doesn’t fix calls from PHP scripts using $_SERVER[‘REQUEST_URI’]. They still have the /index.php in them, which broke the sidebar log-in panel and reply buttons in comments. To fix this, in Yet Another Threaded Comments Plugin (YATCP) version 0.6.1, I replaced a portion of the template_functions.php file. This:

function yatcp_get_url(){
$my_url = '';
$my_url = 'https://';
} else {
$my_url = 'http://';
$my_url .= $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'];
if($_SERVER['SERVER_PORT'] != '80'){
$my_url .= ':' . $_SERVER['SERVER_PORT'];
$my_url .= $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'];
$my_url .= '#comment_selection';
return $my_url;

became this:

function yatcp_get_url(){
$my_url .= '#comment_selection';
return $my_url;

I’m not going to use the extra functions in the original code, so I removed them.

For the sidebar script, I just hard-coded the log-in/log-out URIs to the home page. Unfortunately, this means you don’t go back to the page you logged in or out from. These are both kludges though; I won’t need them once I leave Netfirms in August.

I changed the layout; the sidebar is stream-lined and the page margins are smaller to leave more space for the content. I’m particularly proud of the banner at the top; it displays three random photos on each page (currently, 26 of my photos are in rotation).

The website is looking pretty good, so I’m going to stop tweaking it for the next month, and instead work on adding photos. :)

2008-01-03 Update: Fixed comment reply buttons and sidebar log-in panel; updated entry.

First Entry

Hello all! I’m Richard X. Thripp, and 2007-12-23 marks the day of my first entry on my blog at richardxthripp.thripp.com. The reason for the subdomain is so that I may share Thripp.com with friends and family without it being a personal website.

Unfortunately I have crippled hosting through Netfirms, and so all my pages must have “/index.php” in their URIs (2008-11-01 Update: switched hosts long ago). When I switch to a better host (I’m locked in through 2008-07), hopefully I’ll be able to redirect all old links to the new pages without “/index.php”. I was able to get advertising set up through Google Adsense, which may cover hosting costs.

Expect to see a lot of my photography and essays. Check out my about page, which lists me and my family’s websites, and contact information and pricing regarding my photography services (Daytona Beach area, Florida).

Go ahead and post some comments to get the ball rolling. No registration needed, for now at least (2008-11-01 Update: no registration required ever).