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 Post subject: NES Cart DB down again
PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 8:26 am 
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So I get up this morning and am treated to the sounds from the server clicking and banging, the primary HD, naturally. Everything should be safely backed up, not too worried about that, however the PC itself seems to be having issues (e.g. not POSTing and if it manages to, won't boot from a disk anyways). So i'm in a little bit of a bind. I can probably cobble something else together from old parts but I'm thinking maybe its time I just get it running on a real web server instead of from my house.

It was running apache for web server, mysql for database, and php for scripting. Anyone have any recommendations for a service offering this setup?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 8:52 am 
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Location: Mountain View, CA, USA
I can recommend/suggest using Vultr.com for a VPS system (what's called a "Compute Instance"), which you can install whatever Linux/BSD distro on and then install apache/mysql/php per whatever methodologies you have in the past, starting at about US$5/month, depending on your disk capacity needs. Migrating the MySQL data should be fairly easy (mysqldump).


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:14 am 
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Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
Thanks koitsu. I've added your recommendation of Vultr to my article about hosting a non-commercial, relatively low-traffic website.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:19 am 
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Location: Mountain View, CA, USA
Other places I've tried for VPS (cheap) and/or dedicated server (expensive):

* ARP Networks -- excellent, especially for BSD. Extremely well-managed network (top-notch peering), support is quite good (24 hour response time), and the owner (Garry) is extremely friendly. On the downside, disk I/O is extremely slow
* cari.net -- good experience, though I only used them for a dedicated server (expensive). Overall I'm happier with Vultr though.
* ComfortVPS -- bad experience. From my notes circa 2014/03/02: dogshit slow, boot-up times ttook full minutes, kernel device probe took forever, while during certain times of the day things would perform decently; indicates oversubscribed hypervisors.
* Linode -- quite good (esp. for Linux), inexpensive, easy to use. Stay away from their Fremont site, however -- that's hosted entirely by Hurricane Electric, who has an extremely long track record of awful service (my story -- and yes, the situation is still the same as of 2016).
* RootBSD -- I forget what my experience with them was like, sorry to say
* vr.org -- Not entirely sure about reliability/etc. -- I couldn't get their VNC console capability working no matter what I did, and their Support kept insisting it was because "I was using a PC and not a Mac" (yeah, uh, bye).

As for Vultr -- they're quite good, but I have had several issues with them (either networking-related or hypervisor-related). They tend to fix things quickly. The one big negative with them is that their support/admin staff doesn't seem to understand how to do maintenance of HVs correctly: the guests (VPSes) are powered off abruptly, rather than issued ACPI shutdowns (i.e. expect your filesystems to come up dirty after they do HV maintenance or have an HV outage -- strongly recommend using a checksumming filesystem because of this, but if you can't, bare minimum use something that's journalled (e.g. ext4, XFS, etc.) so that at least you don't have filesystem corruption). I've talked to the guy who manages their support or admin staff, and supposedly they've all been trained to not do that any more (he confirmed they were in fact abruptly shutting things off and would issue ACPI shutdowns going forward), but the last time they did HV maintenance my stuff came up with dirty filesystems. That said: their disk I/O is fast (them bragging about use of SSDs is certainly true), and CPU doesn't feel oversubscribed. They also offer disk snapshot capability, and you can restore a snapshot in another datacenter too (e.g. if you wanna move from one datacenter to another). You can also get them to use whatever ISO image you give them (I forget if it's an HTTP upload or a URL to an ISO) for installation, so you don't necessarily have to use the OSes they pre-stock.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:26 pm 
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Well this has turned into a god damn nightmare. The primary drive has mechanical problems for sure, the head will bang on the side a few times, wait a few seconds and repeat. I pulled the backup drive to try and pull data from it, but the damn thing wont mount in OS no matter how I try to hook it up. It sounds normal, but for whatever reason wont initialize completely. I also had a weekly backup schedule to a network drive on a different PC, but wouldn't you know it, it has not been running as scheduled :evil:

The best I have right now is a hard copy from the last time the HD failed from Sept 2013. Granted the site hasn't been very active the past couple years, this is still beyond disgusting. It seems my only option is to send the drive in for recovery and spend big $$$ that I don't really have anyways :| Anyone have experience with data recovery services?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:43 pm 
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What you're hearing is most likely the actuator arm resetting into the landing zone when trying to find sector 0 and/or the HPA region. Could be a bad/unreadable sector, or it could be a head that has gone bad. One thing *not* to do is run any "recovery software" on the origin/source drive, no matter what anyone online tells you -- trust me on this. It will very likely make the situation worse if you need to rely on a data recovery company. Most companies will want between US$500 and US$2000 for recovery, depending on what the nature of the problem is. A slightly less expensive company is http://300dollardatarecovery.com/ but I haven't used them so I can't attest to their success rate or quality of work.

