Confessions of the Professions Outage on August 3, 2017
August 4, 2017 – On August 3rd, 2017 around 5 PM until August 4th around 3 PM, Confessions of the Professions suffered a major outage, both at the hands of human error and a software permissions error. Throughout the time we have been online, we have been down for a few hours, but never more than 24 hours. I, Matthew Gates, am personally responsible for that error and am deeply sorry, and learned many lessons during that outage. Upon working on some other websites of mine, I accidentally logged on to the Confessions of the Professions server and without checking to see which website I was working on, assuming I had SSH’d into the correct IP address, I pursued the task I was working on, not realizing it was the Confessions of the Professions server the entire time, thus changing permissions on a folder, and corrupting the website.
Luckily, the database was not harmed nor corrupted in the process. The website, however, was corrupt due to a permissions change, and was unable to be restored, but my attempts to retrieve the database were harder than expected, and without any access to the website to export the database, and having only a week and a half ago’s backup, I was worried, but knew that I had to get that database. Upon my efforts via command line, I was only met with errors when trying to create a “dump” of the database. The backup software had stopped working about a week and a half ago, so all that data would have been lost had I simply started immediately from scratch.
I spent most of my Thursday googling every article on databases and terminal commands that could possibly help me and while some seemed promising, none of them helped me, except to learn the location of important files. I did know what most of the articles were that have been published in the past two weeks, as there are tons of things that occur when a confession gets published. A cache of every confession is created, which I could have referred to, and Google indexes this website like crazy and creates its own cache; but this would have taken my entire weekend to fully restore the website, and I would have lost anything within the past 1 1/2 weeks in the process. I was about ready to do it: I am that passionate about making sure this website remains a valuable resource and your articles gain as much exposure as I can get it with the tools that are available to me.
After several hours of mental hard work and effort, I was literally at the point of feeling like a failure and giving up, but with help from a very knowledgeable friend of mine, he was able to not only retrieve the physical database files (which I could not figure out how to convert back into readable data), but the most important data file of all, he was able to produce the .sql file that I needed. With that file, I was able to fully restore the website in an hour or two. Along the way, I had been taking mental notes and other measures to help ensure something like this does not happen again, and if it unfortunately does, how I could get the website up faster. First and foremost is prevention: making sure that I am logged into the correct server.
For all of the events that occurred over the past day, I am truly sorry. I accept full responsibility for my actions. I do know and understand that there are hundreds of you, maybe even more – contributors, marketers, companies, universities, freelancers, writers, etc. – who rely on this website for its traffic and resources. In the past, although this is not my full-time job, nor am I paid for any of what I do on this website, I have made all efforts to keep this website up and running, and constantly publishing new articles written by myself, and many more with the help of others.
Upon restoring the website and getting it back to where it was before it crashed, I have taken several additional measures to try and ensure that the website will be down for no more than an hour or two, as I want you to know I, we, this website, Confessions of the Professions, is a reliable source. Of course, I cannot predict what is going to happen, but I never thought that something like this could happen for that long, and I was completely without any web host support to help me through this process. It was a process I had to learn on my own. I just wanted to keep you all informed of what happened. I am happy I was able to restore this website and hopefully you are here and still a fan! Thanks for your patience and understanding!