148 – Spinning up a WordPress optimised server in minutes with Spinup WP

Interview – Spinning up a WordPress optimised server in minutes with Spinup WP

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Today we chat with Brad Touesnard from Delicious Brains. Delicious Brains are a team of eight full timers who do nothing but WordPress. They have a bunch of products that I’m sure you’ve heard of, such as WP Migrate DB Pro, WP Offload Media and WP Offload SES, but we’re not here today to talk about those, even though we really could have done a podcast on each product!

Today we’re talking most of the time about Spinup WP, a new way of hosting your website.

When we recorded this podcast, which was a little ago now, this product was in beta, but it seems that this label has now been dropped. It might be that some of the other fine details have changed a bit too, but I doubt it as what we talk about is a very high level discussion about the platform, and it’s unlikely that any of that will have altered significantly.

Spinup WP allows you to quickly spin up a server. This is a WordPress specific server with a bespoke server admin panel. You get great performance because of full page caching, and a while raft of other features, and the while process only takes about ten minutes!

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There are so many hosting options available to WordPress professionals that I sometimes think that it’s hard to keep up. Pity those who are just looking to launch their own website and have zero interest or background in WordPress hosting! There’s shared hosting, VPS, dedicated, managed WordPress hosting and all of the cloud service that have popped up lately.

Each of these options have a range of benefits and drawbacks. Usually this revolves around a trade off of money v’s customisation. I think that it is also true to say that it’s quite possible to be somewhat mislead. Things like… unlimited disk space, 100% uptime. We all know that this is simply not possible and yet sometimes the price is just so tempting!

More recently we’ve seen a whole range of companies start to leverage the enormous infrastructure that companies like Amazon, Google and Digital Ocean have. They build their service on top of these other highly available platforms and build their own applications so that you don’t have to learn the incredibly complex ins and outs they they can require.

Spinup WP enables you to hook up to any service that offers you some hard disk space and has SSH available. It’s completely platform agnostic and will connect to pretty much any modern cloud hosting platform and take you through the pain of setting up a WordPress optimised server.

As of the recording of this podcast Spinup WP has a special relationship with Digital Ocean. You can sign up with Spinup WP and they will automate all-the-things if you choose to go the Digital Ocean route. You won’t need to configure anything at all. All other providers will require you to sign up with their platform first, then copy / paste the SSH keys over to Spinup WP. Hardly a big deal, but a tiny bit more work. Brad does say that they have plans to roll the ‘easy’ version of their platform to other cloud providers in due course, so you might want to go and check out what’s what on their website.

Brad is pretty clear that if you have literally zero background in working with technology (and no interest in learning) then Spinup WP might not be for you. But… fear not… if you’re a willing learner and have played with code a bit in past and like problem solving, then this is not going to be out of bounds for you! Phew! They have plenty of guidance within the app as well as a bunch of WordPress hosting blog posts which will help you if you are worried about your technical capabilities.

So the idea is that you can get a server and WordPress site up and running in the time that it takes to make and (not quite) finish a coffee. Most of that time is literally spent waiting! Brad says that the whole process from logging in until the site is ready to interact with is about 10 minutes. There’s a lot going on in that 10 minutes too. All of this is installed:

  • nginx
  • PHP fpm
  • MySQL – MariaDB
  • Redis – for object caching
  • Git – for auto Git deployment
  • WP-CLI
  • Composer
  • CertBot (Let’s Encrypt)
  • Firewall
  • WordPress – Single site, Multi site

If you decide to use WordPress single site Spinup WP will install a couple of plugins. Limit Login attempts and their own caching plugin to ensure that WordPress works well with their system.

They also enable server logs and put that log data in a directory which is not publicly available.

This seems like such a great product for those of you who want to get servers up and running in double quick time and don’t really want to learn the ins and outs of cloud servers and how to setup and maintain them.

Mentioned in this episode:

Delicious Brains

Spinup WP

Spinup WP pricing

WP Migrate DB Pro

WP Offload Media

WP Offload SES

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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Nathan Wrigley: 00:00 Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Now welcome your host, David Waumsley, Nathan Wrigley.

Nathan Wrigley: 00:21 Hello there, and welcome to this episode number 148 of the WP Builds podcast. It's entitled spinning up a WordPress optimized server in minutes with spin up WP. It was published on Thursday the 3rd of October, 2019 my name is Nathan Wrigley from picture and word.co.uk, a small web development agency based in the north of England and I won't be joined by David Waumsley from David Waumsley.com because today is an interview we swap sort of fortnightly every couple of weeks. I do one with David and then every every alternate week I do one with an interview guest. And today we've got Brad two now from delicious brains who is the brains behind spin-up WP. But we'll get to that in a moment. Before that though, if I could advise you to go over to the WP Builds.com website and there at the very top you'll find the menu and the first menu item is the subscribe link WP Builds.com.

Nathan Wrigley: 01:21 Forward slash. Subscribe and this is my way very, very politely requesting that you join us. Find some way of keeping in touch with WP Builds there you'll find a couple of email lists, one to do with the podcast and newsletter, and another one to do with WordPress deals and has black Friday is just around the corner. This could be a really good idea to get on the deals list because I'm going to be sending out emails about deals as soon as I hear about them over there. You can also subscribe to us on your favorite podcast player. Join our Facebook group of 2,300 WordPress's all acting very politely and helping each other out. It's just a basically wonderful community. This whole WP Builds things who thought it could happen. The other pages I'd like to point you to are in fact the deals page, WP Builds.com forward slash.

