The Big Server Move

Posted on Tue 10 January 2006 in WebDev & Code

Phew! What a Christmas. While many spent the time enjoying Christmas TV, I spent the time migrating from one web server to a new web server.

Easy? I was hoping so. Way before the move, I installed RedHat on my laptop to test the setup to ensure it went smoothly. It worked fine so my 3 days (24 hours) of set aside time [to set up new server, copy across all the web sites (approx 10Gb of data), transfer IP addresses from old server to new server] seemed an over estimate.

Unfortunately, a simple mistake in the file /etc/hosts stopped ColdFusion MX (the software used to run the business web site) from installing properly. It was slow, it wouldn't initialise Java. It gave me many many hours of grief. It worked perfectly when I installed on the laptop. The problem was simple the wrong IP address in /etc/hosts. That tells the server what it's address on the internet is (you can find out your address current internet address by going to Now, the server was set up BEFORE the firewall was put in place. So when set up it's ip address was something like When the server has a firewall, the firewall takes the public IP address and forwards things on a private network to the server. So the address in /etc/hosts should have been change to

I often find that things as simple as one line or dot out of place can create a computer nightmare. If only I knew what the problem was before I spent the 12 hours looking for it!

After that, most things went OK, although it took a few hours to get the server encryption working properly (I had to rewrite several parts of the ColdFusion code as RedHat ES4 has some different user names than RedHat ES2 did - which is what our previous server ran on) and some of the default PHP settings had changed which took me a few more hours to locate. The simple job of transferring IP's from old server to new server to far longer than expected.

Finally, it's all up and running. Though there are a few things I want to spend a little more time on.

The server upgrade was due to ColdFusion playing up. The new server has a faster processor (64bit AMD!) and 512Mb Ram. The old server had 256mb (the minimum recommended for ColdFusion). 512mb may not sound like a lot, but servers don't have monitors and don't need to display graphics. All they do is crunch data and deliver the results over a network connection. At the moment, all of the programs are running in Memory with no swap space being used. Therefore visitors should get to see pages slightly quicker.

Now that's all done, I can move onto my next project...