Live From Las Vegas! We’re Now Hosted At Lightning Base In Las Vegas!

Lightning-Base-Logo-Lenovo-X1-CarbonThis is the fourth installment in the long-running tale (parts one, two & three) of my search for the most appropriate host for this site.

The very fact that you’re reading this means that the site is now live on a server operated by Lightning Base. In the past I’ve used a shared host and couple of different VPS providers. In point of fact the site was at UnmeteredVPS.net for over two years.

I have nothing but nice things to say about UnmeteredVPS.net. That service is excellent, but it wasn’t exactly a perfect fit. It was an unmanaged VPS, which meant that I was responsible for everything.

Every few weeks I would need to update some aspect of the OS or supporting software. Some updates were trivial. Some, like major Apache or MySQL updates, were a bit scary. Despite five years running this site I’m no Linux guru.

Still, for over two years the site ran in the CentOS VPS at UnmeteredVPS.net and I took care of things. The experience was pretty good, but there was some down-time and I wasn’t always able to determine why.

If I was to move the site again my plan was to move it to a managed host, off-loading the admin tasks to someone who truly knew that game. Then a few months ago I stumbled upon Lightning Base, a small relatively new company dedicated to providing managed WordPress hosting.

Beyond merely being WordPress-specific, Lightning Base is interesting because of the hardware architecture that they have developed. They offer semi-virtualized WordPress installations on hardware that leverages RAID 10 arrays of solid state disk storage (SSD) for performance. They also provide a global content delivery network (CDN) at no extra charge.

A managed service, they handle all the software updates, file system backups and other tasks that were becoming a distraction to me. It’s a lot less DIY. Better yet, they do this very affordably.

I Googled around for references about the company. The company is young so there wasn’t much to find. What I did read was all positive. So, faced with upgrading to WordPress v3.5 and thinking that it would nice for an experienced system admin to “have my back,” I decided to move the site to Lightning Base.

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The companies web site is clean and uncluttered, itself based upon WordPress. I signed up for a “small” account that accommodates three WordPress sites, 3 GB of storage and 25 GB/mo of data transfer.

While Lightning Base is head-quartered near Minneapolis MN, I’m told that the my site is running from a co-location facility in Las Vegas, NV. They have also established a presence in Frankfurt Germany.

The company offers to perform site migration for new customers.Once my account was established I was contacted by Chris Piepho, the founder of the company, who offered to get the process underway. That was nice, since I’d done that move several times myself, but it’s been a while and I was already pretty busy at work.

Within 24 hours he sent instructions for the DNS changes that would take the new server live. I made those changes the evening of Sunday, December 16th. Once the site has been live for a couple of days I’ll go about making the changes necessary to leverage the CDN offering.

I see that SSD-based VPS are fast becoming the new fashion in hosting. That’s nice, but using a managed hosting solution I look forward to fewer distractions arising from the technology, which ultimately means more time to devote to content.

  • Greg

    The site certainly does seem fast… SwitchNap is an excellent facility too!

    • mjgraves

      The billing model is geared less around the hardware resources like CPU, memory, disk space. It’s more focused on page views and bandwidth. It’s half what I was paying previously. I had been paying for 2 GB of memory because the VPS just wasn’t stable in 1 GB. Now I feel like I have a pit crew…which is great.

  • Sean

    I’m surprised you didn’t settle for the folks in your backyard: hostgator.com
    Do you have root access at lighting base or is it shared hosting?An unmanaged VPS can be good if you need root access to a system outside of your network but I certainly understand you wanting a managed VPS to host a website on. 

    It is very nice that LB offers you a CDN since that’s not a common practice. As for SSD VPS’, I’d rather have a CDN over data being fetched from one server. 

    • mjgraves

      My past experiences with unmanaged VPS, as I described elsewhere, pretty much had me decided that my next move would be into a managed host. I had been considering a semi-private server at WestNic (http://westnic.net/semi-dedicated/), but that was not always available, and even more costly than my last VPS.

      HostGator might be local, but proximity has little value. Although, UnmeteredVPS.Net runs out of co-loc’s in Houston and Dallas.