Nathan Wrigley: 02:08 Deals. It's a little bit like black Friday, but every day of the week, so go and check that out. If you want to purchase something WordPressy this week, you never know. You might get some cash off and of course WP Builds.com forward slash advertise if you would like to put your product or service in front of a WordPress specific audience. A bit like these guys have done, the WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by WP feed back, our client communications eating up all of your time. If so, check out WP feedback, a visual feedback tool for WordPress that is specifically designed to get you and your clients on the same page. Check out WP feedback.co and the page builder framework. Do you use a page builder to create your websites? The page builder framework is a mobile and lightning fast WordPress theme that works with beaver builder element or breezy and other page builders with its endless customization options in the WordPress customizer.

Nathan Wrigley: 03:08 It's the perfect fit for you or your agency. Go to WP dash page builder framework.com today and we really do thank our sponsors because they honestly do help keep the WP Builds podcast coming around each and every week. Right? What have we got in store for you today? While we've got Brad to now from delicious brains, they've got a whole range of plugins. But today we're talking about spin-up WP, which is a way that you can spin up a WordPress optimize server with just a few clicks. Now the idea here is that you know you've come across these cloud platforms before things like digital ocean and Amazon and Google's cloud and linode per perhaps you've been a little bit intimidated even though you know of all the benefits of the uptime and the the, you know the general configurability. But some of those configuration options you can get lost in the weeds.

Nathan Wrigley: 04:01 So Brad and his team have built spin up WP and the intention is that within a 10 minute time slot you can fill out a form and go and get yourself a server which is optimized for WordPress ready to go. It has a whole ton of stuff in the background, which we get to about halfway through things like installing nginx, PHP database system of your choice, read it, get WP Cli and the list goes on and on and then all you have to do is log in and you're good to go. I mean, it's such an interesting idea. It's certainly worth a listen and I hope that you enjoy it. Hello there. Thank you for making it to this part of the podcast. We have an interview today and all the way from Canada we have, now I'm going to get this right. We practice this moments ago. Brad to now. Yes, Eric. Good. Very well. Well done. That's it's a, it's a, it's a name which to an anglophile like me looks different to how it sounds. It has French heritage. Um, so Brad is joining us today from delicious brains. Is that true? Are we going from the, is it the delicious brain? I know we're going to talk about something else, but do you represent delicious brains?

Brad: 05:11 Yes. Yes. That's what I do day in and day out. I run a company called delicious brains inc and we are eight full time people. Oh, not including myself. Okay. Um, yeah, so six developers and uh, two, uh, in the marketing department. Okay. And, um, and yeah, we're fully remote. So I've got four folks for developers in the UK, uh, one in Canada, one in Pennsylvania, uh, and a marketing person in Pennsylvania and another one in Ontario, Canada. So I think because we're going to have a, a reasonably technical discussion today, I think it's probably quite good to explain that. You know, delicious brains has a heritage.

Nathan Wrigley: 05:58 You've got a couple of widely distributed and used products. You've got a WP migrate DB pro, which I'm sure a lot of our listeners will have heard of. And you've got WP offload media as well. Um, do you want it very, very quickly, just want to say what they are so that we know that you are somebody that's knows their way around WordPress, should we say? Yeah, yeah. I mean we've been,

Brad: 06:22 uh, on the, on the block for awhile. Um, we launched migrate DB pro in 2013 and it, it, uh, it's a developer tool mainly. So if you need to get your a WordPress site from a local Dev environment up to a staging site, for example, you could push your database from that local install up to your staging site. Um, at least that's how we started. Now you can push your theme and plugin files, uh, your media files, uh, pretty much your whole install except WordPress core itself. Okay. Um, and uh, and then you could also pull your database and media files and theme and plugin files down. So let's say you have a production site and you want to set up a local Dev environment, you can quickly pull, uh, that site down to your local Dev environment.

Nathan Wrigley: 07:16 I know, I know a lot of people that use it on a regular basis and, and, and really like it an awful lot. And, um, WP offload media, well, we're offloading media. Where are we offloading it? It's all in the title, isn't it? Yeah, pretty much. I mean, that's exactly what it does.

Brad: 07:35 It offloads your media to Amazon. S three is what we started with and this year we actually launched support for DigitalOcean spaces as well. So now you can offload your media to either of those platforms and we are, uh, we will be launching in the first half of 2019, uh, on Google cloud storage. Oh, not as well. Okay.

Nathan Wrigley: 07:59 on a personal level, that one intrigues me. Has It, is the digital ocean aspect, the digital ocean spaces, has that been taken up by a lot of people? They enjoyed that option.

Brad: 08:09 Yeah, I don't, I don't actually have any metrics on that. Um, and uh, that's something we're working on on boat with both of our plugins is, is uh, getting more data from our customers. Um, of course, uh, you have to require that they, you know, uh, opt in, right? It's going to be opt in. Uh, so not, not opt out, but, uh,

Nathan Wrigley: 08:35 we are collecting some data from our customers with migrate db pro and we just haven't moved that over to offload S3 our offload media yet. So I know what this is like gathering the data is all very well and good. It's finding the time to actually look at it, do anything meaningful with it. That's the, uh, that's the part I think. Um, yeah, exactly. The digital ocean segue is very good. Let's, let's use that as a segue because DigitalOcean is a little bit, um, of what we're going to talk about this afternoon. Not directly, because as a new product, which currently if you go to a spin up wp.com, no spaces, nothing like that, you're going to find a product which as of the recording of this is labeled as beta, um, spin up WP. I guess maybe the quickest way to do this is if you give us the, the sort of 32nd elevator pitch and then I'll dive in and ask a bunch of questions around, around what interested me about it.

