The Long Hosting Goodbye —
A big step happened for me today; I moved a domain I considered “mine” to a hosting service. The service is Dreamhost and the site is getlamp.com. It’s now hosted elsewhere, as is the mail, and all of the “stuff” is being handled by Dreamhost. When you go to the site, in other words, nothing goes to the T-1 line in my house. It’s no longer “mine”.
I’ve hosted the odd site elsewhere, but these were always either jokes or one-off storage things. This time, it’s the beginning of the end.
I was there, at the beginning of a lot of things. My ISP, cow.net, was an attempt by me to use my computer and telecom skills to put together a business selling access. Along the way, I hosted all sorts of domains, many of them my own, and I did all the attendant work as well. DNS, Mail, FTP, Website… all of this was under my wing and I lost the sleep, lost the time, spent the energy, and I was, if not alone, rather isolated.
I remember sitting with Jeff Morris, my upstream provider, as we banged our heads trying to get a Black Box Terminal Server that even in 1995 was very long in the tooth, to do the right thing. Whenever I called Black Box, they’d swear they couldn’t even give me the most basic information on it. I’d spent $2000 for that 8-phone-line server, a dash of cash to get myself started that represented the beginning of my new life as an ISP. Jeff came over, actually drove over to my place in South Boston where my office was, and helped me get it running. Then we went out for dinner at the all-night scary place, Buzzy’s Roast Beef, at 3am. And we talked of dreams.
But the thing that’s hard to accept, and believe me I’d been trying for some time, is that this level of attention and concentration by me simply isn’t needed. In fact, it’s vaguely detrimental. In the modern day, I get a $5.95/month site with 5 terabytes of bandwidth a month, 500gb of disk space, and I can jam all my little domains together. They back up, they have all the latest settings, and they have incredible throughput. To not go this way is insane.
That said, I will have “staging” versions of the sites locally, and will feed synchronization to the “official” sites. And already, this has caused me to clean up pages, move photo albums to the proper photo album site I have and delete files that are already elsewhere. I’ve gotten back a gigabyte of disk space just doing this small task. And it will continue.
It was fun to be able to do it myself for over a decade. But it’s time, it really is. Letting go is hard, but after a while you realize you’re not keeping up patching, you’re not using your bandwidth properly, and you’re spending hours doing things that others are paid to do all day and do it better with more tools. I don’t need to be doing that; I’ve got better things in my life. Things nobody can do for me yet.
It’s a tough step, but I’ll be glad I did it. Enjoy the speed.
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Your post rings close to home. I used to have a rack of Cisco gear at home that I used for studying for various certs. I got rid of it and now rent remote racks for really cheap that I can SSH into to test my 1337 OSPF skillz.
I used to keep a Linux box set up at home that I used as a shell server, I also used it to host a webpage and to store files on that I might need from somewhere else. That is all gone too now as I have a Dreamhost account that gives me all that.
I am about at the point where the only hardware I have at my house is a single laptop running vmware wireless access point. It is actually kind of nice to be free of all that stuff. I feel more mobile and less weighed down.
I hear you and understand. Yet I still host my stuff myself, because there are no cheap webhosting places out there that offer a functional CMS. I use Zope/Plone.
Although I’m doing all my webhosting here at the house, I understand where you’re coming from. It’s where I finally got with building computers. Not being a heavy PC gamer, I found that I could buy computers from Dell cheaper than I could build them myself, and with a lot less headaches. There was a day when building a website from scratch with notepad was a badge of honor … these days, it’s a sign that you have too much free time.