2017-05: Offsite Hosting

Location: Communitech Jelly Bean Room 1st Floor, 151 Charles Street West, Kitchener, ON (Look for the building with the Communitech, Google, and Desire To Learn logos, enter at the glass doors.)
Date: Monday, 8 May 2017
Time: 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Where are your servers? Are you self-hosting? Have you thought about professional hosting? What services does a professional hosting service offer? Do you need shared hosting? Do you need a VPS? What’s a VPS? What’s a colocation site? How much will all this cost?

Come share your experiences with self-hosting, shared hosting, and VPSes. Bob and Marc have the questions, and special guest Mark Steffen from indieServe Networks will have the answers.

See you at the meeting!
–Bob Jonkman and Marc Paré


Selecting a hosting provider

  • There’s no “One size fits all”
  • What do you need?
    • Disaster recovery?
    • Microsoft licensing?
    • E-mail hosting?

What kinds of servers for a host?

  • Dell servers at one place
  • Had HPs, didn’t mind them
    • indieServe has some HP servers for colocation
  • Lenovo, but there was BIOS based malware
    • Liked IBM servers, anecdotally liked the reliability
    • indieServe has all Lenovo servers

Offsite Hosting Problems?

  • Shared hosting was OK for a while, but host was asking for more money
  • Another company seemed perfect shared hosting (using WordPress),
    • Works today, but lots of complaints on Facebook, so he no longer trusts
  • Backups?
    • Yes, keeping your own backups in addition to using the hosts’ backups

indieServe Networks

  • indieServe is hosting for KWLUG, KWVoIP, FairvoteWRC, KWPeace, &c.
  • About $10/month for shared host
    • No limits but on the honour system
    • Keep it to one company per shared host
    • Local non-profits may be able to get really good deal — talk to Mark Steffen
  • Also has VPS (Virtual Private Servers)
  • Can do hosted Windows servers or domain
    • Good for small file sharing systems
    • Microsoft has a specific licensing arrangement for hosting providers
    • Cost based on cores and sockets, plus number of customers
    • Not cheap, $100’s /month
    • Similar model to Azure or Amazon AWS

Offsite Backups

  • Some customers use offsite hosting only for data replication (disaster recovery)
    • Do keep offsite backups encrypted
    • For any backup solution check with Legal for PIPEDA legislation
    • Cheap backup? 20¢/GiByte for storage is typical
  • Backup software:
    • Duplicity for Linux
    • Cloud Berry for backup service
    • DupliCaddy for Windows (Open Source, Beta software,supports SQL, kinda slow)
      • For Windows, do full backup, then everything is incremental afterwards
      • But it keeps a synthetic “Full” in the background
    • With S3 or Azure, you can restore to EC2 — get (almost) instant restore on external VPS — really cheap disaster recovery
    • Back Blaze (personal backup for $5/month, also B2 backup storage, .02c/Gibyte?, $10/month for 1 TByte?)
  • indieServe keeps hard backups (USB drives stored offsite)

Backup horror stories

  • Hijacked truck (backups not encrypted, nobody knows who now has access to backup data)
  • Encrypted backups corrupted (physical disk damage corrupted one block of data, cypher block chaining made rest of backup inaccesible)
  • Bulk files corrupted (backup file is OK, but contained invalid data, making rest of the backup invalid)
  • Tape backup is still the most dense storage for immutable backups
  • Mark Steffen has techniques for redundant backup storage (good for ransomware attacks, &c.)
  • How much backup do you need?
    • How much data can you afford to lose?
    • Have at least one automated backup in place


  • Run your own service on a VPS or shared host (XMPP, Wiki, Social media) instead of using Facebook, Google, Twitter)
  • Manage your own server, colocated in a datacentre
  • Getting a DSL line (with multi-link support), and running a server on premises
  • Managed hosting – servers in house or colo, but contract out the SysAdmin

Webhosting Management

  • Set up WordPress, &c.
  • Handles updates, patch management, backups, email
  • Installatron for managing applications
  • Varnish is a cache in front of Apache, for bursty traffic
  • cPanel is pricey? $20/month for bare metal, less for a VPS
    • Keeping cPanel on a VPS makes it portable, allows cPanel admin to perform maintenance with no downtime
  • A Virtual Machine host
  • The free version is pretty unrestricted
  • Use Zenserver to run cPanel
Cloud Linux
  • uses CageFS,
  • isolates users from each other
Other Panels?
  • CentOS Web Panel
  • ISP Config
  • Ubuntu MAAS
  • WebMin, VirtualMin
  • WHM is the management tool for cPanel
  • WHMCS is a shopping cart / billing system for hosting
    • But these apps may have security issues (PHP doncha know)

Reseller hosting

  • Perhaps for Web developers, who want to manage resources for their customers
  • Can add multiple accounts, lets hosting provider manage growth and resources
  • Could be unlimited accounts, but typically 300 GBytes, good for about 50 accounts

Video Recording of this Meetup (by Gheorghe Curelet-Balan): https://youtu.be/p5o6Cc7Kja8

This entry was posted in Offsite Hosting, Past Meetings. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply