Recently I’ve been posting on my new(ish) Projects Blog, which you might be interested in:
For years, courtesy of a long time friend, I had a co-location box at an ISP’s datacenter. In general, it was really great: I had complete control over the hardware and software, and could do anything I needed to. It was my own server.
But I also had to deal with hardware failures located at a small datacenter across the country: power failures, hardware failures, and the occasional software glitch that broke the machine to the point of needing a physical reboot and in one case an OS reinstall. Over several years, I sent more than a few bottles of booze to my friend’s SysAdmins as thanks for fixing various broken bits, replacing drives, reboots, etc.
About 2 years ago my friend decided that the dialup ISP biz was dead in the area he was in (rural USA, so people actually used dialup…) and politely asked me to vacate.
In searching for a new home on the Internet, I decided to check out virtual hosting: I didn’t *really* need a physical machine in a datacenter, a virtual server (specifically xen, since we use it at work and I’m familiar with it) was just fine. It let me have all the perks of my own machine and none of the hassle.
My criteria were a decent price, complete private access (root), my choice of linux OS (I wanted to use CentOS because, again, its what I use at work), decent bandwidth (both transfer and speed), and company openness/flexibility (I don’t want them telling me what I can and can’t do or what services I can/can’t run, as long as I don’t break any laws).
I looked at pretty much all the VPS (Virtual Private Server) providers out there, and settled on Linode not the least of which because it was recommended by several people in the office, and because its clearly run by geeks.
Linode hits all the criteria on the head: its cheap ($20/mo for the small linode), complete control of the linux OS I install (and therefore I could install CentOS and had root), great bandwidth with multiple datacenters, and its run by geeks, so very flexible and no usage restrictions. Plus, a no obligation free trial. I was up and running within 10 minutes of signing up, and had the OS up, patched, and was installing software immediately. WOW! Add to this an awesome web-based DNS with unlimited access (they don’t restrict how many domains I can have) and its the best choice for a Xen/VPS system around.
2 years later, and I’m still recommending them all the time. They’ve added an API (I just used it to change the TTL on all 20+ of my domains in preparation for a datacenter move), increased both diskspace and memory for no charge (as things have gotten cheaper), and just introduced online backups. Linode’s 7th Anniversary was today, and they upgraded everyone’s memory 42% for free as a thank you to their loyal customers.
If your comfortable with linux and want/need a server, you can’t do better than linode.
For Windows based machines, I used to recommend AVG. Its free, does a decent job, and isn’t too horribly invasive like some software I could mention (*cough* McAfee and Norton *cough*).
…and then Microsoft came out with their own “Security Essentials” free anti-virus. I was dubious at first. If its Microsoft I expected it to be behind the times, bloated, and generally a “hanger on” in the Anti-virus game.
I was wrong. Security Essentials works, is lightweight, stays out of the way, has developed a good track record, and has the single best feature I’ve seen in any antivirus software in years: it automatically updates its definitions before it scans. Wow, brilliant, and nobody else does it.
So if you are using Windows, do yourself a favor and get Security Essentials (from here: www.microsoft.com/security_essentials) instead of any of the others.