As you may have noticed, I recently moved this blog to a new platform.
Some have asked me what all went into this new version of my blog. So here's the skinny...
Blogging Software: Ghost
I had previously used Wordpress but, while it worked and had tons of plugins and themes available for it, I was never really all that impressed. Plus, keeping it up and running as well as keeping it secure takes quite a bit of effort (that I probably never did very well anyways).
I ultimately decided that I wanted to use the Ghost platform for the new incarnation of my blog. Why? Two reasons:
- It's very simple
- All posts are in Markdown
- It's really very simple - other than the theme and about a dozen settings, there's not much else here other than the actual content. Not much to break. Not much to manage. Not much to tweak. Lots of "it just works" going on around here.
- It's speedy both in performance as well as quickly writing a post. Wordpress was getting a bit sluggish at times for me.
Web Hosting: MDD Hosting
I previously have used AddAction.net for many years. I was very happy with them and leery of moving away from them because of how stable they had been for those ~10 years. However, my needs were changing in a way that AddAction couldn't meet them, so I finally decided to look at other options.
I knew I wanted a CPanel-managed host and I did not want to use Azure for this purpose. I actually preferred to have a Ghost Pro instance for hosting it but the $20-30/mo starting price was just too much for this simple blog at this time. Hopefully this site will grow with traffic and convince me to pony up some more money for it but it's simply not yet justified. Or maybe they'll offer a cheaper starting option without all of their added CDN costs so I can use my own CDN (Cloudflare) which serves my purposes very well.
So I began to do some Googling for CPanel options. I quickly came to the conclusion that it was very difficult to sift through all the crap you find with this naïve approach, so I took a different tactic - I began browsing around on the Web Hosting Talk (WHT) Forums. My tactic was simple: Find a host that competitors repeatedly said they thought highly of. It definitely took some time but the one I finally settled down on was a company I had never heard of before called MDD Hosting.
If you choose to go with MDD Hosting, be sure to use their coupon described as "50% off First Invoice" of
WHT50. This means you can get 50% off the first month by paying monthly or 50% off the first 3 years by paying triennially, so the savings can be either minimal or very significant. I did both - a month to try them out initially and then when I finally decided to do this move, I got a 3-yr plan of their Professional Shared Hosting offering, mostly because of some specific email needs I have that this plan works well for. If you just wanted a Ghost hosting, you could definitely go for a cheaper option!
The bonus with this host is that they support a software package management application called Softaculous. And Softaculous, in turn, supports installation, updates, and backups for Ghost. So this works well for my purposes.
I'm not going to talk very much about this. Cloudflare has some amazing offerings for free and I think most anybody who would have read this far into this post is aware of them. However, if you're not, you really should check them out. They're very simple to use as long as you can manage your own DNS and SSL Certificates - you'll have to do the former and you must understand the latter although there is a spectrum of how much actual management you have to perform ranging from very easy to custom-management.
One thing I will say about Cloudflare, though, is that some of their peripheral services should be taken with a grain of salt. For example:
- Their always-up functionality that serves your pages even when your host is down seems to work about 40% of the time for me.
- They have some an area called "Apps" that provide some third-party enhancements. Some are free and some cost money. Unfortunately, they're not always reliable and Cloudflare doesn't seem interested in supporting them anymore as they're working to replace them with their Eager acquisition.
This post gives the heavy hitters but doesn't quite fill in all of the blanks. For example: How did I migrate? And what about images, since Ghost doesn't really support hosting files? Read more in Part 2 of this series.