Server Troubleshooting ServicesHave you got server troubles, whether with CF or Lucee, or Tomcat or other JEE servers? Are they crashing, hanging, running slow, or won't start, have high CPU, high memory or outofmemory?
Might you need help troubleshooting, tuning, or monitoring them? Or perhaps installing, administering, or configuring them? Or updating, upgrading, or migrating them? Or with security/lockdown? Or deployment on containers/orchestration? Or perhaps integration with and monitoring of web servers, DB servers, caching servers, web app firewalls, and so on?
Experienced server troubleshooter Charlie Arehart has helped over 1,000 customers solve such problems, doing it every day for over a decade and is available (often even today) for short-term, remote (safe/secure) consulting.
Charlie's rate and contact info is offered below, but before contacting or hiring him, the following is the least you should know about his unique troubleshooting consulting.
- Charlie offers either a base hourly rate or discounted 10-hour retainer (good for a year), at 15-minute intervals. Again, see below for the rates
- You don't need to pay up before he helps you, even for a discounted 10-hour retainer (see more under "payment", below). Folks have proven trustworthy
- Your satisfaction is guaranteed. You won't pay for time you don't find valuable
- Most problems can be solved very quickly, perhaps less than an hour (even one that may have plagued and challenged you/your folks for hours or days, as this is all Charlie does). Of course, some challenges may take more time to diagnose and resolve
- You don't need to give Charlie remote access to your server, such as creating an account, opening a firewall hole, or allowing him to VPN to your server. Instead, Charlie generally prefers that you and he work together, via safe, secure screen-sharing (where he "looks over your shoulder", guiding you in the diagnosis and identification of a solution). If you really prefer he remote in, or have an on-site visit, that can be arranged, of course. For more onthis point, read below about remote troubleshooting
- Charlie's efforts should have no negative effect and typically don't require a server restart in the first session (and if something would require a restart, he'd let you know)
- Charlie will guide you in a series of targeted troubleshooting diagnostics (using logs, tools, and more), many of which you may have missed or perhaps misinterpreted. You can read more below about his pattern of troubleshooting techniques
- More than just a solution, you will also get an education, as he helps you understand how to better diagnose and resolve this and perhaps other such problems, as previous clients have attested. You are even free to request that the session be recorded, which will be saved on your end by you.
- He's open to completing confidentiality/NDA agreements you may have, of course
- Charlie has 30 years of server troubleshooting experience. And in addition to this consulting, he contributes help in many social media outlets, mailing lists, forums, user groups, and other resources (including his blog as well as presentations and articles)
Address: 410 Morgan Rd, Jamestown KY 42629 USA
You can also find Charlie on:
Following are additional details, for those interested.
Remote Consulting: Looking Over Your Shoulder (Show/hide details)
You may be suspicious or even reluctant about remote consulting. If he's to help you look at your problem over the web, does that mean you need to open firewall holes/ports on your server or create an account, such as to use a remote desktop or VNC-type session? No! You don't need to open any ports or create any login for him. Instead, we'll use any of several desktop sharing solutions (whether one you prefer or one I can offer), which work over any browser and use a standard, secure HTTPS port. (Charlie has switched to using Zoom, after years of using join.me.)
"Do we have to install any software?" Only a very small plugin, if any. If you feel, "we can't install anything on our servers", that's ok: you can remote into your servers from your desktop/laptop and have the shared desktop session from your desktop while Charlie watches you remote into the server.
"But he's remoting/logging into our servers, right?" No, he does not need to "remote into" nor obtain any authentication information for your servers in order to look over your shoulder while use work on those servers. You will login into your machines (remoting in if needed), and he will just watch over the web as you do that. This is about working together, all with the goal of helping you help yourself and become more self-sufficient. (Of course, if there's some situation where you just want to give Charlie some responsibility to take care of something for you, which may involve remoting into your machine, that's an option as well.)
"Well, still, can Charlie see something on the server we don't want him to during a shared desktop session?" He sees only what you choose to let him see during a shared desktop session. If you do show him something confidential, or give him access to your servers, of course he will keep that information completely confidential. And again, he's happy to complete an NDA agreement as well if you'd like.
"OK, but what about security of the channel of communications?" Assuming we use my zoom session, the communications are encrypted: only Charlie can see what's being shown on your screen. (Since 2023, my Zoom sessions are also recorded by default, and Zoom will clearly tell you on joining the room that the meeting is being recorded.. The long random URL for the recording would be shared only with you. But we can stop the recording if you prefer the session not be recorded.)
