A tale of two servers

If you follow the Icosahedrophilia podcast, you may have had trouble accessing some of the episodes within the last three weeks or so. I apologize for that, and wanted to give you a little behind-the-scenes look at the reasons for the trouble … and ask for your help.

Several months ago, I moved to a new web hosting company that offered unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and more accessible (i.e., 24/7) tech support than my prior web host. I talked with a salesperson beforehand and cleared my use case—podcasting—with the salesperson before committing. Fast forward a few months to August 2013. All of my websites unexpectedly go dark. My host had unilaterally suspended my sites because of “excess server load” caused by downloads and/or streaming of old Icosahedrophilia episodes. In order to get the site back up and running, I removed the offending episodes, and things went back to normal … until September 2013, when the whole “excess server load” thing happened again.

After arguing with my hosting company for a while about the definition of “unlimited”—to me that means “unlimited,” to them it means “within normal expectations”—and doing some comparison shopping (you might be surprised how many “free” services aren’t free), I ended up migrating the websites to a virtual private server rather than a shared server. This move cost me about $300 to complete.

So, dear listeners, I am coming to you once again in “fund drive” mode, looking for contributions. If you enjoy the show and you want to help out with the cost of the server migration, please just send a small donation, perhaps $5, to d20-at-drchris.me via PayPal.

When I started the Icosahedrophilia podcast, I vowed never to put anything behind a paywall and never to hold any episodes for “ransom.” I am sticking to that pledge. If I receive $0 from this request for help, I will still continue to publish Icosahedrophilia just like always. But I will appreciate any help received. And in the event that contributions exceed the cost of the server migration, I will channel the excess back into our gameplay at the table, looking to make the podcast more enjoyable for all of you who listen.

7 Comments

  1. That sucks.

    Have you looked at Libsyn for hosting your audio? The price is based on what you upload, not download so you should be able to go with cheap plan for that and keep a cheap web-hosting plan as well.

    I also strongly recommend that you don’t host your podcasts on your web server for other reasons.

    Contact me if you want to talk about this as I did a lot of research in it for our gaming site. I may be able to get you a discount code.

    Neil

  2. Yes, I’ve looked at Libsyn and even hosted some podcast episodes there for a short time. Staying with shared hosting for the main site and using Libsyn or a similar service for the mp3 files would be a more workable model if I had started out that way. But with 180+ episodes already in the can, and not wanting to make those inaccessible, the move to VPS was a better short-term solution.

    If you want to e-mail me directly (d20 at drchris.me) about the research you did I’m all ears.

  3. I appreciate you have your own arrangements, but professionally speaking I do recommend having at least a backup copy of the podcast somewhere like Archive.org (where I put mine). There shouldn’t be a problem archiving the entire back-catalogue from what I know of them. Archival storage of online media is sadly rare, and even if you have a better solution to sit on top of it, it can help out in the short term if there are problems with your host (if you set things up neatly, just find-and-replace links, then switch back when it’s fixed).

    But mostly it’s the librarian talking, I admit.

    • That sounds promising; far better prepared than most podcasters! In fact, better than some places I’ve worked.

      There is a bit of concern in library circles about the amount of (technically) amateur audiovisual material going on the web that could vanish forever because it’s not being archived in the same way as traditional media or text. Personally I’m particularly interested in things like actual play, which are unique to the web and showcase a whole chunk of experience that’s not represented much elsewhere, and of course there’s lot of amateur review and debate that’s equally interesting. So I try to encourage people to deposit material somewhere official, but mostly they’re too modest or don’t quite get round to it.

      Anyway, sorry, I don’t mean to go off on colossal tangents. But I would encourage you to maybe send off a copy of Icosahedrophilia to the Library of Congress, like you do with your academic works… I hope? Social scientists and linguists of the future will thank you.

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