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Stability of Furry Hosts

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The down time of FurNation got me thinking about the stability of furry servers.

Read on for more of Chasemink's thoughts, and some of mine.

Chasemink continues: "FurNation, while the primary furry host on the net has more than its share of down time, and it seems that most of the smaller furry hosting start-ups have died or almost died. Skunked, while still hosting has stoped accepting aplications a long time ago and FurNetwork which died almost instantly)

However there are still serveral stable hosts out there that provide furry hosting free of charge. (Solfire, Furry.org.au, and
others) So why aren't more artists/writers going to them? Don't get me wrong, I think furnation is great but its starting to bear a much to heavy a load in my opinion and it should be distributed out among other servers."


Skunked.com will be shutting down completely in the near future, according to a recent post by it's administrator to alt.fan.furry:

Well, I've been getting pounded with requests for webspace on
skunked.com lately - probably because of Furnation going down for
awhile.

I've been putting them off because I was facing a moral dilemma.
Tonight, I've gotten by that impasse, and am now on my way to making it
become a reality.

As of the end of May, skunked.com will no longer be online. I am
taking it offline for both personal and financial resasons. Basically,
what it amounts to is that I no longer have the love nor money to keep
it up and running any longer.

I've already sent ot notifications to the people on the server, and
have also started talking to a couple people about ownership of the
domains. IF that does not pan out, I will be selling these domains on
furbid.

It's been a long, good ride....but I no longer can keep on riding. I
hate displacing people, but I really need to do this, finally,
convincingly, and untimately.

It is very difficult to find hosting that is fast, free, and stable, anywhere. Generally, you get two out of the three if you're lucky. Running a free webserver that becomes popular quickly becomes cost-prohibitive due to excessive bandwidth consumption. DSL providers like Northpoint can suddenly go bankrupt, screwing your network connection. If the server develops problems, the admin is innundated by emails demading a fix to the problem...and he's doing it all for free on his spare time.

It doesn't surprise me that the free furry webhosts are having problems. A lot of fans feel that they deserve certain things (art, webspace, conventions, ect.), yet don't feel the need to compensate the people who provide these services. I have a lot of respect for these providers (I'm one myself), but I'm not at all surprised when they get burnt out.

Rantings on the whining nature of furry fandom aside, if you want a webhost that's fast and stable, I suggest you go shopping for one. Additionally, most dialup ISPs offer some limited amount of webspace for their customers. And there's always the ad-banner replete, commercial free webhosts such as Geocities.

Comments

Your rating: None

I have to agree with the sentiments. I think a lot of people should go to someplace like Rackspace and price out the cost of getting a server, or price out business-class, server-capable DSL in the T1 and up range ( hint: you won't get it for no $29.95 a month ). It's an education to find out what these people are actually shelling out every month.

Though, sick geek that I am, I keep wondering if I could afford enough of a server for a few people...

Your rating: None

Perhaps Feren will comment on the costs and headaches of commercial-class DSL. He recently got zapped by Northpoint's sudden closure. I think he's paying in the $300s a month for a near-T1 speed line...but the reliability isn't nowhere close to a T1.

Reliability is one of the reasons I shelled out over $100 bucks for a year of hosting on a commercial provider for Flayrah.com. Even so, the first couple of months were rocky. The service has improved, lately, and I feel I've made a good investment.

Your rating: None

$300 sounds about right. All the roughly-T1 server-capable services I've priced are in the $250-450/month neighborhood. Rackspace is relatively cheap as such things go, about $350 for a server with 30 gigs of drive and 10 gigabytes/month of traffic. They're server hosting, though, not Web hosting. Cox@Work starts their server-capable offerings at $295/month, and that's 256k uplink speed. My Utah ISP has roughly the same rates for 256k guaranteed-rate DSL. Frankly it's a wonder Siberskunk and the others have been able to offer hosting essentially free for so long.

For the curious, 10 gigabytes of traffic a month translates to a sustained 4k/second transfer rate, or a bit less than what a 56k modem can do on a very good line. Furnation or Velar would swamp that easily.

Your rating: None

While furry artists hosts are getting bad, I have to point out a few things:

First, some ISPs prohibit a business site being hosted on their servers. I won't blame them -- some sites on Furnation sell prints of their work (Loopy's WolfWares comes to mind), and get a ton of hits. Some won't like affiliate networks on their systems, which is akin to being a business.

Also, you have to read the hosting site's Acceptible Use Policy and Terms of Service documents very carefully. The above point goes double. Some of them (Yahoo! Geocities) will want a licence to use your work in exchange for hosting. Others may restrict your content.

