Sunday, April 27, 2008

Moving from Shared Hosting to a VPS Solutions

I've finally taken and plunge and moved away from a shared hosting environment to a VPS solution. To be honest I've been thinking about doing this for about the last 4 - 5 months and was really concerned that I didn't have a the skills to a) get the server running and b) keeping it running.

To give you some background on my situation I'm a web developer by trade and was basically paying about $100 a month to run all my 15 websites, I wanted to cut costs and have more control, I was sick of emailing my web hosting company asking for changes to my site, also .net web hosting in New Zealand is very expensive. By going to a VPS I had no choice but to move it to an overseas server, I think there were 2 .net vps solutions in New Zealand when I went looking and the specs went something like so $70 for 384mb ram and 3gb of ram. Obviously running a few website on these specs was going to be very limited. One good thing about hosting in New Zealand, obviously websites load faster and support help desks and generally fantastic, I use to have all my websites with Web Drive and they were really awesome.

So taking all these things into account I finally found a company i wanted to list with, basically they has 1gb ram 10gb for $50US a month which I thought was pretty damn good, I proceeded through the checkout and the next day the VPS was up and running.

I now had to start planning moving all my sites (something I wasn't looking forward to, other than it was a good learning experience), first couple of things I did on the server (windows 2003 sp2) was run any upgrades that Microsoft suggested to be installed on a web server, then needed to install the .net 2.0 framework and the 3.5 run time.

One thing that got me really confused to begin with was to install my own DNS or not, I'm still pretty ignorant on this fact, i decided it was too hard and fortunately the registrar where all my domains are registered allows DNS control so one thing less to worry about, I did NOT install active directory even though I also thought I needed it, however it turned out I didn't either. I also installed Microsoft SQL Server Express, I know this is probably pretty bad practice, but my websites don't get huge amount of traffic and so I thought this should be fine, I didn't want to pay for a SQL Server database as well if it wasn't really needed, if I need this later then so be it but at the moment it should be fine.

The only thing really to think about was email (i thought I would have to install active directory to handle multiple domains), i spent hours and hours playing around withe SMTP server built into IIS and the pop3 service, basically it was just to hard or actually now looking back on it, its not that hard it just doesn't have anywhere near the functionality that I needed. I didn't know what to do with email, at one point in time I considered buying a second linux vps with cpanel to handle the email but again another expense I didn't want to have. Eventually i discovered hMailServer I had no idea this open source windows based email server even existed, its absolutely fab I suggest you install it and have a play, read as much as you can and follow instructions, I now have it on my VPS running about 10 different domain emails, it can check for viruses, spam, can forward email, can SMTP into it, just awesome! So that was email taken care of.

Right so I started with and this is pretty much how it went.

-FTP files from existing host to new host (installed filezilla server on VPS as well)
-Backup existing database and restore on new VPS
-Create new website in IIS6
- Change website to 2.0
- Add and to host headers
-Create email accounts in hMailServer
-Change a records and mx records at registrar to point to the IP address of my VPS
-Cross Fingers

This worked fine and repeated the process for my other domains. So far all is going well, VPS has been stable and i'm saving money, I guess the website aren't quite as fast as they use to be but that it to be expected as they now hosting outside New Zealand.

One last thing I did was write a script that backuped my SQL database and my websites and FTPed them to me each night, they are then restored on my local PC. In terms of backup this is probably all I need right.

If you are thinking about moving to VPS then it's really not as hard as you think, its great fun remote desktoping into your own server, installing programs, looking at logs, just remeber don't install to many program :) not like me! Good luck with you VPSing.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Admin level access to your own hosting environment is a great deal of fun.

I certainly agree with the intimidation factor, but you can keep your stuff running by leaving it alone if it's not broken.