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ShoutMeLoud is Back Online on Hostgator Shared Hosting

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ShoutMeLoud is Back Online on Hostgator Shared Hosting

If you are one of the regular readers of ShoutMeLoud, you might have noticed frequent downtimeconfused thumb and theme changes in last couple of days. There are many reasons for the same and one of them was my hosting server. I was on Linode VPS and despite of being one of the powerful unmanaged VPS server, my site was going down again and again.

Though the reason might be due to some bugged WordPress plugin and also some issues with updated W3 total cache plugin. Last night I started facing some issues with Thesis theme as it was not able to save my design options and I think it was because of some database issue.

Nonetheless, yesterday I almost worked 18 hr in last 24 hrs to fix the issue and in the process I learned lots of things and learned how image hotlinkers can lead to your site downtime. My Error log was filled with request originating from other sites who were using ShoutMeLoud skin (Copied and pasted) and many of them didn’t even bother to remove the image links or upload it on their server. In 2 days, my error.log was almost 30Gb, I believe some lucky leecher might have made front page of Digg or similar sites, which created 30+ gigs of error log file.

Anyways, I had almost a nightmare fixing the issue which involves reinstallation of WordPress, completely uninstalling Thesis theme and reinstalling Thesis theme, find plugins which might be causing issues and clean orphaned database tables.

Uninstalling Thesis theme completely:

When we talk about completely uninstalling Thesis theme, it means not only removing theme files but also removing the tables associated in your WordPress database. Since Wp phpmyadmin is no more a secure plugin, I used portable Phpmyadmin to access my site using dashboard. Here I’m sharing a quick tip for those who are trying to do a fresh installation of Thesis on a server which is already running Thesis.

Thesisdefaultoptions thumb

Go to Thesis Manage options and restore default site and design option. You might like open design and site option in a new tab before restoring the default, so that you can quickly copy the settings at later stage. Now deactivate the Thesis theme and go to your database from phpmyadmin. Under Wp_options search for option name Thesis_design_options and Thesis_site_options, delete them.

Once done, you might like to change your custom folder back to custom_sample and activate Thesis. Alternatively, you can remove Thesis theme and install Thesis theme from scratch.

I had to do all this, as Thesis design option was giving some error and there was something wrong with site teaser.

P.s: I also installed WordPress SEO plugin by yoast and used SEO data importer plugin to copy all SEO meta values from Thesis to WordPress SEO. This is to ensure removing associated table with Thesis should not affect my SEO meta values.

Reinstall WordPress blog:

reinstallwordpress thumb

This is just to ensure that every file is intact and there is nothing wrong with the core WordPress file. From your WordPress dashboard click on updates and select the option which says reinstall WordPress.

1 A.M – 4 A.M

By the end of three hours, I have taken a backup of my database, imp WordPress files and Thesis theme. I also completely uninstalled Thesis and reinstalled WordPress, thinking that this might be end of my problems, but seems like this was never supposed to end. ( 1 A.M.)

I reinstalled Thesis, but the problem remains the same, in the meanwhile I also disabled all the plugins to make sure that no plugin is causing issue but everything was useless by that time. It was late and I thought of trying everything from scratch in the morning but to add more to my bad-luck, my site started showing Error establishing database connection and this issue is usually connected to wrong wp-config values. Though I have not touched wp-config file, but to resolve this issue I rechecked my Wp-config file and also restored the file from my backup. I also rebooted my server twice, hoping this might be temp issue but seems like I had no luck last night.

Later one of my Tech guys who manages my VPS, informed me that my error log is full and consumed almost 30+gb of disk space. And this 30Gb error log was created within 8 hrs time, so even my cron job could not empty the log file. That’s the reason why my server was giving “Error establishing Db connection” error.

4 A.M – 7 A.M

So by 4 A.m I have my site backup with default Twenty eleven Theme with no ads and no sidebar for next two hours. In between I used Clean option plugin to delete all orphaned tables and also deleted all Thesis option tables again. I started with fresh installation of Thesis theme and this time everything worked fine. I successfully installed Thesis and Thesis design option was not giving any error. It was 7 A.M by that time and I decided to take a power nap and customize Thesis theme later.