Brad: 09:36 Sure. Yeah. So spin up the LDP allows you to quickly spin up a server that can host WordPress, uh, very fee, you know, in a performant way. Um, so, you know, cashing full page caching fully enabled all the bells and whistles. Uh, and on your own server, uh, and it can do it in about 10 minutes. So it gives you like a modern server control panel, uh, and helps you kind of guide you along the way as well. So we, we've embedded like hints and little guidance in the app itself so that you understand what's going on. Uh, and it's not just, uh, you're clicking away and things are happening and you have no idea what's happening. And if things go sideways, then you're Kinda screwed, right?

Nathan Wrigley: 10:31 Yeah. You don't know what's been going on the whole time, so, okay, I'll dive into this a little bit. Um, I'll unpack the bits that, that I thought were interesting and I thought a good place to start might be to, uh, to talk about the sort of traditional options with hosting. You know, shared hosting goodness, is that, that's still around our guests. Um, but then you've got things like managed WordPress hosting with a whole raft of companies come out, come out in the last four or five years that have this label of managed WP hosting. Um, and then obviously you've got the, the roots as you emphasize on your website of just doing it all yourself and buying a server and just getting stuck in rolling your sleeves up and learning how to do everything. What, where do you fit in to that and what are the benefits or the drawbacks of each of those models?

Brad: 11:20 Yeah, so, uh, I mean, the big drawback with managed WordPress hosts planning is that it's quite expensive, right? But the advantage there is that you don't really have to worry very much, right? Cause you're, you're Kinda, everything's just taken care of for you. Um, but there are downsides to it as well, right? You don't have very much control over your environment. So if you want to, for example, to tweak some, uh, caching settings, full-page caching settings, maybe you can't do that on your managed WordPress house. Um, you know, and there's also the fact that, uh, you know, all web hosting, uh, is, you know, uh, it's not a hundred percent uptime. Th that's, that's, uh, like there is no such thing as a, 100% uptime close to it. But the expectation nonetheless still exists. So, um, and you know, there's lots of companies out there that'll say, you know, we have 99.99, nine, nine, nine, 9% uptime and reality in reality, what that means is, uh, if, if they go under that, which they almost certainly will in one month or another, uh, they will just give you some kind of credit for it, right?

Brad: 12:36 Yes, yes. Essentially. Right? So anyway, the web hosting industry is, you know, there's, there's lots of promises and, but when you dig down into them, uh, sometimes they're not always what they seem. Um, and another example that would be like unlimited plans. Um, if there is no such thing, there's always limits, right? Um, if if you, for example, uh, get an unlimited plan and you start using massive amount of disk space, that host will eventually just kick you off because you're just using using too much or you're using actually just space is pretty cheap nowadays. But CPU, let's say you're using a lot of CPU and memory on one of their servers, they might just kick you off because it's not worth it. You're using way too many resources for the five, five, $5 and 99 cents a month that you're beg them or whatever it is.

Brad: 13:27 Um, and, uh, you know, similar with support, if you become too big of a burden on support, a host might tell you to take a hike as well. Uh, so yeah, it's, uh, it's interesting, I guess, sorry, you carry on. So, so then the other thing is, uh, so then the other option would be if you're not going to go with managed hosting and let's just ignore shared hosting, um, then do it yourself, as you mentioned, is another option. But then you have no safety net. So if things go sideways, you know, you're the one that you're the only one to fix it. Um, and uh, you know, so that's, that's, that's pretty much where people stop, right? Yeah. Th Th as soon as they think about that, they're just like, oh my God, that sounds terrifying. I'm out. Yes,

Nathan Wrigley: 14:17 yes, yes. Yeah, it is. Well, it is terrifying. That's the reality. It's horrible when it goes wrong. You've got to get up in the middle of the night and fix things and uh, you know, or in a tent, uh, can, can tell you a story about that, but, uh, there you go. Yeah. So fascinating. So, but it kind of feels to me like over the last few years, a lot of these kind of companies have been sort of popping up all over the place, offering like a different way. Um, you know, you're able to buy, I'm just going to call it cloud hosting. I never really understood what that meant. But you know, there's these companies who have these giant giant farms of servers and disc space and you know, racks of amazing computers tucked away somewhere on the planet and you buy bits of those. Do you, do you, this is not what you're doing, is it? We're, we're not sort of competing against the likes of Digital Ocean or linode you're sort of hooking into them.

Brad: 15:12 That's right. That's right. So, uh, spin up the other piece, just an app. So it's, it's kind of like a hosting control panel. So you, uh, you sign up and you connect your DigitalOcean account or your linode account or even any, uh, as long as the server has an IP address and a login got an ssh login, it can be used with spin up WP. So presumably you could have a, you know, a server sitting in your living room as long as, as long as WP can see it, it could, it could, it could operate on it, right? Possibly go wrong. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Um, so, so

Nathan Wrigley: 15:53 it's like a control panel. It connects to any other service which has a, an ssh connection at all. So what are the ones that people are using? I mean, I'm guessing it's like linode and Digital Ocean and so on.

Brad: 16:06 Yeah, I did digita ocean or linode or are the biggest ones. I think there's a few other, I mean, AWS is another big one. Uh, so, so Amazon EC2 is the other big one. Um, and I mean there's other ones out there, there's Rackspace and you know, there's tons of cloud providers out there. Um, but the, I think those three are probably the, the, the three biggest. Um,

Nathan Wrigley: 16:29 that's an interesting distinction though. So you, you don't need, you haven't gotten some sort of API into their stack. All that you need is an ssh set of credentials because your, you're just pushing scripts and installing software, um, which is, which is quite different and quite unique and not something that I've come across. Um, do.

Brad: 16:49 Yeah. So we're just a note on that. Like we actually do support DigitalOcean, uh, out of the box. We have a tighter integration with them right now and we plan to add that to other platforms in the future so that you don't have to go to, you know, you don't have to go to digital ocean right now and log into your cam on and spin up a server there. You can just come to spin up wp.com and log into your account with us and then connect your DigitalOcean account, uh, and, and spin up a server right from your account. It, you know, we do all the connecting to digital ocean and, and telling them what, what to spin up and said, okay.

