My blog just hit five years anniversary back on February 2013. Despite the lack of posts in the last 6 months or so, 5th year anniversary is a huge accomplishment personally. Running a blog for 5 years (with few hiatus here and there) is not easy. Those who have/had a blog can totally relate to this. When I looked into my ‘Blogrolls’, there’s only a few of them that still exists. So if you manage to hit your 1st year anniversary, give yourself a huge pat on your back as it’s a huge milestone. Starting a blog is easy, however, keeping/running it takes a lot of effort and time. With that said, here’s some juicy announcements (for those who cares 🙂 ).

New Hosting

As much as I love WordPress for being open source and it’s free, it takes up a lot of resources. For those who uses shared hosting for their blog, how many times did your account get suspended due to ‘usage abuse’ ? few times I bet especially if you have a decent traffic for your blog. My blog has barely any traffic (~ 50 unique users per day) and I still got suspended.

Last month, my hosting provider, Dreamhost, informed me that I’ve been moved to Virtual Private Server which significantly costs more ($15/month for 300Mb RAM). Why did they move over you asked ? it’s simply because I used too much CPU and RAM in their shared hosting environment. I was not happy and somewhat frustrated with how things went considering I paid $10/month for a shared hosting. At the same time, I understood their reasoning and solely blamed it on WordPress for being such a resource hog.

Note that this is not the first time my account got suspended due to high CPU/RAM usage. Last time, I installed W3 Total Cache plugin to cache blog pages to prevent a lot of MySQL query calls on page load especially home page. It helped but it’s not enough so I signed up for Amazon Web Services and started utilizing their S3 storage and CloudFront to host images and other static files. Having a content delivery network (CDN) helps a lot with load speed and for not-so-busy blog like mine, it costs $1 per month.

Despite having page caching and CDN, wordpress is still too much for a shared hosting environment. Early last month, my account got suspended again and Dreamhost moved my account to Virtual Private Server (VPS). I had 1 week to figure things out before they start charging me ($15/month for 300Mb RAM). I definitely don’t have that kind of money and fed up with spending $$$ on hosting that I don’t need and not getting my money worth. The reason why it’s so expensive is because it’s managed VPS hosting. ‘Managed’ usually means that they setup the hosting environment for you and help you with issues.

My only option is to go with unmanaged VPS which means that I need to learn how to setup web server, MySQL, PHP etc to get my blog up and running. It was a lot of work but it’s worth it since I learned a lot about linux, web server and MySQL. Setting them up is somewhat easy but optimizing them is quite a challenge.

New Theme

Here comes my habit of changing a theme every year; it’s like a disease.. honestly. My new theme is called ‘Gridly‘  and it was developed by ‘Eleven Themes‘. It’s a simple theme, however, it uses a responsive design which means if you view my site on your PC, table or mobile browser, the theme will adjust its layout accordingly. The reason I chose a responsive theme is because I’d like to avoid having a separate them for mobile devices. With significant increase of mobile device usage, it’s a good idea to consider how your wordpress will look like in tablet and mobile devices. Unless there’s a better free responsive WordPress theme, I will stick to ‘Gridly’ for a long time.

Page Load/Speed

With new hosting, I have more control on how I want to run server where my blog resides. It took about a week of tweaking here and there before I got the desired result. Page load on home page has been significantly reduced and you can test it using Pingdom, PageSpeed Insights by Google and Yslow.

Why do I care so much about page load/speed ? end users can only wait for up to two second before going away from your site. Not to mention Google also cares a lot about page speed in term of Search Engine Optimization. Faster page load will rank your site higher in search results. Copy Blogger has a good article about website load speed and how to improve your site speed performance.

LEMP / LNMP

Unlike typical hosting environment running on LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP), this blog runs LEMP (Linux, Nginx (re: Engine X), MySQL and PHP. Some people like to call it LNMP instead of LEMP. Nginx is a light weight web server and can handle tons of requests at the same time. For a newbie linux user like me, it took some time to get LEMP up and running after millions of trials and errors but at the same time, they are valuable experience :).

Below are some articles that helped me with setting up LEMP

How long have you had your blog for ? Let me know some challenges you run into in comments below.

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