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 #38629  by *Admin Sprinkles
Loading Issues & Solutions
Hello everyone! Admin Sprinkles here!

Are you sick of the Vault loading very slowly? Us too! Speaking at least for myself, I am very sick of it and feeling bad that the slow load times and errors are getting in the way of everyone's roleplaying. While I am not an expert on server maintenance, I do have a few theories up my sleeve (and a crack team of tech support people with our host) and believe that some dedicated time to investigate the issues will be beneficial for us all.

Because of this, Vault 713's forums will be going offline for an extended downtime beginning on Sunday, May 17, at approximately 3:00 PM CST. This downtime is anticipated to last around two weeks, which I will explain further below. While I realize this comes at a largely inconvenient time for many people, we do not want to risk damage to our database or causing additional problems, and the goal is to have one period of condensed, planned ongoing downtime to avoid shorter periods of unexpected error-induced downtime that might come at a time when you're writing a post you don't want to lose. (We don't want that to happen, ever.)

Why didn't this happen during the season changeover downtime?
Shortest answer, it did! Longer answer, that downtime was pre-scheduled to deal with season changeover issues and we did not anticipate that the loading errors would get worse after the downtime. Some efforts were made to fix it, but I ran out of time. It happens sometimes!

Two weeks?! Are you insane?! Why?!
This is my best estimate based on how long these things have taken to resolve in the past. As many of you know, we've been kicking it since 2001 and this is far from the first time we've had to have this kind of downtime, so this is the amount of time I think it will take to really figure out what is going on and address the problem.

Here's what that time is expected to look like:
- The first 48 hours with no posting allows us to get a clear look at how the site behaves when no one is on it. This helps us determine where the actual problem is.

- Once that 48 hours is up, I can collaborate with our hosting service to see if they have any additional insight as to the problem. If it seems like the problem is with something in our database, we can then begin to institute a database repair. If it seems like the problem is with something in our layout code, we can then begin to work on trial and error with that.

- Getting feedback from businesses, especially right now with limited staffing due to COVID-19, can take time. I have budgeted around 72 hours for working with them, but this could take even longer. We also don't know if they will tell us if the problem is something they need to fix or something we need to fix.

- Assuming the worst case scenario of needing to perform database and/or surface level code repair, it could take up to a full 40 hour work week to get this done since I am only one person with limited capabilities...and the slower things are loading, the longer it's going to take to isolate the problem.

I have looked into these issues as best I can with the site still active and open, but in order to really drill into the nuts and bolts of the forum we absolutely must have some complete downtime with the site being accessed by as few people as possible. It is my sincerest hope that I'll be able to wrap this up with a nice bow within just a couple of days, but I've given the two week estimate to be on the safe side. It is equally possible that the problems may be more complex and that we will need to issue an extension, but I will continue to provide regular updates regardless of the situation. Both the Vault itself and the Discord will continue to be updated roughly every 48 hours.

As well, our amazing staff team will continue to be encouraging participation in #share-the-little-things in Discord during this time, so we encourage you to come check this out. :) Information on how this affects activity requirements and the season schedule will be updated after the downtime has concluded, since we will know then exactly how much time has been lost.

Thank you for your patience, I realize this is not convenient for anyone including the entire staff team, but at the end of the day I feel that the Vault community deserves a job well done when it comes to getting things running smoothly and I would rather not do a partial or incomplete job of fixing the problem. Besides, once we're back up and running -- theoretically you'll be able to post way faster than before!

Thank you all for your understanding and for being a part of our community,
Admin Sprinkles
 #38630  by Ejder
Thank you Sprinkles and the staff for taking this seriously and working to make things run smoother!

Two weeks is, well, wow, but your explanation of why really helps to see why it's needed.

May we be super lucky!