Forums » SEPHP Help and Tips

Start all over or try to Fix it

    • 35 posts
    April 16, 2018 7:25 PM EDT

    I have a situation here and maybe I can get some input...

    After trying to update 4.10.3p1, my site went down and became inaccessible, back end and all. From what I found in forums and the Internet, the source of the problem is most likely due to the SocialEngineAddOns Core Plugin. This annoys me a great deal. I no longer want to include any third-party plugins because I understand that several third-party plugins use a core module that modifies SE tables. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I don't want to have to deal with 2 parties when I upgrade, especially if one of them can cause my site to break. Thus, I want to remove the SEAO core module and all of their modifications.

    My question is two-part; should I purchase support with SE and ask them to restore my tables or go to SocialEngineAddOns and ask them to do it? I prefer to go with with SE for several reasons and as I am very happy with the support I have received. I dislike the 13 hour time difference and communication challenges with SEAO in India.


    Should I just start all over as the current business model I am using is now obsolete and I wish to to repurpose the site? The obvious answer to me would be to start all over. However, there is a ton of content I can continue to use and most of my 2,000 members would most likely like to remain members in the repurposed site. Their data is highly valued.

    What do you think?

    Donna, I would especially like your perspective.


  • gs
    • 861 posts
    April 16, 2018 9:10 PM EDT

    IMHO it seems your answer is based on what's most important to you - keeping your content and membership -or- forever having only stock SE.


    Maybe it's possible for SE to just strip away all non-SE stuff and keep your members & content (this scenario#03  seems to accomplish both priorities).


    Although I see your point about some 3PDs and their Plugins, are you 100% sure you'll never need a 3PD?  Although there may be other 3PDs that modified SE Core tables even though they're not supposed to, I was aware of only SEAO and SES doing so in their respective Activity Feeds.  There are many 3PDs that have their own core, but I don't believe they all modify SE's core tables (i.e. their cores are used for code purposes).


    If I was in your shoes. I'd want as much flexibility in my (future) site as possible, since it's difficult to know for sure you will never use a 3PD product - ever.  Thus I'd go with scenario#04 - fix the current isdue and plan on including 3PD products in the future (and probably now with the existing SEAO product).


    Although I haven't yet moved to 4.10.*, I did have to juggle 6-7 3PDs' products when moving to 4.09.*.  I guess it's like construction on an existing hotel or building w/tenants: one has to determine if it will be a brief or longer interruption, and if not brief, what's the best way of implementing - either complete shutdown, or hopefully mitigation plans to stay open during construction.  The good news is that software (unlike most physical construction) allows testing in a separate sandbox environment to get the bugs worked out of the upgrade process, so you should be able to minimize either the downtime or mitigation time.  Of course physical construction processes have some advantages over software.


    Everyone's situation and priorities are different (ex. I require many products by different 3PDs plus about 20 minor customizations and 1 major one), so once you place your marker (priority #01) in the ground, then everything else will have to work around it.


    Just my 2 cents





    This post was edited by gs at April 16, 2018 10:53 PM EDT
    • 373 posts
    April 16, 2018 10:00 PM EDT

    I am in agreement with GS.

    Get what you have sorted and then never make a change/upgrade again without testing it in a dev site first.

    Depending on what your monetization model is you will be hard pressed to really give your end user something that wow's them unless you modify the stock functionality with a 3PD enhancement. I know Donna will get up on the soap box tomorrow about only using certified plugins, which is a great concept, but there is not enough of them to really make your site stand out.

    I am new to SE but have ran our community for over 9 years and one thing I can guarantee - you need to upgrade on a cycle, keep things fresh and always bring in whatever the latest technology is for your end user. Or they will go find it elsewhere.

    • Moderator
    • 4694 posts
    April 17, 2018 5:05 AM EDT

    Yes I will get on the soap box about certified. If all of the clients would back this and tell third party experts to submit for certification, then these issues wouldn't be there. We don't allow callbacks other than mobile api and other api. We don't allow any core edits. Seems a simple solution - get the third parties to certify their stuff.

