If you have been following my posts for the last month (or talked to me about what I have been up to recently) you will not be surprised I have another post about the ease of use/awesome documentation when using Bitnami.
I still am 100% impressed with the documentation – as each example I have followed has worked flawlessly (not something I can say much…especially after spending an evening trying to fix my PS3 vs. play it a few nights ago).
What is Varnish?
Varnish Cache is a web application accelerator also known as a caching HTTP reverse proxy. You install it in front of any server that speaks HTTP and configure it to cache the contents. Varnish Cache is really, really fast. It typically speeds up delivery with a factor of 300 – 1000x, depending on your architecture.
Where is this amazing 5 minute install documentation?
Bitnami Varnish Installation
Seriously…check it out!
The more I work with Bitnami, the more I absolutely love it. After migrating a number of applications over to my server – I realized I could benefit from using Memcache. I decided to do a quick look at the documentation for Bitnami and found exactly what I needed. Within 5 minutes I had Memcache up and running.
Of course after I did that – I also took a closer look to see what other PHP modules were available – and installed a few more. What I love most? The documentation is great and everything I try actually works – no exceptions – on the first attempt.
Still not sold? Not only are there a ton of PHP modules available, there are a ton of “stacks” available to download/use with ease. Example: Monit, PHP Frameworks like CodeIgniter, Apache Solr, Varnish, etc. Make sure you put this on your “to check out” list and then thank me later!
I should have known the second I had to spell out “help” to the tech support representative that this was going to be a rough call, but I tried to stay calm. It blows my mind that some companies put such incompetent people in a position to “help” (which they cannot even spell) people with little or no skills beyond reading a tree of “if this then that”.
I have to say – if anyone would like advice on which web hosts to choose or stay away from – please let me know. I would be happy to give you the names of a few good ones v. the ones to stay away from because of nightmarish configurations and even worse tech “support” people.
Really – did I have to spell out “help” to someone that clearly repeated it to me….really??
Start the year of right – set up a backup system! A few years ago, I documented how to backup your web sites, databases, email, etc when your host uses CPanel to a remote FTP server. Since then, there have been several CPanel updates and Perl updates that the script no longer works so I have been looking for another option and finally found it. The new script is called: CPsafe (if that does not work, check out the cached version. Within 5 minutes, you can have your home directory backup set up and ready to run. I think the hardest part of this process was figuring out where to turn on FTP access in my Mac OS X 10.5 new install. (System Prefs > Sharing > File Sharing > Options > FTP)
Finally after two years of contemplating the updates to Apache 2.x, MySQL 5.x, and PHP 5.x, I finally updated my server to the latest version os Apache, MySQL, and PHP. I was not too concerned about custom work or any of my WordPress sites, but I was concerned XOOPS and/or XOOPS modules would have some problems, but it is now a week later and everything is running smoothly. Why finally? Well, as of the end of this month, support for PHP 4 will be discontinued. Better late than never. Time to update your servers too?
If you all the sudden get database errors (select, cannot login, cannot write, etc) – and everything looks ok (from the database end of things) check to make sure you have not run out of disk space. How do I know? Well – let’s say last night I had to do a major fall clean-up. If you know me and my monitoring habits, this will sound a bit confusing because one of the many things I monitor is disk space, but when your hosting company accidentally halves your disk space – trouble can occur, and quickly. I have not had many issues at all with Liquid Web – but this was major…and handled a little slower than I would have liked.
I have a lot of hosting companies – thanks to my clients who come in with all kinds of hosting companies. I have found that some hosting companies are better than others in terms of support and I just found another horrible support company that I wanted to mention: iPowerWeb. I was on hold multiple times today for over 30 minutes and I waited to “Live Chat” with someone for over 20 minutes. When someone actually got on and tried to help, after 1 hour, they told me they could not help me and had to escalate the issue. Yikes. (other hosting posts)
It has almost been two years since I moved all my sites to Liquid Web for my hosting needs and am still very happy with them. If you take a look at my hosting category, you can see I have been around the block a few times. I have had a few issues, BUT, everyone who I have spoken with is very knowledgeable, helpful, and always been on top of the issue. If you are interested in a new web host, I highly recommend Liquid Web.
I have enjoyed looking at multiple hosting options through clients in the last few months. Yesterday I worked with Plesk on one account and another who uses Yahoo! for hosting. Just as I was getting ready to write a positive blog post on Yahoo’s web hosting I ran into a snag when uploading and preparing the WordPress site for my client…Yahoo! does not allow you to use mod_rewrite Permalinks. So instead of having nice URLs like /services/ and /contact/ you have to use ?page_d=4. Gross. So in short – if you are using WordPress and want to maintain it yourself (always have the latest, most secure version, etc) I do not recommend using Yahoo! for WordPress sites.
Over the past few months I have had the chance to look at a number of hosting companies and their “control panels” by working with a number of clients. It seems as a number of people flock to godaddy.com because of it’s price (really cheap), but I have learned – once again – that you get what you pay for. If you want to have a very simple 1-5 page static web site, go for it – use whatever host you want. If you want anything else, after working with over 20 hosting companies, I can easily say that I would not go with godaddy.com. Why?
- The admin area (control panel) is horrible in general. Not intuitive at all.
- No backup on demand (or scheduled) available
- Working with .htaccess files is a pain – as they do not work right away, there is a “wait time”.
- The admin area (control panel) is slow and sometimes even times out
- Free support is almost non-existent
- Creating a database is not instantaneous
- Paid support (talk to someone) is a joke (at least in my experience)
- I am not alone in my recommendation
I could go on, but I have a busy day ahead of me. What would I recommend? First of all, I have found that working with cPanel is very nice and easy to use control panel. After that, there are a number of good and bad hosts you can weed through. Personally, I have had excellent uptime and support from Liquid Web, but anything is almost better than the godaddy.com hosting.