China Firewall

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Synopsis

It has come to our attention that the Chinese government has implemented a national firewall to block their citizens from accessing specific domains (not only domains hosted with us but with other web hosting services as well). While we do not condone or support their censorship of Internet content we can do nothing directly to prevent it. However, all is not lost!

Technical Background

The type of web hosting service we provide is called "virtual hosting". That means that each of the many Apache web server instances that we have running on our servers has a specific IP address. Many different domains are hosted under that same IP address. In this configuration our server uses the domain name portion of the requested URL to determine which site to feed up.

Simply put; many different domains share the same IP address.

Typically this sharing is a good thing because it allows us to conserve the use of the limited number of IP addresses we have available.

When the China firewall blocks a domain they block the particular IP address that a domain is using. Unfortunately that will also block all other domains that share that same IP address. Usually sharing is good, but in this case it's bad because of the collateral/inadvertent blocking.

My domain has been blocked. What can I do about it?

In the past we have tried to accommodate our customers by moving their blocked domain to another Apache web server instance with an IP address that has not been blocked. However as more and more IP addresses become blocked we can no longer do this for you.

However, this is our recommendation. You can assign a unique IP address to your domain via our control panel. By having your own unique IP address your domain will no longer share an IP address with other domains. This means if your domain becomes blocked it will be because they blocked YOUR domain specifically and not because of someone else's domain on the same shared IP address. Of course if this happens you can change your unique IP address again if you wish via the control panel.

Please read the "Notes & Caveats" section completely before proceeding to the "Here's How To Do It" section!

Notes & Caveats

  • We can NOT guarantee that by changing the IP address of your domain that it will be unblocked by the China firewall! They may block the new unique IP address as well. We have no control over this.
  • Whenever you make a change to the hosting configuration for your domain it will take our system short period of time to push the configuration changes out to the live servers and to update the DNS information for your domain. DNS changes often take up to 72 hours to fully propagate throughout the entire Internet.
  • When adding, removing or changing an unique IP address the old IP address will continue to accept connections for your domain for about 5 days. This should allow enough time for the new DNS information to fully propagate throughout the entire Internet. The new unique IP address should start accepting connections within about 4 hours, but it could take up to 72 hours.
  • During the configuration transition it is not uncommon to receive a "bad_httpd_conf" error when accessing your domain for the first couple of hours. This usually corrects itself on its own. If that error continues more than a couple of hours please (CONTACT > SUPPORT) and we'll investigate.
  • If you are not using our name servers to handle the DNS for your domain you will need to update your name servers manually with the new IP address for your domain! You can view the DNS information for your domain in our control panel by going to (DOMAINS > MANAGE DOMAINS) and clicking on the "DNS" link for the domain in question. The current DNS configuration is listed there. Duplicate our configuration in your name servers to keep your domain on-line and working properly.
  • There is an additional charge for each unique IP address you add. You can choose to pay $5.95/month or $59.95/year.
  • The "Strictly Business" hosting plan does provide ONE free unique IP address. Any additional unique IP addresses will be charged to your account.
  • Some sign-up promo codes may provide for a number of additional services (like free unique IP addresses) though you may not necessarily select the "Strictly Business" hosting plan. To see what features your particular account does provide go to (BILLING > MANAGE ACCOUNT) and see what's listed (in the account section) where it says "Your Account Provides:".
  • If you are entitled to a free unique IP address then when you add the first one no charge will be applied and no refund applied when it is removed.
  • When removing a unique IP address from a domain you will receive a prorated refund to your account for the unused portion of time (for that billing cycle).
  • If you have already assigned a unique IP address to a domain in order to provide secure hosting then you need to know that the SSL certificate for that domain is tied to the unique IP address that was assigned at the time the Certificate Signing Request (CSR) was created. If you remove the unique IP address you will lose the secure hosting option for that domain. After re-adding another unique IP address (you most likely will NOT be able to add the same IP address you just removed (they are assigned at random from a pool of addresses)) you can configure secure hosting again. But the CSR and certificate will change. If you have purchased a signed certificate then you will need to purchase another one with the new CSR that was just generated.

Here's How To Do It

To ADD a unique IP address to your domain (if you have not already done so);

  1. Go to (DOMAINS > MANAGE DOMAINS) in the control panel.
  2. Click on the "Add IP" link next to the domain in question.
  3. Select which billing option you want ($5.95/month or $59.95/year).
  4. Click on the "Add unique IP address to..." button to push the change into place.

To REMOVE a unique IP address from your domain (after you have added one);

  1. Go to (DOMAINS > MANAGE DOMAINS) in the control panel.
  2. Click on the "X" link next to the unique IP address for the domain in question.
  3. Follow the prompts to verify that you do want to remove it.
  4. A prorated refund will be applied to your account.

To REMOVE a unique IP address from your domain (after you have added one) ALTERNATE METHOD;

  1. Go to (BILLING > MANAGE ACCOUNT) in the control panel.
  2. Scroll down to the "Unique IP Addresses" section near the bottom of the page.
  3. Click on the "X Remove" link at the right for the unique IP address for the domain in question.
  4. Follow the prompts to verify that you do want to remove it.
  5. A prorated refund will be applied to your account.

To CHANGE a unique IP address.

  1. Follow one of the procedures listed above to REMOVE the current unique IP address.
  2. Follow the procedure listed above to ADD a new unique IP address.

Google Apps work around

If you're having difficulty using your Google apps sites such as mail, calendar, and docs, and you're using mail.mydomain, calendar.mydomain, or docs.mydomain try using the alternate address indicated below to access your domain apps with Google.

Mail
http://mail.google.com/a/mydomain
Calendar
http://calendar.google.com/a/mydomain
Docs
http://docs.google.com/a/mydomain

Assistance

If you have any questions or require assistance please (CONTACT > SUPPORT).