Maybe you didn’t even miss us, but if you did, I am sharing an e-mail below that I received in my inbox shortly after returning from the USA on Saturday, which explains why you have been unable to reach my site. Nine thousand servers (and hence probably 100,000 websites) going down in one day is a massive deal! This kind of event is obviously almost unprecedented, and I am grateful for the efforts of our hosts in dealing with this difficult situation, as well as their regular updates. But it does make me wonder why, in this day and age, we still rely on essentially a single computer to host most websites.

I guess eventually the whole web will be cached so events like this will be a thing of the past. Perhaps one day DNS will know where two entirely separate copies of a website live and send us to the working one if something like this happens. Still, the fact that you are reading this means we are back, and hopefully will remain so for a long time to come!

Here is the e-mail I received:

Hello all:

If you are receiving this e-mail, then it is because you have a website or other services hosted on my server. Currently the server you use is down because the company that I host with (The Planet) has had a major fire incident at its Dallas Houston facility (where the server is held). The Planet is the world’s largest hosting company, and this is a very unusual situation. Here is their current release;

This evening at 4:55 p.m. CDT in our H1 data center, electrical gear shorted, creating an explosion and fire that knocked down three walls surrounding our electrical equipment room. Thankfully, no one was injured. In addition, no customer servers were damaged or lost.

We have just been allowed into the building to physically inspect the damage. Early indications are that the short was in a high-volume wire conduit. We were not allowed to activate our backup generator plan based on instructions from the fire department.

This is a significant outage, impacting approximately 9,000 servers and 7,500 customers. All members of our support team are in, and all vendors who supply us with data center equipment are on site. Our initial assessment, although early, points to being able to have some service restored by mid-afternoon on Sunday. Rest assured we are working around the clock.

We are in the process of communicating with all affected customers. we are planning to post updates every hour via our forum and in our customer portal. Our interactive voice response system is updating customers as well.

There is no impact in any of our other five data centers.

As soon as I have further information, I will let you all know. I fully expect them to have restored service at some point today (Sunday). My apologies for downtime.

Many thanks,

Ian Jukes

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