10 A.M-1 P.M

I got up at 10 with the news that my site was down from last one hour, I rebooted the server and realized I forget to activate W3 Total cache plugin and due to load server went down. Ahh!! What a mistake form me. I activated the plugin and our team started fixing theme design. Half n hour more and we are again back with same teaser option issues due to Thesis design option being unable to register the options in database.

Giving up at that point was not an option, so I wanted to try something else. Since I already worked with WordPress, database, Theme and plugin and nothing seemed to be helping me. Finally, I decided to move my blog to another hosting.

Moving to Hostgator from Linode:

( 2 P.M- 6 P.M ) So my obvious choice was Hostgator server and instead of going for VPS or dedicated server, I started with Hostgator Baby plan. As it’s good enough to handle the load for a heavy site. I bought Hostgator plan and we started the migration process. Since Hostgator allows SSH option, so transferring file was a piece of cake. Within 30 mins we were on Hostgator and then we edited our hosts file to make changes.

We installed Thesis, activated plugins and started adding codes to custom_functions and custom.css file one by one. This process also helped us to remove some unnecessary codes from our custom files. We tested and everything worked fine, we changed the name server to our Hostgator server, added MX record to make sure our Google apps is not broken and within sec. we were running successfully on Hostgator. Though if you’re not good with DIY stuff, you can always use Hostgator free hosting migration service.

It’s been 7+ hours and we are still testing load and seeing if Hostgator can handle our site load and so far everything is good.

Since DNS change takes time, many users were/are still seeing default twenty eleven theme, but you can always change your DNS of system to Open DNS or Google DNS to see the change immediately.

What could have caused the issue:

Though I’m still not sure if the issue was with my configuration of VPS server or was it because I updated three plugins (Adrotate, W3total cache and Smooth slider), or some bug with database table. I would appreciate if someone wish to add his insight on possible reasons behind this outage and issue.

Lesson learned:

If you running a big website, it’s always a good idea to have a backup server and complete backup of your file. If you have a developer or Tech guy who maintains your blog, it’s always a good idea to keep track of all the changes happening on your blog.

When ever you’re making any changes in your database, take a complete backup of your database before making even a little change. Also always keep an eye on error.log to monitor possible scripts or domain, causing issues on your server.

Anyhow, it seems like an issue which can happen to anyone and luckily my team and readers were supportive enough to help me out here. In this 16 hr of outage, I got almost 10+ SMS, tons of Emails, Fb message, tweets to inform me about my site downtime and theme. I’m thankful to all who have taken the effort of sending me SMS in the night or communicate the message to me in any possible ways.

Such experiences are always good which makes you learn new things and always add as an experience. Though this issue is not same as Amit Banerjee issue, but you might like to read the similar story from him here.

Have you ever experience such terrible outage when you are running out of options? What helped you and what steps have you taken to resolve such issues.

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Article by Harsh Agrawal

Harsh has written 1069 articles.

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{ 54 comments… add one }

  • Akshay Jain

    I also saw the Weird SML that night. That was looking horrible. Well Me happy that SML the good source of learning is on Good state again.

    Well Congrats and Best of Luck.

    I want to ask to Harsh that,

    You all use Google Gmail App for the SML or if any other then do share with us?

    Reply
  • Pranjal

    Glad everything resolved, but till now did you faced any issue on Hostgator’s baby plan and are you on Hostgator India?

    Similar issues are with my host and now i want to get rid of them as well because they keep on blaming my site’s Wpcron.php, you know that does several scheduled tasks like do pings, hit seo sitemap index, refresh WP SEO cache’s , update WordPress plugins and themes automatically. They keep me warned nearly every single day and keep on mailing & dropping calls to move on premium hosting plans or VPS, (which i can’t afford right now).

    So, temporarily i had chosen to turn off the Wpcron.php by defining a string in WordPress config file and i had set up a cron job to directly execute it in every 2 : 30 hours plus installed Crontrol plugin to manage Wpcron.php activities.

    Now if you share your Hostgator experience about this shared hosting plan, then I’ll also choose to change my host!

