New Blog Post, Host, Why Not Both?

When I started out on the web in 2008 with a little site called Freshbytes, it was a different time and place. I needed somewhere to host the website, and there wasn’t much out there for affordable hosting for a high school student. I initially chose to go with BlueHost, which was fine — say what you want about shared hosting, but it was plenty good enough for the simple WordPress website I wanted to host, and even turned out to be more than OK for the additional WordPress websites and other static websites I started up later on (including this one).

I eventually moved away from the US-based BlueHost to the Australian-based VentraIP. Not for any particular reason, besides wanting my hosting in Australia. There’s actually very little difference between hosting in Australia and hosting overseas, besides a shorter route for what I assume is most of my “audience”. A large price disparity meant I couldn’t host in Australia from the outset, hence having to go with BlueHost, but in 2010 I made the switch, and have been hosted on VentraIP until recently.

The way I get by without a full-time job is keeping my expenses low. I don’t drive, smoke, drink, or take drugs, and part of keeping my expenses low involves looking at my recurring expenses every now and again, just to see where we’re at. It’s why I’m not a full-time Spotify subscriber, even though I enjoy the service occasionally and it’s, what, $12 a month?

Recurring expenses are a tricky thing. In the old days you’d pay for a bit of software and be done with it, at least until the next major version came out or you needed to upgrade, but these days, everything is a subscription. You can subscribe to Spotify for music, you can subscribe to Office 365, and while you can’t subscribe to a copy of Windows just yet, there are rumours that will happen in the future. You pay on a monthly basis for your mobile and internet and while that’s all well and good, you have to factor those in when you’re looking at your finances.

I never used to do an annual review of everything that I’m paying on a recurring basis for, but with the subscriptions and recurring expenses staring to pile up, I thought I’d take a look. Sometimes subscriptions are better value for money, and sometimes they aren’t. For example, I used to pay every year for each new major version of Lightroom, but when Adobe came out with the Creative Cloud Photography plan which included Lightroom and Photoshop for around the same price I was paying for Lightroom, it made sense to move to that instead of just paying for Lightroom alone.

Like Gabe from MacDrifter, maybe I’ll have to start doing a tally of recurring service expenses. I can afford to be fairly flexible with my money, but only because my parents hound me for still living at home and not having a full time job. I guess if things get tight I can always cut down on a few unused domain names, or something…

Which brings us to the whole point of this post: if you’ve noticed a little extra snappiness in this blog recently, it’s because I recently moved it to a new host. My first renewal notice for VentraIP came up, and I honestly didn’t know I was paying that much for hosting (my first invoice was 50% off, which kind of helped).

After checking out a few different options, I decided to migrate Freshbytes and the other websites onto Zuver — $2 a month now covers that part of my hosting requirements just fine.

Meanwhile, this blog is now hosted on a Digital Ocean VPS. We’ve been using Digital Ocean for AppleTalk, and it’s been great, so I’m going with them again for my own blog. If you sign up with that referral link, we’ll both get $10 credit — enough for two months of SSD-based VPS hosting on their cheapest tier (which is way more than this tiny blog needs).

Migrating the site was easy and involved minimal downtime. In brief: copy WordPress files, unzip your database, update your DNS records to the new host, tell Digital Ocean about your domain name, and away you go. I ran into a few permissions issues along the way and had to setup the server from basically scratch, but Digital Ocean is great in that they have an awesome set of tutorials if you’ve never had your own VPS before (I’ve only used cPanel-based hosts in the past).

As a result of changing things around, I’m now getting more hosting for my money than I would have, if I had renewed my VentraIP account for another few years. My blog is back in the US, sure, but that’s never been a big deal — and honestly, it feels faster than it has anyway. The rest stays in Australia, and basically everyone wins.

One new blog post, one new blog host. It’s a shame “both” doesn’t really rhyme.

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