I would suggest trying to get the data off the backup drive, since that sounds like it's functional/working but isn't accessible for some odd reason. It's at least (probably) in better shape given that it's not making mechanical noises. :-)

I've done data recovery for several people (I do it all with software, and don't modify the source/origin drive assuming I'm able to get it working). I don't do any physical modifications to the drive (aside from maybe a PCB swap, if I deem that worth trying). I recently did data recovery for a friend of Gideon_Zhi's who had two WD Passport drives which went bad (these don't provide SATA interfaces even on the PCB, it's all pure USB); I was able to recover 100% of the data on one, but the other had mechanical problems (I don't do head stack replacements, etc.). Details of my work are public: here (successful) and here (failed). I do all this for free. If you'd like, you can mail me the drives and I can see what I can do. I'd need to know drive models, capacity, partitioning details (if any; particularly MBR vs. GPT, if you know), and filesystem type.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:24 pm 
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Highly recommend http://300dollardatarecovery.com/ -- There are people out there trying very hard to give this company a bad name, ignore any bad reviews you read online.

I have had many drives recovered by them (>10) and only two have had to been sent to a third party.

If you want assistance and advice on where and how to host the website, or even want someone to manage it for you, send me a PM. I host most of my sites between OVH and HostGator, highly recommend picking a host that can provide VPS with cPanel.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:51 pm 
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I have heard of $300 data recovery before, and I had read a lot of bad things about them elsewhere. Hard to know what to believe these days. 2 others I have been looking into is Gillware and Fields Data Recovery. Price range for them is ($200 ~ $900) but they both diagnose the drives for free and tell you exactly what can be recovered before your required to pay anything.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 3:17 pm 
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Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
Here's my recommendation:
  1. Set up NesCartDB on a VPS (or even a shared host like HostGator) with the September 2013 data set.
  2. Going forward, make XML dumps available on a regular schedule so that other NESdev members (such as myself) can help you with data backups. I have some experience with this, having written a bot to scrape a MediaWiki site through its API and produce a static copy of NESdev Wiki for offline reading.
  3. Going forward, weaken the image hotlinking protection so that other NESdev members (such as myself) can help you with image backups.
  4. Once at least something is up and running, see what can be recovered of the past three years of submissions.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 3:18 pm 
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Well if you do have to go that route, I wouldn't mind making a small contribution. Pm me if you're interested.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:10 am 
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Ditto. PM me if you need funds related to the recovery operation.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:13 pm 
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On the backup drive which won't mount; have you tried seeing if you can get to the partition via testdisk?


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2016 9:07 am 
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People in the US generally can't run servers from their house without violating their cable company's terms of service.

_________________
Here come the fortune cookies! Here come the fortune cookies! They're wearing paper hats!


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:56 pm 
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koitsu wrote:
Other places I've tried for VPS (cheap) and/or dedicated server (expensive):

* ARP Networks -- excellent, especially for BSD. Extremely well-managed network (top-notch peering), support is quite good (24 hour response time), and the owner (Garry) is extremely friendly. On the downside, disk I/O is extremely slow.
...


Hey guys,

I'm the extremely friendly owner of ARP Networks, Garry Dolley. :)

I just wanted to say thanks, koitsu, for the kind words. I also wanted to clarify something regarding our disk I/O. We are currently transitioning away from our older systems, with I/O that was great at one time but hasn't kept up with competition, to much faster systems with SSD-backed storage and a Ceph cluster. Soon, all users on our platform, old and new, will enjoy I/O speeds even faster than the competition, and I look forward to providing this to everyone this summer.

--
Garry Dolley
ARP Networks, Inc.
https://arpnetworks.com


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2016 4:03 pm 
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The drive that wont mount is problematic to try testing on because just having it installed will prevent system from booting. I've had it in a XP and a Win7 machine and both will stall indefinitely during the boot process while initializing disks. I've got an eSATA enclosure, putting it in there will cause the enclosure to continually try to re-initialize. I tried hot swapping it into an XP machine and "scanning for hardware change", the disk shows up in device manager but HD activity light stays on while system continually tries to mount it and any disk related programs seem to not want to start because the OS busy. Not sure if this implies a hardware problem of some sort or if corruption to a critical area of this disk could cause this. The BIOS on the XP machine has a basic SMART test function that runs for about 2 minutes and the disk makes normal activity sounds and passes the test.

I think i'm going send in the primary to the $300 guys and see what they can do. I appreciate the offers for help financing the recovery, as money for extra stuff like this is a little tight right now. Will wait until a price is settled and I'm told data recovery is feasible before I accept any donations though.


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