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The Slashdot Effect & moved to new hosting provider

September 19, 2009

For well over 10 years I’ve been hearing about the Slashdot Effect, since the advent of Web 2.0 I’ve seen it countless times on popular social sites like Digg, Reddit, and of course Slashdot, and years working as a security consultant gave me plenty of experience with denials of service (DoS) and distributed denials of service (DDoS) attacks. The Slashdot Effect is similar in both execution and results to a DDoS in that a single, often harmless, action by a huge number of computers brings the target server to its knees.

Of course there is one huge difference between the Slashdot Effect and (D)DoS attacks: the former is what the Internet is largely all about– spreading information or something cool to as many interested people as possible. The latter is normally about malice and criminal intent.

Sometime after I posted my previous post to this blog, a kindred spirit and fellow Twitter user (from whom I originally borrowed the image, giving source attribution as always) kindly shared my post with StumbleUpon. Oh. My. FSM.

From ~03:00 UTC yesterday this blog began serving the follow page:

Bandwidth Limit Exceeded error

It lasted for most of the UK morning until I got into my day job and eventually got around to doing my customary quick check of the admin page, and was greeted with the above error myself. In retrospect, a 1GB monthly “soft” bandwidth cap wasn’t that unreasonable for a modest blog such as this, but imagine everyone’s surprise to discover that 1.7GB was served within the space of just a few hours. O_o

To put it into context, WordPress Stats shows that my previous peak viewing days were all below 500, and the daily average was much lower. Yesterday saw that ramp up almost an order of magnitude. All my pretty jagged lines showing how many visitors I’d had per day were suddenly all flatlined as the graph’s Y-axis re-scaled itself to show a mountain peak with no peers. Here’s what it looked like shortly after lunchtime yesterday:

Wordpress Stats: the Slashdot Effect

Kinda cool, really.

So once I got my hosting provider to lift the bandwidth cap, I began taking the necessary steps to move the site to a new provider after finding one recommended by a friend that gives unlimited, well… everything: bandwidth, storage, domains, databases, mail accounts, etc, etc. What’s more, I managed to get the hosting plan for half price due to the beauty of automated signup process tracking and aggressive new customer policies…

Last night I spent the evening (not the most exciting way to spend a Friday night) setting up the new system and migrating the blog to the new provider. For those of you who tried read the blog via the website during this time, please accept my apologies for the downtime: it was unavoidable while the DNS server changes had to propagate across the Internet. If you want to blame someone — blame Paul Mockapetris (I’m such a nerd).

So it’s with delight — and not a small amount of relief — that I present to you Hurtling Through Space at its new home.

From this point forward the only negative impact this move should have is that those of you who have subscribed to posts will have lost those subscriptions (I’ll email each of those who left a valid email address to let you know, in case you miss this post). Please let me know if you find something wrong with the site — I haven’t fully tested it yet.

On the positive impact side, the address and everything remains the same, and it should be more reliable, faster and able to withstand the whimsy of Web 2.0 traffic floods.

Have at ye, ye worthless scurvy dogs! Arrrrr!

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