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Easy, Cheap and Robust Cloud Hosting Solution from Digital Ocean

For the past couple of years I have been hosting with Hostgator. I was a happy customer until the acquisition by EIG. In the past 2 months my blog was down for almost two days. I really wanted another cheap and best solution for hosting my website. Another thing is the response time has gone so bad over the months. When you goto their website for support you have to wait for 30 to 45 minutes for the technical guy to come up say something. So I decided to part away from hostgator for bad service and being very expensive.

Last week my friend Ambarish recommended a new cloud based hosting service from DigitalOcean. First I was very sceptical about this cloud as I tried hosting my site with same configuration on Amazon Cloud and did not get good result. But I though let me give a try. So I migrated my blog and did a test run for couple of days and I am pretty happy with it.

Some of the best features I like about DigitalOcean

  • Very easy to create an instance. (Droplets)
  • You have very good list of configuration to choose for the instance
  • The instance can be loaded at 6 different location. I chooseย Amsterdam as I wanted my instance to be high all the time ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • You can boot the instance from variety of images
    • Fresh Linux Distributions
    • Pre build Linux Distributions with custom application like WordPress, LAMP, Ruby, GitLab etc
    • Your own custom images
    • Your existing backup images
    • Even from recently destroyed images
  • Automated Snapshot backup etc.


The journey with DigitalOcean has been really good. Will be updating more on how to related to DigitalOcean and some stats in a months time. They are giving away 10$ credit for every referral I make. Please click on the banners in this blog post if you wish to get a new account. You will be supporting me on my hosting cost for this blog ๐Ÿ˜‰

Imthiaz’s Blog powered by Amazon CloudFront

I have been experimenting with Amazon Web Services for sometime. I was successful in offloading media traffic with the help of Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront plugin for WordPress. But it was never enough. Please don’t think my blog traffic is very high, but this is the only website I have with which I could experiment and explore the new frontiers of cloud.

Two weeks ago I decided that I should start serious blogging again and as a part of commitment I would move the blog to a better hosting environment. Moving to Media Temple about a year ago was one of serious mistake. In terms for the scaling etc, media temple is good. In terms of server management I missed WHM and Cpanel very much. Plus media temple has many uninformed outages for my blog which was seriously disturbing for me.

Once again I was out searching for cloud based hosting. I experimented with Amazon EC2 micro instance which turned out awesomely bad experience. The instance never had dedicated CPU so my blog could get stuck for few seconds at times and it was bad. I started checking out some my previous hosting companies. Westhost had moved to cloud based hosting solution and their reseller hosting package was under my budget and was loaded with WHM. Moved all my sites to the new hosting environment.

After moving the site I decided to serve my blog with Amazon CloudFront. CloudFront has a feature to serve files from custom origin. With this feature I can create a distribution and point the source of the distribution to my web server. For more information on this please refer Amazon documentation for CloudFront.

Comments – When you use CloudFront the communication is one way, so having WordPress comments is out of the question. I have to look for hosted comments system. LiveFyre came to rescue, and it has 100% compatibility with WordPress.

Mobile Theme – CloudFront supports single cache for a page, So having a separate theme for mobile was not applicable. My friend Shuja Shabandri suggested to use responsive theme. After searching for a while I came with simple and responsive design Bugis by Elmastudio.

Content Expiry – CloudFront by default does caching for 24 hours. I had to reduce the caching to 30 minutes for HTML and others to 24 hours. For this I used Expires Headers from Apache.

Will be updating more on this latter ๐Ÿ˜‰

Update: Did a load test using Load Impact Free Load Test and the load time were impressive…

AWS – Adding extra EBS volume to your EC2 instance

When you boot an Amazon Linux EC2 instance it boots with a 8GB EBS volume. If you need more space you need to add additional drives. For this you need to use EBS volumes.

Before you start the process please have look at the current partition blocks loaded in your server. You can do so using the contents of partition file.

Now you goto EBS volume manager in AWS console and create a new volume, make sure the zone is the same in which your EC2 instance is running.

Once the volume is created you need to attach this to an instance. You can right click on the created volume and say attach. Select the instance then device will populate automatically, you can either leave it or change if you need specific device name.

Now check the partition file again. You can see a new device being added.

The volume attached is not ready for use. It is like a new hard disk. You need to partition and format the same. In our case I am going to use the full disk as one partition. So I am going to skip the fdisk setup and jumping right into formatting the volume.

The format process can take few seconds just be patient. The drive is ready to use, and to do the same we need mount it.

If you wish this device to mount automatically when you reboot the server make sure you add this to your fstab file.

When I started which Amazon Cloud, I found these things in a hard way, hope this can help someone ๐Ÿ™‚

VirtualBox web interface with phpVirtualBox

This weekend I had some time to spend with VirtualBox. VirtualBox is a cross-platform virtualization application. This helps you to run various operating system as virtual machine. This is the concept that is adapted by most of the companies which offer us cloud computing. Recently I came to know that VirtualBox has built in Web service with which we can control the virtual instances remotely. My immediate reaction was to search for some open source solution which uses web service of VirtualBox. phpVirtualBox came to rescue. It has full fledged features which can be use used to control VirtualBox installed in a server.

phpVirtualBox – An open source, AJAX implementation of the VirtualBox user interface written in PHP. As a modern web interface, it allows you to access and control remote VirtualBox instances. Much of its verbage and some of its code is based on the (inactive) vboxweb project. phpVirtualBox was created for people (like me) who prefer not to have to log in to their headless VirtualBox host to administer their virtual machines.

To make it work in Mac I had to install the latest beta version of phpVirtualBox (4.1-1b) for VirtualBox (4.1.2). The current stable version had some issues with authentication. However, phpVirtualBox has wiki which helps to install and configure the web application. If you encounter any issues please refer to common errors in phpVirtualBox wiki.

Happy journey with virtualization ๐Ÿ™‚

WordPress S3 plugin updated to 1.1 Alpha

Past couple of days I have been focusing hard to optimize my blog. Related to this I have been working on the next version of s3 plugin.

This version supports the following

  • Uploads any media file in the blog to a CDN
  • Support for cloudfront
  • Expire headers
  • Support for CSS and JS compression
  • Dynamic Cache prefix

Other developers can use this plugin to upload the files to s3 for example

1. This will scan the given content for images belonging to same domain. And will schedule the images for s3 upload. If the upload is done it will replace them in the text.

2. Advanced if you are control freak like me you would like to get more options.

If you are interested in testing please download the wp-s3 1.1 Alpha or checkout from wp-s3 plugin repository trunk.

And another happy new is my blog got a descent page speed score with this plugin update ๐Ÿ˜‰

Note: Please not this plugin is in alpha stages. Please test this on local test environment before testing it on production sites.

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