Is it worth just moving from Unmanaged VPS to Self-Hosting at this point?

tekboi

XF Student
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May 22, 2014
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74
So, I have a bit of a conundrum.

I have been paying for shared hosting, since 2006 for various projects that I have. I started with a very basic shared server and then eventually switched to a VPS share. All was fine for a pretty long time until recently, when I realized how much server-side software was out-of-date and needing to be updated. Now I'm faced with needing to update cPanel and WHM, which will require me to update my version of CentOS and wipe the server completely. It was at this point that I realized I have been on an unmanaged VPS server since 2014 and would need to make all of these changes myself.

Coincidentally, a friend of mind has given me a hand-me-down Lenovo ThinkServer and am very beginner level in my abilities with linux server management, but I'm definitely willing to learn.

Since I am going to have to basically start from scratch, wouldn't it make sense to just host my websites on my own server? Wouldn't it be more cost effective in the long-run? Bluehost support has really been piss poor ever since they were bought out by EIG, but I fear that maybe the lift will be too heavy for me to take on. Or maybe I'm just making this a lot more complicated than it will actually be to do myself.
 

mysiteguy

Migration Expert
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Feb 20, 2007
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3,469
Easiest path is to get a VPS or dedicated server with Alma or Rocky Linux pre-installed since they are now the stable CentOS replacement since Redhat changed Centos 8.x into a beta stream.

You'll most likely come out less with getting cPanel through a hosting provider rather directly licensing it for your own server (cPanel's direct costs have become very high for dedicated and vps systems). Then do a cPanel backup of each site, copy it to the new server and restore it in the new cPanel.

If price is a concern, install Litespeed Cyberpanel on your ThinkServer. Its free and backed up by the folks who make the Litespeed web server software. Its not as complete as cPanel, but it is very good considering its free. It has cPanel backups restoration. :)
 

FTL

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Nov 4, 2021
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There's no one right answer to your question, so just look at all the suggestions in this thread and make up your own mind. Here's my take on it.

The infrastructure software is critically important to the security and performance of your website. I couldn't find a package that I was happy with since they all run old versions of the OS, PHP & MySQL, so for this reason, I went AWS and rolled my own web hosting from scratch.

There's quite a learning curve, no handholding from AWS, but some excellent documentation and definitely not the cheapest solution out there, but I now control everything, so it's all fully customised to how I like it. It's running the latest versions of the OS, web server PHP and MySQL and I make sure to patch them when the updates come out, which was the main point of going AWS and the website works brilliantly - just have a browse to see what I mean. Also, the backups are customised to my preferences, too. You can go Linux or Windows servers, but Windows costs more due to Microsoft licensing.

One thing you'll wanna do is use the cost calculator, since the server costs can ramp up quickly, so make sure that the configuration you want is affordable for you. Also, AWS have their free-for-a-year tiers of virtual server and databases, which dramatically lower your costs for the first year after creating your AWS account. Check out AWS here:

 

haqzore

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Dec 6, 2012
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Just because you have a box doesn't mean you can make your own server.

Are you planning on doing this at home? I'd almost guarantee you're violating your ISPs terms of service.

Or do you plan on renting space in a rack somewhere to physically sit your box at a physical server location? No way that's gonna be cheaper than a shared host plan.

What is your traffic? What are you hosting? What are your actual server needs?
 

Uncrowned

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Dec 31, 2012
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Odds are it will not be cheaper or easier by even remote margins to run your own server. Besides having a degree and career in server management or simply wanting to do everything as a hobby or for the learning exp, then I'd 100% say let a hosting company do the heavy lifting and focus on your website content and such instead.

A small hobby site can be self-hosted fairly well with makeshift setups and such, but a medium to large project is going to need a large list of programs running, business-level internet, security, etc. and then you will likely still find that a great home setup will struggle to match the speeds and such of a datacenter depending on your location. And really the small site is going to be limited by the setup and your home network will be more insecure if you mess things up.
 

FTL

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371
Odds are it will not be cheaper or easier by even remote margins to run your own server. Besides having a degree and career in server management or simply wanting to do everything as a hobby or for the learning exp, then I'd 100% say let a hosting company do the heavy lifting and focus on your website content and such instead.

