August 2007 Archives

August 24, 2007

I'm now hosted on a virtual private server from RapidVPS

I've been hosting my email (, my weblog, and a bunch of pictures on an old Dell P3 550 in the closet of my house for years.

No more; all that stuff is now on a virtual private server hosted by RapidVPS.  It looks like I have my own very own server, but in reality my server is running under OpenVZ on one RapidVPS's servers.  Timesharing returns!

The old Dell in the closet reasonably well.  The biggest hassle I'had came a few years back when Bellsouth started blocking inbound port 25; when they did that, I couldn't receive email directly.  To get around that, DynDNS's MailHop relay service. MailHop relay received email my domain, and then contacted my home server on an open port and delivered the mail.

MailHop worked well.  It also had the benefit that if my home server went off the air, my mail would not bounce; MailHop would keep gathering the mail until my home server was back up again.

The one thing I did not like was the cost.  MailHop relay is $40/year per domain, and I have two domains. 

I'm been thinking about moving to a VPS for a while, but the cost stopped me. VPS services seemed to be at least $30 a month.

My VPS costs me $10 a month.  For that, I get 5 gig of hard drive space, 10 gigabytes network bandwidth, 128mb of RAM, and 100mhz of processor.  I actually pay $13/month - I bought 3 more gig of disk space at $1/month, so I have 8 gig available to me.  I have a choice of Linux distributions - I'm running CentOS 3. RapidVPS increased their price to $15/month on this service in Sep '08.  Still a good deal, I think.)  

A couple of those spec numbers - 128mb memory, 100mhz processor - gave me pause.  My P3 dell was a 550mhz box with 256mb of ram.  However, the specs from RapidVPS are minimums.  I'm only guaranteed 100mhz of a processor, but if the physical server isn't busy, I can burst up to 3 Ghz.  Same with memory: I'm only guaranteed 128mb of RAM, but I can burst up to a couple of gig if I need it.

In practice, it works great.  When I fire up Movable Type, type in a new entry, and then rebuild my index files, the build happens much faster on my VPS server than on my Dell.  I need that extra CPU for a few seconds, but then I'm done.

Other wins from running on a VPS:
  • The disks underlying my VPS are running under RAID, so I'm much better protected against hardware failures.
  • My VPS itself is backed up; if the physical server at RapidVPS goes down, they can restore my server from a backup and have it back on the air quickly.
  • My network connectivity is far better.  My Dell was running behind a home DSL service - 3mbit/s down, at most 384kb up.  And of course this frees up bandwidth on my home connection, too.
I've read good things about RapidVPS, and so far I've been impressed.  My server was up in a couple of minutes after signing up.  Today I was uploading lots of data and ran out of space; RapidVPS automatically gave me more space and encouraged me to either purchase addition space (I did) or delete files. 

August 21, 2007

Changes here: now on movable type 4

I've moved up to Movable Type 4.  I know there are lots of folks who prefer WordPress, but I still like Movable Type.

The new administrative interface design is very pleasing to the eye.  There are real improvements, I'm sure, but when part of the point of weblog software is to encourage one to write, the look and feel of the blog software is important, too.