I’ve never been a fan of managed WordPress hosting. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate what managed WordPress hosts do, and they are definitely doing amazing work, but it’s just not for me.
As a developer and server admin hobbyist, I prefer to own my own VPS (virtual private servers). I started using Rackspace Cloud VPS in 2008 and managed a few personal and client sites on virtual servers. When Digital Ocean launched, I moved all of my sites to Digital Ocean droplets. I’ve always enjoyed using VPS environments, as they give me complete control over my web hosting infrastructure.
The two downsides to this DIY approach is security and site management. Not being an experienced Linux sysadmin, I was always concerned that I might miss something important that led to my servers getting hacked. Setting up new sites on the same server meant manually creating site folders, databases, and virtual host configurations.
So when I discovered ServerPilot in 2016, it was almost a no brainer. It gave me the flexibility to own my virtual servers to create and manage new sites on the fly. It has some shortcomings, but I could find workarounds for them to get things the way I wanted.
Then, early in 2019, Delicious Brains launched SpinupWP.
I’ve been a fan and follower of the team at Delicious Brains for a few years now, and their take on the cloud-based server control panel was exciting to me. The features listed on the website provided a better feature set than the ServerPilot service. I had to try it out.
Unfortunately, time, work and life got in the way. It took me almost two years to finally give it a try, and now that I have, I’m annoyed I didn’t do it earlier.
What makes SpinupWP better?
There are quite a few reasons I like SpinupWP more; this is just a shortlist of my initial thoughts during the process of migrating my sites over.
1. API Access
SpinupWP connects to your cloud service provider via their API. This is great because it means you can actually spin up 😀 a server from the dashboard. With ServerPilot, you have to create the server from your VPS provider first, and you have to provide root user access, which is a bit of a security risk.
2. Easy setup wizards
Setting up a new server instance to creating a new site, you are guided through the process using step-by-step setup wizards. One of the things I like about these setup processes is they’ve thought of the different types of site migration and provide options like setting up a new site to simply provisioning an empty one to be migrated over.
3. Handy help sections
This is one of my favourite parts of the setup wizards. For almost every field you have to enter, there is a help area to the right of the view that describes what that field is for or includes more information or links to a help document. This is very handy when you’re not 100% sure of what you need to input.
4. Click to Copy
Every single piece of text (and I mean every single one) that you might need to copy to be pasted elsewhere can be copied to your clipboard via a single click. You have no idea how much time this saves when you migrate sites over to a new platform.
If I have one complaint here, the domain portion of the TXT record I needed to copy for the SSL certificate generation copied the entire text when I just needed the part before the domain name. That being said, this was the only hiccup I encountered using the product on my first try.
5. Event log
At the top right of the screen is a button to view an entire log of everything you’ve done on the platform. This is extremely useful if you need to see the status of some task running in the background.
6. Security first
Because SpinupWP creates new server instances for you, they automatically disable root access. Then, any time a new site is created, a new user is created to manage that site. These site users do not have sudo access, which means they can only manage the specific site’s files and data. You can create separate sudo users to give you a higher level of control. Finally, you can choose to access your servers using SSH public key authentication for an enhanced level of security.
7. Faster out of the box.
I moved my main domain (this blog) over to a new server first. I specifically chose PHP 7.3 as the PHP version because it was running on the older server. I don’t do any specific speed tuning, and just by migrating my site from a ServerPilot managed instance to SpinupWP, I gained an 11% speed increase on GTMetrix.
I managed to move all 4 of my personal “production” domains over to a SpinupWP managed server over the weekend. I’ve not really had a chance to dive into the dashboard fully, but I’m looking forward to seeing what else is possible. I really appreciate the product because you can see it’s the result of years of working with different WordPress hosting types. It’s designed for developers to make it as straightforward as possible to leverage the power, and cost-saving, of cloud-based virtual private servers, with the speed and security of a managed solution.
If you’re a WordPress developer, and you have sites you host yourself, or you want to self manage your client’s web hosting but are concerned about ease of use, stability, and security, I highly recommend giving SpinupWP a spin.