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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Currently in Hiroshima (JP)
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    5

    Site grew big...dedicated hosting advice to newbie?

    Hello all, first post here. I just found this WHT community while trying to learn more about dedicated hosting and looks like this is the right place. If you're too busy to read a boring little story please jump to the last paragraphs where the actual questions are

    I own a simple, content-oriented, non-commercial hobbyist site (Aquahobby.com) which throughout the past 6 years I've been able to make fit in simple shared hosting solutions, even though it meant I had to eventually get 3 domains (.com, .net, .org) and host them as separate plans, spreading the site throughout the domains in order to keep bandwidth within shared hosting limits.

    The 3 domains are currently hosted with AIT...I just searched around this forum and saw a lot of negative comments about them but oddly enough they're the best shared hosting service I've dealt with so far - I'm paying only $7.95 for each plan, and they give me 700MB disk space and 40GB bandwidth each. In the past year or so I've been with AIT I haven't had any serious problems with the sites or the support/billing team. They were actually a lot more responsive and friendlier than some horrible hosting services I've used in the past.

    Anyway, nowadays the site - especially the phpBB boards - have grown very popular and are using up 300-400 MB RAM. AIT complained about it and after we tried several ways to keep it down things just didn't work out and they ended up disabling an account, requesting that I upgrade to a dedicated server plan.

    They have a fully managed plan at $130/month which is a little over the site's budget through affiliate programs/donations etc, and a $50/month unmanaged plan which would fit OK into the budget. Being a semi-iliterate webmaster in such matters, I was wondering if you experts could help me with some doubts:

    1) Can a typical dedicated hosting newbie like me get away with self-managing a single site that's not very complicated, just uses common PHP/mySQL applications but requires a lot of RAM and Bandwidth?

    2) Is the AIT $130/month fully managed dedicated hosting package competitive or would I easily find another host that could give me a managed plan at a better price?

    3) I've just learned by browsing some topics here that it's possible to get the unmanaged package and then hire a 3rd party to manage it. Is this a good/reliable option that would result in a budget smaller than the AIT $130/month package?

    I guess that's it, sorry for the long post and if anything I wrote above has raised flags in your trained eyes please let me know!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    385
    It sounds like a high end VPS plan might be the ideal way for you to go. From your perspective, it'd be similar to shared hosting in that you'd be sharing the physical machine with other users, and therefore would benefit from lower pricing. However, you would have full root access allowing you to do whatever you want with your site and application, so it'll SEEM like a dedicated server. Having full root access is a double edged sword, and if you are uncomfortable administering a server, you can get yourself into trouble. In general, VPS plans have higher resource limitations than shared hosting plans (since reputable VPS providers put fewer customers on them and often have high end hardware than shared hosting accounts).

    Hope this helps.

    -Raj
    Raj Dutt // CEO // Voxel dot Net Inc
    http://www.voxel.net // [email protected]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Sofia
    Posts
    1,349
    1. If you have time, yes.
    2. Yes, you can find another host, just keep an eye on the Dedicated Offers forum.
    3. 3d party management can be outsourced for $35-50 mo.

    PS. And VPS is also a solution, as Raj said.
    :: :: :: :: :: ::
    :: VDSP.Net :: Directory of virtual and dedi serv providers by location and price

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Posts
    4,974
    How much of actual bandwidth are you currently utilizing?

    $130 for 1200GB BW + fully managed sounds cheap.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Currently in Hiroshima (JP)
    Posts
    5
    Thanks for the replies. The site uses about 500MB diskspace and 80GB bandwidth, but the main problem seems to be the ~400 MB RAM usage. Can a VPS package accomodate these numbers or will I get complaints about excessive RAM usage like I'm getting now?

    Also, what exactly are the typical maintenance tasks involved in self managing a server, for a site that uses PHP/mySQL message boards and little else?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Sofia
    Posts
    1,349
    With 512 MB RAM allocated VPS you will have to pay almost the same as for a real dedicated server.