A small hobby site can be self-hosted fairly well with makeshift setups and such, but a medium to large project is going to need a large list of programs running, business-level internet, security, etc. and then you will likely still find that a great home setup will struggle to match the speeds and such of a datacenter depending on your location. And really the small site is going to be limited by the setup and your home network will be more insecure if you mess things up.
I agree with you. However, my heart is with running my current site from home. It's currently impossible since I have very slow "broadband", especially with an ADSL upload speed of 1.something megabits, sigh. Getting fibre is impossible at the moment, unfortunately.

So, let's assume that I now have a shiny new 900Mbps fibre connection like many homes can get now. I could buy my own hardware and build a nicely specced / overspecced server with something like a quad core+ CPU, 16GB RAM and TB of storage space for not a huge amount of money.

The website would fly - and these ISPs are ok with running home websites nowadays, too.

But then I have to think about things like UPSs, failover with redundant hardware = $$$ cost, electricity bill (damned expensive now for running this 24/7), somewhere to put it, noise & cooling and internet connection reliability which will definitely not match a datacentre, so still better to run it on AWS like I'm doing now with a low powered virtual server. It has enough performance for my small site and is perfectly reliable.

I could always run a little test site on my home broadband though. ♥️
 

LeadCrow

Apocalypse Admin
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An immutable server image is relatively safe to deploy, run and keep updated with little downtime and micromanaging as long as you got someone experienced to help.
Its still a jarring experience compared to oldschool server installs you need to get intimately familiar with and are difficult to unmess in the eventuality of problems.

As for costs, theyve never been this low for bandwidth, ram and cpu but consumer-grade hardware and electric grid will reduce your efficiencies so you might find it preferable to keep hosting on services that pass down some of the saving they make. You dont want your important community running off rusty metal in an amateur's garage.

The simplest and cheapest way to go would still be to ask a friend whose server or webhosting plan has spare capacity to host your site on his infrastructure.
 

FTL

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An immutable server image is relatively safe to deploy, run and keep updated with little downtime and micromanaging as long as you got someone experienced to help.
Its still a jarring experience compared to oldschool server installs you need to get intimately familiar with and are difficult to unmess in the eventuality of problems.

As for costs, theyve never been this low for bandwidth, ram and cpu but consumer-grade hardware and electric grid will reduce your efficiencies so you might find it preferable to keep hosting on services that pass down some of the saving they make. You dont want your important community running off rusty metal in an amateur's garage.

The simplest and cheapest way to go would still be to ask a friend whose server or webhosting plan has spare capacity to host your site on his infrastructure.
That's alright, I know how to set it all up myself from scratch on AWS or a physical server and image it, so that's not a problem and sure, a home server has high start up costs for the server hardware if buying new.

Of course, if it's hardware failure on a home server with no failover, then it's extra downtime (troubleshooting and fixing) along with any software fixes required afterwards.

As you know, I'm already running on AWS and was just saying where my heart is. :) Mind you, AWS is pretty epic, too. Monitoring and backing up my site now it's all set up are a piece of cake.
 

echo_off

Ponders things of unknowable validity
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Mar 24, 2011
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I would be inclined to agree with LeadCrow.

There's a lot of domain specific knowledge in how to properly configure a server for maximum security.

You have to consider:
  • Maintenance – which involves keeping server software up to date, including OS versions, language versions (PHP for example), MySQL or MariaDB versions, Apache/nginx versions, SSL certificates, encryption algorithms
  • File permissions – which involves learning UNIX file permissions
  • Firewall configuration
  • Packages like modsecurity
  • Intermediary services like Cloudflare (and ensuring your server's IP is never correlated with the domain pointing to it, so that request always pass through the Cloudflare proxy, which will filter for detected exploit attempts)
  • Dynamic IP DNS, which can be done, but simpler to purchase a static IP
  • And more
However, if you instead go for managed hosting by a reputable hosting provider, all of this except the maintenance of your forum software is dealt with for you. The expertise is employed in-house to manage the server, keep it up to date, and to potentially install and manage software.

A company I used to work for used LayerShift. They were excellent and had a lot of in-house experience, and could maintain a pretty specific set of requires for some SaaS software I built. This has now been migrated to the company I now work for, which acquired the software along with myself, which manage their own hosting services, but have the in-house experience for this.

If you consider how much time you will spend learning this, and maintaining the server, that could be spent working, on with your family, how much will that time be worth to you, monetarily and emotionally?
 

