Video Issues Update

As some of our members have mentioned on this blog and via email, we have recently had issues with some of our video servers. Aging hardware, heavy recent traffic and content scrapers repeatedly blasting the servers requesting videos (including what is likely a purposeful denial-of-service attack) have created a storm of activity for our Ops team to deal with. Sometimes the issues disappear completely and then return suddenly as attacks change, and we always respond as quickly as we can.

hamsterserver

Please accept our apology for any inconvenience this has caused you, and rest assured that these issues are being addressed directly and will continue to be until service is not only restored but improved. We are literally working 24/7 to make things better, but with such a huge library of content any solution takes longer than anyone would prefer.

One important note: a common suggestion we have seen members offer up in scene comments is to change the mcache URL in a download if a particular scene is not downloading. This trick has actually made things worse, and as part of our operational improvements, it will stop working at all in the near future, so please refrain from doing it. If you have trouble with a given file, please let us know via our contact form, or try downloading it again a little later. In the meantime, hopefully one of the other 94,000+ scenes on the site will also be to your liking. :-)

sparks

P.S. If you are frustrated or unhappy with any aspect of the site, send us a message using our contact form and our customer service team will do their very best to make you happy again. We believe it is our job to provide you with a satisfying service in return for your money and loyalty, and contacting us is always more effective and direct than blog or scene comments which we may not see until later.

Best Regards,
Bob and the VB Team

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14 Responses to “Video Issues Update”

  1. benmar51 Says:

    First, Thank you for addressing, rather than ignoring, this issue. . . There was one thing conspicuously missing from your description, however – a timeline for resolution of the problem. . . You are asking an awful lot of your loyal members to just be patient with a Streaming/Download site where an intolerable number of videos don`t stream and/or can`t be downloaded. . . Assuming that 99% of the members are “Unhappy with this aspect of the site”, a reduction in renewal rates, or an extension of subscription periods would go a long way to assuage our anger and would also be a show of good faith on your part.

  2. m e Says:

    My question is why some scenes, even new ones play off the site, but not on my roku,which I use the most.

    Be nice to get some kind of answer

    Thank you
    me

  3. Bob Says:

    Couple of quick replies:
    @benmar51: the problem with offering a timeline is there’s no way to anticipate further attacks. Plus we don’t want to commit to a deadline, miss it and then make our members even less happy. We also find that these issues can be harder on some geographical areas than others, so even making blanket statements about outages is a challenge. The best we can do in my opinion is tell you the truth, which is that we have engineers working around the clock when there is a crisis, and they don’t stop until service is restored. Anyway, all that being said, I believe the worst is well behind us, and I know that you have written to customer support via our web form to get some help, so that’s great. Always the best approach.

    @m e: sometimes session data gets duplicated when you are logged in on the website and the Roku simultaneously. Try logging out of VB on your computer and then re-trying the scenes on your Roku, and if that doesn’t work, email support for more specific help. That always works for me if I have any scenes not playing on Roku. For what it’s worth, that issue is not related to our recent server woes.

  4. me Says:

    i will try that Bob

    Thank you Bob

    me

  5. benmar51 Says:

    Hi Bob – Thanx again for the explanation. . . I know you guys are real busy, but could you possibly just take a moment and explain (in REAL SIMPLE laymen`s terms) what `content scrapers` and `denial-of-service attacks` mean. Thanks.

  6. Brandon Says:

    This site is so incredibly slow now, the only reason i bought was for Roku and now videos crash, are missing and it is no longer a pleasurable viewing experience. One day it made over 350 scenes in 2 folder innaccesible on the roku and renamed the folders to Null. It took many hours moving one scene at a time on the computer to new folders. I have requested a price adjustment and i hope they will respond, has anyone else had any luck with a refund or partial refund?

  7. Bob Says:

    @benmar51: “content scrapers” are software bots that attempt to download a whole ton of content all at once using a variety of approaches that, when misused, can confuse and overload the video servers. “Denial-of-service attacks” are purposeful uses of content scrapers or other techniques by programmers to overload computers with excess requests and cause them to crash. These happen to every online company sooner or later: http://siliconangle.com/blog/2013/08/26/5-notorious-ddos-attacks-in-2013-big-problem-for-the-internet-of-things/

    @Brandon: I’m very sorry to hear you are having trouble. There are many, many factors that go into any one user experiencing site slowness, but it sounds like you contacted Customer Support so we should be able to get you some help very soon. Support can also help you with stash issues, so please don’t spend your time moving scenes from folder to folder before contacting us if anything like that ever happens again. We’re here to help!

  8. Edward Says:

    I have reported problems via the contact and messages and am happy to say problems are resolved asap. Thanks for your help and support.

  9. Bob Says:

    @Edward: Thank you for the feedback, and thank you for posting it here. Anything that encourages members to hit us up via our contact page is great, as far as I’m concerned. :-)

  10. Jon Says:

    I’ve been having problems on-and-off with viewing videos for a few months now on my Roku. The Roku is a 3100X and plays NetFlix and Amazon movies just fine. I haven’t been able to figure out a pattern to the behavior yet. The Roku for some buffers and begins playing in a matter of only 1-2 seconds, whereas other videos will buffer for 30-40 seconds before beginning to play. Once the video begins to play, it only plays for another 30 seconds or so before buffering again for another 30.

    I haven’t had problems with NetFlix or Amazon; my internet connection seems to be capable of 10MBit/sec although it is possible that my ISP is doing some shaping.

    I would be happy if there were a way to adjust the quality of the video feed to allow the videos to play without buffering, but the Roku application seems to be very “all-or-nothing” in its approach.

  11. Bob Says:

    @Jon: Have you sent an email via our contact form with this info? If not, would you do that when you get a chance? There is debugging info in those emails that helps us narrow down the problem. What you describe does, indeed, sound like traffic shaping on the part of your ISP, but I’d like to have the guys here investigate and take the issue into an email thread. Thanks!

  12. 2borg Says:

    Hello!
    Hello!
    Download speed is extremly slow for nearly a week now.
    Most of the time (no matter what daytime) a speed of 100 kbit/s is the maximum (whereas it was at about 2 MBit/s in the last months)
    I have no problems with the download speed on other sites, so my ISP obviously is not the source of the problem.

    Can you help?
    Thanks in advance

  13. piccolodee Says:

    Tonight the site is just unusable. This problem has been getting worse. Please fix this soon.

  14. Bob Says:

    @2borg and @piccolodee: please go to http://www.videobox.com/support/contact and send us a message with your issue. Thanks.