And the best shared hosting service is… nearlyfreespeech

Being a blogger

A couple of years ago I tried to create a constructive, public-friendly blog that served mostly as a welcome page for doing contracting work on the side. It had a nice presentation layer to it which helped me to gain enough credibility to sign a contract with a big company. At the time, I had the objective of writing great posts often, along with beautiful pictures and highlighted code. All of my inspiration was coming from Jeff Atwood’s blog that had always fascinated me by the steady quality of its articles for years. I got started and was on fire! I wrote 4 long posts in 4 days! The 4th one ended with: “Blogging is easy! I could do it for 10 years straight!”… And that was my last post for 6 months.

Yeah, blogging for others is actually really hard. It requires time, dedication, self-discipline, patience, and humility. Kudos to all of you who have been maintaining public blogs for years. You are the memory of the internet!!

A few months ago I needed to keep personal technical notes again. I wasn’t going to go along the same route as before. My only objective was to write often, and I knew I couldn’t do that if I set the bar too high for myself. So instead I set the bar as low as possible by getting rid of anything that was not mandatory: colors, images, fancy templates, Javascripts, etc. My blog was just going to be plain, simple text, along with the cheapest shared hosting service to keep it on. I went from producing a tesla blog to a peugeot blog. It didn’t matter, I was not expecting more than a few visits a day from people who had mistyped some value and hit the I’m feeling lucky button. I didn’t care if it was fast. I didn’t care if it was pretty. I just needed to keep my notes on some blog somewhere.

The cheapest one out there
After comparing prices, I found out that the cheapest hosting service that you can find today is nearlyfreespeech.net. Go pay them a visit and you will notice right away a resemblance with this blog. We’re like 2 brothers sharing the gene of ugliness. Nothing there to attract the eye… But boy is it cheap! And it’s cheap because it’s fair: you only pay for what you consume. To give you an example I have 6 sites hosted there now:

  • Dynamic Sites : $0.06/day (6 sites)
  • DNS : $0.02778/day (7 zones, 2 external, 1 hosted, 4 registered & hosted)
  • MySQL Processes : $0.02/day (1 process)

6 sites that have handle about 300 visits per day (mostly related to my open source projects). 10 cents per day, that’s 3$/mo w/tax! AND this includes the whole package: FTP/SFTP/SSH access, advanced logging, unlimited databases, phpMyAdmin, etc. No other services in the world comes near in terms of price.

No pancake so thin it only has one side
Now shared hosting is great for websites that have little to no traffic. It wasn’t my first experience. I once happened to have a few hundred visits a day on another shared hosting service that I won’t name for their sake (ahem 1&1). As soon as I started to have very limited traffic, I received an email urging me to upgrade to a higher-tier or have my services disconnected. It bugged me but I recognized that it was fair. Those hosts have shared resources and should restrain you to your shared amount.

And I had always expected nearlyfreespeech to do the same thing…

Until last saturday.

I had written down my experience as a coder who happened to be often involved in the recruitment process at my last company. A friend of mine found it interesting and advised me to post a link to hackernews and reddit, after which I left to a kite festival with my wife and boys for the day. Had I known… The article went viral within a few hours and my blog was submerged. 85,000 views in less than 24 hours… I feel very humbled just thinking about it, and I was amazed to realize that so many people felt the same way as I did on that subject.

But as I saw the # of simultaneous connections increase hour after hour on analytics’ mobile app, I only had one thought in mind: “it’s just a matter of minutes: when will my blog crash? when will nfs pull the plug on me?”

They didn’t. They handled the charge perfectly, and my blog was super responsive the entire time.

But all that traffic? You pay for what you consume right? Yes… I went from paying 10 cents to 30 cents that day.

How they managed to pull that off and deliver that quality of service, I still don’t know… but I take it at heart to thank them for the awesome work that they do. They deserve to be more famous and have more business. So if you’re thinking about hosting some PHP somewhere cheap, look no further. And if by that time you’re used to reading my blog, you’ll find its design extremely attractive!

cheers, and thanks for reading.

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