    Reply
  • Wikinol

    Hi,

    It’s nice that shoutmeloud back, I also faced the same problem on Friday and resolve issue within 4 hours. Some times it happens due to the thesis and w3 total cache plugin. Please uncheck disk cache in w3 total cache if you have enabled on your blog. This is the solution for me and hope it will help you too.

    Thanks

    Reply
  • Brian D. Hawkins

    Nightmare indeed. Be glad you have the know how to correct something like that, or at least go through all those steps that ended up being a solution even though it’s uncertain exactly what happened. I would have had to hire someone.

    I’ve been using HostGator for a few years now. I have a dedicated server with them and they have always been helpful. The dedicated option is expensive at $219/month for the server I have, but the piece of mind is worth every penny. I’m sorry you had to go through that ordeal but you landed on your feet, as any of us that have been following you for a while would expect.

    Reply
  • Harsh Agrawal

    Hey Anand
    I see one particular aff.. is giving me tons of 2nd level referral and thanks for that. :)
    I would consider your suggestion regarding CDN and I have one sponsored CDN account from MaxCDN. When ever I will get time, I will implement it. Though one reason why I have not done it, as I see many blogs who have implemented maxcdn or similar CDN feature on their site, many images are broken or many time it doesn’t load.

    Reply
  • fazal mayar

    Good to see that you are back Harsh. Well, when you have a blog like yours you have to step up your game. I plan on growing my blog and will have to face difficulties such as yours if i dont backup or buy tools that big webmasters have. :)

    Reply
  • [email protected]

    Many issues are caused by errors in plugins.I think every plugin must be tested properly for bugs before posted in wordpress official site.
    Good luck with hostgater :-)

    Reply
  • Kunal @ TechHogger

    I was amazed to see my favorite blogging site down last night. But via facebook I got to know that you are working on it. It’s your hard work that you have recovered your very popular blog to its same look (almost same.)
    Its always good to have a clean back up of the blog.
    As far as I have noticed I too updated these plugins and I have faced no problem with their update.

    Reply
  • sanjeev

    i hope Hostgator can tolerate the heavy load of SML..else HG will act like a bitch to shift to a VPS…

    Reply
  • Kimi

    Hi Harsh!

    What a story of SML, I am glad you are on track again after those late nights.

    I know how it feels, because when something goes wrong with my blog, I also want to immediately fix it, no matter what time it is.

    Especially when you make money with the blog, you would not want to loose a day because of a downtime.

    It isn’t fun, but glad it is over, hopefully the current server in HG baby plan will be good.

    Kimi.

    Reply
  • Garish Wasil

    Good to see your site back, Harsh. I was missing it a lot :)
    And I highly recommend you to avoid VPS hosting, it is usually a mess and difficult to handle. You better stick to hostgator shared hosting and use W3Total Cache + Amazon CloudFront as CDN as I am using on my blog. And I must say, my blog is Traffic proof :)
    Amit Aggarwal from labnol.org is also using the same technique on his high traffic blog. Also, this technique will save you almost $100+ every month. I hope you are also planning to use the same on your blog now.

    Even I lost my blog once when I was on a weak host but I recovered it soon after shiftingto hostgator.

    Reply
  • rakesh kumar

    Great you are back. Even i have send a message to your old Mobile Number related to your website.

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      Thanks Rakesh for sending me SMS and the time you sent me SMS, I was already working on fixing the issue. Though such SMS or Emails from SML readers are very useful and encouraging. Probably that’s how I was able to work for too long. :)

      Reply
  • prem pandit

    You did hard work. Anyway Hostgator is best for WP Hosting.Congrats for everything fine..

    Reply
  • Ravi

    Hey Harsh

    I had same experience with thesis — thesis options were not writing values and and each time it just was showing Upgrade thesis. The problem was not with Super Cache but with the database.
    In this case what I did was complete re installation of my blog with exported wp export file only no database shifting. My database was around 25Mb with around 700 posts but with this option the database size was down to about only 3Mb. I removed all timthumb… made my site clean and it now works like charm . Even site times have come down from 8 seconds to 1.5 seconds..

