db4free.net is back again, with MySQL 5.5

Disaster struck again. Well, it’s actually not really a disaster. db4free.net is a testing environment and people are not supposed to use it for any important data, or to use it in production. When after the last server update the main server instance started crashing, it was one of these circumstances which I can’t guarantee my users not to happen, and since both my budget and the server resources are low, I can’t afford setting up a backup system which allows me to restore everything just as a commercial database provider can (or should be able to) do.

Unfortunately I received a few emails (sorry that I couldn’t answer all of them directly) which made me believe that this fact isn’t obvious to all users. Even though the Conditions of Use pretty much explain that, not everybody obviously reads them. Which is why I added this text to both the registration form and to the registration email, so that it leaves no doubt that every db4free.net user is aware that this service is good for testing, but NOT for any data which is painful for the user to lose, or to not have available if the service goes down:

By registering for a db4free.net account you agree that:

  • db4free.net is a testing environment
  • db4free.net is not suitable for production
  • if you decide to use your db4free.net database in production despite the warnings, you do that at your own risk (very frequent backups are highly recommended)
  • data loss and outages can happen at any time (any complaints about that will likely be ignored)
  • the db4free.net team is not granting any warranty or liability of any kind
  • the db4free.net team reserves the right to delete databases and/or accounts at any time without notice

Sorry if I failed to make this clear enough in the past. Please note that these are no rule changes, but only a more thorough clarification.

OK, so now to the changes. After my InnoDB tablespace recovery attempts failed, it was clear that I need to set up a new server instance. Being a testing environment, it’s not really meaningful to use the now very mature MySQL 5.1 builds. So it’s time for an update, to MySQL 5.5, which is currently available as version 5.5.7, which is a Release Candidate (the last stage before becoming a Generally Available version).

Running a development version of course increases the chances of crashes and outages additionally, so it’s a good time to remember all users of the purpose of this service. This new server instance is fresh and new, no databases have been transferred and all users will have to register again to create a database.

What happens with the former 5.1 server instance? As it still starts up, I will keep it running until at least the end of November (unless anything else happens, the no-guarantee-rule keeps applying), on port 3307. So all former users can still access the database and try to rescue data they need. Please understand that I can’t offer any individual support for this. Please refer to the MySQL Reference Manual if you need assistance. You can also still use phpMyAdmin: go to http://www.db4free.net/phpMyAdmin/ and select “db4free.net:3307” from the Server Choice dropdown. However, please keep in mind that this server is damaged and will likely crash frequently, and take some time to come up again.

I am sorry for any inconvenience that the recent issues have caused. However, I am confident that this is taking the right steps to make all users aware what the purpose of db4free.net is and to set expectations right. And to all future db4free.net MySQL 5.5 users I would like to say: happy testing!