"How will we talk?" While we'll do the screen-sharing via Zoom (link shared when we setup the meeting),or we can use anything else you like. We can also speak by phone (Charlie is happy to call you, or can provide a number for you to call him if you prefer) or via VOIP, including Skype, etc. And it's no problem to have multiple folks on your end join in from different offices or locations for both the sreen sharing and phone call(and you're free to record the phone or screensharing session if you'd like.)
What is the typical approach used? How is time spent? (Show/hide details)
- Review the most significant problems that have been identified by the customer, such as outages, poor performance, etc.
- Identify (together) the available diagnostics that may help provide explanation/evidence of their cause (as found in app server diagnostics as well as those in the web server, and database server if needed), or in additional monitoring tools if available (FusionReactor, VisualVM, New Relic, Ste24x7, etc.) and their alerts.
- Review (together) the diagnostics, connecting the dots between the observed problems and their root cause.
- If needed, enable (together) additional diagnostics that may provide further evidence. Some may require restart (and so can be delayed), others (like alerts) may require time for new evidence to be gathered.
- If needed and agreed to, implement free tools to help speed the review of diagnostic data.
- Identify possible underlying explanations for the root cause problem (whether configuration, traffic, or--generally less likely--coding issues).
- Discuss possible changes, and implement those we agree on (preferably not more than one at a time), then or perhaps overnight if a restart is required.
- Observe whether the original problem/s continue to exist, whether evidenced by user observation or diagnostics.
- Note that getting to this point can happen quite quickly (as little as an hour) for many problems, even ones that have plagued a server for weeks. Certainly some situations may be more complicated, but they're rare in the hundreds of engagements that Charlie has per year.
- Repeat the process as needed to see if perhaps new problems may arise (that could have been hidden by the other ones now solved).
- As desired by customer, review in more detail:
- how to understand and use the available (or newly enabled) diagnostics, so that customer is more self-sufficient in using them (including enabling CF monitoring if desirable)
- how to understand the available configuration settings that can impact performance, or aid/detract from diagnosis
- other opportunities for improvement (performance and tuning of requests, queries, jvm; updates of CF, the JVM, the CF web server connector; improvements to security; assisting with planned upgrades to new versions or new CFML engines, containerization/orchestration, etc.)
It's in points 2-7 above where Charlie's vast experience helping so many customers really comes to the rescue. Even experienced folks are often stunned to learn what diagnostics do exist, already. Or they saw them, but could make little sense of them. Or they had used what they saw to google for answers, and found many conflicting suggestions. Or they weren't sure of the likely effect of a configuration change, or how most safely to do it, or undo it.
Charlie's patient, calm, experienced guidance has often helped resolve even desparate situations, where income, jobs, or just a decent night's sleep were on the line. Customers report that he nearly always leaves them feeling far more confident about the problem, the solution, and how to better use diagnostics in the future.
Technical Background (Show/hide details)
Rates (Show/hide details)
|All rates include problem-solving AND training, combined.|
Satisfaction guaranteed: you won't pay for time you don't feel is valuable1
|Short-term/hourly:||US$295/hr||Base hourly rate. 15-minute minimum time increments.|
Invoiced weekly, after engagement.
For work outside of 8am-8pm US Central Time (or on weekends/major US holidays), a surcharge may be discussed (of 40%, just less than "time and a half"), but it's not typically assessed. Satisfaction is still guaranteed.
|10-hour retainer, good for 12 months:||US$245/hr||Discounted hourly rate: 10 hours initial minimum, $2450. 15-minute minimum time increments.|
Invoiced in advance (but not requiring payment before first session. Indeed, see Engagement/ Payment below before buying the retainer in advance of a first session). Hours expire 12 months after invoice date2.
|Multi-day onsite engagement:||US$2000/day||Rate for short-term on-site engagements3, plus expenses and travel time4. Invoiced weekly, after engagement|
In considering these rates, note that Charlie's generally helping you solve a problem in an immediate (and generally very short) term. Also, where many troubleshooting consultants require a minimum number of hours (if not days), Charlie's happy to help in as little time as is needed. And he tends to be available within 4 hours of your request to start, if not sooner. Finally, you may be more used to lower rates for development consultants, but consider that you tend to hire them for weeks or months, not hours as with Charlie.