Nathan Wrigley: 17:30 Just, just to be clear, the digital ocean aspect, you need a digital ocean account that's set up entirely differently. You know, you put your credit card details into digital ocean, but uniquely at the moment you can run your, you can go to the spin up WP site login, um, supply the credentials back to spin up WP and it will take control everything. But DigitalOcean will bill you for whatever it is you end up using. That's right. Yeah, exactly. Oh, that's nice. Okay. I didn't realize it was a, you were tightly integrated. Are the linode and so on. Do they have, um, do they have those similar integrations or is that in the pipeline? That's in the pipeline? Not there yet. Okay. So if for example, we were using linode, we'd have to go in to the linode, uh, you know, control panel, uh, get the server all set up and what have you, and then transfer those login details back over to spin up WP, which in all honesty is just not, not hard is it?

Nathan Wrigley: 18:25 But it's another three minutes, which I suppose if you can, if you can avoid it is to be avoided. Now, uh, the, obviously this is, you know, you're given quite a lot of that. Well, there's a lot of, um, what's the right word here? There's a, there's a lot of options. So there's a lot of responsibility. Is, is this something, is your service something that you would recommend for like an absolute beginner to WordPress? Let's say my grandmother decides I want to learn WordPress and I need to put it somewhere. Can you cope with my grandmother? Do you think?

Brad: 18:56 No. that, that would be, that's, that's a stretch too far.

Nathan Wrigley: 19:03 Yeah. Yeah. You haven't met my grandmother,

Brad: 19:07 but, but I have had, let's say, designers who, uh, are good at front end coding. So I would, I could say the sitter, those people, technical people, uh, cause if they do some front end coding, they've, you know, tinkered with Java script and CSS html that they have a knack for problem solving and learning. I think those people are well suited, uh, for, for this app and, and learning to host a WordPress on their own server. Absolutely. Oh good.

Nathan Wrigley: 19:37 So with, with, uh, with a small amount of time invested and a bit of interest, uh, you could get yourself up to speed. Do you, do you have documentation which would help you, uh, with like digital ocean, or linode and so on that will, that will coach you through it or do you just point to their knowledge base and say, go and learn it from them?

Brad: 19:54 Uh, a little bit of both, but mostly our goal is to be able to guide you through your journey of learning how to s to host WordPress yourself. So we have a, we actually have a series of blog posts, uh, that essentially are, is a tutorial on how to host WordPress yourself. And that's kind of where this app was born out of. So those posts are actually very popular. We get a lot of traffic to our blog, uh, because of those. Um, so that was part of the reason why we decided to build this app because we have all these people who are interested in hosting WordPress themselves on their own servers. So why not make it way easier for them instead of spending three hours, you know, going through our tutorials and, and running commands manually, why not let an app do it for you. Um, and you, uh, just do things a lot easier. Even things like, um, once you have your servers set up, even things like adding a site is kind of a pain in the neck to like log into the server and you know, set up a new con virtual host configuration and nginx and, and set up your SSL certificates with let's encrypt and all that stuff. It's just, you know, takes time. Yes. And with spin up, it's just, you know, a few clicks and you've got a new site created, um, ready to go. Okay.

Nathan Wrigley: 21:20 Yeah. Let, let's take, let's go from the principle that I've got. Let's use DigitalOcean as an example because you've got that integration, which is uh, basically point, point and click. Okay. So, um, got my digital ocean account. I've just signed up for spin-up WP. I've decided I want to get one site going on digital ocean. What, what is the length of time it will take me? I know that when you said it'll take 10 minutes, presumably that's from the time that I filled in all the checkboxes and typed in all in all the form fields and then pressed go, go off, have a cup of tea, come back and it'll be ready. But what, what's the time that it would take from me logging into spin up WP to the time I can walk away and start making my coffee. How long does it take to do the, make the site as it were?

Brad: 22:06 Oh, that would just take a few, like maybe a couple minutes to plug in your yeah, that'll do. That'll do. Yeah. Okay. So I'm am the majority, the majority of the time is actually the server actually being provisioned. At DigitalOcean and uh, you know, uh, US installing the software. So cause it has this software, I said download and then configure itself and stuff. So that's the majority of the time. Yeah. So like you said, you can go make a coffee during the majority of those 10 minutes. Yeah. And come back to you. That's great. I know server.

Nathan Wrigley: 22:39 Yeah. Go and check some, he would do a bit of mindless Facebook trolling and yeah, come back in. It's ready. Okay. So my typical, um, set up at the moment is I use, uh, I've got my own host and I use, I'm a piece of software called plex, just not plex plus with a k, just because, yeah. Because it, you know, I can't be bothered to get into the command line for all of those things. And, and I've got the, I've got it down to a fine art. I reckon it takes me longer than a lot longer than that because I have to set up the site, I have to go and install WordPress, I have to go and provision the SSL certificate, I have to do all the DNS and or Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah. It's taken me way longer than a couple of minutes. I'm interested to know what is the stack of stuff that you're building on that's again, use digital ocean. What, what, what are the things that are happening? The order's not important, but, um, what are you doing to that digital ocean? Um, droplet if you like, whilst that 10 minutes is happening, what are you putting on there?

