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The Changed Equation for Cheap Shared Web Hosting

by dmorgo (Pilgrim)
on Aug 26, 2007 at 05:11 UTC ( #635091=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

dmorgo has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

It's a perennial question: what is a good, cheap ($10 or less / month) web host with decent features? The answer depends on what the customer is looking for. In my case, I'm guessing my needs are similar to the needs of a lot of other monks: shell access, ssh, FastCGI, mod_perl, PHP, MySQL, truly up-to-date Perl, up-to-date modules, ability to install own modules and software, cron, procmail, java (for running ant), ImageMagick, and some other scripting languages available like Ruby and Python. Multiple domains on one account are important too. Also it would be very good to have some frameworks such as Catalyst, Django, and Rails already installed and working so I don't have to go through all the installation pain to play with or use them. (And yes, there is pain when installing on shared hosts as module and framework authors often neglect to fully test their installations in non-root scenarios.)

The newly changed part of the equation for cheap web hosting is that now with Amazon S3 available, getting a plan with a lot of bandwidth becomes less important. Yet most plans are priced according to bandwidth, rather than other, now more important, features.

I'd like to choose my next hosting plan on features other than bandwidth. The requirements and nice-to-haves listed above are asking for a lot, but would they really be too much to ask for, given that I'm happy to live with less bandwidth?

So if you're tempted to reply to this and say "you get what you pay for", wait, I'm asking for LESS bandwidth in exchange for my more features. Are any web hosts paying attention to the changing equation for storage/bandwidth and adjusting to provide plans that would target customers like me?

Also it would be nice if the host did not support Front Page and did not have a control panel. Sigh.

Things that are less important to me: 100% reliability, hold-your-hand-on-the-easy-issues tech support (though I still hope they have strong staff who can help with the truly hard issues), location (although near a MAE or on a backbone can't hurt).

Are there any hosts out there anyone would suggest that would seem to match up with these requirements?

BTW I've tried Pair and liked it for the most part. But it has this nasty habit of killing processes in the middle of CPAN installs, probably because the process (a CPAN install, for Christ's sake!) is taking too much memory (I'm guessing the limit on memory size is probably around 16MB, and was probably defined back in 1995 or so when 128MB of memory cost $600). Of course when this happens, it's hard to catch because it's often a sub-process and the main cpan script is still running, happily trying to install other parts of the dependency chain. And I'm not sure if Pair supports FastCGI and mod_perl -- if they do, let me know. Hurricane Electric is good but doesn't support FastCGI, and their Perl install is ancient; I had to install my own. And both and limit the cheap accounts to one domain name.

Money is an issue. This is supposed to be for fun hacking around and learning. If I decide to make it into a business, then yes I will pay more, but my question is about cheap hosting.

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Re: The Changed Equation for Cheap Shared Web Hosting
by EvanCarroll (Chaplain) on Aug 26, 2007 at 06:59 UTC
    Check out (the small guys), and dreamhost (the standard). I use, just to ssh irssi. ( It gives me another ip address to evade bans... j/k I would never do that ;) )

    Evan Carroll
      Wow, looks great! Thanks! I've looked at dreamhost in the past and I forget now why I wrote them off, but will look at them again too.
Re: The Changed Equation for Cheap Shared Web Hosting
by Cap'n Steve (Friar) on Aug 26, 2007 at 08:49 UTC
    Your problem is going to be mod_perl (and maybe Java). Nothing less than a virtual server will have mod_perl installed.
      Thanks for the reply. In my dreams, the host would have mod_perl and one of either FastCGI or SCGI. But maybe you're right, I'm just dreaming.

      BTW has Java in /opt, but then they're lacking some other things like multiple domain names and FastCGI/SCGI.

      Grokthis has mod_perl installed and it's shared but you get your own Apache. You also get non-root ssh.

      Evan Carroll
        That is interesting, although the plan that offers it does seem pretty similar to a virtual server. What's more interesting is that they're running Apache 2, which I though could handle mod_perl in a shared environment.
Re: The Changed Equation for Cheap Shared Web Hosting
by perrin (Chancellor) on Aug 26, 2007 at 16:14 UTC
    Get a virtual server. Then you'll have root and can install whatever you need.
Re: The Changed Equation for Cheap Shared Web Hosting
by randyk (Parson) on Aug 26, 2007 at 16:32 UTC
Re: The Changed Equation for Cheap Shared Web Hosting
by derby (Abbot) on Aug 26, 2007 at 12:23 UTC

    Sorry I don't have an answer to you question but could you expand on how Amazon S3 will not impact your bandwidth? Maybe I'm not reading the docs correctly but it appears to me that Amazon S3 will *double* your bandwidth issues.

    For example, traditionally the bandwidth is measured by request from user(s), response to user(s). Now your bandwidth requirements are request from user(s), request to S3, response from S3, response to user(s). Is there some special, serve up straight from Amazon I'm missing?

      The main bandwidth savings I'm thinking about would come from heavy media files like images, which would be hosted on S3. The user's browser would request the HTML from my site, which would then serve them the HTML. Then their browser would parse the HTML, see the image links pointing to S3, and the browser would make a request directly to S3 for the image. Then S3 would serve the image directly to their browser. Nothing really special going on here; this is just the way the web plumbing works.

      You do have to pay at S3 for the upload bandwidth, a one-time event, as well as for storage, (and obviously for the download bandwidth) but those are pretty cheap (pennies).

      Then there might be a speed issue for some applications. Recently I noticed a site that was loading a bit slow, and the browser status bar showed it was waiting for images from S3. It was only about a one-second delay, but long enough to cause me to glance down at the status bar. Amazon claims their latency is OK (pretty vague, I forget their exact wording) but I'm skeptical. When I use them I'm planning to use CSS preloading of images on subsequent pages, in cases where it's likely those pages will be viewed.

Re: The Changed Equation for Cheap Shared Web Hosting
by Popcorn Dave (Abbot) on Aug 26, 2007 at 23:23 UTC
    Well if you're in the US, you might have a look at Hurricane Electric They're $10 a month for 25M of storage. You do get shell, and their Perl is 5.8.0 at the moment. I've been using them with a couple of accounts for about 5 years and never had a problem. Their techs even helped me out on a few Perl scripts late one Saturday evening. Nice to have tech support 24/7.


    Revolution. Today, 3 O'Clock. Meet behind the monkey bars.

    I would love to change the world, but they won't give me the source code

Re: The Changed Equation for Cheap Shared Web Hosting
by Cody Pendant (Prior) on Aug 27, 2007 at 05:07 UTC
    Mildly off-topic, but I like the look of the model used by NearlyFreeSpeech -- a flat rate for data, no other charges. You pre-pay for your bandwidth and top up when necessary. No bandwidth used, no charges at all.

    They reckon that getting slashdotted costs their members about $10 on average -- unlike a lot of other very cheap hosting services which get radically less cheap when you hit a tipping point.

    Nobody says perl looks like line-noise any more
    kids today don't know what line-noise IS ...

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