Coming Soon: Server Upgrades

With many hosts your account will remain on a particular server until it fails in some way or another. That’s not the way we do things here at Dathorn. We like to be proactive with upgrading or replacing our servers to help avoid failures that happen more frequently as hardware ages. This also gives us a great opportunity to deploy new configurations, operating system versions, etc. so that we can continue adding value to our services.

Over the next several months we will be going through this process once again. All of our existing shared and reseller hosting servers will be upgraded by means of migrating to a new server. You will receive a ticket notification via our client portal once your particular server has been scheduled. Aside from announcing this I wanted to quickly highlight some of the more important changes that will take place as a part of these migrations.

First up are the hardware changes and the most important of these concerns the local storage. Over the past 13 years we’ve gone from SATA storage to SAS drives to our current hybrid SSD / SATA arrays. Now we’re very excited to be migrating to pure SSD storage. All servers will be utilizing new 12Gbps LSI RAID controllers with a minimum of six 1TB SSDs in RAID 10. The performance that we’ve been able to get from these new systems is simply amazing. While other providers may charge extra for (or not even offer) such high speed storage, all of our clients are being upgraded to it free of charge.

There will also be many small changes concerning PHP on the new servers. In the past we’ve always custom built PHP for our servers. This can be quite a tedious task and it’s not the most user friendly in terms of changing PHP versions on your site. As such, our new servers will be utilizing CloudLinux’s PHP Selector to manage PHP which allows you to easily switch PHP versions directly from within cPanel. Along with this will come support for PHP 7 and the addition of various extensions such as intl and opcache. There are, however, a few important changes to keep in mind:

  • If executing PHP via SSH or cron, the server will use the PHP version that you have selected in cPanel and you should use /usr/local/bin/php (NOT /usr/bin/php). We will be manually updating all cron jobs that we find still using /usr/bin/php.
  • Custom PHP settings should be adjusted via your .htaccess file, not a custom php.ini file. While a php.ini file will still work, this will cause some issues with certain extensions since it overwrites our default settings and paths. Beware that the syntax is slightly different between the two methods.
  • To change your site’s PHP version you will need to adjust the setting within the domain’s cPanel. We’ll be manually taking care of those that have already switched to PHP 5.5 or 5.6. PHP 5.4 will remain as the default for the time being.

The new servers will also be using MariaDB instead of MySQL. For all practical purposes you will not notice any difference at all other than performance improvements. MariaDB is intended to be a compatible drop-in replacement for MySQL just as LiteSpeed is for Apache.

All new servers will require explicit SMTP authentication in order to send email. In the past we’ve enabled the POP / IMAP before SMTP authentication mechanism which automatically allows your IP address to send email for a period of time once you’ve checked it. Due to security concerns this functionality is being removed. If you’re not doing this already, you’ll simply need to configure your mail client to authenticate for SMTP using the same email address and password as is used for your incoming email settings.

Lastly, our new servers will not have any of the RVSkins or the RVSiteBuilder installed. These just don’t see much utilization and time and time again we see nothing but problems and confusion with the RVSkins. Just yesterday we found ourselves correcting issues with them as a result of the cPanel 11.50.2 update. Instead we will be updating all accounts and packages to use cPanel’s new Paper Lantern theme as discussed here previously.

As always, we’re happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you might have. Please feel free to submit a ticket via our client portal and we’ll gladly assist in any way we can.

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