A major upgrade to the TrainWeb server has been completed! The web server has remained on-line during almost all of the upgrade process. Thus, if you are a visitor to TrainWeb, there was little interruption in your ability to browse the web sites hosted at TrainWeb.
If your web site is hosted on the TrainWeb server, there were a number of hours during the upgrade process when you were not able to use FTP and were not able to upload or download web pages from your account. As part of the upgrade process, we moved all of the web accounts from one disk drive to a new disk drive. FTP had to be shut down while we did this as we did not want anyone attempting to change their files during this process.
Initially we did attempt to do this upgrade during a time period, midnight to 3 A.M. Pacific Time, when few of you would be trying to update your web pages. Because of lack of availability of technical support from the hardware and software vendors involved during these hours, we ultimately did have to resort to performing this upgrade during normal business hours. We apologize to those that were inconvenienced by not being able to update your web sites during these hours while we had FTP off-line.
Those of you that have been following the progress of the upgrade already know that we were attempting to add two 10 GigaByte drives to the system. The old TrainWeb server had two drives that had less than 3 GigaBytes each. That adequate disk space for TrainWeb and all its clients for over two years of growth! This current upgrade should provide us with enough disk space for at least the next year, plus it will be easy to add new drives to the new system in the future.
Evidently, the old TrainWeb server was running an older version of the Commercial BSD Unix operating system that had difficulty recognizing the new ulta-fast 10 Giga-byte disk drives. The BSD company recommended that we build a new system from scratch with a new operating system rather than try to upgrade from the older version.
Since we've been planning on building a mirror server for TrainWeb anyway, we decided to follow BSD's recommendation. We built a brand new server for TrainWeb that is starting with 20 Giga-bytes of disk storage (up from 3 Giga-bytes on our old server!). The new server has much more RAM and operates at more than three times the processing speed of our old server!
Now that the new TrainWeb server is operational, we will be tearing down the old server and re-build it from scratch. The old system will have a copy of Commercial BSD Unix installed from scratch and will be used as a mirror site for TrainWeb. The mirror site will be updated automatically and serve as a "live" backup of TrainWeb. It will be installed into the northern California office of our sister company. Once this is all operational, if there is ever an internet access interruption on our high-speed line into our southern California computer room, or if that facility was ever subject to any catastrophe, TrainWeb would remain up and operational from our northern California office. Visitors and clients of TrainWeb should hardly notice a difference if we ever did have to operate from this remote office.
The upgrade to the new server has now been completed. During the upgrade process you may have received error messages reporting that your FTP software was unable to log into your web account. You should now be able to access your web account and upload without any further problems.
We did notice that there were just a few web accounts that did encounter a problem during the upgrade process. Those are accounts that had subdirectories of folder names that were "extremely" long! If you had a website on the old TrainWeb server with extremely long subdirectory or folder names, you might find that the files in those particular directories have not been copied. The fastest way to restore your web site is just to re-upload those directories.
If you find that you can not log into your web account, or can not upload files to your web account, or are having any other problems with your web account after this upgrade, please click here to send e-mail to email@example.com.
If you have requested a web account on the TrainWeb server, you might not have received a reply from us yet. We were holding off creating any new accounts until the new web server is operational. You will get a reply from us as soon as we are ready to start creating new web accounts. If you have included in your e-mail request the URL suffix that you wish to use, then the reply that we send to you will probably be the full information on how to access your new web account. We expect to implement all new web account requests by the end of this week.
FTP had been shut down and unavailable from early Monday morning, April 5, 1999, until mid-afternoon on Tuesday, April 6, 1999. Thus, if your web account is hosted at TrainWeb, you would have been unable to upload new files during that time period.
Because the webcams located in the Fullerton Santa Fe Depot operate by uploading image files to the TrainWeb server, the webcams were also not operation during the above time frame.
For those of you that are not familiar with the systems level of computers, I'd like to explain why this process took quite a bit longer than we had expected and how we plan to avoid this problem in the future. If you were moving from one house or apartment to another, that is time consuming but not too involved. However, if you were moving into a brand new custom home that hasn't been built yet, that is both time consuming and very involved. Moving the accounts hosted on the TrainWeb server from the old system to the new system is a lot more involved than just moving from one disk drive to another. The new system needed to be built and configured from scratch before the accounts and files could be moved from the old to the new system. Hence, a large reason for the delay.
In looking toward the future, we expect that this system with 10 times the disk storage and 3 times the speed of the old server should last at least a year or two before another upgrade is needed. At that time we will have both the main TrainWeb server and a backup mirror server operating. Using that mirror implementation, we should be able to smoothly transition to a new system in the future with almost no down time.
We do apologize for any inconenience you may have experienced due to this upgrade. Please do keep in mind that visitors have been able to visit all of the web sites hosted at TrainWeb during this entire upgrade process, even while you were not able to upload new web pages.
This may be a good time to point out some of the advantages that you and the visitors to your web site experience because you are hosted on the TrainWeb server.
Webmasters that have moved their web sites from some other ISP to TrainWeb are continually commenting on the improvement in performance of their web site. We are always asked why web pages load so much faster at TrainWeb than from other web service providers. We even get inquiries from visitors asking why pages and images load so much faster on the web sites hosted at TrainWeb than from most other web sites!
You may have heard radio commercials or seen magazine ads from major ISPs boasting about their tremendous bandwidth and having multiple T3's into the Internet. However, if you have visited web sites hosted on these major ISPs, you will find performance to be far less than claimed by most of them. Why is this?
What really counts is the ratio of clients and usage to bandwidth. An ISP can have tremendous bandwidth, but if they also have a massive number of clients, then that doesn't give much bandwidth to each client! Despite the large bandwidth of these large ISPs, visitors will still experience slow loading web pages. By specializing in the rail sector instead of the general web market, TrainWeb hosts a select number of clients. More bandwidth is made available to each of our clients than they are likely to ever need! Thus, bandwidth and server speed are not a bottleneck to the performance of your web site. In most cases, your web pages are served as fast as visitors can possibly accept them!
Another factor is the quality of the ISP's connection to the Internet backbone. A lot of ISPs are connected to the Internet backbone through other intervening ISPs. Those ISPs are not getting their feed from a provider directly on the Internet backbone. Depending on how many ISPs are being provided through such an indirect "wholesale" source, the actual bandwidth available to clients and visitors can be significantly diluted. TrainWeb is connected to the internet using a high-speed connection with guaranteed bandwidth from a provider directly on the backbone of the Internet. This guarantees that visitors to your web pages hosted at TrainWeb will be very pleased with the speed at which your web pages load!