And finally, look for a service that is targeted for what you want to do. If you're doing a comic strip, KeenSpace is the best bet -- multiple furry comics (including my Stalag '99) are hosted there with the possibility of being "KeenSpotted" and starting to get paychecks. Yahoo! Geocities is a good place to start, if you don't mind the banner ads, but still, you have to give a licence for use. Furnation is a good host, but it's not set up well (Windows system on multiple DSL lines). Furnetwork is(was?) promising, but I haven't heard any word from their admins for some time.

VCL (the Vixen Controlled Library, origionaly Velan Central) is a good host for artists and authors own works, and now they're comming out with a limited webhosting capability (200k). Check with VCL's admins, however, and their documentation.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Well, here's a topic near and dear to my heart -- the frequent cause of 3H: heartache, heartburn and headaches.

Okay, where to begin?

I pay approximately $300 a month, give or take a few dollars here and there (not counting electricity for the necessary cooling in the summer months) to keep the kittyfox.net systems up 24/7/365 and connected to the net at 2/3 of a T1 (I have symmetrical 1040k service, where a T1 is approximately 1540k). This rate includes my block of 32 IPs... each IP costing me an additional $2 per month to rent. My router/DSL 'modem' was an external, one-time cost.

As Aureth has stated, reliability on my line is questionable at best sometimes. My ISP, which has always been very good and very responsive to my needs, had me on an SDSL line from the now-defunct Northpoint Communications. When Northpoint became bankrupt, their service providers pulled the plug and in doing so isolated my networks from the rest of the world -- along with many thousands of other customers. The resulting downtime was inevitable -- I had no advance warning, and the order and provisioning of a DSL circuit is typically on the order of 30 days. I was lucky to be brought up on a new circuit at 16 days. After that, I suffered sporadic failures on the line from routing loops (that was fixed in one day) and then from a hard short on my line that never was located and seems to have healed itself (I'm waiting for the summer humidity to come back and cause it to begin shorting again, in which case I begin the Trouble Ticket Dance once again).

The rule of hosting is thus: You can have it fast, you can have it cheap, you can have it reliable. Pick any two.

DSL does accord you great speeds, and when you pay for business-class service you get a fair shake. But it is still not on the order of what you get service-wise if you order a true T1. And if anybody tells you that you can get a true T1 in the neighborhood of what I'm paying per month, I've got some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you. I'll even through in the bridge if the price is right, no extra charge.

The T1s have been and will continue to be (for the forseeable future) the bread and butter of the Telecommunications world for the Regional Bell Operating Company (RBOC, examples are US West, SBC, Pacific Bell, Ameritech and others) in your area. They are relatively cheap for the RBOC to maintain and provision, they're easy to troubleshoot, all the techs in HiCap (High Capacity Services) are familiar with them, and they're just a proven technology. T1s were developed in the '50s for digital trunking service between central offices, and just gradually expanded. They're a defacto standard, and rightly so.

The average company is paying approximately $1100 a month (or more) for a true clear-channel T1 to be delivered into their building, as well as for service from the ISP. Approximately half to three-quarters of that cost is the cost of the line service itself, the rest is the cost of the ISP putting TCP/IP onto that line and providing you access to the 'net proper. Consumer-class DSL cannot, and never will replace a T1, even when it's billed as "business-class." T1 circuits receive a higher priority in the service department of the RBOC, because they bring in so much more money. DSL lines are looked down upon and often "forgotten" by techs because they are simply dry copper lines being leased to what the RBOC perceives as an intruder and threat -- the Competitve Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC -- examples are Northpoint, Verizon, Speakeasy, Rhythms Netconnections and others). The RBOC hates the CLECs. The RBOC absorbed the expense of laying all those phone lines, of markerting services, of maintaining the lines and repairing them as growth continued, of installing new service cards into their switches, of coping with the explosive increase in demand for connectivity over the last decade. Now, from the RBOC's point of view, they're being forced to lease those lines at "Fair market value" to some interloper. So, the interloper's tickets are placed in a lower class of service. This is a common occurence: lawsuits are continuously being filed (and rightly so) by the CLECs against the RBOCs for breaching Terms of Service, Service Level Agreements and lots of other service-related contractual betrayals. What is also important to remember is that T1 facilities, even in this day and age, don't frequently share the same space as voice lines, due to interference that can be generated between the two types, and the mentality that the real money-maker circuits must be protected. Equipment for troubleshooting is plentiful and cheap, response times are short because it's easy to find somebody who is familiar with the technology (and, again, it's "Free money" to the telco), and heck... these days the SmartCards are even including their own diagnostic hardware, so half the time the telco knows what's wrong before they even do a truck roll. With DSL this isn't the case. The wires aren't preconditioned or maintained nearly as well as the pairs designated for T-carrier service, they're in many different environments, equipment isn't cheap or plentiful, each CLEC uses a different brand of equipment and thus requires Yet More Hardware (unlike T-carrier service, which is standardized, xDSL is still under control of the manufacturers and thus the equipment rarely interoperates from brand to brand) to do troubleshooting, etc etc etc ad nauseum.

