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Web server setup, DNS and Email Hosting, Domain Registrars

I have two VPS servers, one in the USA and one in New Zealand. This post explains a little bit about my current VPS providers, web server setup, DNS and email hosting, and the domain registrars I use.

Current VPS providers

My New Zealand VPS provider is Sitehost, and my US based VPS provider is Linode. I moved to the Sitehost VPS from a dedicated server with the same company and to Linode from VPS.net.

The move at Sitehost from dedicated to VPS was to save money and move off physical hardware, and to Linode from VPS.net due to disatisfaction with service levels after being a customer for 15 months (towards the end, there was far too much downtime for my liking and I was fairly unimpressed with their support).

I’ve only been with Linode for a short time as at the writing of this post so we’ll see how that goes…

Roughly half my sites are on the USA based server and half in New Zealand; which goes where depends mostly on the target market.

Server setup

Both servers run Debian 5 and have the exact same packages set up, including PHP, MySQL, Apache, Exim and so on.

I have MySQL set up in a master-master replication relationship so no matter which server the records are modified on, they will be replicated across to the other. I’ll be covering how to set up MySQL with a master-master relationship next week.

The website files are synchronized between the two servers on a six hourly basis using rsync, initiated at the Sitehost end. It pushes its files across to the Linode machine and then pulls the Linode files back to itself.

Should anything go wrong with e.g. the Linode server, I can simply change the DNS records for all domains on that server to point to the Sitehost server and within about half an hour all those sites should then be served from the Sitehost machine.

DNS setup

I moved my DNS hosting to DNS Made Easy in 2004; prior to that I had been running DNS from my own servers but really didn’t want to have to deal with it myself anymore and wanted complete separation from the location of web hosting and DNS. I’ve always found their service to be excellent.

Email setup

I think it was in 2008 that I moved my email hosting to Google Apps. Prior to that I had been hosting email on my own server but it was a pain to manage and Google just deals with spam so much better. Again I also wanted separation between my hosting and email, and it means when I go to move hosting providers it’s one less thing to have to worry about.

Domain registrars

I use 1st Domains for .nz domains, GoDaddy for .com domains and Cheaper Domains for my single .au domain. I prefer to keep DNS hosting and domain registrars separate because it makes it easier to move domains between registrars should I ever need to.