Anu October Newsletter 2016

We are introducing quarterly newsletters so that our customers know what we have been up to in the past 3 months and what they can expect to come in the near future. We will send these out quarterly, and hope that you find them informative and enjoyable to read.

New Hardware

We have continued to invest in our hardware for virtual machines. We recently installed new Xeon / 128GB RAM / Pure SSD servers which vastly increase our capacity in our Amsterdam 2 datacenter.

Some of our customers deployments do not require such power and this is why we also have continued to expand our Atom platform – smaller, lower power servers to run less intensive services (small mail servers, single websites etc).

We will be going out to Amsterdam two more times this year to remove some ageing servers and install new servers to replace them.

New Mail Platform

Our new hosted email platform has been live for a month now – eliminating the stability issues and sluggishness on our old infrastructure that developed over time due to ageing hardware and growth of client base.

Minor problems were reported by a small number of clients but all issues have now been resolved.

New DirectAdmin Servers

The operating system powering the DirectAdmin server will be end of life at the end of March 2017.

We have commissioned two new DirectAdmin servers. One runs CentOS 6 / PHP 5.5 / MySQL 5.6 / Lasso 8.6 which is a similar stack to the server which will support all sites currently hosted on, and one running CentOS 7 / PHP 7 / MariaDB 10.1, a cutting edge platform which new sites can be set up on.

Both new servers fully support TLSv1.2 encryption. If your site interfaces with PayPal, Amazon or other merchant providers who require TLSv1.2 you will need to upgrade as soon as possible as support for older versions of SSL and TLS is being phased out across the industry due to known weaknesses.

Whilst we will migrate all existing accounts on over to the new servers by the end of March 2017, we are able to move your site over to our newer server earlier on request.

In addition to this, we are deploying a US based DirectAdmin server in our Chicago datacenter which will run CentOS 6 / PHP 5.5 / MySQL 5.6 / Lasso 8.6. We expect to be live by the end of October 2016. If your visitors are primarily US based you might prefer this location.


Later this year, we will be provisioning our first set of servers in Australia and therefore will be able to provide our customers with virtual machines in this location.

Over the past few years we have also deployed servers in Hong Kong, Ireland and Germany based on customer demand. We are able to bring additional capacity online in these locations as required. If you are interested in hosting in any of these locations please do not hesitate to get in touch.


With the release of macOS Sierra, PPTP VPN support has been dropped. We expect that this will happen in the near future with other operating systems too.

Earlier in the year we deployed our new OpenVPN platform which many clients have already switched over to.

We will continue to maintain our PPTP VPN for the short term but it will eventually be decommissioned in favour of OpenVPN.

If you are interested in anything written in this newsletter or have any general feedback then do not hesitate to get in touch with Chris or Ashley by emailing

Review of backup & disaster recovery capabilites for key systems

To date we’ve had very little downtime on our SpamTitan and Hosted Email systems. We feel our solid hardware and software infrastructure has played a strong role here, but we also realise that failures do happen no matter how robust the systems are. So today as part of our post-disaster recovery analysis of yesterday’s SpamTitan server failure, we are taking a few minutes to review our backup and DR strategies for all our critical systems, in a bid to highlight areas where improvements can be made and to help us plan accordingly.

We feel this information deserves to be made public as our customers rely on us to provide reliable service and to have a plan for when the inevitable happens and something goes wrong.

Hosted Email: mail is stored on a CentOS Linux virtual machine on our Xen platform. The storage for the VM is on a hardware RAID array with redundant disks. The VM is backed up daily to our central on-site backup server.

Planned upgrades: install a 2nd mail server and replicate the mail store in near real time, for example using DRBD. This will provide faster disaster recovery capability and decreased risk of data loss due to hardware failure, such as the total failure that happened yesterday on our SpamTitan server. Email is high volume and very valuable data, which we feel warrants additional redundancy.

SpamTitan: hosted on a dedicated server with daily backup of all configuration data to central backup server.

Planned upgrades: we have a 2nd SpamTitan server on order which we will keep at the ready for disaster recovery.

DNS: We operate two distinct DNS hosting systems, our standalone BIND servers and the DNS service integrated into our DirectAdmin shared hosting system.

Our standalone BIND servers, and are geographically distributed and each server is backed up daily. The DirectAdmin DNS service has an off-site slave server and both servers are backed up daily.

Virtual Servers: as standard we provide a daily backup of all virtual servers to our backup servers in Amsterdam 1, Amsterdam 2 and Chicago datacenters. The backups are designed for disaster recovery purposes not data retention, and are updated daily. Many customers have opted to purchase additional backup virtual servers providing disaster recovery capabilities and a 30 day backup history enabling recovery of accidentally lost or modified files/databases (see related blog post on This service is configured individually depending on customer requirements.

Shared Hosting: our DirectAdmin shared hosting system operates from dedicated hardware. The physical server has a hardware RAID controller and data is stored on a 4-SSD RAID 10 array, which can withstand multiple drive failures. All data is backed up on the hour to our central backup server, which keeps 4 snapshots per day plus a 30 day snapshot history. Our disaster recovery plan should the hardware fail is to restore service on a Xen virtual machine until the hardware can be repaired or replaced.

VPN: each of our datacenters has a PPTP VPN server hosted on a physical server. The VPN account data is backed up daily. We do not have failover systems but can manually restore VPN services from backed up data within an hour should the hardware fail.

Web site & Customer Portal: our customer facing Web systems are hosted on Xen virtual machines, which are backed up daily to our central backup servers. DR plan should the Xen host’s hardware fail is as with any Xen VM (restore to another Xen host from backup server)