Shiny New Server Too!

If you’re a regular follower of ScreenCastsOnline, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of SiteGround (affiliate link by the way!). SiteGround are an Internet Hosting company based out of the US who host all my websites and blogs and have done for the past couple of years.

Up until now, I’ve been using their special shared hosting accounts which for only $5.95/Month gives you all this:

Web Hosting Services_ All-inclusive website hosting package, Free blog and CMS, Free domain, top customer care. SiteGround - the best Web Space Hosting Provider.png





An absolute bargain!

What really sold me though was the level of support the guys (and gals!) over at Siteground. If you raise a trouble ticket with them (provided you can raise a ticket – but that’s another story!) I usually get a response within 5 minutes and a resolution within 15 minutes – they’re that good!

I’ve even done a special ScreenCastsOnline show all about SiteGround. Note that the price mentioned in the show is out of date – it’s now $5.99 per month provided that you pay for a 2 year block in advance) Also, most of the metrics such as bandwidth, storage, etc,. are now out of date. In all cases, they’ve all been increased!

There have been literally hundreds of ScreenCastsOnline viewers who have taken up my recommendation of SiteGround and joined up as well.

But, ScreenCastsOnline has become somewhat a victim of its own success. The standard $5.95 account is a “shared” account, in that your account is on the same server as other Siteground users and Siteground uses some specialised software to manage the multiple accounts and ensure that server and system resources are spread evenly between all users on the server. This has worked perfectly for over three years now but obviously as ScreenCastsOnline has grown, we’ve placed more and more strain on the shared service and whilst SiteGround has coped admirably, I felt it was time (and only fair to other users of the service) to put my hand in my pocket and go with a dedicated server for ScreenCastsOnline.

The shared service is fantastic value and I’ll still be recommending it to all my friends, colleagues and viewers as for 99% of any online activity, it works like a dream.

If I’m honest with you, I’ve delayed the move for a while for several reasons, one being the expense but probably the main reason being the thought of moving my primary website, my forum with over 1800 members, my ecommerce system which is my lifeblood, my blogs and basically everything that I am on the web across to a new service – not something I relished.

But I figured if SiteGround had supported me so well in the past, they were the only people I’d trust to do it. Again, full disclosure – before I committed to the move I did a little deal for a little discount on the cost of the new server in exchange for a new show covering the move to the new service – warts and all.

So I placed the order yesterday for the new dedicated server.

This is a new piece of kit that is installed in SiteGrounds datacenter and is fully managed by SiteGround support staff. It’s dedicated to just ScreenCastsOnline, no one else, we have all the resources of the server. If you’re interested, the spec of the servers available from the Standard Siteground configurations I chose was:

  • Intel Pentium 4 Series 2.4
  • CentOS Enterprise Linux 4
  • Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHz+
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 80 GB HDD
  • 750 GB Traffic

– nothing too spectacular, but I learned long ago that web based services don’t really require super spec’d kit. There are higher configurations and lesser specified ones also, along with a virtual dedicated server option – I think this is where you share a server with just a couple of other accounts rather than the standard shared service.

I received the email confirmation back that the server would be ordered and could take up to 10 days to commission and install. Hmmm.. OK, I sort of expected quicker than that but I went to bed happy that I’d finally taken the plunge but dreading what may be in store.

So I get up this morning and there’s an email from SiteGround support – Ah, probably the date for the swapover.

Opens it up and it’s to advise me that the server is in, installed and wouldn’t you know it, I’d been migrated onto the new service.

Holy S**t!!!

Jumped across to the ScreenCastsOnline website – yup, loaded in a flash, and my blog too.

Jumped across to the e-commerce system – nice and snappy and all my members are there!

What about the forum – yup, fully operational and pretty whizzy!

So what did I have to do – nothing, nada, zip!

They basically lifted the entire account from the shared service and dropped it onto the dedicated service without losing a byte of information. I’m not even sure if they had to bring the shared service down as I’ve had no overnight reports of downtime.

Absolutely amazing service!

Now I could be a little pedantic and say that perhaps they should have told me in advance, but really, I didn’t have to do anything and downtime was either minimal or non-existant. I’m delighted that my decision to stay with the vendor hosting my shared account seems justified although, there were cheaper dedicated server deals available elsewhere. It’s not really the hardware I’m buying but the service and support from SiteGround themselves.

So all my systems are now running on super new kit and should see me through the next phase of growth for ScreenCastsOnline and should also give me some head room for other projects I might want to try. The main thing is that the ScreenCastsOnline viewer, forum member and blog reader should get a better overall experience when accessing the site, and that’s got to be worth the extra expense.

So again, kudos to SiteGround and I shall continue to recommend them at every opportunity. Especially now that I know that you start with a great value $5.95 hosting plan and if you’re fortunate enough to grow your business or web presence, seamlessly migrate to a dedicated service.


I’ll leave it a couple of weeks but I’ll do another SiteGround related show soon to bring you up to speed on some of the new features of the standard SiteGround account and show you what it’s like to have a dedicated server and some of the extra tools that are provided.

PS Yes, I know it’s not a Mac server but at least it’s Linux and not M$

Update: Just tried to upload something via FTP and it didn’t work. I raised a ticket on the SiteGround helpdesk that the FTP service was down. The resolution unfolded like this:

  • 02:53am: Ticket raised (yes that’s 2:53am in the US – 8:53am over here in the UK)
  • 03:01am: Initial response by Val (Shift Supervisor) to check my details as she had been able to connect via FTP
  • 03:09am: I responded that I still could not connect and gave detailed error message from the log
  • 03:14am: Val responded that the password had been cached and needed to be cleared – Asked to try again
  • 03:15am: Fixed!

As I said, Excellent!

New Membership System Live

Went live with the new system yesterday and let the forum users try it out first!

No major problems although it’s difficult releasing control to an automated system. You still want to see every email that gets sent out! Just about to do a mini screencast letting people now about the new facilities.

Talking about letting people know, I also decided at the last minute to use a proper mailing list system to forward instructions and also to use as my delivery mechanism for newsletters etc. My current one is phplist which is a free application which works well but I’m limited to only sending 350 emails per hour.

I decided to go with aWeber (affiliate link). This is a hosted service that came highly recommended from the guys at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo. It’s a chargeable service ($19.99) per month but looks to have more whistles and bells than I’ll ever need to use. Couple of problems though in that aWeber is an opt-in mailing list to prevent spammers from using it. By that, I mean you have to get subscribers to opt-in to joining the mailing list by clicking a link when they get added to the system.

This is a great mechanism to help cut down spam but it does mean that if you’re adding users in bulk, they all have to opt-in before you can send a message to them. Actually, you can send a message immediately but only those that have opted in will be sent it! The care that the system takes to prevent abuse looks pretty impressive, even to the extent of the bulk upload of users being manually inspected by support staff.

Anyway, after 12 hours, I’m over 50% opted in so it shouldn’t take too long to get everyone onboard.

Another nice thing is you can create registration forms to host on your website so people can sign up for lists so I may create a few lists for none Extra! members later.

Ah well, better get these screencasts done!

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