Brad: 23:40 Right. So we actually have a, in our documentation, we list out, um, our stack, our tech stacks. So we have, uh, nginx. Yep. Uh, is, is the, the main, the main one. Um, so, and then we have PHP fpm, uh, which is running as a Damon on the server and my SQL, uh, or Maria DB DB depending. You can choose either one. Um, and then we have reddis running for object caching purposes. Uh, we have, uh, get for get deploys. So, um, if you want to automatically deploy your site, when you push, uh, you know, a commit, uh, to get hub or you merge a PR into the master branch on Github, it can auto auto deploy to your, to your server. Um, which is a nice feature because it's actually a big pain in the butt to set that up. Um, and then we've got things, you know, WPC ally's automatically installed for you, composer's automatically installed, um, let's encrypt cert. Cert Bot is installed, so that's, Oh, you just go. Okay. Yeah, Yep, Yep. Yeah. And then, uh, we've got a firewall, uh, software installed as well, so nothing, nothing really gets through except http traffic and ssas traffic and just the bare necessities. So

Nathan Wrigley: 25:04 presumably WordPress at some point gets dumped in there as well. And uh, you know, the, the, the database. Yeah, that's a question. Um, are you, are you asking for my admin password and so on for WordPress at the time that you launch all of this as well? So, in other words, do I just receive a set of emails saying, is the, is the login URL off you go 10 minutes later? Yeah. So we don't do that a lot. A lot of other services services

Brad: 25:33 do that, that when you say they set up the server, it's like you get like a stock WordPress site set up. Yep. Uh, when you set up your server, nothing's there, there's no sites on it at that point, and then it's up to you to add a site and you can choose a variety of options there. A single site install, multisite install. Um, I get a good site. So if you want it to suck in a site from Github for example, you could provide your get hub, um, URL for that site. If it's a public site, it would just, it would just go, if it's a private site, it requires a little bit more set up. You need to authorize, uh, access. So the, so that spin up double peak and access your github repo in that case. Um, so, so yeah, there's, there's, uh, all those options.

Brad: 26:26 Um, and then if you, let's say you, you do choose to deploy just to a WordPress site, single site install, uh, we will do some extra things for you. Um, for example, we will install limit login attempts plugin oh, ah. Which, which, and activate it so that you're protected. We've, we feel that, that, that should really be built into WordPress core. The fact that, um, WordPress is out of the box is open to brute force attacks against the past. You know, that's, that's bad news. That's bad news. So, so we install that, uh, automatically. And then we also install, uh, our own plugin that includes, you know, caching. So, uh, full page caching and object caching, purging functionality so that you can, let's say you, uh, update a blog post, it will automatically clear the full page cache for that phone. Oh, that's nice. Yup.

Brad: 27:24 Yup, Yup, Yup. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So it's all taken care of. Um, and uh, oh, another thing we do is, uh, we will, so another thing, WordPress does out of the boxes that it doesn't do any logging of errors. No. Right? No. Right. You have to enable your error log, but then it puts it in your WP content folder. It's just publicly accessible, isn't it? Which is pub, which is publicly accessible. Exactly. Which is bad for security reasons. You do not want that information publicly accessible. So what we do is we have, um, a must use plugin that's installed that changes the path to an offline logs directory for that site. And, and actually, uh, we'll rotate that log as well, just like all the other server logs. So, so that you're not, uh, you don't end up with, you know, 10 gigs or things of, of WordPress logs, right?

Brad: 28:24 Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah been there, done that. Um, yeah. So it sounds wonderful, but, um, I'm guessing the primary reason that you'd want to do this is number one, it's massively convenient. Are there any limitations like in your plans, do you have like tiers? So for example, you purchase one site or one, uh, I don't even know what to call it. One installation. Let's go with that. Um, and then you go up to five or 10, or how, how does, how does the pricing work? Uh, we, we limit by server at the moment. So, uh, so there's this, there's only two plans at the moment that is the one server plan and the three are more server plan. So, uh, you know, the, during the Beta, all of our prices are half are cut in half. Uh, so $6 a month we'll get you the ones server plan and then $9 a month we'll get you three servers and then it's $5 per month extra per additional server after that.

Brad: 29:24 So, uh, I don't think anyone's gone over their three server limit yet, just during, during the Beta also it'll come. Um, and what kind of access will you allow me to have? For example, um, I able to get root or ssh or w what's the, what's the limitations? How easy can I, how easy is it for me to break it? Yeah, yeah, exactly. A full, full access, no, not limit any access whatsoever. Okay. So that's where usually from managed hosting there's a big difference. Oh yeah. Very different than a managed host and actually very different than a lot of other services that are similar to ours. They will not not give you access to the server either. Um, and so I think that's, that's a big advantage of our, our, our system. We were using ansible to do all the changing and config files and stuff.

Brad: 30:22 So, um, in theory you could actually edit, actually not in theory. In reality, you can edit a, an nginx, a config file that, that our app will also add it, uh, and you can add your own customizations and the app will actually make the modifications without affecting yours. Like it won't overwrite them or anything. Okay. So just so it's actually, there's people who are listening, if you don't know what Brad's on about, don't do it. Don't do what just tested. Yeah. Way. Yeah. That, that is, that is the, the better option is it's for us, we would like to build more and more interfaces to prevent people perhaps to have to log into their s, you know, to ssh into their server. Like A, for example, if you need to tweak the caching rules, we want to have a UI for that in the future.

Brad: 31:16 Yeah. Ands and the other, the problem is, um, you know, it's, it's one thing that, you know, it takes time to ssh into your server and edit the caching rules, but it also, the, the majority of that time is going searching Google and stack overflow for the right things to actually add to that file. Cause you can't remember what the syntax is for, you know, the caching rules and whatnot. And so if, if we could build a UI that could guide people through, you know, adding caching rules, maybe simplify them a bit, um, and just make it way easier to do the typical things people would want to do. For example, never, never cash this page or never cashed that page. That should be so easy to do. You should just be able to log in and enter a URL and you'd be done, right?

