Sunday, 3 September 2006
This Site Powered By...
A while back, I mentioned that I was considering changing my hosting setup. In the end, I decided to outsource, for a few reasons;
- Administration — There’s always an overhead to running your own box.
- Security — Keeping systems up-to-date is challenging; somebody doing it full-time is always going to be better than me. This used to not be such a problem, because I did it full-time, but it’s been a while.
- Stability — Every time I move, I have to co-ordinate connectivity, DNS and actually moving the box.
- Power — Yes, it’s getting that expensive. PCs are getting more efficient, but so is hosting, and the connectivity is better too.
I was unsure about trusting other people to run my servers, but after more than two years, I’m happy to recommend the two vendors I chose.
There are cheaper Web hosts around, but Pair is consistently ranked as one of the most reliable by NetCraft. Their accounts give you pretty much full access; SSH with a full shell, cron jobs, CGI, etc.
But what’s really amazing is their support. This morning, I couldn’t sleep after the baby woke us up, so I was doing a little fiddling on the Web site, and sleepily fat-fingered a
rm -rf in the worst possible way. Oops. A panicky support ticket brought the files from backup within five minutes (on Memorial Day Sunday, no less). Impressive.
The only thing that could improve (and it’s a minor quibble) is their sharing model; right now, everyone who has an account on your box can see your files. Hopefully, they’ll hop on the virtualisation wagon at some point, or run logins in a jail.
For a very reasonable price, you get POP, IMAP and SMTP over SSL/TLS. The real value of Tuffmail, though, is the spam control — they give very fine-grained control over lots of heuristics, and it works; I don’t really worry about spam at all any more, whereas I used to get literally thousands of them every day, even after filtering. Check out their account manager demo.
While it’s a small company, Tuffmail has been very reliable, only having outages once or twice (one occurrence being a hurricane passing over their data centre). They’ve been extremely responsive and professional about those incidences, and completely invisible otherwise; just how you want it.
I should also mention that both of these vendors have feeds for their system status ( Pair, Tuffmail). For me, that kind of transparency is not just a feature, it’s a requirement for something as critical as a hosting service.