Most important, his goal is to help make you self-sufficient, so he's doing as much sharing of knowledge and educating as solving your problem, so you get more than just a solution, but an education as well. Indeed, because of this approach, Charlie tends to work himself out of the situations where he's brought in, as folks become more self-sufficient. Of course, he hopes you'll ask him back for more help on new problems when needed.
Combine the above with the fact that his expertise in solving problems helps him generally solve problems in far less time than folks who don't spend their days doing so (generally in less than an hour for most problems), and the rate actually becomes very good value. More important, keep in mind that since the approach used is to work with you, you're always in control of the time spent. No surprises.
Engagement/Payment (Show/hide details)
If you're ready to pay for an engagement, note first that Charlie does not require prepayment (except technically for the "pre-paid 10-hour retainer" engagement type.)
If you're considering the 10-hour prepaid retainer, please note that Charlie would prefer you not purchase it in advance of our first engagement but wait until after our initial consultation session, to make sure that his services and approach are suited to your requirements. If, during or after that call, you decide to go with the retainer, the hours spent on that and any subsequent engagements will be deducted against the retainer once purchased. (In other words, you don't pay a penalty of the full rate for not "pre-paying" before deciding to go with the 10-hour retainer.)
For "short-term" or "multi-day" engagements, contact Charlie instead and after arranging the engagement, an invoice will be provided for services at the end of the engagement week. (See the previous section for more details on engagement types, rates, etc.)
Payment may be made either of the following ways (all the same charge, no surchage for any):
- by credit card (via link provided in invoice sent via email, as just discussed)
- by check (using contact details in invoice and above)
- by electronic funds transfer (favored often by those overseas. SWIFT code, acct #, and other details available on request)
What if we need help and are in another country? (Show/hide details)
Also, as for talking with each other, besides traditional phone calls, we can use either the Voice over IP solutions in the shared desktop solutions discussed above, or we can use something like Skype or Google Talk, if you'd like.
While Charlie is in the US Eastern time zone (GMT -5 most of the year), he's flexible in making arrangements (in advance) to work with you during what would be an odd hour for him.
Footnotes (show/hide details)
Charlie understands that it's possible on rare occasions your problem may not be solved in the time spent together, or that some of the time may not fully meet your satisfaction, so he offers a complete satisfaction guarantee. If you feel that some of the time with him was not worthwhile, just indicate so either during the call (again, you can control how much time is spent on any topic) or even after the fact, and the billing will be adjusted to your satisfaction. Fortunately this is something that rarely happens, but it has happened and the offer is sincere.
2About pre-paid 10 hour retainer:
The retainer hours are to be used within twelve months of purchase (date invoice is sent). In exchange for the discounted rate, there is no refund of unused time. That said, we will inform you well in advance of the expiration, and if more than 2 hours STILL remain at the expiration time, we will not just remove the hours but start aging them off at 25% of that amount over months 12-15.
3About extended short-term engagement:
While it may seem that the discounted 10-hour retainer rate (good for a year) could/should be used for an extended short-term engagement/on-site engagements, that retainer is really intended for use by a client for multiple small engagements (typically not more than a couple of hours in a day) spread out over an extended period of time (again, up to a year). When a single client requires instead an extended duration of help in a short time (several hours a day over a couple of days), especially in an on-site engagement, that complicates Charlie serving other clients (such as putting them off to the evening), and so the discounted rate is not appropriate because of those complications.
Similarly, for multi-day on-site visits and as for any claim of credit per the satisfaction guarantee, that must be requested before the start of the next day of work. It would be unreasonable to learn only after multiple days of on-site work (without any expression of client concern) that somehow a client wanted to claim dissastisfaction for some or indeed all of the time. Let's both understand and try to resolve any such problem before proceeding with the next day's work.
4About travel time rate:
Charlie must charge for travel time, since while he's traveling to work for you, he can't be helping others. Travel time is charged at a rate of 50% of the hourly rate, for the time spent getting from his home/office to the destination hotel/office, and returning. So for example, that might be typically about 2 hours from home/office until on boarding the plane, plus the time until landing, then about 45 minutes from landing to being in the hotel, and then the reverse returning to his home/office. Please contact Charlie to discuss challenges, concerns, or possible extenuating circumstances with respect to this travel policy. His first priority is to help you get your problem solved!