Brad: 32:05 Yes, absolutely. It's a pain in the neck. I've done it many, many times. And do you know what else I'll never do is I never write down that little snippet of, you know, that you found that it took half an hour to find on Google, never booked market, never wrote it down. You know, six months later find it again, half an hour gone. Yeah. So if you can put that, if you can put a UI on that, that'd be great. So complete access, complete route access, get do what you like, install what you like. So that for the propeller heads amongst you, that might be a, a real, um, a, a real bonus. Now of course with that, the ability to

Nathan Wrigley: 32:39 do just about anything you want, the is also the ability to destroy everything and completely mess it up. Is there any get out of jail cards? Do you, um, do you offer kind of support when you undo things that we accidentally broke? Um, and obviously, you know, if, um, things, not just accidentally, if things were maliciously taken down, should we say, is there any backup strategy that you deploy or any support that you have going?

Brad: 33:10 Yeah. So our support service, and we're very clear about this and our, on our pricing page for example, uh, the only thing included is app support. Okay. Cause obviously obviously at these price points, it does not make sense to us to be logging into people's servers and like helping them do things and stuff. Uh, that would just kill us. Right. In terms of, you know, profitability, um, do that once and we're in the red for the whole month for all of our customers, I think. Something like that, you know, so, so I think, um, so what, what we're, we're planning on offering though in the futures is having support plans, uh, so that are there monthly. Uh, and so if for example, you aren't confident and you really want that safety net, but you still do want to try, go at your yourself, um, then you can do that.

Brad: 34:03 Right. And it, the cost would be similar to a managed host, but have all the benefits that we've been discussing. Right. So they, yeah. That, that's the plan for the future. Um, uh, and, and just to be clear so we don't fix your problems if you get yourself into trouble. Yeah. So if you go, if you go tinkering with your server and break it, then, then we won't, we won't log in your server and fix it for, you know, we do have a bit of a cheat to, um, to get yourself out of trouble. Um, it's kind of an undo, um, that we're planning to implement in the future. So one of the, one of the big advantages of, of this app is how quickly you could spin up a new server, right? So, uh, you know, 10 minutes you, you have your, your new server and most of that is just, you know, happening in the background while you do other things.

Brad: 34:59 Um, so it's really cheap and easy to spin up new servers like one after another. So what we would propose is if you do really mess up your server and you can't figure out how to fix it, just spin up a new one and migrate your sites over to it now. Now, of course, the problem that right now is that migrating your sites over to them, it is time consuming and kind of a hassle, right? Yep. Um, we do have a guide that steps you through how to move a site from one spin-up server to another, uh, with commands in it that you can run and stuff. So it makes it a little bit easier. So you're not guessing and trying to remember you should be doing. Um, but in the future we plan to have a tool that will allow you to just click a button and it'll clone your site over to the then whatever server you want, uh, and uh, and, and also have the ability to, uh, to so have it make it tiered.

Brad: 36:00 So let's say you need to move a site from server a to server B. Um, well you don't, and that site's live, you don't want downtime that site. Well, what you could do is you, we could have this button to clone your site over to server B and then you can test it, make sure everything works good. Um, and then once you're happy that everything is good, hit another button that would just switch everything over and then you update your or copy anything new over that's been added. Yup. Shutdown that old site, bring up the new site, you update your DNS and, and should happen and well, whatever the TTL is on DNS it's usually 300 seconds. So it'd be, you know, whatever that is. Is that five minutes? I think, uh,

Nathan Wrigley: 36:48 Oh yes. Yes it is. Yeah. To think about that. Yes. It is a good trick there. You know, don't leave, don't, don't not check your TTL, uh, before you do any of that stuff, there's no doubt somebody that owned this site before you who was in control of the DNS will have put, set it to seven days or something along those lines and then you're waiting, waiting, waiting. Um, the, obviously there's an awful lot going on with the stack of software that WordPress sits upon, that you have installed automatically for us, you know, the, the nginx and so on and so forth. Um, do once we've installed that, uh, via a spin up WP, do you then like periodically go in and update that in the same way that a hosting company does? And do we have to agree to those updates? You know, for example, if I think you're on Ubuntu, so when Ubuntu goes to the next version, they'll let the lts version, do you just automatically do that or do we have to sort of sign a thing and say, yeah, yeah, let's do it.

Brad: 37:49 No. So we don't actually recommend upgrading a server from let's say a while we're at Ubuntu 1804 lts right now. Uh, let's say 20.04 lts comes out, you know, next week we would not, we would recommend, in fact, we would have a message in our app that pops up that says, you know, hey, you know, who been to 2004 lts just came out. This is what we recommend. Uh, and that is to not upgrade your servers. We recommend spinning up a new server and moving your sites over to it. There's no like, yeah, cause there's, in our experience we've had a lot of problems and, and if you Google this, you'll see lots of other people saying the same thing. There's a lot of problems upgrading a major version of Linux from one to another. Um, and it's not worth the, the headaches that can come with that now. So and, and that, uh, and this is why that move tool will be so important in the future as well because people will be able to just click a button and, and basically move everything and move a site over to, to this new server. So I can't personally, I can't wait for that tool because I know I have a couple of sites to move on my to do list and you want the button. Yeah. I certainly

Nathan Wrigley: 39:15 the um, obviously it all sounds amazing. Um, but clearly there'll be that like a, a great big longterm roadmap of stuff that you still think you haven't quite nailed or that you have a time to fix or, you know, the, the migrate button being one of them. Are there any other kind of longterm plans, which you can talk about that for people listening who think, yeah, that's great, but what about this? What about, and any, any stuff that you want to highlight that's going to happen in the future?

