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!
After needing to get Redmine up and running and having nothing but problems with installing gems, I decided to take a look at Bitnami where they advertise “Deploy your favorite apps in the cloud and anywhere else.”
I decided to give that a shot as well as to use Bitnami Cloud Hosting for some of my sites. I had been with my managed host for almost ten years – and after a number of issues (redmine installation being the last straw) – I wanted to try something new. After a few weeks of playing around, testing, and monitoring – I have really come to love everything about Bitnami.
I am easily able to focus on development and fun projects without being bogged down with system level issues. My favorite part? I still have full root server access to my servers to customize my environment if needed. My second favorite part? Monitoring (notifications too) as well as backups are a breeze.
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.
What got me up early Saturday and then up at 1am on Sunday? Server hardware failure…which led to some database corruption. I have never had to deal with database corruption, so I did not even know my problem was database corruption until after calling the helpful tech guys at Liquid Web. (I am not one to usually call tech support, but at 136am on a Sunday…I did not feel like spending time at mysql.com or google.com.)
I first noticed something on Saturday morning, but after restoring a database table from a backup, everything was golden. I told myself…it had to have been from some user error. Monday morning, after my Nagios server paged me, I noticed that jappler.com had several mysql
fetch_row () errors after the server came back up. I decided that this problem was not user error and something else was going on. As soon as I told the tech guy the error that I was seeing onjappler.com and other web sites I manage, he asked me if I had tried “repairing” the databases. I had not even thought about it (especially so early in the morning). Once he “repaired the databases”, everything was perfect.
This was a stressful lesson to learn, but I am always happy to learn new things. The lesson I learned was about database corruption. (All my tables are MyISAM)
[tags]MySQL, database corruption, CPANEL, MyISAM[/tags]
Well, after multiple outages in the last few weeks, I think it is once again, time to move to another host. I had high hopes for Host Gator but I cannot handle too many more conversations with the tech support people because of outages. Next up: another go at a VPS account at Liquid Web. The conversion begins tonight.
[tags]web hosts, jappler.com, Host Gator, Liquid Web[/tags]
For months I have been manually backing up my web sites. Last night, I learned my lesson and realized I needed to have something more dependable in place. (and I am pretty damn dependable). I finally took the time to research the process of automating a CPanel update.
The script I found and used is freely available and easy to use.
How to completely automate your CPanel backup and store the files remotely:
There are three main parts to this process:
- The backup script.
- Download the script.
- Edit the script’s configuration variables as needed (see instructions on the download script page (see above).
- Set up a cron job via CPanel (cron jobs is one of the main icons in the list) so your script will run every x minutes/hours/days/weeks/months.
- The files you want backed up on your host. The script will have CPanel perform a full backup of all your files and databases. (The same if you were to choose “full backup” within the Backup module of CPanel.)
- The location where your files go when they are automatically backed up.
- Define the server/computer you want your files to get backed up to. If you are like me and do not have a static IP address for the computer you want all your backups to go to (my home computer), you will need to set up Dynamic DNS. (See my HOWTO access your home computers from anywhere post.)
- Set up FTP access to your server/computer (in my case my home computer) so the script can grab the backup and transfer it to your server/computer.
That is all you will need to do. You will be emailed every time this process runs so you will always know when your last backup was/if it was successful. Depending on how many active changes you are making to your web site, you will want to adjust the frequency of the backup. For a web site like this, I will back it up every 7 days. Why five? When thinking about backup strategies, I always think: how many days of work can I afford to lose? Figuring I have a new post every weekday, I can live with a week’s work lost. If I do a code change, a WP update, or a massive posting that I do not want to lose, I will do a manual backup to supplement my backups.
Another recommendation…always keep the latest copy of the backup on the server (your web host) as well as on your home server/computer. This way, you are ok if something were to happen to your home machine or your web host. (I like to have archived copies always available)
Ken often asks me: “what is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?”. The last time he asked I told him I would take a cab to a Land Rover dealer and buy myself a Range Rover. I would like to continue my response to add that I would then drive home and go to apple.com and buy three Xserves. Two for web servers (one main, one failover) and the other Xserve as a development server or backup server (or game server). I would drive my new Range Rover with the Xserves in the back to a data center and then strip off Mac OS X Server, put Mac OS X client on them, call all my friends and tell them I will host whatever they want for free, and then of course talk to my financial advisor. So my point to all of this? I hate 99% of web hosts out there. I have been through several. I am tired, so I will not go into detail, but ServInt sucks. Unreliable, unreliable, unreliable. They claim they “manage” VPS systems, but it is far from managed. Both Ken and I had major problems, and the support was very unhelpful as well. Bullshit responses, slow repsonses, or no responses at all. Stay away from ServInt! Where am I now? Back with the most reliable host I have had to date…Host Gator.
[tags]web hosts, jappler.com, Host Gator, Xserve, Ken, Range Rover[/tags]