I have been using Linode as my web host since April 2013. Before switching to Linode, I was a long-time HostGator fan. That didn’t end so well.
As my needs grew larger, I moved up to HostGator’s VPS service. Even with caching enabled, their VPS server setup just couldn’t handle 2 or 3 basic WordPress sites at a time. I installed WooCommerce on one of the first e-commerce sites I built for a client, and when it had connection issues, the Hostgator Customer Service team literally told me, “You have a plugin called WooCommerce installed. Uninstall that, and it should speed up.”
So I figured it was time to switch to a server that I had complete control over. When I set up my Linode, I even got to choose the Linux distribution that was installed. It was just like setting up my media server from scratch. I had to set up everything, from the email server to the web server packages. There was definitely a learning curve, but it was well worth it to me as a web developer.
Making it All Easier
Although I spent a long time tuning Nginx, PHP-FPM, and MySQL when I first set up my Linode, I eventually made the choice to switch to something much easier to manage. I now use Easy Engine to set up all of my websites.
Easy Engine is a python tool that makes it easy to set up WordPress sites (or just PHP, or static sites) on an nginx server. It’s as simple as typing in “ee site create friday-next.com –wp”, and the entire install is performed for me. It even downloads the most recent version of WordPress, so I don’t have to unzip anything, or create any databases. I do still have to perform some extra setup for enabling TLS (SSL) on my sites, but after doing it on one site, it’s just rinse, lather, repeat on the others.
I also set up automysqlbackup on my server, so that every website’s database will be backed up daily, weekly, and monthly, and a user-defined number of those backups will always exist. I have automysqlbackup put the database backups into an owncloud folder, so they automatically sync to my local computer.
ownCloud Server is another program I set up on my server, to make syncing backups easier. When automysql makes a backup and puts it in an owncloud folder, that backup (as well as the rest of them) will be synced to my home computer. That means that if my server ever crashes, I will have those crucial database backups with me to rebuild all of the sites I host.
I have not set up an automated backup for my sites’ wp-content folders yet, but at the moment, I simply zip the folders manually, and move them into an owncloud folder of their own. It’s not as automated as I’d like, but it certainly does the job for now.
Some Tough Stuff
There are other things I have not enabled on my server, like FTP. This makes it very difficult for my clients to edit things themselves, but on the flip side, it also makes it harder for them to break things. I make all file changes by logging in via SSH, and using vim. I could set up FTP access, but I figure that’s just one more security hole waiting to be breached, so for now I leave everything as locked down as possible.
For newbies, it will also be a little tough to get a grip on exactly how Linux commands work, and how to get things installed and updated. The good news is that Linode has fantastic documentation. So if you’re stuck somewhere, there is likely a guide to get you out of that rut.
Learning anything new is always tough, but this is one of those things that has a very high payoff value once it’s done.
So… should you use Linode for WordPress?
Absolutely. I use the 4GB plan for $40/month, and I currently host 13 websites with no issues. If you’re only hosting one website, you could probably get away with using their 1GB plan for only $10/month. Sure, you could get GoDaddy or Hostgator hosting for less than $10/month, but if you spend the time getting your Linode VPS set up, you won’t have to deal with any of the bullshit that the other guys make you put up with.
I will soon be putting up a guide on how to get up and running with WordPress and Linode, so don’t write it off just yet. I’ll show you exactly how easy it can be, and perhaps you’ll finally have the tools and motivation you need to switch to a rock solid web host.
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