Virtual Private Server on SSD storage

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Recently I read about the virtual private servers you can create on www.DigitalOcean.com. They call them Droplets, and they get created in less then a minute if you don’t enable back-ups, or just a couple of minutes with back-up service enabled. You can choose between different geographically located data centers. You can choose between New York, San Francisco, London, Amsterdam and Singapore. You get one public ip address (or ipv6 if you prefer, but who does anyway).

You can choose out of some pre selected minimal OS installations such as Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Fedora and CoreOS. Or you could even deploy your VPS complete with a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) or even with WordPress of Drupal setup. If I looked at the price (10$/month or 12$ with back-up) for a VPS, with 1 CPU, 1GB RAM, 30GB DISK and 2TB data transfer, and compared that to what I was currently paying for 2 shared hosting plans, the math was clear. For a bit less than what I was paying I get my very own Virtual Private Server where I can configure everything I want and have full rights on everything.

For me, as an enthusiastic system engineer, with experience on multiple Linux flavors, this was a very nice project. Starting from a minimal CentOS 7 installed Droplet, I quickly installed and configured Apache, MySQL and PHP and started serving web pages. My first tests were a success. I configured different management tools and secured the system with a software firewall. Because your VPS has a public ip address you must think good about security. It took some time getting used to the new firewall software system in CentOS 7 called firewalld. After some cursing I had it set up as I wanted.

The next step was to migrate the first of my existing websites over to the new VPS. I chose to configure virtual hosts in an organized manner so that I could always expand to more websites if needed. After transferring the databases and website data, I set course for a new goal, making my sites more secure by using HTTPS encryption on the login pages. By using the free 1 year class 1 certificates from www.startssl.com I did not have to make any extra costs, and after some hours of configuring and testing I had everything running smoothly. I migrated all the DNS records to my new VPS and shortly after my 1st website was running live on the new VPS.

My next goal was to set up mailboxes for every virtual host and using IMAP to connect to them. I choose POSTFIX as the SMTP server and DOVECOT as the IMAP server. POSTFIX was configured for using virtual mailboxes that don’t require a Linux user. DOVECOT was configured for SSL/TLS encrypted connections so password are never sent in clear text. To finish it off I installed ROUNDCUBE as a web mail solution.

After my successful first website migration the second one followed quickly and went smoothly as well. This time I also needed a FTP setup and I chose VSFTPD and again made it possible to use SSL encryption.

The VPS is now running 2 of my websites without a hick-up so far, but the biggest one is still to come.
Currently running:
http://www.gobien.be
The root level gets redirected here, but sub folders such as http://www.gobien.be/pvdiary/ and sub domains such as http://photo.gobien.be are in use.

http://www.belgium-tourist-information.com

A new project that I started that will hopefully soon be filled with valuable information for visiting Belgium.

PS: If you are wondering why I don’t migrate this blog, running on my home server, that’s because it’s a challenge to keep a website running on a homeserver with minimal hardware costs and dynamic internet ip address. It also has some other uses for me besides serving this blog.

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