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Forum back temporarily


I've been getting the runaround from my hosting service, BlueHost, since April 30th.  This fix is temporary, while I attempt to find a new host or other solution.  Here's what happened....

About a year ago SDC was identified as using a lot of server resources.  It's a large, active site with a lot of visitors.  The terms of service allow me to have as many files as are needed to run my site(s) and as many databases as are needed, so long as I do not use the server for storage of things not directly needed by the site.  Some of you will know how careful I am about storing things like photos that take up resources.  So I've tried to keep our usage as reasonable as possible.  Anyway, they decided to apply a caching application on our site because of our usage.  This application is called "Varnish."

A product like varnish works by taking images of pages and when the next person asks for the same page within a certain amount of time, they show them the copy of the page instead of building it from scratch.  This saves server resources so that things work smoothly and efficiently.  Caching is normal and necessary.  Your own devices do it too.

The problem came when someone at BlueHost on April 30 decided to change the settings on Varnish and make it cache more aggressively in order to save even more resources.  This resulted in BlueHost, not SDC, showing pictures of members' private accounts to others instead of building pages fresh.  I asked them to turn off Varnish, and they refused.  I asked them to adjust the settings so that privacy could be preserved, and they refused.  The only solution they offered me was to purchase a more expensive hosting package at a 40% increase in what I've been paying.

I can call in and ask them to clear the cache, and then the site will work correctly for a while, but the cache quickly fills again and starts spewing private info again.  The first time we tried this, it took less than an hour to fill up.  This means that in order to keep the site running as is, I will have to call in every hour to ask them to clear the cache.  There is an obvious limit to proceeding this way.

I'm not in a good space right now.  I am struggling with my own personal issues and a family health crisis that requires a good chunk of my personal resources.  I am struggling with cognitive function because if increased seizure rate due to stress which means it takes much more time to get much less done and with more errors.

I don't know what I'm going to do.

1.  Remove the forum, and switch to a Drupal organic group based community instead.  It's a big change in how things work and this will distress a number of members on the spectrum and with cognitive disabilities.  This is what I've wanted to do for some time (but very gradually, to minimize stress), but I simply lack the skill to pull it off solo and haven't found anyone with the skill set to assist.  Perhaps I could hire someone, but this would probably cost $500 or more.  If we pull this off, we don't have the luxury to go gradually any more and would have to change overnight.
2.  Pay the ransom and go for the more expensive hosting plan.  I don't have the money.  Cost:  About $275 would set us up for three years.  Maybe this could be used to buy us back the gradual change to the better, more integrated and more stable Drupal system that only looks scary because it's different and new.
3.  Find a new host that doesn't use Varnish so we can continue with the forum as it is today.  Until they decide we're too big and decide to varnish us again.
4.  Just operate the articles and give up the community.
5.  Win the lottery.

Actually, I want to find a new host regardless because I don't think I've been treated fairly in this.  I've been a loyal customer for a decade.  Their change was arbitrary and very harmful.  Their attitude is "tough, pay more."  I don't like that.  I don't want to depend on a company with ethics like that.

And we're back once again.

Since I know flushing the cache will not ultimately protect private information (because the cache will fill up and the problem will return), I have disabled the PM system and the ability to view and edit profiles.  This is less than ideal, but at least it means members can post and read threads.

You can still use the forum to communicate with each other by email BUT it does mean that if you do use it to send an email there is a possibility of your email address being made visible to someone else accessing the forum at around the same time as you.  So use with caution.  It is safer to arrange to meet in the chat room to talk privately or exchange email addresses.  Our chat room is on an entirely different server and not affected by the current problem we are having with the forum.


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