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Three Years of Self-Hosting

Three years ago, I made the slightly crazy decision to run this website from my own server. This page is brought to you by a four-year-old generic PC that sits under my desk and dutifully hands out the web pages of my site to anyone from anywhere on the internet that asks for them.

Over the last three years, running my own server has taught me a lot. It has given me complete freedom and control, as well as complete responsibility over my own website. The hardware, software and configuration are all my own thing — if I get it wrong, I have to fix it.

That opportunity has made me learn lots about what you need to do to get a Linux-based server on the internet and keep it running. I keep the software installation on the server as lean as possible; I don’t even install a GUI or any applications that aren’t directly related to the tasks the server has to do. I am fanatical about backing everything on the machine up as frequently as is necessary and making sure that I could rebuild the setup at any point without losing data.

There are also huge disadvantages to running my own server, particularly when it is connected to a home-grade internet connection. The upload bandwidth is very poor, which means that all visitors to the site can only get the pages as fast as I can push them out. That does mean I am forced to keep my pages a small size and to optimise them as much as possible, but it would be nice not to be so limited in what I can deliver. That also means that if my internet connection goes down, so does my site.

All in all, though, I have really enjoyed the opportunities and challenges that running my own web server from home has presented. I look forward to continuing my self-hosting arrangement for a long time to come.

While I am being nostalgic, this is a good excuse to show some cool graphs and interesting statistics from my time self hosting.

Page Loads/Unique Visitors/Returning Visitors April 2008–March 2010

Page Loads/Unique Visitors/Returning Visitors April 2008–March 2010

As you can see, my server has handled a decent amount of traffic over the past three years!

Uptime report August 2008–April 2010

Uptime report August 2008–April 2010

That is less than a day’s downtime since August 2008! (Only measured in 1 hour intervals, however, so take that with a pinch of salt)

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2 Comments

  1. Tapilsa Tasurtep wrote:

    Could you, Peter, provide a How-To for self-hosting sites? Furnishing practical details sufficient for readers to implement self-hosting would be helpful. You know, tips and tricks for excellent choices, as well as pitfalls to avoid.

    For good measure, please share what would you do today, in 2010, if you were setting out to self-host from scratch? I, for one, have been thinking about self-hosting for years now, but never got around to getting started. You, on the other hand, the veteran, have had it going for years.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 11:52 | Permalink | Using Mozilla SeaMonkey Mozilla SeaMonkey 2.0.5 on SuSE Linux SuSE Linux
  2. Peter wrote:

    I’ll look into this as an idea. It would probably have to be a post series; there are certainly lots of issues involved with self-hosting.

    Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 21:27 | Permalink | Using Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox 3.6.8 on Mac OS X Mac OS X 10

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