Breakthepaywall website move to Azure

Since its inception the Breakthepaywall website has been hosted by Fast2Host in the UK.

Yesterday I noticed that the Breakthepaywall download link was not working – a IIS 404 error page not found was being displayed.

After frantically trying to work out why, without success, I suspected Fast2Host had changed something their end. I called support, which answered swiftly as usual – they have always been very responsive and helpful, and was informed that they had indeed blocked .exe files from being downloaded from their IIS servers.

I was asked to email the specifics of my site, which I did, but have not received a response and upon checking today the .exe files were still being blocked.

As mentioned Fast2host have always been very responsive and helpful but they have always had problems with keeping things up and running – the shared web server the site resides on usually goes down once a night for one reason or another and on many occasions during the day. There have been numerous occasions that the site has been down for 10s of minutes rather than a few due to a reboot or restart.

So, this was the final nail in the coffin, particularly as they had not informed me of this change! I decided to move hosting providers – not a task taken lightly as it has proved very difficult in the past.

I needed a free/cheap website hoster that supported classic ASP (the greatest scripting language of all time 🙂 and allowed .exe files to reside and be downloaded from the web server.

I have always been an MSDN subscriber (Microsoft developer network) and heard recently about their free credits to the Azure cloud network for MSDN subscribers.

It turns out they give you £95 per month of credits to use Azure resources as you please on a pay as you go basis.

Intrigued, I decided to give it a go. As an MSDN subscriber I already have a Microsoft username so I simply logged onto the Azure portal at:

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/member-offers/msdn-benefits/

The portal interface is superbly designed and very intuitive. And it supports older technologies like Classic ASP. Within 30 minutes I had a fully functioning website with custom domain and all my files uploaded via FTP. You also get a custom IP which I then punched into my DNS A record entry and voila! my new host was serving the Breakthepaywall website and the .exe setup files could once again be downloaded.

All this for just £6.16 per month – shared plan which is required if you want a custom domain name, otherwise it’s free if you’re ok to have an Azure domain name. For me it was free because of my MSDN free credits – fantastic, i’m sold. Microsoft are definitely going in the right direction with Azure.

Idera SQL Diagnostics Manager Mobile Manager

Idera finally came out with a Mobile Manager that works on mobile devices other than a BlackBerry – because they are an American company they concentrated on BlackBerry functionality just when the rest of the world was changing or starting to use iPhones.

I have not used it much yet so cannot give any pros and cons but basically it is a web based tool running as an app on MS IIS which produces web pages enhanced for your particular mobile platform – you would still want to use VPN to access your network first.

Had some problems setting it up though – we were getting an error when trying to load the front screen of the website either via mobile or IE: get a standard HTTP 500 server error.

Turns out we had to tweak the IIS settings slightly. Recommendation from Idera was the following:

Open IIS
Click on server – top level and choose “Modules”
Right click on DynamicCompressionModule and choose “Unlock”
Right click on StaticCompressionModule and choose “Unlock”.
Select the SQLDm website under Sites, Default Website and choose Modules
Right click on DynamicCompressionModules and choose “Remove”
Right click on StaticCompressionModule and choose “Remove”
Restart IIS

We actually changed the default website modules which filtered down automatically to the SQLDm modules – should work for just SQLDm though.

I believe the problem lay with the fact that we also had WSUS installed on the same server and although WSUS is installed as a separate application it makes changes to the IIS global configuration i.e. Dynamic Compression is turned off by default when IIS is installed but WSUS turns it on. This then conflicted with the SQLDm application.