Introducing the new

Server Room
It seems odd to think that it has been nearly 2 years since came online. Even though I've been doing private technology consulting since my college years, its been a crazy couple of years since I brought this site online. Not that the site is heavily trafficed, it isn't, but its been a lot of fun to learn more about the server infrastructure side of things.

The first incarnation of this site was running Wordpress on what I thought to be a fairly reputable host. I was clearly wrong. It didn't take long, after repeated unexplained outages, slow page loads and general flakiness that I realized it was time to find something better.

Besides just what you, dear readers, see here on the main pages and blog, this site actually hosts several other sites that help me keep up to date with trends in technology. To not have these be reliable creates a roadblock to my keeping up with all that's new in the world of tech. That isn't good for me and its definitely not good for my clients.

So, after a couple months of frustration, I moved hosts. It was the first time I had ever done anything like that but it went fairly well and was mostly transparent to my clients and blog readers. Server infrastructure and maintenance isn't the strong suit of this consulting company, but sometimes its good to learn new things in order to serve our clients better. It was a growing experience... but it wouldn't be the last.

The new host was better, but downtime was still a regular occurrence. This was disheartening as the research I did led me to believe this host was fantastic. I guess it all depends upon your definition of 'fantastic'. Yet, the pain of the downtime, which was at least never for long, was not more than the thought of going through yet another migration process. Besides, if all hosts were this bad, what good would it do me to move to yet another bad host?

Enter this blog post from Marco Arment. I had heard him speak of VPS in the past, but had never really spent the time to reserach it myself. Wow, was I wrong to not take that advice.

Step back a few paragraphs and you'll notice I said that server administration just isn't the forte of this company. While still true, that has changed dramatically over the past month. I've learned so much about setting up, configuring and running my own server over the last month that my previous conceptual knowledge is laughable. That's not to say that I am an expert, I am far from that, but I at least get all the concepts and can, with the help of my friend Google, manage to now hold my own.

With this move, I've changed up a few things internal to the site as well. I'll run down those for you, in case you are interested:

  • Wordpress to Ghost. Ghost is a relative newcomer to the world of blogging engines, but its creators were founders of Wordpress and want to make something new and modern. Ghost is not for the feint of heart, but it is fast, slim and beautiful to use. As it matures over the coming year, it will make a great base for
  • Apache to Nginx. This is probably the largest and most difficult transition, mostly because I am a complete novice with both web servers. Still, Nginx is lightning fast compared to Apache and it fulfills all the needs of this site.
  • Cpanel to Ajenti. For web-based server management, you just can't beat Ajenti for simplicity. Having used the old and crusty Cpanel for years at other hosts, having a modern, web-based server management tool is fabulous.

There are lots more changes under the hood but those are the big ones. I now have the understanding of the basic stack, how to secure it, how to manage it and how to make it perform (at least for a site as small as this). I've still got more I want to do with the site around tools and beefing up security even more than I already have, but those are topics that will need to wait for another day.

Until that day, I hope you enjoy the new HGC as much as I am enjoying it.