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DNS Handles Website Opening Hours

Enhance DNS to provide 'opening hours' signals for web servers that are intentionally switched off each night.
  (+10, -3)
(+10, -3)
  [vote for,
against]

Many web sites don't necessarily have global reach in their topic or audience. Many web sites aren't important enough to warrant 24-hour 100% availability. Server farms consume high quantities of energy.

I've long thought that it would civilise the internet if web sites could adhere to opening hours, much like a shop or library does. For example, my own server sitting here at home has been on for quite a long time. Admittedly, it is a low-power EPIA board, but nevertheless, why shouldn't I simply turn it off at night if I want. Even if my site was hosted elsewhere, why should I expect it to be using power and resources all through the day?

But you can't just switch a web server off - pandemonium ensues, people panic and assume that their city, town or village has been kidnapped by aliens, then they look out the window and their thoughts descend to a more rational level, such as assuming that some other country has just been wiped off the face of the Earth in an accidental 'war-games'-like nuclear proliferation. After this they'll simply assume you don't exist or have gone out of business or your government has erased you from history or suchlike. That the server is switched off to save electricity is too far down the list of other rational alternatives to ever reach consideration.

I propose that the DNS system also has, as part of a fail-over mechanism, a means of handling 'opening hours', and diverting the non-present server's requests to one of a set of popular worldwide distributed static 'opening hours' responses. These responses might not even form actual 'page' data, they might simply be an agreed set, or extended codepage, of opening hour combination code responses, extending the extant uniform "it's not here" response.

We'll just have to come back tomorrow. What shall we do in the meantime then?

Ian Tindale, Jun 24 2008

B&H Photo Video http://www.bhphotovideo.com/
Does not process orders during the Sabbath, although you can still browse. [jutta, Jun 25 2008]

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       [+] But I expect jutta will not like the DNS being messed with (she understands such things).   

       I was thinking perhaps it could be handled on the web-host side.   

       When you sign up, you specify your desired times of operation, and get loaded onto the appropriate box. Some boxes run 24 hours, others 8, or whatever, and the internal nameserver routes incoming traffic to a page stating hours of operation if your site is sleeping.   

       Really great idea to help raise awareness of PC power consumption as well!
TIB, Jun 24 2008
  

       "Last queries, gentlemen please. 'aven't you got other domains to go to?"
coprocephalous, Jun 24 2008
  

       I thought that turning them off regularly made them wear out more quickly. What i want to know is, if this happens, how much energy and resources does it take to make a new one compared to the energy use of the longer lifespan?
nineteenthly, Jun 24 2008
  

       On days when there's no interesting news, news websites could just shut down until the following day.
hippo, Jun 24 2008
  

       There are a number of problems here, including propogating the DNS entries fast enough. More importantly, why have a web site that's only available part time? The whole point of a web site is that it's a 24-hour ambassador for you and/or your company.   

       If your sole consideration is consumption of resources, hire a hosting company that promises to host your web site on a server hosting a number of other web sites - reducing your individual impact on the environment.
phoenix, Jun 24 2008
  

       I already have my own server. I want to switch it off at night.
Ian Tindale, Jun 24 2008
  

       Turn it off then.
Jinbish, Jun 24 2008
  

       //number of problems here, including propogating the DNS entries fast enough//
[phoenix], that's true, unless this is a "static" DNS. You set it at the registrar so that the site is "closed from 7am to 8pm EST daily", and leave it that way. I envision color bars, and the National Anthem, while the server is in its intermediate state.
  

       But to "save energy", why run another server when you turn yours off? Internet Explorer has a default "blank" page. If web browsers had an internal selection of default "closing signs", visitors could "serve" their own inactive pages.   

       //it could be handled on the web-host side//
[TIB], each users PC could handle it. Have a mini "name server" on your own computer, with the current list of partially running web sites, with schedules as fancy as you like. Perhaps it could be a little program with data updated faster than ordinary DNS propagation.
Amos Kito, Jun 24 2008
  

       Could there be a sort of bit torrent style webhosting system? A large number of computers could host multiple copies of packets, and they could be reassembled by the client, so there's no server as such, just a website floating around in cyberspace. Then again, how would remote linking work?
nineteenthly, Jun 24 2008
  

       "[phoenix], that's true, unless this is a "static" DNS. You set it at the registrar so that the site is "closed from 7am to 8pm EST daily", and leave it that way."
My original thinking was something that got turned on and off. Upon further consideration, I believe this idea would require DNS queries - every one - to make a pass at the registrar (or whoever) to see if the site is open. Then, if the site is open, redirect the traffic to it. Odds are the registrar (or whoever) will end up charging you more for this service than you'd spend in electricity. This also greatly increases network traffic.
  

       The problem is exacerbated for those of us who host our own DNS and don't rely on a registrar or other intermediary. We'd have to hire one, or the proposed change to DNS would have to allow us to "opt out" of the "We're Closed" option.
phoenix, Jun 24 2008
  

       //require DNS queries - every one - to make a pass at the registrar (or whoever) to see if the site is open//   

       I hadn't thought of that. You'd have to test any site you visit to be sure it hadn't become "part-time", or changed opening hours.
Amos Kito, Jun 24 2008
  

       You wouldn't need to test it, you'd simply need to know the opening hours once and for all. They don't usually change in real life without getting a new plague engraved.
Ian Tindale, Jun 24 2008
  

       So that's why the locusts it rained yesterday had little numbers written on their carapaces!
jutta, Jun 24 2008
  

       I would think a router could be designed to, without needing too much power, serve up a minimalist web page any time the real wasn't "open".
supercat, Jun 24 2008
  

       Actually, if a significant number of people just turned off their servers for the night, then the problem would be solved. Webbers would quickly come to accept that a site's non-availability might well mean that it's closed for the night. After all, if you ring a shop at 3am and don't get an answer, you don't assume that they've closed down.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 24 2008
  

       I like this idea. Jewish owned websites could then close entirely on Saturdays, Christian ones would automatically go down for the whole of Sunday.   

       The only thing I'm not sure about is the impact upon people in vastly different timezones for whom usual working hours for you are unworkable for them.   

       Perhaps if we forget the antiquated ties between working hours and daylight, we can all work 9 to 5 GMT and solve this and many other communication problems.
vincevincevince, Jun 25 2008
  

       " You wouldn't need to test it, you'd simply need to know the opening hours once and for all."
Say I visit your site for the first time and you're "closed". What happens? What's the protocol for telling me when I should come back?
  

       "Jewish owned websites could then close entirely on Saturdays, Christian ones would automatically go down for the whole of Sunday."
To be clear, there's nothing stopping that from happening now.
phoenix, Jun 25 2008
  
      
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