    As for SE fixing the issues - we don't offer support for third party products and cannot restore a site broken from them. You would want to get with the third party experts to remove their source and database edits.

    I agree about offering things other than what's in the box (se base products). No script can be everything to everyone. SE is a starting point. You need to take it and then connect the dots from that to the end result you need for your site. That generally means extending with third party products or customizations. That being said, don't get everything you think you want. Get what you NEED. Big difference. Many many people make the mistake to bulk up their sites with everything under the sun. Then, users get confused with TMI, TMS (too much info, too much stuff) and they leave because it's just too much. So, balance it. Feng Shui your site.  

    • 35 posts
    April 17, 2018 10:25 AM EDT

    Hi Donna,

    Thank you for your response. I had installed SEAO core last year before SE started the certified vendor program. Too bad frown

    It's also too bad I can't hire SE support to restore my site to its standard design. cry

    I've been developing my community since 2007. I'm pretty comfortable saying I know what they want and expect by now. They come to my site for my content and a shared interest with other like minds. In my regular job I administer 1,800 SharePoint sites (out of 10,000+) for a major health care organization in Northern California. In the support, training and consultation I provide, I preach KISS (Keep it super simple), "don't make me think" and focus on what your users need and want. So, I'm pretty much in alignment with your philosophy.

    I'll check with SEAO and see if I can get them to remove all of their modifications, but I'm not really comfortable with that. If I experience any difficulty I'll just start over. I will be re-purposing the site to become my blog, so I'm not going to need a lot of features; I've already got/own the content. Keeping it simple, stable and easy to maintain will be essential. At work I have a team that manages the servers and the databases for me. We follow a strict path to prod process. I don't want to have to do that with my least until I'm making a bizillion dollars.

    If I do start over I at least want to extract all of the email addresses for my members before doing so, so I can send them information about what's going on. Can you tell me how to do that or point me to a post if it's already been discussed?

    Thanks everyone for your feedback. You've given me a lot to consider that I missed or would have missed going it alone.

    I'm very appreciative of your time.

    • Moderator
    • 4694 posts
    April 17, 2018 11:20 AM EDT

    It would really stink to have to start over. You could let SEAO know of this thread and perhaps they can give you some tips. We do plan on improving the removal process in upcoming versions  but with source edits, that can't be done.

    To extract the emails, you could just export the user database. Another way to do it if you have more than one license is to open the new site and let current users join before closing the old if you go that route.

    • 15 posts
    May 8, 2018 12:58 PM EDT

    HI everybody,

    I just had an experience with seao asking them to in stall their facebook clone them on my development site. It is my first trial as installing a plugin that I bought some 59$ plus installation.

    After reviewing the results, I dont like it, it brought too much changes not needed really and I need only a few fix from the original. Tried to remove their plugin seems not efficient as I almost dont recognize the source.

    I am very happy that this was  not a production site and it was my first big change on the socialengine original script.

    Also I dont like either the 13 hours difference with them which makes things difficult.

    This is all a test for me so I will probaly zap all and reinstall completely, I have this chance because It is a new website still in development.

    Yes I would have a development machine for these things to be sure. have a backup of the main site on a dev machine all the time ...

    And will be looking for an american or canadian source of development skills.

    If I was in your case I would  setup a devlopment site with original source, rebulid it then transfer accounts.

    Lesson learned !

    good day !

    • 35 posts
    May 8, 2018 2:25 PM EDT

    I really hoped I wouldn't have to get technically involved with my site. It's a hobby (at least while I work for a living) and I prefer to do more content development and social engagement than maintenance, technical configuration and building/managing a development environment. I deal with that stuff at work on a surface level. I hate the technical details and try to stay at as high a level as I can. It's a matter of patience. SE is turning out to require more server and technical knowledge than I had expected. It looks like I'll have to bite the bullet and invest in a development environment and hire an expert on occasion.

