This is an announcement to let the community know that we have resolved the database errors everyone was surely experiencing yesterday.
The issue is caused by the size of our databases vs the server that we're on. Our databases are huge and there is little more that we can do if it goes out again. Currently, to reduce the load s4n has changed the backup schedule from twice a day down to once a day around midnight EST. If users experience issues and slowdown around this time, it is most likely due to the backup process. The down side of doing this is that we now have the potential of losing up to 24hrs worth of data, if an event occurred that forced us to restore the site from a backup (which does happen on a rare occasion).
What our next move?
This all means that we're due for another server upgrade, but this comes with it's own set of problems to work around; mainly cost. Currently, our server costs are around $60/mo. Donations cover approximately 60-70% of these costs and the rest has mainly been paid by Z of our admin team. Some more recent, generous donations by Greg (moderator) and others have really helped on this front as well. However, upgrading to a new server will come with a higher monthly bill. The upgrade that we really need to make, s4n says could potentially double our monthly costs. Z can not maintain his monthly contributions forever and if our monthly costs double, we will definitely be in tight spot unless more of the staff are able to make small monthly financial contributions to the project.
Our options are still being discussed and we will keep you all informed of how this plays out. In the meantime if you want to help out, the best way of doing this is by donating to the project to help cover the cost of necessary upgrades. You can do this using the "Donate" link at the top of this site, using the donate button at on our Nexus page, or by clicking here: Donate to STEP! STEP is all volunteer work, so 100% of donations goes toward our monthly hosting costs and project maintenance. Our donation method is a secure Paypal portal that will allow you to donate any amount you wish, and either make it a one-time donation or a reoccurring, monthly donation. No account is necessary to donate and reoccurring donations can be stopped at any time.
Questions and answers below, if you have any!