* Updates at the end.
I’d been with the same shared hosting company since I went commercial with my small web design business around 2005 and I can’t really fault the service from them. I continue to use them for my clients sites and I’m happy enough. However, there comes a time when you need to expand!
I’d heard of dedicated website hosting and liked the idea. I’d always been a loner anyway so the idea of having a computer all to myself to do what I wanted with was exiting! Of course physical dedicated hosting was and is prohibitively expensive so when this whole cloud computing revolution came upon us and companies started offering ‘virtual’ dedicated hosting with all of the benefits of physical dedicated hosting but at a much more reasonable rate, I got interested. My internet presence was also growing and couldn’t be accommodated effectively by the old host.
I’m a regular reader of PC Live magazine where Blacknight have regular adds and that where I first noticed their VPS service so after a pile of questions to their support and CEO (who conveniently hangs out on twitter a lot!), I was ready to commit.
Basically VPS hosting lets you manage your own virtual operating system on which you can install whatever software you wish and configure the system from the ground up. Typically VPS servers are not quite as powerful performance wise as shared servers but because you’re not sharing with hundreds if not thousands of other sites, the performance evens out.
The beauty of a VPS system is that you can control everything from apache configuration to adding new websites to server wide spam control and all from a pretty easy to use interface (presuming your subscription includes control panel access as mine does). The downside is that the buck stops with you. You are responsible for whatever happens (or doesn’t happen in my case!) on your server and theres no-one there to bail you out if you mess up. I found that you can have a little TOO much control sometimes!
The stand out feature for me is probably the (pretty much) one-click installation of web applications on any domain/site you have. New applications can be made available by uploading distribution packages from www.apsstandard.org/app. This at least saves me the hassle of uploading massive installation files on a shit broadband speed.
I must also say that Blacknight support and in particular Tara, have been fantastic in explaining some of the basic concepts and pointing me in the right direction for some tasks I just couldn’t figure out. Perhaps because their service is new enough, the Knowledge Base and Forum are not that well populated yet so some email support was required on startup.
I’m on the Linux VPS Basic (Debian 4.0) + Plesk 8 option which costs about €52 per month.
Check out www.blacknightvps.com
* UPDATE – things didn’t work out with Blacknight in the end. Problems developed and no-one knew how to fix em! I’m happily with LetsHost.ie VPS now.
*UPDATE 2 – VPS hosting sucks. There’s never any support, performance is poor (especially with multiple WordPress sites), too much downtime, too much configuration and cost is too much! I’ve gone back to shared and it’s absolutely fine.