Tag Archives: Hosting

Page.ly: WordPress Web Hosting

I was listening to an interesting WordPress Weekly interview recently, which brought to my attention an intriguing web hosting service called Page.ly.

Page.ly aims to be “Easy like WordPress.com with the Freedom of WordPress.org.” The general idea is to provide a basic web hosting plan, with a domain included, that comes with WordPress pre-installed. (As a matter of fact, they won’t host anything except WordPress.) Their custom setup takes care of most of the techie work, leaving you to run your site.

You can install any theme or plugin that you want, several popular ones of which are pre-included for you. They also offer “theme packs,” which include many major premium themes, from sources such as WooThemes and StudioPress, at a discounted price.

It’s not for serious web geeks, but it’s certainly a great platform for people who want to put up a serious site without too much hassle, while retaining much more control than WordPress.com offers.

XKCD Honors the Closing of Geocities

In case you missed it on October 26th, the webcomic XKCD changed their design in mourning (or celebration?) of GeoCities‘ closing. Geocities was the first major free web host, giving users 15MB of space for their HTML and image files. They were sort of the Blogger of the time, and the original MySpace. In the mid to late 1990s, they hosted a lot of websites, most of which looked rather putrid. XKCD pulled the look off quite well, with the ugly imagery, “under construction” graphics, multicolored comic sans type, and broken HTML code.

XKCD's Geocities-style page

It’s funny, in the geeky way characteristic of their comics, but let’s hope that retro web “design” doesn’t become a trend in the future.

In mourning or celebration (you pick) of Geocities' closing, XKCD has changed their design up a bit

Beyond Super Cache: W3 Total Cache

Donncha O Caoimh’s WP Super Cache plugin has become very popular in the WordPress community, especially with bloggers with medium-traffic blogs on shared hosting plans.

But what if you’re running on your own server, be it VPS, dedicated, or something else along those lines? What can you do to squeeze some extra performance out of your high-traffic blog?

Enter W3 Total Cache, a plugin that the infamously slow-loading blog Noupe has recently started using to combat the sluggishness that their constant social media hits cause. It can do a lot of things, including:

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VPS.net Review

I signed up for an account with VPS.net at the beginning of September, installed Ubuntu, and I’ve been slowly migrating my various websites over since.

What exactly is VPS.net? They are a provider of Cloud Virtual Private Servers. You can affordably purchase as much hosting firepower as you need, and have full control over the management of it. VPS.net isn’t like other providers though. Their unique “cloud” twist makes things a bit more interesting…

VPS.net Header

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Saving Bandwidth and Speeding Up Your Site With GZIP and Browser Caching

There are a couple of easy adjustments you can make to your web server in order to decrease page loading times, save bandwidth, and reduce load on the server. All you have to do is add a couple of code snippets to either your Apache server configuration file (httpd.conf or apache2.conf) or an .htaccess file.

Note that these require that your server have certain modules installed for this to work. You will need either mod_deflate or mod_gzip for GZIP compression and mod_expires for the browser caching trick.

Enable Browser Caching

When a web browser loads a page, it checks each item it requests (JavaScript, CSS, images, etc) against its local cache. If an item, say the stylesheet, hasn’t expired yet, then it will load the local copy instead of requesting a new one. Now if you were to instruct your server to set the expiration time for images, CSS, and JavaScript files to one month from the present, users viewing multiple pages of your site (even across multiple days) won’t tax your resources as much, as they will use the copies of your stylesheets and images that have already been downloaded.

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WordPress Hosting Monitor Plugin

The WordPress Hosting Monitor plugin, created by WebHostingSearch.com, that gathers useful data about the server your blog is hosted on, and spits it out in a convenient widget.

If you only have access to your server via FTP you really won’t know all that much about it. The reason for this lack of information is that you don’t have admission to the SSH, also known as the terminal, network protocol. Many of the biggest hosting providers are for some reason a bit shady when it comes to some of the numbers and stats that can be useful for their clients to know. We recognize this problem and have therefore created a plugin with which you will be able to see basic info that can help you understand your site and server better.

The plugin shows the OS the server is running, CPU speed, cache size, RAM usage, load averages, and the time since the last downtime (among other things).

The data can be output via a widget, or a template tag that you could put somewhere out of the way. You can customize what information is displayed, so I can output select data to be shown to the general public (e.g. server uptime). A page under the Settings menu lets you choose what data to display.

The plugin provides some interesting insights into your server, and is certainly a fun thing to play around with, and could potentially be useful for diagnosing issues.

It’s Time for PHP 4 to Be Retired

On December 31, 2007 the PHP Group discountinued support for PHP 4. Since then, there have been no updates to the branch, security or otherwise. PHP 5 is the currently supported branch, and it is far superior to its predecessor.

Web hosts have, for quite some time, delayed upgrading their servers to PHP 5, despite its many advantages. (SimpleXML and better tools for OOP are just a couple invaluable tools that PHP 4 lacks.) Their favorite claim is that it will break everyone’s scripts.

The only scripts that PHP 5.2.x would break are badly-written ones. Popular packages such as WordPress, Joomla, phpBB all work on PHP 5, and some are even dropping support for PHP 4. The only scripts that will have compatibility issues are custom badly-written scripts, and the required updates would be minor. One of the biggest issues would be register_globals, and that could be remedied with some quick updates to scripts, or by turning it back on.

It’s been put off long enough. Web hosts, upgrade to PHP 5 already! The time is long past due.

Amazon S3 Pricing Explained

Amazon Web ServicesAmazon S3 is a service that allows you to host files of all kinds very cheaply. You can host images and podcast files to take the strain off the server that runs your website; you can hook into the API and use S3 to store data uploaded by users in a web app. You could even backup your personal files from your computer to S3. With a maximum individual file size of 5GB, it’s perfect for distributing an independent film or software.

One major point of confusion with S3 is pricing. How much does it cost, really?

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Blogging Service Reliability

Millions of people who blog don’t want to deal with hosting their blog themselves, so they use a blogging service instead. There are many things that factor into the choice of blogging service, but one of them should always be site reliability. After all, if people can’t access your blog, it won’t get read.

Though services like Blogger, WordPress.com, and TypePad don’t give you as much control over your blog as you would have hosting it on your own (paid) hosting account, their uptime is quite impressive.

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How to Set Up a Linux Server

Since I’ve been planning on moving to a VPS server sometime in the coming months, I’ve been reading up on server administration. How to set up Linux to serve web pages and parse PHP, how to not leave the door wide open to attackers, how to manage Apache, all that jazz. It’s all rather complicated at a glance, though luckily not too much so once you get into it. I’m doing my best to prepare myself so I’m not overwhelmed when the time comes to switch servers.

The folks over at NETTUTS must be psychic or something. They seemed to know that I was semi-actively looknig for information on this topic, since they recently published a tutorial on setting up an Ubuntu webserver. I had a “well that’s cool” moment when I saw it in my feed reader.

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