On Valentine’s Day our server went down.
You might think, one ought to be smooching one’s honey on Valentine’s Day, not tooling on the computer. But we host a significant number of romance novelists. And whether it’s fair or true to associate Valentine’s Day with romance or if that’s just a hyped up Hallmark manufacture, the fact remains that romance novelists by and large update their sites for Valentine’s Day and run various promotions. So, for our server to go down precisely then was an ulcer-worthy disaster.
But this post isn’t about ironic timing. It’s about the fact that servers are actually hardware: machines with fans and plugs and circuits and components that don’t do well in floods or massive power outages or someone’s failure to dust. We tend to consider the internet to be this amorphous, yet dependable “out there”, often forgetting that it is comprised of machines with moveable parts and people monitoring said parts… People who hopefully speak the same language as you.
So imagine for a moment that on the day you advertise a big promotion on your site, with media tie-in and audience expectation, there is an electrical storm in the city where your server is. Your site goes down. What do you do? What can you do?
I read somewhere that Martha Stewart has a server in her basement. I once mentioned that to Abi, and without missing a beat she said, “No way are we sticking the Wax server in my basement.” What she was really saying was: “No way am I going to be the only person in charge of our server.” What did I want to do, make her a walking basket case?
Caring for a server must be a really nerve-wracking job. The only time anyone notices you is when something goes wrong. Our server is three thousand miles away. Sometimes that gives me hives. But it is monitored 24/7 by people who do nothing but servers, and that is some comfort. We talk to them often. Even when nothing is broken.
Where is your server? Do you know?