If you’re reading this, then DNS has propagated (non-techie: it’s what tells the Internet where websites are and how to find them, and can take up to 48 hours) and you’re seeing Gnome Stew on our new server.

We’ve been keeping folks updated on our progress through Twitter (@gnomestew) and Facebook, since the site itself wasn’t viewable. I didn’t announce the move here beforehand because the opportunity to do it came together in a rush, and I needed to take it; I should have posted in advance, though, and I’m sorry that I didn’t.

The site was down from roughly Friday evening until Sunday very early in the morning, which is how long it took me to make copies of the old site, set up some stuff on the new server, transfer everything there, screw up several times, accidentally ban myself from the new server, and make sure it all worked properly.

I apologize for the downtime, and thank you for bearing with us. I think the improved site performance will be worth it.

We’ve been having issues with site slowness, loading times, and internal errors recently, and after trying some behind-the-scenes fixes I asked our hosting provider if we’re reaching their resource limits for shared hosting. They confirmed that we regularly hit those caps, which means Gnome Stew has officially become too big for shared hosting.

That’s pretty cool, because it means the site is growing and people like it, but it also feels weird, because the Stew started out as a fun project just a couple of years ago — hearing that from our provider was definitely a “Whoa” moment.

Why did we upgrade?

We upgraded to improve the performance of the site in order to make sure that our readers can continue to enjoy the Stew. The Stew doesn’t do anyone much good if you can’t load pages quickly, get site errors, or otherwise have a poor experience when you visit.

Moving to a new server means that those problems should be a thing of the past. The site should load faster and perform better now than it did before.

What did we upgrade?

Up until now, I was hosting the Stew on a shared hosting account I use for a handful of personal websites. Shared hosting is inexpensive ($10 a month), and works great until traffic and resource needs reach a certain point.

The Stew was on a server with a large number of other hosting accounts, all sharing resources (RAM, disk space, etc.), and in order to make sure no single site in the mix overwhelms the others, each account is limited to a certain undisclosed percentage of those resources — and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get X amount of resources. We reached that limit.

We’ve now upgraded to a virtual private server (VPS), which means Gnome Stew shares a server with a small number of other accounts, each of which is guaranteed dedicated resources. The main thing we needed was RAM, and we now have that in spades: 768 MB all to ourselves, which should be enough for the foreseeable future. We also get 2,000 GB of monthly bandwidth, which is dramatically more than we need; ditto with 40 GB of disk space.

Our new host, KnownHost, has an excellent reputation, and their support throughout the server move has been awesome.

What does it cost?

Our old hosting was free to the Stew; I was already using it for other things, so I just included the Stew on my $10/month account. The new server is $34 a month, or a bit over $400 a year — a dramatic increase from free.

We can usually cover that amount through ad revenue, and we have some capital on hand to absorb a few slow advertising months. We’re not going to start charging for articles, or anything like that — it’s important to us that the Stew be free for everyone.

We will be introducing a few low-impact ways to support Gnome Stew, though, starting with an Amazon affiliate account and a DriveThruRPG affiliate account. I’ll post separately about that when we get those up and running.

Holler if you find a bug

If anything doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, please drop me a line at martin (at) gnomestew (dot) com and I’ll take care of it.

Thank you again for bearing with the downtime, and I hope you agree that the move was worth it!