Network Issues

April 24, 2009 4:05 PM
TotalChoice Hosting Total Choice is currently experiencing a wide spread network outage.  We have networking engineering personnel on site in investigating this issue.

At this time we do not have a estimated time for when normal network conditions will return.

We will keep this site updated as this unplanned outage moves along.

We are very sorry for this issue and are working to correct the networking issues as quickly as possible.

Thank you for your understanding during this outage.

TotalChoice Hosting

April 24, 2009 4:24 PM
All services have now been returned to normal. We had a core router crash due to a failed supervisor card, however it did not switch over smoothly. The router was brought back online, switched to the backup supervisor card, and then a replacement card was installed.

We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Whether it be a Little League field or Minute Maid Park, I will feel at home.  Baseball is one of America’s greatest pass times. I’m not sure if it is the smell of the freshly raked dirt on the field, the crack of the bat connecting with a speeding ball, or just the rush of the competition that keeps us coming back. The game pulls at your heartstrings and nerves all at once.


As a Team Mom/Mother of three little leaguers and an avid Astros’ fan, I know this gnawing urge for a WIN all to well. I have seen the hurt of defeat in a child’s eyes and the smile of victory on their faces. I’ve watched as they have picked themselves up out of the dust just as the Umpire shouts out “Safe”. I’ve followed the ball as it flew into outfield and fell perfectly into the Left fielders glove, when they were only inches away from second base. They have learned to overcome the losses and bask in the glory of the game that is Baseball.


When they are not on the field themselves, we are perched in the stands of  Minute Maid Park, the home of Houston Astros’. We are a loyal Astros’ family, and attend as many games as we can. Each year we spend Mother’s and Father’s day with these guys. Today, April 6, 2009, is Opening Day of the 2009 Series. The Astros’ will go head to head with The Chicago Cubs.


Roy Oswalt, who has been with the Astros’ since 2001, will be pitching the opening game. This year’s 40 man roster will consist of new and old faces of the organization. Lance Berkman and Hunter Pence, my favorites, will be with us once again and are currently part of the active roster. We are all looking forward to another exciting season.



So whether it be a Little League field or Minute Maid Park, as they say “Let me root, root, root for the home team”.



Why Can’t I Change My Billing Password?

We have recently learned of an issue with changing the password to access your billing account.   So far we have been able to determine that while the system can generate passwords beginning with a capital letter or number-it will not allow that when manually setting a password, including on the admin side.  We appreciate your patience while we work on this issue and hope to have  it corrected soon.

If you have been unable to change your password, please try the change again using 6-8 characters with the first character being a lower case letter.

Thank you,
Dick DeVance
General Manager
TotalChoice Hosting, L.L.C.

Backups, Backups, Backups!

Yup, you guessed it – we are going to talk about backups.

Here at TCH we take backups very seriously and when I say that I do not say it lightly, there is no single more important aspect of our management regime than our backup infrastructure. I am going to explain a bit about the extent to which we go through to protect the data you host with TCH.

The first layer of protection we use is raid 1 mirroring on all our shared, reseller and operations servers (help desk, dns servers etc..), this allows for the servers to maintain an identical copy of the system so that in the event of a disk failure the server can continue operating with no adverse effects. There is a catch here though, that is the fact that software support for raid cards in Linux and even under Windows is severely lacking in the capacity of failure notification, which means when a disk fails there is no industry standard method for alerting someone that there is a problem. At TCH, we have developed an in-house software solution that works with our two preferred raid hardware vendors (AMC 3ware and ARECA raid) to the extent that when there is a disk failure in a raid array it captures information on the failure then sends e-mail alerts to management blackberry pagers and to our help desk ensuring that problems are identified and maintenance is immediately scheduled.

Using raid however reliable it may be, is still not impervious to data loss, which brings us to our next level of protection. All our servers are setup with a spare hard disk and configured to take weekly backups of all user data and server configurations. Although these backups have proven to be extremely reliable they are not always ideal as they can be up to a week old depending on the situation where they are required. We look at these backups as a strictly first-line restore point in the event of a failure that allows us to restore accounts in a fashion that is application compatible with the cPanel interface which makes sure accounts function properly and consistently and overcome the data gaps using our CDP solution below.

Finally, we have our gigabit network enabled continuous data protection (CDP) which runs on absolutely every server that retains client and mission critical data. This is a solution we maintain on network accessible storage (NAS) devices that we have build in house, they contain hardware raid across 16 hard disks with redundant power supplies and a capacity of between 6-13tb of space. The continuous data protection (CDP) is a low-level software run on servers with minimal load impact as it does not read the file system but rather the disk in a raw block-by-block method. This allows CDP to identify differences on the disk quickly and backup only those areas of the disk that have changed since the last backup run (incremental backups). These backups are captured on a 12h schedule of every day, 365 days a year and saved to the NAS devices in a “snapshot” capacity. The snapshots make it possible to recover data as it was 12h ago or 5 days ago or anywhere in between – we save copies of the data in every state from every backup run, we do not overwrite backups!. We can further leverage this backup solution as it is a backup of the servers entire hard disk once you pancake together all the snapshots, so in the event of a catastrophic failure we can take the CDP backup image and restore an entire hard disk in a single swift action. You can also leverage this solution from inside cPanel with the R1Soft Backup feature that allows you to restore from the CDP backup images any data you require just as we would without having to request support, although we are always more than happy to help you with any data recovery needs you may have, so do not hesitate.

I hope you have enjoyed learning a bit more about how we protect the data you host with TCH and understand that there is never any substitute for a well planned and executed backup solution. Before I sign off, let me remind you to take the time and consider the data you store at home or work and ask, do you have a backup solution? If not consider storing some of your more important data on your TCH account so in the event of a failure you can rest assured knowing that TCH has you covered.