Q: S3DNews - Server Maintenance and Backup of your data
A: November 12, 2010
When discussing the purposes of yearly hosting fees people
ask us, 'what is involved in keeping the Sand Dollar Digital
Design servers up and running?' I thought this might be an
opportune moment to update you on what happens in the Sand
Dollar offices on a daily basis and mention a few new upgrades.
Many of you may not realize our servers are not just an old
computer stuck in a closet somewhere. Here at our offices our
access to the Internet is not as reliable as most connections.
Those of you who share our satellite connection through Hughes
Net realize this, I am sure.
Our servers reside in a bunker building outside of Las Vegas,
Nevada along with thousands of other servers. The facility there
has not one, but several connections to the Internet creating a
redundancy that chance would have a hard time breaking. About
five years ago, a truck hit a power pole that carried one of the
connections into the building, but there was no interruption in
service because there were three other inroads at the time. Now
there are more.
Our servers share the same protection that some high profile
companies use including Wells Fargo, CitiBank and AmTrak. There
are more, but these are the only ones I know about. If the power
were to ever go out, there is a series of generators the size of
18-wheelers that take over. Reportedly, they have enough diesel
stored to run a few months should something happen.
There is a staff at the bunker building 24 hours a day that
monitor power and access... these are not our employees but
skilled people that work for the company that maintains every
aspect of the building.
As with any computer, it is smart to back up important data.
We have practiced monthly, weekly and daily backups on various
parts of our server. On September 17, 2010 we completed a change
to a backup system that is more complete backing up your
important data, files and images on a biweekly basis or better.
This means if we have a server failure of some kind little to
nothing of your site will be lost.
For those who were with us about three years ago, you may
remember we were having issues with our servers getting mail
bombed. That is the act of sending tens of thousands of email
to our servers at one time. During the worst attacks, we
recorded nearly 50,000 email sent to our server in a 20 minute
period. Not many servers can handle that kind of traffic,
certainly not ours.
In December 2008 we spent considerable time and money
protecting the servers from daily and hourly attacks. They were
more frequent as we got close to the new year. After a lot of
testing and careful research, on December 29 we purchased and
installed security software that was capable of deflecting all
such attacks. Over the next 18 months the attempts became
smaller and less frequent. In the past 3 months I am excited to
report we have not had a single attack.
On a daily basis, we monitor site logs, system performance
and dozens of other properties on the servers. Occasionally, we
find that a reboot of the server will clear up any issues that
may arise, but most challenges can be resolved by accessing the
server from the office, a laptop or (believe it or not) a smart
This is the largest part of our work on the servers. Whether
we are working on the office, sitting in a restaurant in the
evening with family or during the night we can receive alerts
and resolve issues in moments.
Occasionally, one of you catch a developing problem before
the server tells us. Your help in watching the server
performance is always appreciated.
All-in-all, keeping the servers going involves many people,
systems and companies. We are proud of the teams we work with
and enjoy the peace of mind that well running servers provide.
People frequently think of a web site as a
non-brick-and-mortar asset, but there are real brick-and-mortar
parts to the business that need upkeep. We thank all who help us
keep the servers your site is on up and running.