[lug] Hosting Question

Ken MacFerrin lists at macferrin.com
Fri Sep 29 20:00:12 MDT 2006

dio2002 at indra.com wrote:
>> I use:
>> 1) a hosted Xen VPS server for my email server (smtp/imaps &
>> webmail/https) and primary "stealth" DNS.
> who is this hosted with?

I've been using Unixshell# (www.unixshell.com) and have been happy with
the VPS service (fast hardware & connectivity, ability to change
distros, filesystems, managed rdns, backup and start/stop/reboot through
the web control panel and also even boot console access over ssh) _but_
they do consider this to be an "unmanaged" service, which essentially
means there is ZERO customer support except for hardware or connectivity
problems.  You will not receive any hand holding on sysadmin stuff or
"how do I" type questions.  Their forums are the only avenue for this.
If you're an experienced admin, it's great, if you want a higher level
of support, probably not the right place.  I'm on "The 256" plan, which
looks like it's gone up $10/mo since I had subscribed.  I've not tried
tummy.com before but would certainly explore them as well if I ever
wanted to bother to change.

>> 2) EveryDNS.net (free/donation) for my DNS slave servers and RDNS to my
>> home Comcast ip.
> Where does the home comcast box come into play.  I thought you were
> hosting sites with dreamhost?

I have one of my domains setup with rdns to my comcast ip for easy
remote access to my home network and any other hobby projects I want to
run.  Not really relevant to this setup, but I do use my home server to
regularly backup my dreamhost domains over ssh.

>> 3) Dreamhost.com for my WWW hosting.
> fwiw.. i just tried bringing up www.mcferrin.com and it was down..
> hope this isn't a function of your described setup above :-)...

You're missing the "a".. it's www.macferrin.com.. but that's in
transition right now and not serving any real web content except my own
private services on https (roundcube webmail, postfixadmin, mailzu,
awstats, mailman, etc).  You can checkout quite a few of the production
websites hosted by Dreamhost, including some multimedia intensive sites at:

I'm only giving them props as a satisfied customer myself.. but if you
do signup you can get me a referral bonus by using the referral link
below ;)

>> I enjoy this setup for several reasons.  First, using the VPS I have
>> flexibility to design my email and whatever other "always on" services I
>> want w/o having to worry about the infrastructure or security concerns
>> of running it from my home server.  My VPS host also provides a simple
>> web interface for me to download regular "snapshot" (tar.gz) backups of
>> my VPS to allow for instant restore if there was ever a catastrophic
>> failure (or closure) on their end.  I currently use Debian but there are
>> several distros available.
> -like the backup snapshot via interface.. again who is your vps provider?
> -how is running DNS privately outside of your host provider a benefit for
> you?

Unixshell does not provide managed DNS as part of the package I listed
above, so you can either provide it using your own VPS or via a 3rd
party service.  I use my VPS to provide my "master" server because I
like the configuration flexibility of BIND versus having to set
everything up in the EveryDNS web console.  The advantage of just using
the EveryDNS servers as slaves and then pointing my domains directly to
them is that I don't have to expose my BIND service publicly on my VPS
(can restrict access to the EveryDNS IPs) or use my VPS bandwidth to
answer DNS queries, and I also get the redundancy of the EveryDNS
servers in case my VPS is down for some reason.

>> Second, using EveryDNS I can configure whatever DNS needs I have using
>> Bind on my VPS and then set EveryDNS to provide slave servers; which is
>> where I actually point my domains so that my VPS doesn't have to handle
>> public DNS queries.
> - can you explain the benefit of this.  i'm not sure i see it?

see above.. mainly redundancy.

>> Third, I use Dreamhost.com as my webhost so my VPS doesn't have to
>> handle the load or security of serving public www.  It's actually
>> cheaper to pay for separate webhosting than it would be to beef up my
>> VPS service to handle decent public web services with http/php/mysql.
>> Overall this runs me around $40/mo.  $32/mo for the VPS (256 ram, 12GB
>> disk, 256GB monthly bandwidth and 3 public IPs) and $8/mo for the
>> webhosting (20 GB diskspace, 1 TB monthly bandwidth, unlimited # of
>> hosted domains, etc).  Plus I also try to be a good netizen and donate a
>> bit annually to support EveryDNS.
> i'm trying to wrap my head around your setup but i'm having a hard time
> with the benefits of just letting your host provider handle those same
> services.  something tells me you have many website clients. if it's
> possible, could you provide an example site and how the pieces are fitting
> together.. if not that's ok too?

At this point I'm not running any high volume domains.. just my personal
stuff and some small business needs..  My reasoning is somewhat based on
security but mainly scalability..  if I ever do post something
interesting enough that it was to suffer a slashdotting, then it's the
Dreamhost servers that have to deal with the traffic instead of bringing
my mailhost to it's knees.  Also, you get much more www horsepower for
much less $$ from a pure webhost than you do out of a VPS.  The VPS
gives me a full blown distro to setup whatever custom services I need
but the cost of memory, disk and bandwidth is much higher than than a
webhost.  The amount infrastructure that Dreamhost provides in http and
database services would cost me a fortune to match using the VPS.  Also,
my VPS is pretty full with my current mail services (postfix, mysql,
amavis, spamassassin, clamav, pyzor, dkfliter, dovecot, mailman, etc) so
it's cheaper to offload the http work and diskspace to Dreamhost than to
upgrade to the next level of VPS.


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