Hosting this Blog

This post is part of a series detailing how this site runs. You can view the previous entry here.

This site is hosted on a $10/month DigitalOcean droplet running Ubuntu 17.04, giving it 1GB of RAM, 30GB of disk, and 2TB of transfer. The principal reason I'm not at the cheaper $5/month plan is the RAM, as the Ghost Foundation itself recommends 1GB of RAM at the minimum, although apparently you can get lower than that if you configure your swap[1] correctly. I didn't know what that involved and didn't feel like figuring it out, so I'm paying the extra $5 each month. Sure enough, the metrics on the droplet measure it as utilizing just a bit north of 50% of its 1GB of RAM at the moment, less than a week after I started running Ghost on it.

I'm interested to see how low I can maintain this monthly cost, considering that the Ghost Foundation will host your site for $20 per month (billed annually). That means so far, I'm saving $10 each month hosting this myself on DigitalOcean. This isn't too surprising, considering that their entire service itself is hosted on DigitalOcean, so I'm avoiding whatever margin the Ghost Foundation needs to charge over their DigitalOcean expenses. That's fine so far as I'm concerned right now, with a blog of exactly one reader (me), but I'll need to keep an eye on the relative costs of these options if this thing ever gets any major traction.

The other thing I'm going to need to keep my eye on is the value brought by Ghost over a static site generator like Hugo or Jekyll, because the expenses of hosting a static site are often dramatically cheaper than running any kind of web app. It's effectively free if you're willing to host your site on Github Pages, and even if you didn't go that route, I wouldn't be surprised if DigitalOcean's $5/month droplet could easily handle a lot more concurrent users than my current server if all it had to do was serve static files via Nginx.

So, all told, a lot of financial/economic considerations to be had concerning the relative costs of these things. But I can say: so far, setting up Ghost on DigitalOcean has been a pleasure. It's involved its share of fiddling, but that's mostly to accommodate my idiosyncrasies in how I want it setup, and it's been a enjoyable sort of tinkering rather than any kind of toil.

  1. "Swap" is the system by which a Unix-like operating system compensates for insufficient memory by storing memory data on disk. ↩︎

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