So, to cut to the chase: if somebody has money they want to blow, and want to be able to provide a truly fast, reliable solution for hosting, they should colocate equipment at an ISP that specializes in that sort of business. They have all the facilities necessary - redundant links to the net, physical access control, HVAC that surpasses requirements, UPS and generator systems to protect power and more (they may even have a firewall or three in place that you can gain some protection from).

The problem with this is that people who desire to do this sort of hosting (furry fans, in this case) rarely have the pockets to procure equipment and rackspace. In this case, just purchasing web space (in the way Aureth has done for Flayrah) is a better solution. It's cheaper each month, and the initial outlay of capital and time is considerably less as you don't have to buy/build a system to run off of. When you take into account that DSL providers are dropping like flies right now, colocating or renting service space becomes an even more attractive solution -- you just never know when your connectivity provider is going to go bye-bye.

For myself, well, I wanted DSL to have fast access to the internet. It was just a happy coincidence that I can get a symmetrical connection for a few dollars more a month than an asymmetrical connection, so I do favors for my friends and coworkers and host sites off my equipment because it makes them happy and helps me justify the $3,600 I lay out a YEAR to have zippy access to the net.

Now, on the topic of the people who utilize these services... I won't pull any punches. They're spoiled. A good portion of these people are laboring under the misconception that they are entitled to these services, that somebody out there should just put up a machine for them to host off of and not complain or ask for any assistance or form of reimbursement. Even I charge for my services, if only just enough to maintain the presence of the respective domain names in the global DNS tablespace. Speaking from experience as a BBS system operator of an eight-lined BBS, a pseudo-ISP operator in my free time (I've also managed ISPs professionally, and currently work as a network engineer for a large educational institution that spans North America), users simply have no concept of the blood, sweat, tears and money that goes into providing these services. People like Tigerwolf (who provides and manages Tigerden) are a godsend and should be thanked profusely for their generosity and patience. However, they rarely --if ever-- are. I was at a convention a year or so ago where there was no "Internet Room", and people had the audacity to kvetch that Tigerwolf (or somebody like him) wasn't there to set up services so these idiots could MUCK from a con. I mean, how dare Tigerwolf take a break from travelling the continental US with his terminals packed in a van to provide Internet services to Furry cons?! I've also heard complaints about the speed of Internet access in the 'net Room at various cons -- never mind it doesn't have to be there at all. It should just be there.

With attitudes like that, I'm surprised he does it at all. I wouldn't.

So when somebody gets sick of fighting the bills, the belittlement for any problems that occur (that are often out of their hands, like providers going Chapter Eleven, or hard drive crashes, or power outages that result in the server being unavailable) and drops out of the arena, I'm saddened but utterly unsurprised. These people are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, with little to no financial reimbursement for their time and effort, on their spare time (that time between work and sleep that can rapidly seem almost mythical to professionals).

So the next time you hear somebody complaining about Furnation's downtime, or how slow it is (Hosting that many sites, with that amount of graphical content, with that popularity is bound to cause utilization problems)... give them a good quick slap across the face and remind them that this is not a right but a free service being provided by some overworked soul who deserves to have some slack cut to them, and if it bothers them so much they can go pay to have their content hosted. After paying $19.95 a month (and receiving complaints fro the hosting service about the amount of traffic they generate if they're even remotely popular and graphic-oriented), I guarantee they'll have a new appreciation.

-Feren

-Feren
"We use them for divine retribution."

Your rating: None

Well, I can tell you of MY experience: It started as a deal with my ISP (the owner was a friend) who'd let me put a server in his rack for the price of one dialup. Sometimes last year, the ISP was bought by a larger shark and my "contract" went down the drain: I had to pay the local equivalent of 300$ a month for 1 gig of trafic at T3 speed. While not a bad deal in itself (it's roughly in the norm), it is pretty expensive for me to maintain this.

sadly, this also means that I had to stop hosting high-visibility web sites because they would put me above the trafic limit.

The asd truth is: if you ain't rich enough to donate a couple of grands to the community (in addition to your own time), you're going to have to find some other way to finance a high-visibility server...

Good luck,

Fulgan

Your rating: None

I'm lucky enough to work at an ISP (www.airwire.net) and I have a server up (www.evilkiwi.net) that gets the network overflow, and considering the network is over 100+ Mbs (to the net, not just internal) I get plunty of bandwidth. I'v been looking into opening it up to furs without it becoming a "furry" server. I'd love to host a few pages, but just havn't been abel to find any artists that need hosting.

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About the author

chaseminkread storiescontact (login required)

a systems admin from Florida, interested in computers and furry