My second pre-paid year of web hosting is coming to a close this December, so I figured I should re-evaluate my choice of service provider. Two years ago when I first investigated buying hosting for Sasha to put up Tapir Type I chose, somewhat at random, to go with OLM. When I say randomly, that isn’t entirely true because I agonized over the choice somewhat, never having signed up with a hosting provider or registered a domain name before and having for the most part dropped out of exploring the nuts and bolts of Internet hosting before the bubble had even peaked. But they had a good recommendation from CNET and seemed to offer a lot for a little (but not so much so as to be too good to be true) so I jumped on them feeling they were a safe bet.
And they were. They’ve served me well over these first two years, never giving me much trouble and generally allowing me to do what I wanted to do. But they weren’t very exciting or flexible and the few times I did want to do something different or figure out how something was working on the servers I didn’t feel I had good options to turn to. And in general they didn’t seem to have given too much though or put much interest in how they had things set up, they just made it work—a perfectly valid business model.
But since I got more involved with Tapirtype after setting up this blog, I became interested in going with a host that seemed to have a little more spirit and flexibility. Fortunately, naive as I was when first signing up for hosting, I did get the message that it was a good idea to register your domain name with a different company, so I had the flexibility to jump ship. When I started researching alternatives, TextDrive seemed like a good fit from the beginning. They don’t offer the most raw numbers for the money, but on the other hand they were more than just an upgrade in power. Several things got me excited as I explored their website:
- They have a focus on free software and web standards and have a good Mac OS X community.
- They have a strong community with forums where people can and do help each other hash out their problems.
- They have clearly put real thought and pride into how they have set up their systems and have already thought of and come up with solutions to most common and many uncommon problems.
- There is a decent amount of documentation about how things are set up.
- Finally, while I might not need it now, they have many powerful options and are staying on top of the most current advances, giving me many opportunities to play with new technologies and expand my horizons, should I, say, get the desire to write my own app in Rails.
So I copied my files and databases over, tweaked things a bit, and pointed the domain over to their nameservers, so this is now being served up from Textdrive.
The move went pretty smoothly. I’ll write more about the process and my impressions later, but I got it all done in under a week (and it was a very busy work week with only a little time every day to pay attention to hobbies) and I’ve only got one strange lingering issue—not TextDrive’s fault—that doesn’t seem to cause any real problems (for some reason the Movable Type summary screen thinks I have two identical weblogs even though in all other lists there’s only the one).
I’ve already benefitted from the move in one concrete way. One of the problems that I had earlier while decrufting my links was that I was getting some strange behavior related to doing URL rewriting from the sub domain (probably to be expected). At TextDrive I was able to set up blog.tapirtype.com as an independent virtual domain from tapirtype.com giving me the ability to do redirects from mod_rewrite without bouncing back to www.tapirtype.com instead of blog.tapirtype.com.
So my rewrite rules now look like this, as they should, neatly funneling requests to entries in 2006 that might link to the old “…/basename.suffix” to “…/basename” and bouncing direct requests to the index back to the directory:
RewriteRule ^(.*)/index$ $1 [R=301] RewriteRule ^(.*)/index\.(.*)$ $1 [R=301] RewriteRule ^(2006/[\d][\d]/)([^/]+)\.(.*)$ $1$2 [R=301]