Brad: 39:44 Yes, so we're in the Beta period right now and the big, the Co, the couple of big features that we don't have yet that we're working on before we launch is a scheduled backups. So we don't, we don't have any backup ability built into the app yet. Uh, of course you can set up your own backup solutions. Uh, it's your server, you have complete control over it so you can do exactly what you want there. But it would be nice if the platform had backups and allowed you to back up your sites. Um, so, uh, and, and of course like DigitalOcean, linode, all these platforms, they have server bus, uh, level backups, uh, built into their platforms. So you can always, you know, uh, backup the entire server. But, uh, that's not very good. If you just have some data loss with one of your sites around the circle, just need an image just gone.

Brad: 40:39 Yeah, yeah, yeah. You don't, you don't want to be restoring an entire, uh, server just for that one image. Exactly. So, so site and site files and the database backups is mainly what we, we'd be focused on focusing on here. So, and the big difference between us and a lot of other solutions is that we would allow you to bring your own storage, uh, account. So you'd get the plugin, your Amazon s three ACAT or your digital ocean spaces account or your Google cloud storage or backblaze B two or whatever, whatever your preferred platform for backups is. You could bring your own. Um, we, we won't even have our own branded backup solution, uh, in the beginning and, and maybe we never will. Um, who knows. Um, but, uh, the idea there is that you'll, you'll be able to log into your account at these providers and see your backups there.

Brad: 41:37 Yeah. Right. Yup. Yeah, that's, that's peace of mind. Uh, I think, uh, personally I would appreciate that ability to be able to see those files sitting there and to be able to download them without a spin-up WP. So if, let's say you canceled your spin up the other piece subscriptions, but we have, where are your backups? Yeah, yeah, Yep. But, but if you own that, if you own that account, then of course if you cancel your spin up that piece subscription, you still have access to all your backups. Everything's good. So is there, so there's a lot of benefits there. Yeah. Sorry. I mean you may have

Nathan Wrigley: 42:12 more on the roadmap, but the, you've just kind of given me a bit of a, a, another question just to book button there. The, is there anything that would tie me to you? Obviously you've illustrated there that like backups. No. Is there anything that would tie me to you like inextricably linked digital ocean to spin up WP so that I couldn't walk away with great ease? Other things that I would have to unpick before discontinuing spin-up WP? Or would it all just be fine? You can let, you could in theory, let your account, uh, lapse, uh, expire should I say, and, and all this as

Brad: 42:45 well. Yeah, absolutely. We don't want to lock people in. That's, that's a big thing. Uh, but at the same time that we want to give people lots of reasons to not just walk away, right. That would be bad for our business. Um, and so, so there's, there's certain things that, that you're gonna want to stick around with us for, right? Like, um, for example, uh, let's encrypt certificate renewals. Yup. Like we're handling that for you. That's an example. So there's, there's a, there's a list of a whole list of things, uh, that, that, but, but, but you're not locked in. So for example, if, uh, let's say you wanted to walk away from spin up for some reason weren't happy with us, um, you could do that. You could disconnect a server from our service. So we know, you know, our app no longer can connect to your, to your server at all, and then you can take it and manage it yourself.

Brad: 43:41 Um, of course, you'll have to set up let's encrypt certificate rules and all the things that we're doing for you, but it's totally possible to do that and not terribly hard. So, um, you know, we don't want to lock anyone in. Um, and, and I think that's, it's just, I don't know, it just feels like a bad move to do that to people. But no, I think that's great. I think that's a really, the other thing, the other thing is we don't use custom built of software. That's some of our, um, competitors do that. So for example, they'll, they have like a special build of nginx that they install on your server. So if you walked away with, tried to walk away with that server, you'd never be able to update the software on it because they have to create

Nathan Wrigley: 44:32 the special build of the software and update it. Right. We don't do any of that. All, all the server software we install is just the normal, uh, software that you would be able to get out on the, out in the wild. Yep. Um, so it's, it's, you know, if you do a, you know, app get update an app, get upgrade, you know, after walking away with your server, all your servers software will update itself. You know, so you, you'll just, you'll just pushing those commands to the regular repo that everybody else is using, uh, everywhere. So that, yeah, that's great. So you can just start using those commands all yourself if you, uh, if you did walk away. Oh, that's good. That's nice to know. And I didn't actually know that there was, um, there was people using proprietary versions of that stuff. So that's, that's really intriguing. Um, sorry, I interrupted your roadmap. You, you mentioned a little bit about the roadmap and then I interrupted you with a question there. Was there anything else you wanted to say? Uh, just the, the team. I mean, there's plenty of things that we're thinking about for the future back. I, so I could go on and on, but um, the other big thing

Brad: 45:35 we're working on for launch is teams. So, um, right now we just support personal accounts. So you create an account, it's got one email address, one login, that's, it can't really, if you wanted to collaborate, you'd have to share a login, which is an ideal, uh, with teams, you'll be able to invite other users, uh, to your app. And then in the app it'll show what users are doing what and, and that Kinda thing. So, um, multiple logins are important, uh, for security reasons, um, as, as you know. Um, so, so that's, that's coming, that's coming for launch as well. Um, and then I guess the other thing is we don't quite support like every, every single possible combination of ways that you could install WordPress. Uh, so, uh, we're planning on allowing you to have basically a template for where you want the WordPress core folder to be, uh, where you want the WP content folder to be. What's the name of the WP content folder? Right? So all of these like different ways you can structure a WordPress, um, set up, uh, we're gonna allow you to, to do that. Currently if you wanted to do that, you, you could use a get site type or a blank site and just, and just set it up yourself. But, um, but if you wanted to quickly create a s a WordPress site with a certain, um, structure, are

