Web Site Management

Hosting Strategy

Reliability, Cost and Stress are the three factors that I focus on. Supporting it all myself immediately rules out hosting Critical sites. Important sites are hosted differently than the less important sites, at higher Cost in exchange for Support of critical areas.

Important:

  • Web sites are each hosted on their own U.S.-based ICDSoft shared web hosting account
  • Web Monitoring is hosted on a European-based ICDSoft shared web hosting account

Less important:

  • Web sites are hosted on an unlimited Hostgator Cloud shared hosting account
  • Daily Backup is hosted on a Time4VPS Ubuntu 16.04 LTS VPS with 1TB hard drive and 1GB RAM

Figuring all this out was as much Lessons Learned The Hard Way as it was Analysis:

  • Do not set up a bind9 Name Server on the same VPS where you are hosting sites. Use a GUI-based Name Server hosted by the VPS company or by the Domain Name Registrar for each domain name.
  • Do not set up a postfix Mail Server on the same VPS where you are hosting sites to handle incoming e-mail. Use a GUI-based Mail Server with people to monitor and resolve spam reputation issues.
  • Important web sites require constant monitoring for outages and staff available to resolve the issue quickly, which rules out building and maintaining your own software on a VPS.
  • Most web hosting companies do not effectively monitor Response Time on each of their web servers.

WordPress

Since 2008, I have used WordPress for my web sites, as it seems to offer the best compromise between ease of use and flexibility for a programmer with my background. There is also a huge base of software, services and support available for WordPress because it is so widely used.

ICDSoft

Although I had been supporting web site hosting environments since the mid-1990s, it was not until 2013 that I found affordable Hosting that was reliable enough for all of my applications: ICDSoft. I had been aware of their legendary reliability for years, but never selected them because of their insistence on one web site per hosting account. For that reason, I host sites where reliability is not an issue, including test sites, using OVH Public Cloud Storage offerings (see below).

Small sites that are not expected to exceed 1GB in storage and 20GB in monthly data traffic are each hosted on an ICDSoft Economy account. Bigger sites are each on an ICDSoft Business account. A single Reseller account is used to purchase all Hosting from ICDSoft, because Quantity Discounts are very substantial.

WHC Canada

An unlimited shared hosting environment requiring excellent support but less reliability than the few sites hosted on ICDSoft.

VPS Mart

Webroot SecureAnywhere Business Endpoint Protection offered centralized management of security for Windows clients but lacked the automatic software upgrades provided by VIPRE’s AutoPatch, so┬áManageEngine’s Patch Manager Plus was selected for the job. Finding an affordable server to run Patch Manager Plus turned out to be a challenge, with VPS Mart’s Basic Windows VPS working very well, thanks to their use of Hyper-V instead of KVM.

$14.99/month, paid every two years, provides 4GB RAM and 60GB SSD on a VPS running Windows Server 2016 Standard Edition and controlled by SolidCP.

From newest to oldest, I had previously tried and abandoned:

  • ChicagoVPS 4GB Windows VPS special at $8.25 USD/month paid annually – although web site performed fairly well, the Windows desktop was really slow
  • ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus Cloud – only Enterprise supports Roaming Users, but it is too expensive at $445 USD per year
  • OVH Canada VPS 2016 Cloud 2 – performed well with just enough disk (50 GB) but too expensive at $39.89 CAD month to month
  • VPS Mart Express Windows VPS – 2GB RAM was too slow
  • Epic Hosts – 1GB RAM was too small
  • OVH Canada’s VPS with Windows Server 2012 R2 – 25GB hard disk was too small
  • Amazon Web Services EC2 t2.micro instance – Desktop Central was confused by the internal and external IP addresses
  • ChicagoVPS – nothing newer than Windows Server 2012 R2 available at the time
  • OVH Cloud Virtual Desktop – nothing newer than Windows Server 2012 R2 available
  • Windows 10 – no public static IP address on my Desktop workstation

Why was Windows Server 2016 so important to me? Whenever possible, I have always stuck to one version of Windows to make my GUI usage intuitive. Windows Server 2016 matches the Windows 10 clients I currently use.