Lesson learned with virtual (VPS) hosting

Virtual hosting, VPSs, Virtual Private Servers, whatever you want to call it (as it comes in many shape and forms) is often a very appealing option for someone that is making the move beyond shared web hosting but not quite ready to get a low end dedicated server.

As I run numerous websites including my blogs and a couple of high traffic sites, over the years I have tried VPSs several times, often as a means of looking at reducing operating costs. Unfortunately each time I have found that performance on these servers have been abysmal. Regardless of this fact, I decided to once again give this a try and over the last 2 months have tried two separate Virtual Private Server companies. At this stage because I am not wanting to do a review I am not going to mention them however with each of them I had severe issues.

The first hosting provider I went with had underlying issues when I attempted to resize my VPS which resulted in data corruption and extensive downtime (as well as a whole lot of no responses when things went wrong). The second provider was well performing to start with however a couple of weeks after migrating the sites (as some people will have noticed) all my blogs started taking in excess of 10 seconds to load each page which is unacceptable to say the least. (As an aside I believe this was due to a mixture of limited CPU resources and high IO wait times)

Therefore I have learned the following lesson, if you do decide to get a VPS, remember that if you pay with peanuts you will get monkeys, the cheapest is almost always not going to be the best and will be cheap due to oversold resources (especially in the case of so many concurrent users that disk IO becomes terrible).

I am now using a hybrid server, which is virtual on a dedicated server, so there is ZERO sharing of resources. I have to say so far I am very happy but I guess time will tell (and will probably do a review when I later get a chance).

What are your thoughts on Virtual Private Servers?


The iPad + Numbers with Microsoft Windows + Excel

Spreadsheets on the iPadHave you ever wondered how on earth you can export spreadsheets from Numbers on the iPad to Microsoft Excel? I have and much to my dismay I found the above combination of software may as well be known as a royal pain in the proverbial rear end. Recently I decided as part of my studies in photography I would use Apple’s Numbers application for the iPad to capture a series of information for each of the shots I was taking on a roll of film (yes that is correct, film… not digital LOL).

Much to my dismay I found that once I had filled out the spreadsheet, the only formats that I could export from the Numbers application were either to Apple Numbers, or PDF. However as my main computer is a PC I obviously don’t have Numbers as the iWork suite is only available for Apple OSX.

Therefore I found myself in the difficult situation of how to get the file across to my computer so that I could convert it and continue work on it in Microsoft Excel. In the end I figured out the only way was to do the following:

  1. In the Numbers application on the iPad select the cells you wish to copy and copy them by tapping on the selected cells once and select copy
  2. Open up a word processing application on the iPad, in this case I chose DocsToGo
  3. Create a new word document and paste the text in
  4. Email this to yourself and open it on your PC
  5. Copy the text by selecting it all and clicking Ctrl + C
  6. Paste this into a new excel workbook. Obviously you lose any formatting however you get the data over and it will correctly place it into rows and colums.

Until such a time as Apple enables the ability to export to a competitors format I would strongly recommend that you use a different app (such as DocsToGo) that natively supports the Microsoft Office formats so that you do not run into these issues.

If anyone has any other ideas I would welcome hearing how you get around this frustrating issue.

Protect your files online!

This is just a quick one, recently I had some files stored in the public_html directory of one of my websites. This included several software ISOs (quite large) and an entire VMWare Virtual Machine. I had them stored there temporarily so that I could transfer them between a few different locations.

Little did I realise that this particular site was being indexed by Google and therefore my ISOs and Virtual Machines were then made public. Luckily the bandwith was not too much of a killer (this is lesson one… even where you run your own dedicated server… ALWAYS put limits in place, they are there to save you as much as restrict you). However in this I managed to lose control over a Virtual Machine which had a lot of licensed software contained therein.

At least in this case no personal data was lost, however valuable lesson learned, if you are going to store ANYTHING on your personal hosting that you do not want to be seen, make sure you password protect the directory. Just because you have not linked to it anywhere… believe me Google will find a way to find it HAHA.

Peace out people.