Tag Archives: web

Review: South West Broadband – VPS Hosting

If you’ve been following my tweets lately, you’ll know that I recently moved GEEK! to a brand new VPS server. I did this for many reasons – but primarily because I felt that I was ready to move on from shared hosting and onto something where I’ll learn a little more about how webservers work. GEEK!’s been running well over three years now – and I’ve been through many web hosting providers during that time. I was beginning to get tired of hoping other people on shared servers wouldn’t jeopardize your uptime stats – there always seemed to be some kind of resource hog!

Nonetheless, I went on the hunt for a cheap-ish yet good quality VPS provider (I might have stayed with my old provider HostParcel as, in fairness, they were pretty good – but sadly they don’t offer VPS services) and was pointed to South West Broadband. They seem to be pretty new in VPS services, but I was interested in their good value and seemingly honest services.

So I signed up to their lowest price package to see what was what. For £8 a month, I was given a VPS with 256MB RAM (although I’m told this will soon become 512MB), 10GB storage, 300GB bandwidth and a Linux flavour of my choice (I was recommended to Debian). Pretty neat, I thought – and very good value nonetheless! They also offer a 12 month prepayment discount – giving you 12 months for the price of 10, if you’re happy to commit.

And to be totally honest, so far I’m really impressed. The customer support is superb – better than I’ve ever seen in a hosting provider. You get access to online support via Skype or a ticketing system – as well as an emergency telephone number which isn’t premium rate (this is something I really like to see).

The server they assigned me seems to work very well. You get full SSH access (which you’d expect) and you are allowed access to all the controls and commands that you’ll ever need. Response times from the server are incredible – from my college in Oxford I can get a response from the server just outside London in just 4ms – pretty darn good!

As for value for money – I’ve never seen such value. I’d always considered VPS services very expensive – but £8 a month is hardly expensive for the system you get.

So really I haven’t got many (if any) complaints. For decent value, high performance VPS servers with decent customer support, I couldn’t think of anywhere else to recommend you!

Oh, by the way – SWB aren’t actually offering their VPS packages on their website yet. However, if you contact them via twitter they seem to be happy to sort you out with a package. They also offer a decent range of shared and reseller packages, so if a VPS isn’t your thing, they’re bound to have something that is.

Configuring anti-spam (SpamAssassin) in ISPConfig 3

As you may have noticed, I’ve recently moved GEEK! to a brand new VPS – which, hopefully, will massively improve the uptime and performance of the site in the long run. It’s a little too early to tell, but now most of the trial bugs are ironed out, improvements should start to be seen soon.

However, by moving my site (and all other sites I run) to a VPS, I have had to make some sacrifices. The key sacrifice on my end has been cPanel – which I’ve used ever since I started working with web servers. I love cPanel – it’s generally very reliable and controls most of the functions I would ever want. But now, as I’m slowly getting more experienced with the way web servers work, I thought it would be a good time to move on to something a little more advanced (and, as a result, cheaper). I was recommended to ISPConfig – a free and open source control panel for web servers running on Linux. And after a slow start, I seem to be getting the hang of it.

The one thing that really did get to me for a while was the poor performance of the spam filter built into ISPConfig. ISPConfig relies on SpamAssassin – which is, when configured correctly, a very powerful spam filter. But for some reason, it just wasn’t working on my installation of ISPConfig. Spam would get through and it can get seriously frustrating!

Thankfully I now have it cracked – and wanted to share the configuration I chose for ISPConfig and SpamAssassin. I think the correct settings vary from person to person – but if you want general spam filtering, this should show you how to get it.

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WordPress 3.0 arrives

I’ve just been notified by my WordPress system that 3.0 has now officially arrived.

I’ve just installed the update and from what I can see, there’s no major overhaul. However, there are a few minor adjustments that make a big difference. Updating plugins has become much quicker with the new updates page on the Dashboard. In addition, a few cosmetic changes have made browsing the WordPress Dashboard much more straightforward and intuitive.

If you want to grab the new update, either do an automatic upgrade from your WordPress Dashboard, or head to wordpress.org and download it from there!

Browser market share outlook: January 2010

Chrome: Get lost Firefox, you’ve had your turn!

Sorry it’s a little late this month! I’ve been a bit carried away over the last couple of days and forgot about it. Anyway, here’s this month’s outlook, with thanks to HitsLink.

This month has been a month very similar to last month. Internet Explorer and Firefox have continued to loose market share, and Chrome and Safari have both gained market share.

Interestingly, Opera has lost a very small amount of market share this month (0.02%). However, a trend like this is frequent – Opera has a few months of gaining market share and then looses a tiny amount in one month.

Chrome is one of the highlights this month, as it has gained over 0.5% market share this month. It has recently been gaining many more users – perhaps because of it’s recent incorporation of “addons” and it’s new bookmark sync feature.

Opera Mini continues to gain market share – which proves that mobile browsing is continuing to rise.

So there you have – January’s market share for the month. It’ll be back next month!

IWF closing in on The Internet Archive Wayback Machine (web.archive.org)…. why?!

The Internet Watch Foundation in the UK has decided to close in on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, saying that it has made many ISP’s restrict or deny access to the website as http://web.archive.org. Virgin Media, Be and Demon Internet customers are apparently on the list of banned or restricted ISPs.

Personally, I think this is insane. If I haven’t mentioned it already in previous blog posts, I love the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. It’s a fantastic resource that I regularly use to see what websites were like several years ago. If you haven’t heard of it already, please have a look (if you haven’t been banned from it) as they have been caching pages from almost every website that existed since 1996.

So why the hell are the IWF restricting access to it? The IWF were under fire when they banned a Wikipedia page for a music album because the uploaded artwork of the album was pornographic, but after many complaints from many users, the IWF removed the page from the blacklist. Maybe there is some sense in this (as it was pornographic), but what on Earth does the Wayback Archive have to do with it? The Wayback Archive is by no means pornographic or dangerous to young children, even if some of the sites cached on it may relate to dangerous content. But, that’s exactly the same problem we have now – there is dangerous content all over the Internet now – and that probably wont change anytime soon.

In effect, changing history won’t necessarily change today.

According to this page, the IWF have said “We’re investigating the issue more fully at the moment and will discuss it with Thus to get a better understanding of what has happened.”

So if you want to know what I think, get the Wayback Machine off the blacklist. I, thankfully, am not currently with any of the ISPs that restrict access, but if it does become restricted on my ISP,  I will be complaining.

Update 15.1.09 – The IWF has now confirmed that a large number of pages from the database of around 85 billion web pages have been blocked due to indecent content. However, the IWF has said that it is only specific pages that have  been blocked so the damage is minimised. I still don’t believe it should be blocked, but feel a little better since they aren’t totally blocking out the site.

Update 17.1.09 – Demon Internet customers now have access to the Wayback Machine again. It has been seen by the company as a technical issue. However, Demon Internet still say they will be working closely with the IWF.