Comparison: AWS, DigitalOcean, Vultr & Linode

Over the years, I have used several dedicated and cloud hosting companies. I thought that I would share my opinions on them (as far as the features that I’ve used among them).

Although I have tried Microsoft Azure and the Google Cloud Platform, I preferred the interface of AWS and/or the price of other options, so I did not give them much of a trial. As a result, they will not be included much in this article. I also do not have a DevOps background so I will not be discussing HA or load balancing a lot.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

I used to be a die-hard promoter of AWS (I still use them for some of their specialty services, and recommend them depending on infrastructure needs).

Pros:

  • Speed – I have always gotten impressive transfer speeds while using Amazon’s

Streaming Video Devices

I’ve tried several of the video streaming devices on the market and I thought that I would share my recommendations for those in the market for one.

Units that I have tried include:

Amazon Fire TV

Price: $49 and up

Amazon Fire TV StickI was excited when the Amazon Fire TV came out. At the time, I was an exclusive Roku user, but Roku had not updated their units in quite some time and they were beginning to feel sluggish. The Fire TV promised a significant speed boost, and it delivered in that respect. However, it was disappointing for other reasons.

Pros:

  • Speed – The unit was pleasantly fast.
  • Vendors – Supports Amazon Instant video and Prime
  • Voice – It was the first streaming unit (to my knowledge) that offered voice commands.
  • Apps – It supports most

WordPress Security Tips (Comprehensive List)

There are some simple, some free, some more difficult and some commercial solutions out there for making WordPress more secure. The question is not IF you will get hacked, but WHEN. The more you can do to secure your web site, the better.

The Basics

Below are minimal steps that you should take to help secure WordPress, in order of importance:

  1. Keep WordPress, plugins and themes updated – There are a number of ways that you can do this:
    • If you are working with a web site that isn’t too complex and/or doesn’t need to be babysat, WP Update Settings is a great plugin. It allows you to configure what to update: WordPress minor updates, major update, plugins and/or themes. It also has the option to notify you of updates. Configure as needed.
    • You can update your plugins manually if you prefer. It may help to use a monitoring services

A Comprehensive SSL Guide

I’ve seen a lot of sites that don’t use SSL by default. I’ve heard the argument, “We don’t need it. We’re not e-commerce.” This is absurd thinking:

  1. You are probably using some sort of CMS product, possible a popular one like WordPress, Magento, Joomla, etc.
  2. There is a good chance that you are not keeping them as updated as you should, but for arguments sake, let’s assume that you are (or pretend to be).
  3. All of these products have default administrative login paths. If you monitor your logs, you will notice that bots from all over the world are hitting this default path constantly.

Read more: Why HTTPS? Here Are the 5 Reasons Folks

Note: If you are using WordPress, consider forcing SSL using the WP Force SSL plugin or modifying your wp-config.php.

Step 1: Change your default admin path!

If you are on WordPress, there are several …

Why Are Web Sites So Expensive?

The Short Answer

Short-term profits overrule long-term gains. Always.

The Analysis

I have been a contractor for a long time. Let us dissect companies A, B, C and D.

Company A

  • They trusted recommendations from companies eager to sell their product, without using due diligence.
  • They allowed their marketing to control their development process. Marketing is obviously very important to a company, but core functionality trumps micro-redesigns when your customers are unable to checkout.
  • Biggest sin: They did not keep their software updated, which led to fixing bugs that were already fixed by a patch, yet could not be applied because your software was so out of date. This is a waste of time and money.

Company B

  • They embraced too many technologies, based on the advice of neophyte developers “who could get it done faster,” while ignoring long-term maintenance and recruiting consequences.
  • Biggest sin: They did not keep their

Bootstrap 4 – Grid Only

This situation happens to me all the time. I’m working on a client web site, making updates or content changes, but the site is not responsive and/or wasn’t built with any sort of CSS framework. I also encounter this problem when trying to throw together pages for the WordPress admin. I could do the work manually, but I’ve become spoiled by grids. Bootstrap happens to be my favorite.

If I include the regular Bootstrap distribution, I have the problem of it changing style and typography. That won’t work. I could use a different, grid-only framework, but I have become used to Bootstrap conventions.

To solve this problem, I simply compile the Bootstrap SASS files, including only the grid and responsive utilities modules. To avoid potential conflicts with other CSS, I use a wrapper (in this case, .bootstrap-wrapper). Now, I can simply include the CSS file in the project and use …

Installing Node.js, Nginx, PHP 5.6 & MongoDB on an Amazon Linux AMI EC2 Instance

This guide gives step-by-step instructions for installing Node.js, Nginx, PHP 5.6 and MongoDB on an AWS EC2 instance running the Amazon Linux AMI. If you notice any errors, changes or have suggestions for alternatives/clarifications, please let me know.

Assumptions

This guide assumes that you are familiar with Amazon Web Services and using the Linux command line. This guide also assumes that you are performing these tasks on a fresh Amazon Linux AMI instance.

Setup

This guide was written using a fresh Amazon EC2 instance with the following configuration:

  • Instance type: t2.micro
  • Operating System: Amazon Linux AMI 2015.09.1 (HVM), SSD
  • Storage: 8GB (default)

If you are using a newly-created instance, don’t forget to install the latest updates:

Node.js & NPM

This section shows the commands used to install and update Node.js and NPM.

Install Node.js and NPM