Anyone who has been a regular user of UsingEnglish.com over the last few months will be aware that we've had more than our fair share of server downtime recently. To address the needs of our ever-increasing user base, we have been working hard to upgrade our site to fit the demands placed on it. I am happy to be able to say that we've made significant improvements that seem to finally be paying off!
Ever since the summer of 2005 we've been getting periods of downtime where the site would become inaccessible, sometimes for hours at a time. We have upgraded our hosting package three times since then, each giving an incremental increase in site performance. Sadly, or rather happily, the demand for UsingEnglish.com has grown continuously and out-stripped the improvements we had made.
The latest upgrade took place quietly in the background on the 21st April 2006. This was done seamlessly without any interruption to service, mainly as a result of the professionalism of our new hosts, UnitedHosting. I would recommend that anyone who runs a site in the UK or the US take a look at them.
We are now the proud owners of a dedicated server which gives us lots of extra capacity to deal with the growth of the site. Even so, the demands placed on our site meant that the server needed to be configured and optimised to suit our very specific needs. This was a very technical and long-winded process, and one that I think I'll spare you the gory details of.
Last night I believe we finally corrected the last remaining configuration issues and it looks like the site is running very well once again. I say 'we', but in fact it was mainly down to the technical wizardry of our hosts (again).
I don't imagine that this is the end of the story for one minute. Sites like ours require constant monitoring and tweaking so that we can get the best performance from our server. However, I believe that we have probably seen that last of the downtime issues. I will of course be keeping an eye on things just to make sure.