    Reply
  • Hack Tutors

    Yes, there was something wrong with shoutmeloud. When I, visited this blog, the theme was changed, twice, hopefully its back again!

    Reply
  • Sridhar

    I got the problems after i update the “w3 total cache” plugin, when i open the page it is giving prompt to download the “download.gz” gzip file.
    I searched about this problem and somebody suggested to disable the compression in plugin options, so i just disabled the HTTP compression under Browser cache, this solves the problem.

    Reply
  • Veer Amrit

    I recently had the similar issue 3 days back, luckily i was able to point out the error, it was due to w3 cache plugin. Although i wasted more than 5 hours to fix this, which includes installing of thesis 5 times.

    Reply
  • Jarret

    Harsh, how can you run on Hostgator shared? I’m on a very expensive Hostgator VPS plan (VPS 6) and I’m quite sure you get more traffic than I do? Amazing! I do use W3 total cache and MaxCDN. Even still, I occasionally get spikes that overload my server.

    I recently tried VPS dot net which is a reputable VPS hosting site used by WordPress gurus like Yoast. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for me. Even though they had cheaper rates for resources than Hostgator, it ended up costing me twice as much to run on their hosting without overloading the server.

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      Jarret if you see my above comment reply to @Ankit (My first reply), you will realize that it’s not the server config which matters most of the time but there are many other things too like plugin, themes or anything else.
      Regarding your site, I just checked it here:
      http://gtmetrix.com/reports/www.hivehealthmedia.com/9dtkziEa

      And realize your blog size is too big and takes much time to load.
      Page load time: 8.10s
      Total page size: 1.22MB
      Total number of requests: 165

      And here is the report for your single page:
      Page load time: 13.65s
      Total page size: 1.47MB
      Total number of requests: 192

      You should seriously look into this issue of size and load time, and that will take care of many issues for you.

      Reply
  • Jigar

    Think Hostgator can bear you as it can not bearing me :( so using vps level 3 :)

    Reply
  • Hamza Tariq

    Notice For Shared Hosting:
    Google XML Plugin – Is not Suitable, Only If You Are Running News Blog
    Thesis OpenHook – No Latest Update
    SEO Pressor – Unknown Issue
    W3 Total Cache – Sometimes Screws Your Website!

    Reply
  • Hamza Tariq

    Buddy same thing happened with me in last week, wasted my 3 days in fixing all of the shit, especially my blog was hosted on Hostgator, and their support failed to help me in this plugin issue. They banned my website twice just for using some buggy plugin which causes heavy usage of memory only “index.php” takes 20% CPU uses! I have found couple of things, must use Cloudflare, avoid using of Thesis OpenHook, and especially $#%@#$ SEO Pressor. My Advice if anyone of you going to install this plugins on your blog, must keep in your mind that you will be soon kicked out from your hosting.

    My Blog Stats:
    Daily Unique IP: 7 to 8K
    Pageviews: 12K+

    Reply
  • Sidhant

    Even though you consider W3 Total Cache a boost for SML Harsh, at the same time this plugin creates hell for many webmasters. This incidence is not something new. This plugin has been destroying many web-blogs time to time..Its a killer plugin.

    Reply
  • Digital Imagination

    Your issue is related to VPS only… as no blogger has faced problem with w3 total cache or any other plugin which you mentioned above..

    Reply
  • Siddharth

    I faced this similar issue, i mean database errors, What i do is simply just recover the last day cPanel backup of the blog, complete website recovery in matter of minutes. But in case of SML, it may not be possible, as there are frequent posts and comments and by doing like this might loose some content.

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      So true, Siddharth! As many guest posters submit their guest post every day, I had to make sure the migration and such DB stuff should be done instantly. That’s why we used rSync and moved everything from linode to Hostgator without losing even a single piece of info and comments. :)
      Thanks for dropping by and for your comment.

      Reply
  • Saurabh Mukhekar

    Nice to hear that your problem got resolved…but I know your situation when you and your team were trying to fix it ,its really sleepless situations .I also faced such problem,but thanks Wptime-machine-plugin which save me lot to recover my site . by the way we really need WP-RESTORATION Plugin like SYSTEM-RESTORE in windows.Which will really save the time and money of every developer or owner of blog.What do u think about it?

