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The right way to host your website

by Jeremy L. Gaddis on December 30, 2009 · 3 comments

in Website

Recently, I moved the web site over from shared hosting at 1and1 to a VPS running FreeBSD 8.0 from ARP Networks. They have a special going on right now, for a VPS with 768 MB of memory, 20 GB of disk space, and 200 GB of bandwidth for $20/mo. (that’s cheaper than Slicehost and Linode, who I also looked into), and they support FreeBSD!

I signed up online and within about half an hour, my VPS had been provisioned and I had the details needed to log in. Fortunately for me, it was late at night when I signed up, which is when they generally take care of this stuff (or so I’ve gathered, from hanging around their IRC channel). In a few hours time, I had set up my user accounts, updated the sources, rebuilt the world and a new kernel, configured the firewall and pretty had the “base” of the server the way I wanted it. I slept.

The next day, in short order, I had Apache, PHP5, and MySQL installed and up and running. To move this blog over, I dumped the MySQL database that WordPress uses, made a backup of the WordPress files, scp’d them over to the VPS, recreated the database and extracted the backup. After a quick edit of wp-config.php and editing the hosts file on my Windows 7 desktop, I was able to load up the website running off of the VPS. I tested as much as I could and, when I was satisfied everything was working correctly, I changed the A records in DNS, and waited for the change to take effect.

I began tailing Apache’s access.log files and watched, in pretty much real-time, as visitors were slowly directed over the “new” website running on the VPS.

Since that time, eight days or so ago, I haven’t heard of or noticed any issues with the site, so I assume everything is going well. I’ve also done a number of other things with the server, such as configuring log rotation (and per-vhost transfer and error logs, in Apache), replaced sendmail with Postfix and enabled relaying from my home mail server (my e-mail is still hosted on Google Apps and will be, for the foreseeable future), purchased an SSL certificate and enabled SSL on the website (mostly for the administration interface, but feel free to use SSL if you’d like), and enabled a nightly rsync to an off-site host where backups are then made.

The reason for the latter is to reduce the amount of traffic on the VPS. The WordPress files don’t change very often at all (usually only if I update WordPress, add or modify plugins or themes, etc.) and the database doesn’t either, so I chose to simply rsync them to an off-site machine. The traffic used for this is around 650 kB currently. I then run a backup on the off-site machine, and the backups are around 55 MB. Doing it this way accomplishes the goal of having a nightly backup (I’m keeping 30 days worth) in a different physical location (indeed, halfway across the United States) as well as minimizing the amount of traffic on the VPS.

So far, I haven’t had a single issue with the VPS, thanks to my superior sysadmin skillz (hah!) and the great job of the guys at ARP Networks. Their servers have RAID 10, redundant power supplies (on separate circuits and UPS), they run their own multi-homed network, support native IPv6 (this may be my next blog-related project), and their equipment is located in the Wilshire Annex facility at 900 N. Alameda, in Los Angeles. If you’re looking for a VPS provider, check ‘em out (and, before you ask, my only relationship with them is as a paying customer).

Reliable hardware and network, and a rock-solid and stable operating system, this is the right way to run your website!

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