Diverse Tech Geek is back online, now with Digital Ocean as a web host

As you might know, Diverse Tech Geek was knocked offline between early Friday afternoon and late Tuesday night. While I’ve discussed all this on my social media outlets (i.e., Facebook and Twitter), I thought I should post a message here, as well.

Last Friday, my old web host, MDDHosting, had an administrator make a mistake (details here) that caused all their shared hosting sites to get knocked offline. Making things worse, their local backups were corrupted as a result; MDD’s only remaining backups were on slower hard drives stored in Phoenix (MDDHosting’s located in Indiana). As such, it took from Friday evening (when this started) until Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning to restore everyone’s sites.

MDDHosting’s been pretty reputable to date, and hasn’t had any major issues until last week. That said, it all left me pondering other hosting options. In particular, stepping up from shared hosting to something more robust.

Giving Digital Ocean a go

I’ve decided to try Digital Ocean. Digital Ocean specializes in offering virtual private servers (VPS), or “droplets” as they call them, at a very inexpensive rate. Prices start at $5/month for 1GB of RAM, 25GB of storage, a single CPU, and 1TB of traffic bandwidth.

A few advantages of VPS over shared hosting include more dedicated resources and user control are available to each site. This often means faster site speed and customization options.

The main downside (depending on point of view) of virtual private servers (and Digital Ocean) are that they’re geared toward more technically savvy users, such as programmers, web developers, etc. At a minimum, being Linux savvy has been quite useful. Still, Digital Ocean does provided various written guides on how to install and set up programs. I’ve also wanted to improve my skills, and this seemed like one way.

Setting things up

Women of color with laptops
Photo by WOCinTech Chat (Flickr / CC BY)

Digital Ocean offers “one-click” droplets to install pre-configured services, including: LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP); a choice of Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, etc.; I’m using Ubuntu); and a WordPress installation with the aforementioned software.

Setting up the site and following instructions on securing the server, etc. went easily enough. I mostly followed Digital Ocean’s basic droplet instructions and WordPress instructions. There’s also the usual Google searching for tips on taking care of all this.

Moving my site over from my old host, however, was a bit more complicated. There’s no cPanel installation by default with Digital Ocean, though there’s free open source counterparts available. There’s also the multiple ways to transfer a WordPress site.

I ultimately opted to use the All-In-One WP Migration plugin to transfer the themes, database, and plugins. The “uploads” folder (i.e., the images) were transferred manually via FTP program FileZilla. As for a control panel, I’ve installed Webmin.

Conclusion

Since switching to the Digital Ocean version of the site on Thursday, the main improvement’s been in the site’s speed. Pages seem to load faster, even without using a CDN like Cloudflare.

That said, I’m also still in the process of sorting out some things, and as this is still a new experience for me, I might be missing something. That said, the majority of tasks at this point are done, and I believe things are currently set up and running adequately.

If there is anything amiss on the site, or if you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments.

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