Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Sometimes the biggest problems have the simplest solutions

It's the Grand National today. Let's hope all of the horses that take part are alive at the end of it.

Yesterday all of my emails in my inbox disappeared. All of them. The folder was empty, said Thunderbird.

I thought the worst had happened, so I quickly opened my FTP client and logged in to the server (this is one of the advantages of self-hosting, folks). Thankfully the files containing my emails were present and correct, but evidently the indexes that my email server uses (Dovecot) had become corrupted. So, I deleted them, and was relieved when they were automatically recreated with all my emails. Panic over.

Or so I thought, as it happened again this morning. So I did the same thing. But this time the indexes didn’t get automatically re-created. So I did what any geek would do in a situation that he/she isn’t familiar with. I turned the server off and on again.

One of the great things about hosting with Bytemark is that you can log in to a management console and watch your server boot up. Which was wise as there were errors all over the shop – mysqld, which powers the database for WordPress, refused to start.

It turns out the cause of all of these errors was very simple – I’d run out of disk space. The virtual machine that my server uses has a limit of 10 gigabytes and I was using all of it. So I’ve spent quite a bit of time deleting things to free up space.

Typing sudo apt-get clean freed up quite a bit of space, by deleting caches copies of package upgrades. As did clearing the cache from the WP Total Cache WordPress plugin – albeit manually as I hadn’t got MySQL up and running at this point. I also finally deleting the static files left up from when I switched over from Movable Type a couple of years ago that were hanging around in a folder, plus some old Apache access logs and some photos that shouldn’t have really been publicly accessible anyway. Nothing salacious, just pictures of friends and family from the time before Flickr and Facebook made sharing them easier.

I’ve managed to clear up a little over a gigabyte, but that still leaves me using 89% of the disk space. I shall have to investigate further, and find out what’s hogging the space. Getting more space is a possibility, but one that would cost an extra £12 per month.

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