For the last few years, I’ve been running a server out of my house – Linux, running on my old laptop (an old Dell Inspiron 1150 – currently ~$40 on Ebay). It’s hosted git repos, I’ve used it for email, filesharing, a wireless print server, etc. It’s been fun. It’s also hosted some web applications I’ve written for people.

In August, after having to update IP addresses several times due to my internet provider changing it, I decided it was time to migrate to a full rig, and to use some of the domains I’ve bought over the years (including this one). While I briefly toyed with the idea of just directing the DNS servers to my 10-year-old laptop, I decided to take the plunge and do “real” hosting online. Managing hardware hasn’t been as fun.

After looking around at various choices, I settled on Amazon Web Services. They offer a “Free tier“,  which provides, among other things, 750 hours monthly usage, 5 gigs of storage, and one “elastic IP” address. That last one lets the DNS servers find your server even if the specific IP address may change (it’s regenerated every time you launch a new server). You get a permanent IP that Amazon maps to the instance-specific one.

I’ve been using it now for about 6 weeks. Other than some confusion over extra billing charges, which although it was my fault, Amazon comped me a full month extra usage to cover it, it’s been smooth sailing. The documentation is great, and includes step-by-step walkthroughs for everything from starting it up to installing WordPress. It’s easy to get up and going. And it’s SO MUCH FUN to have a ‘real’ server on the ‘real’ internet with a ‘real’ domain name.

I’ll talk more about specific perks, as well as issues I’ve found, later on.

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