Nathan Wrigley: 47:09 you, you, there is no options for that at the moment. So it's coming. That's nice. Yeah, that's coming. Yeah, it's amazing. It's, it's just astonishing to me, you know, go back five years, nothing, nothing like this was even on the horizon, you know, so many advances in leaps and bounds and just really impressed. And this just strikes me as real. It's a no brainer to check this out. So, um, yeah, the, the URL as I've said is spin up WP, no spaces.com. Um, and if you want to know about the cost, uh, I'm currently looking at a bita cost page, but by the time this website, sorry this but podcast goes out, I don't know if that will still be the case, but um, at the moment, two plans, you've got the personal plan at $9 for the, uh, for the introductory period of $6 for the starter, which, uh, includes one server, the personal one, three servers, and then there's a great out team one which you've just talked about. It, uh, looks like it's going to be priced aggressively at 39 $39. So great. Yeah, it looks really interesting. Um, yeah, just before we finish, I always give everybody a chance to just promote themselves, you know, tell us about your Facebook page or Twitter handle or whatever it is that you want to mention. So go for it.

Brad: 48:24 I have a question for you though, before we wrap up. Um, I'm just wondering how you feel right now about this. Like you mentioned earlier, like your fear, you definitely had anxiety about managing your own server, right?

Nathan Wrigley: 48:42 we've got a, I've got a, uh, a box, um, with a basically no, no, no contract to do anything apart from just press the power bomb and, um, and I have to do all the, you know, the Linux updates and all the stuffing and I've got it. It's, it takes time. It's, it's a hassle Yeah. I would love to, to step away from that. And this, this stuff, the reason I got into that was just cause at the time the price point was so attractive, um, as opposed to paying a company to do all of that, you know, uh, managed a dedicated server still is fabulously expensive. Whereas if you just get a non-managed server, you can, you can cut the cost dramatically, but you also increase the support burden for yourself. Um, this is amazing. The technology, you know, essentially you're doing all the stuff that I need, but I don't have to do anything.

Brad: 49:41 Right. It's very attractive. Yeah. I really like it. Right. Um, right. So, yeah, with that, let's go for it. So fear the fear, I think, I think, I think the fear that in people, I mean you mentioned waking up in the night, right? Yeah. I think, I think that's the fear, right? But so, so here's what I would recommend people do if they want to get through is their interests. That if this sounds cool and they're interested in getting their feet wet but are, have that fear, put some website, host some website that isn't that important, right? If it goes down during the night, you don't care. Yes. Right. Yes. Good idea. Right. That's how I started managing my own server. I set myself on AWS. AWS has a free tier for a whole year. You can host your stuff on EC2 to an s three and whatever else for free.

Brad: 50:35 And I, I did that a few years back and had no problems the whole year. Yeah. And Yeah, and I realized, wow. Uh, and you know, during that time, you know, one of my blog posts hit the front page of a hacker news and she's got tons of traffic and a short time and it's no problem at handled that. No problem. So like all of my fears were just, just kind of went away after that, you know, cause, cause, cause I had experienced it. Right. And so it's no a lot, it was no longer unknown. So that's what I would recommend. I just, you know, put your blog on a server for a year and just feel it out. See, see how it goes. I'm always amazed.

Nathan Wrigley: 51:19 You get the cheapest sort of droplet on digital ocean and new stick vanilla WordPress on it is lightning fast. It's seriously amazing. It's optimized to within an inch of its life and the hardware so cheap now. And the, you know, the disc spaces so cheap now. Like you said, you're paying for electricity and CPU cycles. Really? Um, yeah, go check it out. Why not go and sign up for their, uh, for their introductory three month pricing. Spin up wp.com and go and see, come see for yourself. You've, uh, you've excited me anyway. Uh, which is good. Yay. Um, right. I'm gonna go back. I'm gonna Revisit that question about you've got a Twitter handle.

Brad: 52:02 Oh, you know, any self-promotion stuff. Yes. Uh, so, uh, Brad Ti is my Twitter handle. So twitter.com/bradt, if you have any questions or anything, comments, be sure to tweet, tweet at me on the twitters and uh, yeah. Um, I'm usually on there every day, so. Okay. Okay. Good place to find me. Worth checking out. So many people in our Facebook groups, so often talking about hosting and nobody's gotten, very few people agree that it's a, this company or this company or this company. I tried this and this and they're always changing as well. That's the thing that I always get surprised by is how quickly one person, you know, six months later, oh, I'm using this one now and wow, really moved them all across today. Wow, that's interesting. Um, go check it out and see if this is for you. It's gonna remove a lot of headaches and it's going to do an awful lot of the boring stuff for you, which is fabulous. So thank you Brad. And um, thanks for coming on our podcast today. Much appreciated. Oh, my pleasure. Thanks for having me. Well, I told you that it'd be interesting. I hope you enjoyed it. Really different topics. SPIN-UP WP by delicious brains. If it's peaked your interest, you can go to the website and follow the links in the show notes. The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by WP and UP one four of us will be directly

Nathan Wrigley: 53:26 affected by mental health related illness, WP and UP sponsors and promotes positive mental health within the WordPress community. This is achieved through mentorship events, training and counseling. Please help enable WP and UP by visiting WP and UP.org forward slash give as always. We will be back next Thursday with a podcast episode Thursday at one o'clock UK time. They come out also on Monday at seven o'clock in the morning UK time. I release a summation of the weekly WordPress news again in audio format so you can download it on your favorite podcast player and then also a 2:00 PM UK time, so hopefully that captures some of you in the North American market. We will have our live version. What happens there is I'm joined live in our Facebook group as well as a whole bunch of other places with some special guests in the WordPress community, and we talk about what's happened each week on in the previous week, I should say, in the WordPress space, and it's very interesting. It's very lighthearted, so join us for that. Hopefully you'll be able to join us for all of it. If not, I will see you soon. Somewhere somehow. Bye. Bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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