My website, http://JonathansCorner.com/, began life before 1994 as www.imsa.edu/~jhayward/ and has been through various iterations and improvements to content, HTML, and the like, but remains a literature site that is from a web administrator's perspective fairly simple and primitive: a fair amount of static HTML and supporting files, a little bit of CGI and URI rewriting, .htaccess files providing Expires: headers and the like. An associated site demoes various CGI scripts that fall under the category of "and other creations"; the site as a whole has the purpose of sharing my creative works, and so far a fairly rudimentary use of Apache functionality, supported by Unix tools to, for instance, update RSS feed and the "starting point" link on the home page, has served that purpose fairly well.

I looked around here on web hosting, and found the note on web host reccommendations as a good note for "What are some of people's favorite web hosts overall," but I wanted to ask a more focused question of "What are the best web hosts for criteria XYZ:"

  1. I am looking at a VPS so I will have root, be able to install stuff and edit Apache's config files etc., running Gentoo or other Linux, BSD, or the like.
  2. I would like a system that is secure enough that the host's vulnerabilities are mostly the ones that come along with what I am trying to do: that is, I won't be trying to administer and secure an ancient Linux like some have complained about at 1and1.
  3. I would like good uptime/reliability and competent support staff: if the level 1 help desk is going to tell me to go to "My Computer" on a Linux box, I'd like to be able to get past them.
  4. Ideally I would like a site hosted within some place that will have low latency for U.S. visitors in particular.
  5. I would like a hosting solution that will be with a stable business, one that will probably be around, and one unlikely to vanish without warning.
  6. With those things specified, I would be interested in knowing what are the less expensive options. (I expect that some of the things I've specified will knock out all of the cheapest options, but I'm still interested in price.)

With all that stated,

I'd like to back up a bit and look at whether I am asking the right question. I am concerned that the above is a very good way of asking, "How can I keep my site in line with the wave of the past?"

I am wondering if it might be specifically wiser to look to adapt my site to newer technologies instead of trying to keep it on older technologies. For instance, while I would hardly portray my site as a way to show off the full power of Google App Engine, the main site at least should be a straightforward port if I were to do that. And beyond Google App Engine, my knowledge of cloud solutions is basic. If it is a better and more future-proof solution to port my site to another kind of solution, I would be interested in knowing where those future-proof solutions lie.

So I would be interested in wisdom. If the question I asked in detail is still a good question to be asking, what would people suggest? Or if I should seriously consider porting my site to a newer basic option, what should I try there? Any thoughts would be appreciated.


Skipping your other points: I recently restarted tinkering with one of my personal projects and considered Google's App Engine as a possible location for it (it is currently on a VM on the little dedicated server I run mainly for offsite backups, but it'll need more power than that if the project goes anywhere worth-while).

My main reason for stopping considering GAE was the lack of a good backup solution. There are some solutions out there (like http://code.google.com/appengine/articles/gae_backup_and_restore.html) but nothing that matched what I wanted. If you site is all content generated by you and then uploaded to the App Engine then this is not really a concern, but if you take in user content at all or you add content directly into the app yourself then a good backup solution is a must even in a "cloud" environment.

  • Thank you; I am looking at developing on my machine and publishing, but this sort of warning is exactly (part of) what I wanted to know. – Christos Hayward Nov 9 '09 at 23:25
  • I asked a friend a similar question and he mentioned the third party GAEBAR (no pun intended: Google App Engine Backup and Recovery), announced at aralbalkan.com/1784 with Github download links included in the announcement. – Christos Hayward Nov 11 '09 at 16:39
  • That backup solution looks like it would do OK, though I might question how well it copes with a live app (would the rest of the app need to be stopped or somehow made read-only during the operation in order to get a consistent backup?) and you'd need to be careful how much you use it or you might run up bills for extra data transfer quota (esp. if it doesn't do incremental/differential backups). – David Spillett Nov 11 '09 at 20:49

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