How-To Geek

Week in Geek: The Reader Tips and New How-To Geek Server Edition

Note: This article is part of our archive and is likely out of date.
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Our goal in 2010 is to get a little more in tune with our readers, and we’ve setup a new way you can send in your ideas and feedback. Also, we’ve got interesting links and details about the How-To Geek server hardware upgrades.

Sending in Your Ideas

The next time you come across something new and interesting, whether it’s a tip about how to hack the registry, tweak something on your PC, or just a cool new application, you can drop us an email on our new Tips Line.

Simply send us an email with your tip, and we’ll definitely read it. Note: due to the expected overwhelming response, we’re not going to be able to return everybody’s email—but if we use your tip we’ll give you credit for it in the article.


The Time Has Come, the Walrus Said, to Talk of Many Things… Like Upgrading (again)

We’ve come a long way since the How-To Geek website was originally hosted on DreamHost more than 3 years ago. Here’s a quick rundown of the evolution of the geek site’s web server:

  • October 2006:  Domain registered and put on DreamHost shared hosting to start off with.
  • December 2006: Moved the domain to Pair Networks shared hosting.
  • March 2007: After realizing Pair shared hosting couldn’t handle a lot of traffic, switched to a Dedicated Virtual from MediaTemple with 1GB RAM.
  • April 2008: Quad Core Xeon, 4GB RAM, 2×250GB HDD dedicated server from The Planet
  • May 2008: The Planet exploded. Literally. Thankfully we had off-site backups already, and we moved to a new server: a Quad Core Xeon, 4GB RAM, 4×250 HDD in RAID 10 server from SoftLayer.

And now, it’s just about that time again to start the upgrade process so we can handle the increased load from all the growth we expect from this year. Except this time, we’re going to build in a little more redundancy and make it more scalable.

The Plan

We’re going to switch from a single server to use 3 servers instead. The quick specs:

  • Web Server: Quad 2.8ghz Xeon, 8 GB RAM, 4×500 GB drives in RAID 10.
  • Database Server: 8 Core 2.66 ghz Xeon (2 CPUs), 8 GB RAM, 4×74 GB Raptor 10k drives in RAID 10.
  • Redundant Web/Database: Quad 2.4ghz, 4GB RAM, 4×250 GB RAID 10.

So the third server in the mix will be used as a replicated copy of the primary database, should anything happen, we’ll be able to switch to the redundant database server instead. We’re going to also use it as a cold standby for the web server—the primary web server should be able to handle a very large load, since we’re mostly doing fairly static content.

This new setup should get us through 2010 easily, and hopefully by 2011 we’ll have a good excuse for a 24-core server.

Productive Geek has Tips for “Real” Life (What’s That?)

Over at the Productive Geek site that you should really be a part of, the forum members have been discussing some interesting topics, including these questions:

  • How do you spend your day?
  • Do multiple monitors really make you more productive?
  • What Todo List Software Do You Use?
  • Best time management tips?
  • The best ways to annoy, pain and otherwise persecute users
  • Best Android Apps or Tips for Productivity?

One of the forum members has been writing such great articles on the forum that we’ve started running them in the main Productive Geek feed—so if you have an itch to contribute an interesting tip, random set of thoughts, or even a full article, you should consider posting them over at the Productive Geek Forums since we’ll be running the best tips over here in our weekly roundup. In fact, anything great on Productive Geek will be linked on every single How-To Geek page below the articles.


Over at TinyHacker, the randomness continues. Here’s the more geeky stuff that was written up in the last week:

Super User

Here’s the best questions and answers for the week:

The Geek Note

We’ve also made a change to the comments moderation system—now anybody who has been previously approved will have their comment automatically approved, as long as it there’s no link in it (which requires manual moderation). We’re going to continue to tweak the system to encourage more feedback and discussion.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/10/10

Comments (6)

  1. Nick

    Question: What is “Week in Geek” I have seen it before but dont really know what it is

  2. The_Digitizoe

    Thanks for sharing your tips email address, I will definitely send in a few from my side

  3. The Geek

    Week in Geek is just a random title we made up that indicates it’s a weekly roundup.

  4. bassmadrigal

    Thanks for the server specs. I love reading about the hardware backing my favorite websites. Also, I am curious about the software. ie. webserver, database, and OS. Also some storage/bandwidth statistics would be cool as well.

    Also, for the database machine, are those the original raptors? If so, why would you choose those vs the newer velociraptors that have a higher burst transfer speed? Or is that just the machine that the host provides?

    BTW… I am having trouble with being logged in to the site, but being unable to post a comment. It seems I stay logged into the forum, but when I go to post a comment here, it says “You are logged in as .” And it doesn’t tell me who I am logged in as. Then when I go to post the comment, it says that it can’t do it without a name and an email.

  5. Ed Fiebig

    In WIN & I am using a gray custom window color. Everytime the PC goes to sleep mode, It resorts to a blue color – How can I have it reurn to my custom color out of sleep mode?

    Thanks for all you grateful tips. YOu are helping over 300 Baptist churches do a better job on their PCs.

  6. The Geek


    Those are the best SATA drives that the host provides… I didn’t want to spend the extra cash for SAS drives, since the database is so small that it will likely reside totally in RAM anyway.

    I’ll have to write up an explainer post about exactly what we use behind the scenes.

    As far as the logout issue, you aren’t the only person to have noticed it – it’s even happened to me recently. We’ll try and get that fixed up.

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