    I empathize with you regarding SEAO and other third party vendors outside of North America and the UK. The time difference is a huge drawback. Communication is difficult as well. It's hard to believe we can speak the same language but hear/read something entirely different than what was said/written. If the vendor was closer, the communications thing would be easier to overcome. It's too bad there are not more third party vendors from Canada, America or the UK. Why is that?

    As an update, I've been unable to repair the damage to my site. The backup file generated from cPanel was corrupt and TMD Hosting wouldn't restore the site from one of their backups. These were good lessons to experience, but inconvenient. It's all good though; I want to try a different type of social site with a different monetization model and a different type of community. I'm even going to find a new host. Thank goodness SE has been as helpful as they have. 

  • gs
    • 861 posts
    May 8, 2018 5:48 PM EDT

    ==> '...The backup file generated from cPanel was corrupt and TMD Hosting wouldn't restore the site from one of their backups....'

    That has to be frustrating.  What's the point of backups if they don't work? 


    Although my host (FastComet) regularly backs up the site, and years ago when I needed to restore 2-3 times they performed the process admirably, I have added my own automated backups off-site using JetBackup.  Currently there are 2 .ftp sites, and will soon be testing Dropbox.  As I have done for decades, I periodically restore partial folders and databases to verify backups are working properly - so far so good (at least with what I've tested). 

    • 35 posts
    May 8, 2018 6:40 PM EDT

    I've been looking into FastComet. What is attractive to me is their free snapshot and backup recovery as part of the plans I've been looking at. They also tout a high-level of customer service and full support for hosting SE. They certainly aren't as cheap as TMD, but after my experience with them I'm anxious to move to another service. 

    • 373 posts
    May 8, 2018 6:44 PM EDT

    Look at as well - I have had great service and support from them

    • Moderator
    • 4694 posts
    May 9, 2018 4:57 AM EDT

    Ditto to cazaratech. But I have to disclose that I also partnered with him in a separate hosting company. Still, his Cazaratech hosting is great. 

    This post was edited by Donna at May 9, 2018 5:02 AM EDT
    • 120 posts
    May 9, 2018 6:12 AM EDT

    Reading about corrupt backups...

    I always download a backup and test it on another server, or restore it to a different database. This way you guarantee the backup is not corrupt. It is a bit more work but safer in the end. A little more work but saves you loads of hassle in the future.


    I have never had problems with TDM Hosting. My site has been moved to different server locations all over the globe as I had problems with timing out on the database due to the latency of the internet. But I finally got the site and database in the UK and no problems at all. Backups have been also restored to a previous point by them as I messed a few things up with installing updates ( Silly me ) but they were happy to help and with good results.


    So I can't fault TDM Hosting

    • 35 posts
    May 9, 2018 12:11 PM EDT

    Thanks Donna for your input and your disclosure. Transparency is ALWAYS appreciated and helps build trust and loyalty. That's why I'm a fan of SE.

    Maurits, thank you for your post. I wish I had more technical background on server operations, PHP and MySQL. If I had, I wouldn't have as many problems as I've experienced. Sometimes learning can be painful. Sharing your best practices and suggestions like the others have is very helpful and appreciated. Regarding backups, all I can say is, lesson learned. 

    I'm glad your experience with TMD has been a good one for you. Unfortunately, it has not been for me. From the week long hassle to get them to configure my VPS to host SE two years ago to a recent server/PHP upgrade mishap and the backup restore issue, I've lost trust in their competency and don't feel like they've got my back. For a novice like me, that's a big deal.

    To SE, if SE Cloud had a way to export to PHP, I would "so" use Cloud in a heartbeat. wink Regardless, I look forward to the challenges ahead. yell

    • 53 posts
    May 9, 2018 12:15 PM EDT

    I am not sure what I can say but if I can be of assistance - I would be happy to offer you 1 hour of consultation for free via Skype or phone. I am also located in North America. I have been working with SE since 2.x so I would like to think I have a very decent understanding of the product LOL

    @Donna - would you feel comfortable speaking on behalf of me so I can help this SE member?