mnot’s blog

Design depends largely on constraints.” — Charles Eames

Sunday, 3 September 2006


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A while back, I mentioned that I was considering changing my hosting setup. In the end, I decided to outsource, for a few reasons;

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.

After trying a few other options, I got a account on Luke’s advice.

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 mail, I wanted something secure, because I spend a fair amount of time on the road. After John suggested Tuffmail, I gave it a try, and never looked back.

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.


ryan king said:

Last I checked, Memorial Day was back in May. Isn’t this Labor day weekend?

Sunday, September 3 2006 at 1:52 AM