Everything to DigitalOcean

Moving everything, and saving money while doing so

In May of 2013 I move a bunch of websites from Dreamhost (it’s a referral link) over to FlipHost. Since discovering DigitalOcean (it’s a referral reward link), I’ve been slowly moving most of my hosting over to them.

I wasn’t at all uphappy with the service provided by FlipHost. In fact, their support was excellent and I had come to know the owner quite well. They’re all really great people. However, PuPHPet and DigitalOcean are impossible for me to resist any longer.

The ability to spin up droplets at will is amazing and the API makes building simple, custom control panels very simple. Even though their dash board is already pretty visually appealing.
DigitalOcean Dashboard

I do still have a few sites for friends and family hosted at Dreamhost (also a referral reward link), but I’ll be moving them over to small DigitalOcean droplets within the coming weeks. One VPS at FlipHost has been canceled already and the other has been shutdown for the past 24 hours now, so I’ll be canceling it soon too.

Everything else has been moved to DigitalOcean for some time, including longren.org. The same droplet also servers kegplan.io, but it’ll be getting it’s own droplet very shortly. And then I have a droplet that’s sole purpose is to act as a tor node.

By moving everything to DigitalOcean, I’ll be saving about $30 a month on hosting. I’m currently spending about $60 to $70 a month on hosting.

Do you use DigitalOcean for anything?

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In addition to the great service provided by DigitalOcean, they have a pretty neat mascot, he looks good on t-shirts, too.
DigitalOcean Fish/Shark

DigitalOcean has been great so far, especially their customer service and general availability. I love their one-click application installs, too, which makes installing software like WordPress super simple. I have yet to have any issues with DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean droplets start at only $5/month. If you’d like to try it out, you can signup using my referral link, https://www.digitalocean.com/?refcode=cbf49d0481c8, which will give me account credit. You should also keep an eye on the DigitalOcean Twitter account, as they frequently give discount codes that can get you a couple months of free hosting.

If you’re in the market for a new webhost, definitely give DigitalOcean a shot. Beware though, as with nearly everything, there’s negatives as well. Raam Dev posted a comment warning about how a DigitalOcean site was taken down due to a post on the site that was critical of a friend of the DigitalOcean CEO. There’s plenty of other not-so-good experiences with DigitalOcean, too. Luckily, my ride with DigitalOcean has been totally smooth.


Introducing Kegplan.io

I recently made a post over at the VPSstat.us blog just letting folks know what’s going on and why there’s bee such a delay in getting our product out there for everyone to use. Rather than go into that again, just checkout the post at the VPSstat.us Blog.

The gist of it is, a friend and I have been working on a new startup idea. Kegplan.io, a SaaS business that helps liquor stores to better manage their kegs, with many additional features in the pipeline. Ace (the friend), who runs I-35 Spirits in Ankeny, IA, was the inspiration for the idea. Managing kegs, such as pick up dates, return dates, weather or not the customer needs a tapper, etc, can be a real time drain. Most liquor store owners have much, much better things they could be doing.

We’re almost ready to release a private beta and invite some local liquor stores to try it out. “Local” being in Iowa, Central Iowa preferably, but that doesn’t mean we won’t leave Iowa if we can get a few potential customers lined up out of state.

There’s a very, very basic homepage up now at http://kegplan.io. Please forgive me for it’s ugliness, most of my time so far has been spent developing the software that’s installed on customer sites. I’ll be hitting kegplan.io pretty hard in the next few weeks, including incorporating Pure CSS to make development a bit faster, and also provide full responsiveness.

Below is an overview of how to integrate kegplan.io into your website:

  1. Signup for a kegplan.io account
  2. Choose a plan (beta will be totally free, no cc details required)
  3. Choose the keg beers that your store has available from our admin interface, or send us a spreadsheet and we’ll import it just for you
  4. Install our script on the page on your site you’d like to have the keg request form
  5. That’s it! Direct customers to the page you installed the script on and they’ll be able to submit keg requests. Requests are sent to your email and also stored in a database so you can have all sorts of neat reports and graphs.

Since this is a service that can immediately have a positive impact on businesses, and a friends business specifically, I’m focusing on getting kegplan.io launched before putting more work into VPSstat.us. Kegplan is a relatively simple piece of software so getting it production ready shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks.

All the scripts that are installed on customer websites are hosted on Heroku for maximum availability. The customer control panel is hosted on a pretty beefy VPS from DigitalOcean. We may eventually switch to using DigitalOcean’s private networking with a few different VPS’s in different locations, but I have a feeling Heroku will be plenty sufficient.

Shortly before the private beta release, we’ll be integrating kegplan.io into i35spirits.com. Once it’s been thoroughly tested on i35spirits.com, we’ll drop the private beta. If you’re interested in more info or if you want to get in the private beta right away, email me (Tyler) at tyler at kegplan dot io.

If you’ve got any suggestions on the best, most secure way to deliver scripts for installation on third-party websites, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Right now I’m including a script on customer sites that’s delivered via HTTPS, and basically prints the form on the customer website. And I’m using jQuery and AJAX to send the results back to an SSL enabled domain for storage in a database and to send the necessary notification emails.

Anyway, keep checking kegplan.io for updates. There’ll be a official kegplan.io blog eventually, but right now all announcements will be made here at longren.org, and maybe at the I-35 Spirits website.

Would love to hear any comments. If you know anyone who runs a liquor store or other establishment that sells kegs, please tell them about us! We’re new at this too, so we’ll be helping beta users through every step of the on-boarding process.

Please bear with us as we finish out the customer-facing http://kegplan.io website. I don’t have a lot of time to work on it, other than nights and some weekends, but there’s not a whole lot to do.


DigitalOcean One-Click WordPress Install

I’ve been using DigitalOcean a LOT lately. Disclaimer: That first link will give me referral credit if you do end up using DigitalOcean. I’ve used a small droplet from them for a while now to host a non-exit Tor relay, it runs $5 a month. They frequently give out promo codes on Twitter, too, sometimes worth a couple months of free hosting.

I recently moved this site to a new 1GB DigitalOcean droplet, and used their one-click WordPress install to do it. Some things had changed when deploying new droplets since I had created my first droplet a few months ago. The most noticeable change was the addition of pre-built images of various types, including one for a WordPress installation, as you can see in the images associated with this post.

They’ve got one-click installs for WordPress, various environments including LAMP and Ruby on Rails, both available on various Linux distributions. They’ve even got one for Ghost, the new blog system built with Node.js. I really like how they’ve implemented the whole thing, deploying a new droplet for a WordPress install seriously takes a few minutes, and that’s including SSHing into the new droplet and finishing up with WordPress install.

I’ve been really happy with DigitalOcean so far. Don’t think I’ve experienced any downtime, at least none that me or various monitoring services have noticed, lol. Since you can get promo codes, and a short bit of free hosting, it can’t hurt to try them out. Their servers start at $5/month with 512MB RAM and 20GB SSD Disk, with 1TB of data transfer. Even without the promo codes, their prices are really attractive, at all levels.