    Reply
  • Saket Jajodia

    Best of luck for the future I haven’t faced any such issues and I wish I don’t face also.. But I do have faced many many down times in HG even once full day down time I have faced however just because of there Customer Support I am still with them..
    However I never get why people use These theme (must be something gr88 they have) there are lots of free and paid theme which looks much better then These and don’t have those soo many stuffs to manage so no headache also..

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      Saket That’s one thing which I like the most about Hostgator. They are active everywhere (Email, Live chat, Phone, Twitter and Fb). This is one of the main reason it’s listed as recommended webhost by us.
      http://www.shoutmeloud.com/shoutmeloud-free-wp-webhosting-partners
      Regarding Thesis, I agree the look and feel of Thesis default theme is boring but Thesis is popular not because of it’s look but because of it’s SEO functionalities. And if you ate good with php and CSS, you can easily customize Thesis into anyways you want.

      Reply
  • Paritosh

    I am so glad that i chose Knownhost VPS over Linode. I faced a similar problem but knownhost support were competent enough to solve the issue and get my blog to normalcy.

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      I agree Paritosh with your comment about Knownhost support. When I was with Knownhost, I never had any issues with the customer support. Infact response time was great and so was the resolution time. Though later I faced problem as SML traffic increased, so I moved to linode as it offered better infrastructure/resources at the same cost.

      Reply
    • Paritosh

      I don’t know how much was SML’s traffic was but for me Knownhost is easily handling 8 lac pageviews p.m. No problems at all! It’s expensive but support staff makes this investment worth it.

      Reply
  • Dinesh Verma

    your blog went through lots of downtimes in the past two days. Why don’t you go with big hosts like “Rackspace” or “Dreamhost”.

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      Dinesh thanks for your recommendation and FYI, when I started ShoutMeLoud it was hosted on Dreamhost. Later we moved to Knownhost and then Linode and now Hostgator. I guess next move might be some cloud hosting. I heard about rackspace but never personally tried it for myself or for any of my client. Though I would consider your suggestion and will look around and see how good rackspace is.
      Just to clear your confusion regarding Dremhost Vs Hostgator, you should consider reading this post: http://www.shoutmeloud.com/bluehost-vs-hostgator-vs-dreamhost-webhosting-comparison.html

      Reply
  • LeetSpider

    nice post , very informative .
    BTW how do you backup you site?

    Reply
  • Jass

    Sorry for this question but making me bit a confused You used Yoast’s wordpress SEO plugin and SEO data importer. My question is do you used this plugin’s seo data importer or used any other plugin to import SEO data.
    If you used another plugin then please give a link of the same. Thanks in Advance

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      Jass I used SEO data importer to import SEO settings to Yoast WordPress SEO plugin and later after reinstalling Thesis, I moved SEO data from Yoast WordPress SEO plugin to Thesis using Data importer plugin. Hope this will solve your confusion.

      Reply
  • Digital Imagination

    i think i got your problem. This is because you are using unmanaged VPS(highly unrecommended) for a blogger.

    The solution is simple to this problem, you have to move on to Managed VPS which would cost you 200$ on a month(just for Managed VPS)

    This information i got from my friend who is a hosting service provider.

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      DI, using managed VPS cost a lot as you see here and if you have a tech savvy guy managing your unmanaged VPS, it won’t be an issue. For example, my tech guy was managing SML server for 1 year and after 1 year, I started facing issues which is most probably some conflict as server settings remained the some but SML themes and plugins have gone under lots of iteration and updates.
      Yah for people who don’t use SSH or not familiar with commands and doesn’t have a person to manage their hosting, it’s a good advice to go for managed VPS. Though you can always start with Knownhost managed VPS which is good and quite powerful. ShoutMeLoud was on knownhost server for almost 11 months. :)

      Reply
  • Abhinav

    It must be the W3total cache who caused the problem as you already said you were not able to save any changes through thesis design option may be getting error like below “Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in wp-content/themes/thesis_182/lib/classes/options_design.php on line 468

    Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in wp-content/themes/thesis_182/lib/classes/options_design.php on line 489″

    for more info head over to thesis forum http://diythemes.com/forums/showthread.php?42449-Invalid-Argument-messages-for-options_design.php-and-pluggable.php

    Now its the high time for you to start hosting your images on sub domain like img.shoutemloud.com to get rid of overload problem to some extent…..

