Master of the log


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Today, the obvious once more proved to be right: Be the master of the log or be no more …

I am webmastering a site of some acquaintance of mine that is hosted on a server of some organisation that’s acquainted with my acquaintance as well. The hosting is shared and that particular site is implemented as a “Domain Pointing”. The initial reason to host elsewhere was, that I was quite reluctant to manage the hosting as well.

After a not-so-recent server move, their site went kablooie – it was no more accessible. Only a nice “Server Error, please contact the webmaster @ … and consult the error log” was greeting the visitors of that site.

Troubleshooting server moves is neither my day job nor a particular interesting hobby of mine, and actually, I’m not paid for that webmaster job and I was never responsible for the hosting or the server move, nor did I know of it first place. But once the acquaintance got notice of that trouble, a number of “IMPORTANT: ... !!!!” and “ATTENTION: ... !!!!” mails found their way to my inbox with verve, and to tame them, I had to do something.

What something? Well, the obvious: Check the error log.

Now, this would not be a problem if – *and only if* – I had at least access to the error_log. But this particular hosting does not provide error_logs to their clients – with the result that I knew less than before – even after I finally got admin access to their hosting interface.

The solution was quite simple: Move the hosting to a place where I was in control of at least capable of asking questions directly to the support.

Nevertheless, this move accounted for some hours of work and I am sure that acquaintance with the nice e-Mail subjects would shriek if he knew for how much money I just fixed that site if he had to pay me.

Anyway, if things go smoothly, the site will be back online very soon and some people will be happy. My lesson learned is that being in control and accountable for a site is not worse than just managing the content. It’s far better.


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