We are moving to DigitalOcean!Right this moment, you are reading this from our new home at DigitalOcean. As of this posting, all new hosting customers will be placed onto a DigitalOcean server, and all existing customers are in various stages of migration. I’m very excited about this move, and I want to explain the thought process behind it.

First of all, don’t get me wrong. Liquid Web is a fabulous host, and I have no regrets picking them in the first place. Their support is pretty good: they deliver on their promises and they work hard to get to the bottom of things. What I particularly appreciated was their monitoring of my server to make sure that it’s responsive. However, as a freelance developer, I am finding that my needs are evolving to a point where continuing with Liquid Web was going to be prohibitively expensive.

More agile

What separates DigitalOcean from Liquid Web is that DigitalOcean is built for developers. Their VPS’s start small and cheap (starting at $5/month) and come with nothing but the operating system on them. This means that you can build the infrastructure you need from there and you aren’t paying for the bells and whistles (and licenses) that you probably don’t need (if you’re a developer). This means that I can be very nimble and can respond not only to my own needs in a far more cost-effective way, but I can also respond to the needs of my clients better as well. This is chiefly contributing to the new, lower cost of Rainworks hosting, although there will be a higher, initial labor investment on my part (which I never bill hosting customers for).

Separating websites from email

One of the changes I’m also making is to no longer host client email along with their websites. There are a number of good reasons to do this, and DigitalOcean happens to cover most of them. The largest concern for me is getting blacklisted. I had a lot of trouble with certain email providers (particularly Hotmail and AOL) spam-blocking my Liquid Web server. Not because I was spamming, but because I am an unknown email provider. I knew this would become a larger problem as I brought on more clients, so I decided it was in everyone’s best interest to stop providing email as a direct add-on to hosting.

I am currently investigating the possibility of reselling email hosting at another provider, at a cost-effective rate. It turns out this is easier said than done.

More features

Here are a few other nifty things I can now do that I wasn’t able to feasibly do at Liquid Web:

  • All DigitalOcean hard drives are solid state! That means faster reading and writing from disk.
  • I have a number of data center locations to choose from when spinning up a VPS. This means I can host a client in a region closest to their visitors, for better page load speeds. DigitalOcean has data centers in San Francisco, New York City, London, Amsterdam, and Singapore.
  • Nightly account-level backups to a separate VPS in a different data center (in my case, Singapore, as I am unlikely to have clients looking to host in that region).
  • Load balancing! (Note, however, that this is not an offered add-on at this time.)

I hope this helps clear up a few things about why I chose to move hosts. If you’re not already a hosting customer, please check out the updated hosting page to see if you’re interested in signing up. If you are already a customer: thank you for your business, and I look forward to serving you even better after this move!

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