    If you got a cPanel
    1. Set up or update the Apache
    2. Setting your own nameservers
    3. Tweaking the server and security settings
    4. Additional hardening, like installing APF and clamav, or equivalents
    5. Day-to-day monitoring for performance and exploits
    :: :: :: :: :: ::
    :: VDSP.Net :: Directory of virtual and dedi serv providers by location and price

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Currently in Hiroshima (JP)
    Posts
    5
    Thanks Imago, it looks like self-managing is out of my league for now, but I've just been looking at the VPS plans at vpscolo.com and apparently the site would fit into their $59 VPSCS2 plan, which they claim to be fully managed. Does that mean the site would run just by uploading the files to the appropriate directories and pointing the domain names to the appropriate nameservers?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Nothing but, net
    Posts
    2,062
    I've contacted you via your website contact form. Since you use phpBB I would be happy to help you get setup with what you need.

    Long live the GPL!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Posts
    4,974
    vpscolo would help you to manage everything, you could try going for VPS solution prior to a dedicated server, please make sure you commit enough RAM for your VPS or else it would be badly lagged.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Currently in Hiroshima (JP)
    Posts
    5
    Thanks again to all, this was very helpful and in just a few hours here and around I've learned a lot. The news now is that AIT has offered me a managed dedicated plan taylored to my single-domain site for $79 per month. I need to check the details but that may be a reasonable solution at least to get the site fully back online for now. But I'll definitely be looking into vpscolo's plans as a future possibility if things don't work out with AIT.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,241
    Good luck with AIT, but remember, they're not the only providers out there, and you might be able to get a better offer from some other established hosts -> I'd suggest you shop around a bit before locking up any money.
    Thanks,

    Brendan Diaz
    Connect: linkedin.com/in/brendandiaz

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    42

    Re: Site grew big...dedicated hosting advice to newbie?

    Originally posted by Marcos Avila
    I own a simple, content-oriented, non-commercial hobbyist site (Aquahobby.com) which throughout the past 6 years I've been able to make fit in simple shared hosting solutions, even though it meant I had to eventually get 3 domains (.com, .net, .org) and host them as separate plans, spreading the site throughout the domains in order to keep bandwidth within shared hosting limits.
    Nice site...it looks great!

    Originally posted by Marcos Avila
    1) Can a typical dedicated hosting newbie like me get away with self-managing a single site that's not very complicated, just uses common PHP/mySQL applications but requires a lot of RAM and Bandwidth?
    I think so. Most hosting companies provide control panel interfaces to streamline any real maintenance of a server. If you're just concerned with the web aspects of it, I wouldn't worry too much about the specifications of the machine except -- like you said -- RAM and bandwidth requirements. However, you should make sure it does have a sturdy hard drive. Lots of database queries can smoke a poor quality one.

    In fact, most providers will hand over a server to you with all these things installed and configured. I would focus on RAM and bandwidth, just like you say. A good package for your requirements shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg. Don't pay more than $80 a month. (I would recommend NAC's www.15minuteservers.com -- I think they suit your purpose well. They have it set up in 15 minutes [hence the name] and have great support. But, as a consumer, you should alway shop around.)

    Originally posted by Marcos Avila
    2) Is the AIT $130/month fully managed dedicated hosting package competitive or would I easily find another host that could give me a managed plan at a better price?
    See above. It really depends on your needs. If you have light needs for just some web applications, it's going to be a buyer's market. If you need a server for huge performance and outrageous bandwidth, it's not going to be as easy to make a decision. Like I said, don't pay more than about $80 a month. For that, you should easily be able to find a good machine with at least 1000GB transfer and dripping with resources. That should be more than enough for your needs, I should think.

    Originally posted by Marcos Avila
    3) I've just learned by browsing some topics here that it's possible to get the unmanaged package and then hire a 3rd party to manage it. Is this a good/reliable option that would result in a budget smaller than the AIT $130/month package?
    I wouldn't do that. It should be more than easy to find a company who will give you the prices you want with support and a control panel to make your internal dealings easier. The whole point of dedicated servers is so you don't have to do management. If you're interested in hiring someone to do it (or to take a trip down to do it yourself), you're better off buying a 2-unit rack server and getting some co-location.

    I think in your situation, a dedicated server is the perfect solution. Let someone else do all the work so that your hobby won't turn into a frustration.

    Originally posted by Marcos Avila
    I guess that's it, sorry for the long post and if anything I wrote above has raised flags in your trained eyes please let me know!
    Shop around, and you will be fine! Remember, bandwidth, RAM, support, and control panels. You can find something that will probably leave you under budget if you hunt hard enough.

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