OK, here's my latest flow. Gonna do a real blow-by-blow so you can understand what's going on with the site.
The new server has been purchased. I'm in the process of configuring it. As of this post, SMNetwork is still coming from the old server, but some of my other sites have already been moved. The hard core coders among you will know what moving to an unmanaged VPS means and can skip the next couple of paragraphs, but for those of you who aren't elbow-deep in web development, here's why it's taking longer to move this time.
Normally when you run a website you just FTP your stuff up to an existing webserver. There's point and click control panels and FTP accounts and the server knows where to put things in order for your site to work. This means that for me, moving servers has normally been a matter of download, upload, change a few parameters and move the domain.
The new server is not managed by any professional host - it's managed by me. There's no cpanel or clicky buttons, it's just me in Chicago, an empty hard drive in Dallas and an SSH command line window. To paraphrase a friend of mine, "the new place is lovely but it's missing some windows." Today I installed the operating system, created a apache/mysql/php server (which I've done before), created my own email server from scratch (which I haven't), and got two out of four sites moved over. Because I'm working remotely, all I have is a command line interface. I'm still having a few glitches with permissions but I can confirm that the new box is ripping fast. I have never been able to work this fast over SSH before. There are only about 20 other accounts on this server, whereas with the old host there were at least 2000.
For obvious reasons, I'm moving some of my smaller sites over first to make sure everything's working. I started with a flat HTML site and just did a PHP site - it seems to be working. Emails are working. That was the roughest bit, I've had to assemble webservers before but have never had to run my own email server. I have one more site to go, which is a tiny Wordpress installation, and will make sure the database is working. I will move SMNetwork last - probably this weekend some time. I will post a fresh announcement up at the top about 12 hours before I shut down the site for the move. So that we don't lose any posts, the site will go into "maintenance mode" while I move the files and switch over the DNS. It will reopen once the domain name has moved. I anticipate that moving SMNetwork will take several hours to make sure everything is working right.
I'd definitely like to see how it performs under load, so I may post one of the sites I've already transferred up here tomorrow when I can keep an eye on it.
As for the old server, I received a message today from my host that I've cut my CPU usage by 90% with some of my recent tweaking, but our use is still too high.
$110.46 was in the SMNetwork server fund before the drive started.
$329.48 came in over the past 48 hours.
That means with my own contributions that we're actually a quarter of the way towards our 2012 goal.
You guys are totally awesome. I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to thank all of the donors by PM yet or answer a bunch of the other questions that have piled up in my inbox, but I've been up to my eyeballs in terminal windows. I will be in touch with each of you shortly, though. There will be no ads this year, the cake is not a lie, and there is no match for the generosity of stage managers.