Running your own web site can be a challenge—or a lot of fun—or a disaster.
That may depend on where your site is hosted. Macs make very good web servers, and not all hosts are created equal.
As a web site about all things Mac, Mac360 has the luxury of being hosted on a Mac server; an Xserve running Mac OS X Server using a few custom configurations.
Through the years, Mac360 has been served from an original sunflower iMac, a PowerMac G4, a Mac mini, a PowerMac G5, a couple of servers running Linux, and now an Xserve.
It seems fitting that a site about Macs actually runs on a Mac, no? Mac OS X is relatively stable, dependable, and easy to administrate, especially when compared to Windows and Linux servers.
Performance of web sites running on PPC machines using OS X has notably less than that of Linux servers using the Apache web server, PHP scripting engine, and the MySQL database, but dependable nevertheless.
Macs running Intel chips are faster, as is evident by Mac360’s performance using an Intel Xserve at ServerLogistics. In the past, using a PowerPC G5 dedicated for Mac360, we were able to maintain uptime of approximately 99.9 percent.
That’s roughly the same dependability as the Xserve, though web pages are served about five times faster on the Xserve than on the PPC G5. Indeed, 99.9-percent uptime translates to about 45-minutes downtime per month.
Site5 performed well for Mac360 until the traffic grew too much for their shared hosting capability.
Shared hosting means than many web sites, perhaps thousands, are hosted on a single computer server.
The same was true for Pair and EngineHosting, both highly recommended from our experience. EngineHosting is a sister company to ExpressionEngine, who develops the content management system used first by Mac360, now common on many Mac web sites.
Mosso was a different story. It’s a hybrid Windows and Linux clustering system, which we believe is the hosting arrangement of the future. Clustering means a site is hosted, or stored, on many computer servers at the same time, which means that 100-percent uptime is an achievable objective.
We had problems with Mosso right away, particularly in provisioning and configuring sites to function properly. After a few days of problems we cancelled the account and moved our test web sites elsewhere. It took Mosso nearly two months to repair the billing damage.
Are Macs good web servers compared to Windows or Linux machines? From our experience, yes. Mac hardware, particularly the MacPro and Xserve, is competitive at the enterprise level for both performance and cost, and OS X Server actually is easier to administrate, so Macs are highly recommended for serving web sites.
Even a Mac mini and an external hard drive for backup can be capable of running at 99.9-percent uptime with ease, though your mileage may vary. A professional web server host may offer more tools, utilities, and capability for less than $10 per month, per web site.
What about you? Do you host or manage a web site? Where? How much do you pay each month? What type of machine does the host use? Share your experience in the Comment section below.