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I would like to have a second server blade that I have be used to display the message that my usual webserver is down. However, I'm not sure how to set it to only work when the other is down, otherwise it confuses the DNS.

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Why not have the second server provide the website also, and keep on truckin' ? – Sirex Oct 16 '12 at 21:27
I thought the exact same thing, however this second server hosts a very large SQL database and really only has the extra capacity to serve a simple HTML notice, it couldn't handle the site. Thanks for the idea though. – Speedytech7 Oct 17 '12 at 4:13

Look at load balancers.

HAProxy, Varnish are some good software based LBs. In some instances, even web servers likes Apache and Ngnix can do load balancing. If you have the budget, you can look at hardware based load balancers.

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To elaborate a bit, a system like HAProxy has a configuration parameter that means, "If all the configured back-end servers can't be reached, forward traffic to this emergency server over here." Which sounds exactly like what you're looking for. – sysadmin1138 Oct 16 '12 at 21:43
HAProxy is exactly what I'm looking for, unfortunately it is not able to run on a Windows server. Are there any Windows compatible solutions beside Varnish (which seems like it isn't qualified for this). Thanks – Speedytech7 Oct 17 '12 at 4:22
Sorry, I can't speak for LBs on Windows. Your options for load balancing would be to look at web servers such as Apache, IIS, or Nginx. – KM. Oct 17 '12 at 13:26

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