    Ya I agree its a worst nightmare a webmaster/blogger can experience.

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      Abhinav I didn’t receive any error and I guess issue was w3tc along with my server config. Right now I’m still using W3tc but only thing which is changed now is server config and I removed lots of useless tables from our DB.
      I would prefer using CDN over using sub-domain to host images. As I have seen many bloggers facing issues with hosting images in sub-domain. You should read this post: http://www.shoutmeloud.com/my-experience-in-withstanding-a-hosting-outrage.html
      And thanks for the link and adding values to the post with your comment. :)

      Reply
  • Jass

    As a beginner in wordpress i learned and earned a good amount of knowledge This is horrible day for you and all the fans of SML

    Reply
  • Manendra

    I too faced some issues a long back when I used smooth slider, thumbnails for experts plugins every thing went wrong just in few seconds after updating them and it tool nearly 6hrs to know issue was raised dude to using thumbnails for experts plugin. Buy by the time i completely removed my theme and re-installed the WP. And learned a lot of things about Function.php at that time. From that accident i started backing up my database every 15days as i am not a good coding geek so i follow the grate saying “prevention is better than cure”

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      Experience makes us better every day and this is so true in your cache Manendra. I hate using Timthumb script or thumbnail for excerpts but I can’t even live with them as thumbnail is quite essential on Homepage. Though I’m considering now to change the homepage to magazine style look and for images, use custom image instead of using timthumb or any other such scripts.

      Reply
  • Renji

    My host has planned a server change next weekend. Just hope I don’t face any problems like you did. :D

    btw I see you are still using W3 Total Cache, I think WP Super Cache is better suited for shared hosting. Just a thought.

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      Renji
      I don’t agree with that. Infact W3tc offers more caching options but there are some settings which is not recommended for shared hosting and required powerful server. You can always uncheck such settings and use all other caching feature which is good enough for any blog on shared hosting.

      Reply
  • Himanshu

    thanks for sharing this harsh. I have also faced issues with W3 Total Cache plugin. How is wp super cache for thesis?

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      Himanshu Super cache, Hyper cache and W3TC all are good and work great. Though for some site W3TC doesn’t work well and for some super cache. For example I’m using W3tc on SMl and super cache on CallingAllGeeks. Getting back to your question, super cache works fine with Thesis and I have n’t seen any error or problem with it yet.

      Reply
  • Ankit

    Its a big problem for high traffic sites, It happened with my site as well one, though problem was different, no link was working after Hostgator Staff disabled all plugins. ( Probelm with W3 Total Cache Plugin ) .
    Home page was visible but on clicking any Post it was show Link not found and /post-name/ structure, missing thing was my site name allaboutindia.org/post-name/

    First i shown my frustration on HG support Staff who did this blunder, looks like he was very new in support.

    Later I created ticket and thanks to HG Quality support they fixed it in time of 3 hours.

    I am using HG Level 5 hosting and still facing downtime almost daily, seems i have to move to Dedicated or slightly bigger server now.

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      At times w3 total cache config can create big issues but this is one of those plugin which they recommend with idle settings. Ankit one thing which I have learned from this whole process that it’s not always the hosting power which is a culprit but most of the time it’s the issue with our own Wordpress config and some bugged plugin. Even if we move to dedicated hosting, it’s not sure that such issue or bug would be solved. Atleast I have seen this practically with one of my Blogger friend “Kim”. Solution to such problem is start from scratch like use default theme with no plugins. Then Your theme with no plugins. Activate plugins one by one …
      And yah talking about W3TC, if it’s not working out, try Hyper cache or Super cache. Both are good! Though I like W3tc as it offers amazing caching options at different level.

      Reply
  • Vivek Parmar

    That’s great the issues has been resolved. and hope that you have not loose too much amount of revenue…

    Reply

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