This site is not only my author and punditry site, it’s also a bit of a technical sandbox, at least for now. I’m deliberately running “Falling off the Hemisphere”on the least-expensive virtual private server I can spin up, Simple Hosting from Gandi.
I’ve got a limited number of 50% discount coupons if you want to try it for yourself! (ed. Not any more, sorry!) I’ve also got a $40-off coupon (ed. This deal is still good!), from my other preferred provider, if you like traditional “shared hosting”. It’s a test in that I’m using their very smallest instance, which is only $5/mo for my own virtual server. Something very different from “shared hosting” at most web hosts, where you are sharing a webserver with probably several dozen to a few hundred other unrelated sites.
Unlike my other sites and those of clients, I’m using their very smallest hosting instance of their Simple Hosting product, the size Small (out of their Paris, France data center. You can also choose in-USA.) That’s probably size-too-small for a WordPress-based site that already gets a decent number of visitors. In other words, “we cannae keep up this level of bombardment, captain, she cannae stand the strain much langer”.
Their Size Small package is $5/mo, so $60/year, paid monthly. But half-price for the first one per all Gandi customer account, and I have multiple role-based accounts, so multiple coupons, a few more than I need!. I paid only $30 (you buy a year to get the 1/2 price deal) up front the other day and I’ve got hosting, on a Virtual Private Server, not typical “shared hosting”, for a year. You could get that too!
I’ve got CloudFlare CDN free content distribution network services in front of it (manually configured, Gandi Simple Hosting does not have any “click to use CloudFlare” button like DreamHost, BlueHost, or some others do), to mitigate the “small server, max 2 processes at a time” limit of the Size Small package. That way, many visitors will get the site from CloudFlare, from CF’s nearest-to-them datacenter of their global network, rather not going all the way back to my Gandi Simple Hosting instance. It may well be that Size Small is good enough with a CDN in front of it. Or, not. Gandi says it should, but I’m running WordPress security software and caching software on the back end too, which means that sometimes between web visitors seconds apart and background maintenance tasks like WordFence security scans, or WP Super Cache “cache preload jobs”, there might not be enough simultaneous tasks to serve up the site “apparently simultaneously”. I notice some of that while editing the site, because me-as-editor is possibly eating up some resources for you-as-reader. But let’s explore…
Let’s run with this for a while and see how it does, ok? Please, give me feedback! I probably will bump it up to the Size Medium instance, which when combined with a CDN should go swimmingly. However, I do want to push the envelope for a while. Love your feedback on this (but NOT your feedback saying “my eyes are glazing over” – yeah, ok, you’re not a geek, you don’t care about the tech, so just don’t read this type of post, don’t comment on it, and we’re all happy.) Are you getting a lot of delays, are you often (or ever) seeing a CloudFlare page saying “site not available, click for live version”? If so , about what day/time (oh, and timezone/where in the world, because, global!) would be a big help.
I think this Gandi Simple Hosting solution is a great option for somewhat technically-oriented folks who want to have full control of a website, but not build the server up from virtual “bare metal”. It is way cheaper than “full hosting” on a less-private “shared server” package, if you’re doing one or two sites on it. It also makes it easy to specify USA or non-USA hosting. So let’s take her out and see what’s she’s got. Out there… thataway!
Contact me if you want a coupon. Use the “Contact Mark Mercer” link at the top of every page, to keep your email address, and the coupon code I send you, private, rather than putting it in the public comments section below. However please do talk about your experience here, your ideas on web hosting tech, what you might do with a low-cost VPS, in the comments. Nothing in it for me other than gift-culture good karma, it’s not an “affiliate link”, nor anything similar. I only have a few coupons. So jump on it if you think you might like it. 30 bucks for a whole year of you-control-it hosting is pretty damn neat!
This may be an outstanding solution for people wanting full control of WordPress sites at low cost. But running WordPress on “Simple Hosting” is not “simple”. You have to got get WordPress software from WordPress.org, upload it to your Virtual Private Server, set a whole bunch of things, create your “nonce” and other secret keys, create your own MySQL database… all the stuff done for you with the “One-click installs” at typical “shared hosting” providers like DreamHost (who I use for nearly everything else, and that is an affiliate link. Want a one-time $40 discount on an annual plan? Promo Code: FallingOff), BlueHost (who many fellow expat-entrepreneurs I know use), InfusionSoft, or Evil GoDaddy (who nobody should use). But once done, it’s yours, baby, all yours! With far more control. If you’re looking for Node.js or know why you want Postgres instead of MySQL, this will be great for you because you’re already a techie-type.