Tracy Perry

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May 25, 2013
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Since I am going to have to basically start from scratch, wouldn't it make sense to just host my websites on my own server?
Have you priced co-location costs? Or are you presuming to place the server in your house and use your home ISP to host it? If the latter, be aware that many ISP's block ports AND/OR have TOS's that do not allow that.... and can result in cancellation of your account.
Average decent Co-Lo costs last time I checked averaged around $99 a month. Of course, you get ALL the server resources for that, along with the backbone that Co-Lo account provides... but the question is, is it necessary?
For me, I'd have no issues doing it as I'm VERY comfortable with administering Windows, many versions of Linux and even FreeBSD. But for a normal person, I would NOT recommend it. Your better choice would probably be to look for a quality hosting provider and then a third-party maintenance provider.
 

tekboi

XF Student
Joined
May 22, 2014
Messages
74
Thanks for all of the input guys.

It looks like hosting my websites on my home server is not going to be feasible at this point due to the frequency of power outages and other legal issues. I am knowledgable enough to stand up everything on an unmanaged server. I have luckily made some server admin friends as well (through my own community actually!). So it's really going to be a matter of whether I should go with Digital Ocean, AWS, or some other alternative.
 

tekboi

XF Student
Joined
May 22, 2014
Messages
74
Have you priced co-location costs? Or are you presuming to place the server in your house and use your home ISP to host it? If the latter, be aware that many ISP's block ports AND/OR have TOS's that do not allow that.... and can result in cancellation of your account.
Average decent Co-Lo costs last time I checked averaged around $99 a month. Of course, you get ALL the server resources for that, along with the backbone that Co-Lo account provides... but the question is, is it necessary?
For me, I'd have no issues doing it as I'm VERY comfortable with administering Windows, many versions of Linux and even FreeBSD. But for a normal person, I would NOT recommend it. Your better choice would probably be to look for a quality hosting provider and then a third-party maintenance provider.
I'm unfamiliar with the term "Co-Lo"... but that sounds like a very interesting route to take.
 

Tracy Perry

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May 25, 2013
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5,199
I'm unfamiliar with the term "Co-Lo"... but that sounds like a very interesting route to take.
Co-Location. It's where you provide the server hardware and the business provides the backbone connectivity. Some of them also will have the option of you entering a maintenance agreement with them.
 

LeadCrow

Apocalypse Admin
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Jun 29, 2008
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6,776
Colo makes the most sense if you have a really powerful machine and can pay a management company or sysadmin to occasionaly perform maintainance for you.

You mentioned having obtained a server from a friend, what are its specs ?
 

Deathstarr

Forum Owner
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Mar 15, 2011
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403
I would do a simple newer VPS wtih DirectAdmin since the control panel is cheaper then the cPanel licensing now days. KNownHost.com would be a good one for you for managed or you could do something simple like Linode. THere are dozends of VPS providers from lowend to high end.
 

tekboi

XF Student
Joined
May 22, 2014
Messages
74
Colo makes the most sense if you have a really powerful machine and can pay a management company or sysadmin to occasionaly perform maintainance for you.

You mentioned having obtained a server from a friend, what are its specs ?
My server is not powerful by a long shot.

But it's better than what I currently have under Bluehost.

and I've maxed out the DDR3 ram w/ 32gb
 

sean8ing

Aspirant
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Apr 17, 2018
Messages
27
You can always migrate.

You’d be surprised how easy it is to run servers from home for things that aren’t mission critical.

A hobby forum can work well on even older raspberry pis in a closet!

I say go for it!

Can always migrate.
 

sean8ing

Aspirant
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Apr 17, 2018
Messages
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My server is not powerful by a long shot.

But it's better than what I currently have under Bluehost.

and I've maxed out the DDR3 ram w/ 32gb
Yeah. And you don’t have to share it!
 

sanction9

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Feb 19, 2015
Messages
308
I know I'm stating what's probably obvious here, but you would of course need to check with your ISP before hosting your own server at home. Just throwing that out there because I haven't seen anyone mention the fact that it's not a given that anyone can do this with any ISP. Even if they don't specifically prohibit it, they likely have some restriction in place when it comes to bandwidth usage, since we all know they like to treat bandwidth like it's some kind of precious, perishable commodity.

EDIT: Ah, I see that haqzore did touch on this above, but of course it's the one post I initially missed :p

 
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