Web Servers Sometimes Fail Too!

You’ve probably experienced that sinking feeling. You turn on your computer, but instead of being greeted by your favorite, friendlystart up screen, you see an error message.

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Oh, @#$%^!

We all take for granted that something with tons of complicated parts just works day in and day out. But, it’s happened – the dreaded day has come. To quote Monty Python, “’Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!!”

Yep, your computer is dead. (Long live the computer!)

Here at DreamHost, we host your websites on thousands of computers, and just like your home computer, they too can and do drop dead, and often without warning. But never fear; just like you have a backup plan for your home computer, we’ve got one in place for our web servers! Youdo have a backup plan in place, right? Of course you do! So how does DreamHost keep your site up and running when the computer it’s on fails? I ‘dlike to introduce you to the great, the mighty, the heroic “failover!”[queue dramatic music]

What’s this mysterious “failover?”  Well, it goes something like this:all of our customers’ sites are backed up to massive storage pools on a regular basis. That way, even if your host machine does “shuffle off its mortal coil,” your data is still safe with us. In order to keep your site up and running after your host machine fails, we link up the backed up data to a replacement machine, keeping your data online while we copy your backed up site to the new machine, lickety-split! That way, we can continue to host your site while we fix up a new machine to take its place.

This may sound like a pretty simple task, but it’s actually a lot more complicated than you might think. There are whoosits, thingamabobs, and whatchamacallits to configure, connect, and monitor. So, lickety-split sometimes means being patient. Thankfully, we have a dedicated systems engineering team to navigate the treacherous waters of the failover process, doing our best to keep your site up and our customers happy. And happy customers make us, the DreamHost systems engineering team, smile like lines from Monty Python.