From the editor: On the recent downs and ups of the Chester Telegraph

Around 11:20 a.m. last Tuesday morning, as we were editing and writing articles for The Chester Telegraph, the company that hosted our website began experiencing instability on its servers.

As you probably noticed, attempts to access the paper were met with 502 errors, 504 errors and other messages that indicated we and other websites hosted by this company were in trouble. And of course, it made it nearly impossible to add new articles to The Telegraph, and therefore to Facebook.

Every so often, we were able to upload an article and, in the end, we sent out our Wednesday News Alert around 11 a.m. with the hope — but lack of assurance — that The Chester Telegraph had been moved to a stable server and our readers would be able to access the paper. Unfortunately, the problems continued – albeit intermittently – through Friday.

In the news world, it was tantamount to losing our presses and all of our delivery trucks in a massive fire.

In the cyber world, it is not unusual to experience downtime. Host companies can experience  spam and hack attacks, overloaded servers from a huge influx of readers, as well as a huge array of technical problems. Usually, however, the problems are intermittent — a quick refresh takes care of it  — or they happen late at night, when fewer readers on line.

This time, however, it was persistent and it occurred during our high readership days. And since our readers and our advertisers count on us to be available, we had to take immediate action.

The decision to find a new hosting company was not difficult since our old one had experienced similar, but shorter, downtime two weekends previous, and we had not been completely satisfied with it on the customer service side.

It didn’t take too long to find one that came highly recommended. WP-Engine has a large and helpful staff, extra security measures and an obvious bent toward customer service. Since  migrating from one host company to another is not easy for a website of our complexity, we also hired a company that specializes in that task.

It was begun on Thursday morning and we were able to go live with our new host company on Friday afternoon.

Our experience thus far is that The Chester Telegraph loads much faster than it had. In the meantime, we’ve tried to contact all of our current advertisers to offer them a free week to make up for the 36-plus hours of downtime.

We know that as readers, rely on us to be on line. Barring local power outages, you should be able to reach us any time you wish. As we move along in this relationship with our new hosting company, please let us know if you are experiencing any problems in accessing The Chester Telegraph by emailing info@chestertelegraph.org. Your input is valuable.

Thank you,
Cynthia Prairie

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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