You probably remember reading about my issues with running my WordPress-based blog on Dreamhost's environment, and how frustrated I was with the experience of using their Private Server services. The short version is that I eventually migrated my blog back to their shared hosting environment, turned off most of the plugins and cried myself to sleep.
The very next day, after reading (and replying to) the comments I received, one in particular caught my eye: Amazon’s Free Usage Tier offering new customers the following EC2 services each month for one year:
- 750 hours of EC2 running Linux/Unix Micro instance usage
- 750 hours of Elastic Load Balancing plus 15 GB data processing
- 10 GB of Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) plus 1 million IOs, 1 GB snapshot storage, 10,000 snapshot Get Requests and 1,000 snapshot Put Requests
- 15 GB of bandwidth in and 15 GB of bandwidth out aggregated across all AWS service
Sounds really good, doesn’t it? I took a good look around and saw a couple of interesting blog posts from people who took advantage of this offer to move their blogs “to the clouds”, and being the adventurous guys that I am, I signed up for a new account and proceeded to take the steps to move this blog to my own EC2 instance.
The first thing was to create a back up/dump of my blog’s database and WordPress files. I then started looking for a good Linux appliance with all the necessary applications (i.e. Apache, MySQL, PHP, etc) as I didn’t feel like starting with a plain “bare bones” system and installing individual packages. I looked for a CentOS-based appliance but as I couldn’t really tell how good some of the ones that came up in my search were, I ended up choosing the WordPress stack from Bitnami. This proved to be the path of least resistance in the end as several people seem to have used it to do the same exact thing I wanted to do (and the fact that it has an active community also means I can have some level of support).
I highly recommend the instructions from this post for the process of taking your database dump and using it to populate your new database (make sure to either create a new user that matches your existing configuration OR modify your wp-config.py to use the default user from the instance), and configuring the Apache web server. Do make sure to read everything, specially the sections related to a couple of issues that came up for the author, so that you can hopefully sidestep them. Also, as the appliance already comes with WordPress installed in /opt/bitnami/apps/wordpress/htdocs/, you may want to selectively choose what files to copy from your backup into this directory, such as themes, plugins, uploads, etc.
Finally, setting up my current domain to redirect to my EC2 instance was extremely easy to do, using Dreamhost’s DNS services (you can use this example up to step 6, skipping step 5) in conjunction with Amazon’s Elastic IPs.
Today marks the 7th day I switched this blog to my EC2 instance and so far I have had absolutely no issues or regrets! I feel very confident that I can expand its capabilities and not worry about bogging it down. Load average has been around 0.15 and I also have plenty of free RAM to go around. Once my one year promotion expires, bar any unexpected surprises, I feel pretty confident that I may continue to use it as a paid user.