Friday, August 6. 2010
I have, or used to have, a dedicated web server, which I initially set up in 2003 at a company named Rackshack. At the time I meant to do more freelance website development work. In particular, I planned to develop a more generalized version of the software I wrote for Robert Christgau's website, and make that available to other writers, especially music critics. I never got much done on that, although eventually the web server wound up hosting about ten small sites. It's been a rather expensive indulgence and persistent headache over the years. In particular, I've been unable to keep the server software up-to-date, which has kept me from updating the PHP-based packages I have deployed, like drupal and serendipity, and from introducing new ones I'd like to use, like wikimedia. I've also been harrassed by hackers, who have occasionally been able to break in and use the machine to add to the world's avalanche of junk mail. (I caught and fixed a number of those problems in the past year.)
Anyhow, the upshot of all this is that the server crashed early this week and we haven't been able to get it up and keep it up for more than a couple hours at a time ever since. Consequently, all of the websites and blogs that I host are down. (I never got around to moving my own website, or Christgau's, away from their original virtual servers, so they fortunately survive.) It's a old, fairly lame machine, running obsolete (2005) software. Reasonable thing at this time is to junk the machine, get another, and rebuild. Rackshack has been sold and resold several times, so the current proprietor calls itself The Planet. I'm not real happy with them, so I'm also looking around for competitors. There are many such, but it's hard to evaluate them. Some I'm intrigued by are: Hosting and Designs, Singlehop, Server Point, iWeb, Hosting Source, Netsonic. My list goes on with 17 less interesting vendors, and 21 more that I dismissed, mostly because they're trawling for bigger fish. Budget is approx. $100/month. Should be Linux (probably CentOS). I've never used Plesk or cPanel/WHM but wonder if they might be worth the expense ($20-40/month) and breach of open source faith. I've never used more than a tiny fraction of my 1TB monthly bandwidth allowance, and I've never had problems with lack of disk space (7% used when the server died) or for that matter performance -- obviously, it's not longer possible not to improve on a 2003 Celeron with 512MB RAM, although I have noticed that most of the low-end server deals use CPUs that are no longer in production.
I figured I'd make a quick decision, but The Planet hasn't been responsive to my questions, and the longer I take the more patient I'm becoming. Should have something decided by sometime next week. Maybe I'll even have a stroke of sanity and give it up (although a fresh start might be refreshing). Meanwhile, I apologize to my few clients -- Carol Cooper, Don Malcolm (2Random4Chance, Deep-Count, Noirvana), Fifth Column Films, the amazing Superartists, the vital and indispensable Wichita Peace Center. Also down are my own projects, Notes on Everyday Life, and Terminal Zone. (No point linking to these as they're down now, although Fifth Column and Superartists have their main websites elsewhere, and Wichita Peace will soon.)
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