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  1. #1

    Smile Knowledge base host requirements

    I am currently looking into setting up a knowledge base/wiki for my company. We have a website hosted on a popular shared hosting provider, but the limitations of our plan have sent me looking for other solutions.

    We are also about to launch a completely new website in place of our current one. My concern is mostly with the knowledge base.

    Right now, FOSWiki is my target wiki platform as it seems to have better security options than Mediawiki. I need it completely locked down since it is for internal remote access. I am planning on SSL and a dedicated IP, unless suggested otherwise.

    Usage of the wiki would be relatively minimal, maybe 5 - 10 users simultaneously. Overall access would be around 20 users, increasing to an estimated 50 - 100 in the future.

    And now, my questions:

    What hosting option should I pursue? We have personally experienced node crash nightmares with our current shared webhost; I'm thinking more of a VPS solution but that might be overkill for the (currently) limited single-IP application. Cloud hosting seems out of my budget.

    Should I attempt to bundle the wiki along with the website (full e-commerce) on the same hosting solution? The website requires Windows OS. I.e. diversify vs. centralize. I don't have the full requirements of the website yet.

    Do I need separate SSL certificates for the website (e-commerce) and the wiki (different subdomains)?

    Managed or unmanaged? We don't have a dedicated IT department; responsibility for the wiki will be up to me. I have unix shell/ssh experience, but will need to rely on online FAQs/how-tos. Downtime issues aren't completely mission-critical unlike e-commerce. Budget for this wiki is ideally under $50/mo (including SSL?).

    Any suggestions on wiki suites, with emphasis on security and ease of deployment (and FOSS), would be appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Hi sidar

    I shan't attempt to answer every one of your questions, but I'll pick up on a few of the things you mention - I'm sure others will pick up on other questions you've asked.

    First, the SSL. If you were to use SSL you'd need a dedicated IP. Although to take a step back - are you sure the Wiki needs to be accessed over an SSL? I'm sure you've already thought all this through, but SSL is mainly needed when the data itself needs to be protected from prying eyes. I'm unclear from what you wrote whether "completely locked down" means only a few people must be able to access it, or whether it will only be editable by a select group. If it's that you don't want the public to read your Wiki, then you need authentication in front of it (obviously). SSL then adds an extra layer of security (protecting you from packet sniffers and such like) - but it all depends on how sensitive the data is as to whether you want to be that thorough in your security. (I'm not saying you're asking for the wrong thing - I'm just thinking aloud).

    Next - do you need a VPS or not? Your budget ($50) allows you to get a fully managed VPS from KnownHost or Future Hosting. The SSL would only cost you $10 per year, so that's not an issue on cost. However, you're right to say it may be overkill. You'd more need a VPS for control - if you need custom packages that are not supplied by a shared host. If you don't mind sharing, which shared host have you been having system crashes with? It may just be that you need a better (or better suited for your needs) shared host. If anything, good shared hosting can be more robust than a VPS - because a VPS usually has little memory to spare from what it needs.

    Given your low user count, it sounds to me that a good, solid shared host would probably do. You could do it with or without SSL. Your cost would then be more like $10 monthly, giving you budget to spend on the mission-critical e-commerce side of things. If you used a host that uses cPanel, you can then very easily switch to another host, or to a cPanel-based VPS, if your needs change or you gradually realise you needed something different.

    Interested in which hosts I'd recommend? Unmanaged VPS Reviews | Managed VPS Reviews

  3. #3

    Thanks for your response. Let me clarify concerning the wiki:

    The information within will be somewhat sensitive, so I definitely want access completely behind a login/pw set up by the admin in advance. Within the wiki I think all users will have free reign to edit pages, but it will only be a select number of people directly involved with the company (those with pre-made accounts). I would like the flexibility of SSL to allow access of more sensitive information.

    The shared hosting and domain registration is with GoDaddy, something that was set up long ago without periodic evaluation of the service. We had an outage lasting a few days; I am not sure of the specifics but the website was down.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    OK - that's helpful extra information to have.

    To revisit the SSL. An SSL is cheap (as I said). Many providers would charge you an extra $1-$3 for the dedicated IP you'd need to run it. If you knew that all your users (given you know who they are) were using modern browsers, you could use technology called SNI that lets you use SSL over a shared IP. (Older browsers don't tell the server which domain they're after before they ask for the SSL, so the browser has to send back only one SSL for each IP address. Modern browsers ask for SSL by hostname, so the web server can be a bit smarter, allowing multiple SSLs per IP. Since cPanel 11.38, cPanel has supported SNI). But you may decide to be safe and pay the extra for the dedicated IP - you have budget to spare after all.

    For the security, I'd suggest also putting Apache authentication in front of the website, so that there's an extra password needed. But the Wiki also should be one that allows authentication for access, as HTTP authentication is not the most secure setup. (Sorry, I'm no expert on the different Wiki platforms out there). Would all your staff access from the same IPs? If so, brilliant - you can restrict the website to those IP addresses only.

    Then to revisit the question about shared versus VPS. Disclaimer: I've never used GoDaddy. But I've read a lot, and while they must have many happy customers, there are also a lot of people reporting the kinds of issues you've had (downtimes, etc.) I'd now definitely say what I said at first: Try a good shared host before you resort to VPS - and use cPanel to make future transfers really easy. What do I mean by good? Amongst other things I mean without overcrowded / overloaded servers. So don't be drawn in by offers of unlimited GB of space for $5. Make sure they price realistically.

    I'm sure you know this, but it's always good to contact a host before signing up to see how helpful their support is. (Remember that sales departments are often not 24x7, so don't take a slow reply here to be a bad sign.) One question you could ask is if they would be able to set up IP-based access restrictions for you.

    Hope that helps a bit.

    Interested in which hosts I'd recommend? Unmanaged VPS Reviews | Managed VPS Reviews

  5. #5
    Thanks for the tips. Filtering by IP, while great, won't really work in my situation.

    I will definitely be calling up the sales department to nail down the specifications for the hosting service.

    For others reading: any recommendations regarding FOSWiki or other secure solutions? And, of course, tips on low-density dedicated IP shared hosting would be appreciated.

  6. #6
    Just wanted to throw an update: I have chosen a webhost that provided the solution I needed: BigScoots (homing beacon engaged!). Those two have been super in helping me with the more hands-on FOSWiki installation and SSL.

    I am still looking into a final authentication solution. Right now the wiki is hidden behind Apache auth (as you suggested, James) but that might change. I'm not keen on requiring two logins for users; a single password handoff to FOSWiki would be cool if possible.

    For now, though, more setup to do. I haven't been so excited doing weekend work in... ever.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Surrey, BC
    If you plan on hosting the wiki on a cPanel based hosting provider then a dedicated IP for SSL is not required, unless you need the dedicated IP for other reasons. cPanel has a feature called SNI which allows you to install SSLs on your domains/websites without having a dedicated IP assigned to your account.

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