Peter M Howard ::


03April2010 [personal]
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In which I abandon shared hosting for a (virtual) home of my own

I’ve just pulled the plug on my five-year-old (almost to the day) Dreamhost account, having successfully completed the switch to Slicehost (referral link). Dreamhost are great, as far as cheap shared hosting goes, but I’d outgrown them and really wanted a box I could play around on, setting things up however I want.

For now I’m running with the simplest VPS option from Slicehost — a 256MB “slice” with a backup option sets me back US$25/month; their upgrade options look reasonable and easy to do, so if I do outgrow the space it’ll be easy to buy a little more without having to reconfigure things.

The slice mostly just hosts this site, plus a couple of smaller bits and pieces. I’ve setup MySQL, PHP, and mod_wsgi for Python, running in virtualenv so I can run multiple incompatible Django sites. I’m also playing around with the node.js server, and want to play with some similar alternatives. Because I can install whatever I want on here, it’s pretty easy to just play — and I’m impressed with Ubuntu and aptitude for actually managing the server software.

I ended up going with Google Apps to handle my email, rather than setting up a server on the slice. I’ve a mail server sitting at home anyway — it’s just configured to poll my POP account and do its own spam and mailbox filtering. So at Google I just setup a single catch-all account for the domain and I still pull all email down to my local server and filter it there. It helps that Google apply their own spam filtering though — I’ve been running this solution for just over a day and so far no spam has even reached my spam filters, let alone my mailbox. I used to get plenty of spam, and though most of it was filtered out fine, my local filter struggled to identify French-language spam as such. I figured Google would have a better chance of analysing emails in French, and it’s looking like that was a good choice.

Next up, hopefully, some more experimentation ‘round here…

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