I have a “developer” account on Gradwell.net but I’m getting less and less satisfied with it and I’m thinking of finding another hosting site.
I do several things on my Gradwell account that I used to do on my home server, such as hosting my http://navaid.com/ waypoint generators. I originally did those at home using mod_perl and Postgresql, but I started to get concerned that sometimes my site would go off the air for a whole day or more if my home server crashed when I was away from home or if I was upgrading to a newer version of Linux, and wanted them someplace where professionals would be looking after it.
Moving to Gradwell meant using FastCGI instead of mod_perl (which is probably a better idea, anyway) and MySQL instead of PostgreSQL. The switch to MySQL is a big headache. The first problem is that instead of one database, I need three. I need three because MySQL doesn’t have real transactions, which means that instead of doing the once a month reload of all the aviation data in a big transaction, I need to keep the non-aviation data in one database, and have two databases for the aviation data, one which the “customers” are using, and one which I can load data into (and scripts to kill off the running FastCGI scripts and start them pointing at the other database when I’m finished loading.)
As well as the waypoint generators, I also use my Gradwell account to handle some non-dynamic web sites like http://www.rochesterflyingclub.com/ and http://www.rafm.net/. Mostly I did that for the reliability reasons, and because I’ve never set up dynamic hosting in Apache before, although I’m told it’s pretty easy.
Another major thing I do is route some of my outgoing email through them. I host Mailman mailing lists here at home, and some of the “customers” (although nobody pays me) of these mailing lists are on ISPs that reject mail from dynamic IPs, so I relay mail to those ISPs through Gradwell. Peter Gradwell sometimes makes disparaging remarks about how much bandwidth I use for email relaying, but since I use less than 5% of the web bandwidth I’m paying for, I can’t see he has a leg to stand on in that regard.
Lately my waypoint generators, the main reason for having a Gradwell account in the first place, have been giving me timeout errors. Peter Gradwell says the problem is mostly that the MySQL servers get really slow when they’re being backed up. But you know, I’m not concerned about the cause, I’m concerned that my site won’t be working when somebody comes to use it. And the timeouts have been getting more and more frequent. My home server runs a cron script every 15 minutes that just does a “wget –spider” on the navaid site, and reports if it times out. And yesterday, I got 15 timeouts, at scattered times through the day. So far today I’ve got 6 timeouts and it’s only 10:41 am!
I added up my invoices for Gradwell last year, and it came to £258.52, but £47.00 of that was OpenSRS domain registration. That still leaves £211.52, or $403.68 just for web hosting.
Somebody on one of the newsgroups mentioned a hosting company that basically gave you a virtual Linux box with RHEL or Debian installed, and you have to roll everything yourself, for a small monthly fee. I’m guessing that you get your own static IP for that. So basically I’d have to figure out dynamic web hosting (which probably isn’t that hard) and DNS (which I have very little experience with, and it scares me a bit). Everything else would be setting things up there pretty much as I have set them up here in the past.
Actually, maybe what I could do with the DNS is register the domains with a registrar that does DNS though a nice simple web control panel as well.
Does anybody have any recommendations for web hosts and registrars that would do what I need?