Unlike most web sites about Macs, Mac360 actually started life as a web site on a Mac. Remember the original sunflower neck iMac? That was home.
Today Mac360 sits on a PowerMac G5 running Mac OS X Tiger Server, but as visitors to the site increases, the search for a server host continues.
So, you’d like to put up your own web site? You’ll need what’s known as a “host”—a server to host your domain name. That’s what we’re looking for these days.
First, a little history from the Mac360 archives. The site began as a simple web log a few years ago by our dearly departed founder, Tera Jean Patricks, her friends Barbara Marie Hambi, and Ron McElfresh.
Ron obtained Tera’s choice for the domain name, Mac360, and set up the original site on an original sunflower iMac sitting on his desk at home. That’s where we got started.
Tera was very excited about the prospect of running a site about Macs on a Mac. I installed Mac OS X Panther Server, set up mail, the web server, remote access, and then Mac360’s content management system, which was a beta of pMachine’s Expression Engine.
That’s how the site began. On a Mac. A few months later the site started attracting plenty of visitors which required a move to a more powerful Mac, a PowerMac G4. We used that as Mac360’s primary server for over a year. It sat under my desk.
What many people don’t realize is that a Mac with OS X makes for a very decent, easy to manage server, whether for hosting web sites, databases, or whatever.
At work I manage a variety of machines, Linux, Windows, and Macs. By far, the Macs are easier to set up and administer.
Mac360’s writing staff is somewhat shielded from the intracacies of running the site on a Mac. We log in via a web browser, paste in or write our articles, then Ron adds a headline and graphic and makes the article “go live.”
It is a source of pride that we’re one of the few Mac oriented web sites that not only writes about Macs, we run the site on a Mac. However, that’s about to change.
At the end of Mac360’s first year, we added Forums and visitors to the site continued to grow, taking up all the bandwidth to my office. We were forced to move the site to a web site host, a Linux server which we thought had more horsepower and much more bandwidth.
Unfortunately, as Mac360 grew, we also outgrew a couple of hosts. Following Tera’s death last summer, we moved the site back to my office and a dual CPU PowerMac G5.
That’s plenty of power, but it was necessary to double the bandwidth on the internet connection. Even that’s not enough.
From what I can see of the daily server logs, visitors to Mac360 have doubled since then and are still growing. While the PowerMac can handle the load, there just isn’t enough bandwidth connecting the Mac server to the internet.
So, we’re forced to look for another web server company to host Mac360.
Since Mac360 is a labor of love for all of us, there isn’t much advertising revenue to cover the cost of a dedicated server and more bandwidth, so we’ve been looking for an appropriate quality host.
Some of the web site host companies have hilarious advertising; something on the order of 500 gigabytes of bandwidth a day for a dime. Seriously.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. They often advertise 2 terabytes of monthly bandwidth (Mac 360 used about 750 megabytes a day last month), unlimited MySQL databases, unlimited number of web sites, unlimited email accounts.
Of course, the real limits are in the fine print. All the above is free so long as no one visits the site. The fine print discloses very low CPU and resource usage limits.
As long as very few visitors come to the site, the $4.95 monthly fee for unlimited everything is a good deal.
I have to laugh at those ads, but I guess people don’t know about the fine print issues, resource limits, and so on. Most web sites don’t get the visitor traffic of Mac360, and relative to many other Mac oriented sites, we’re a boutique.
So, we’ve been searching for a new host because we cannot get sufficient bandwidth to our Mac server without substantial expense.
We want to make sure that advertising on Mac360 covers the cost of hosting the site. As the site has grown, so has advertising revenue, so we think we’re ready to make the switch.
If you’ve ever put up a web site on a remote host then you know what we’re going through.
Most server hosts don’t really want to host a site like ours as it actually uses bandwidth and server resources.
The PowerMac has been good for us so far. We’ve managed to keep uptime to just over 99.9-percent.
Last month we set up an account on Mosso, a highly regarded server clustering company with some interesting technology. It’s a good thing we looked before we leaped to move the Mac360 site.
We had nothing but problems. Mosso couldn’t configure the site for days. Every site setup configuration was corrupt. Support was quick to answer, but the problems never got resolved. I finally gave up on that one. We’re still looking.
John Gruber of the popular DaringFireball hosts at TextDrive and claims good success, though they’ve been slow to respond to queries.
TextDrive uses some excellent compression technology which speeds up web page serving.
We’ve also looked at Pair, and others. A dedicated server or co-location of a Mac is a bit out of our price range.
In the final analysis, remember that a Mac makes for a very good web server for a web site, whether you’re using OS X or OS X Server.
Between the six of us, we’ve managed to keep the site running well—on a Mac. But those days may be coming to an end. Do you have a web site? Where do you host your site? What problems have you had with service and support? Share your experience in the Comments section below.