As Hurricane Harvey battered Texas, millions of people hit the Web searching for information about the storm. For a small website called Space City Weather, the storm led to a huge surge — not in floodwater but in traffic. On a normal day, the site is lucky to get 10,000 page views, but during the storm, it served 1.1 million views in just one twenty-four-hour period and more than 4.3 million for the week.
During that time, Ars Technica’s Lee Hutchinson was hosting the site on his private Web server. He has posted a very detailed look at the software, hardware, configuration and optimization decisions that made it possible for the site to stay online through the storm. The lessons he learned offer good advice to any website owner dealing with a huge traffic increase.