It's funny, because if you scroll down just a little, a similar post was made a while back. But this time, it's a little different. Fifthdread.com and Fifthdread Services has gone through a few big changes which I want to talk about. First, I've finally made the transition to fully self-hosted (with the exception of email- I'll get to that) which has been a huge milestone for me. Second, I decided to also ditch Wordpress for my blog. I'm now using Ghost, which is pretty lightweight and clean. Let's get into the finer details as to why this is happening, and why I'm pretty hyped about the whole thing.
Transitioning away from Webhostinghub
Setting the stage, let's ask why I would want to transition away from webhostinghub. The big one is cost. I was paying around $260 USD a year just to host my email and wordpress website. That's quite a bit considering I'm already self-hosting a ton of web services. I could save all of that by transitioning, and that's a good thing.
To be honest, I was very nervous to move away from Webhostinghub for a few reasons. Let's get a cool list going on why.
- All Fifthdread.com email addresses go through webhostinghub
- I was using webhostinghub DNS services
- I was nervous to host the main website
Solving the Email problem
I use Fifthdread.com email addresses such as my personal email, support, notification, etc. I really didn't want to lose access to any @fifthdread.com email addresses, so I had to find an alternate solution. I considered self-hosting a mail server, but there are many online who would discourage self-hosting email for various reasons. The big one is that most self-hosted email servers have a huge problem with being flagged as a spam sender. It's hard to be trusted when you look like a rogue email server. It's a sad reality, but it's not ideal to self-host email.
During this time, my buddy Randy conveniently recommended an email provider to me. We were talking about privacy oriented email providers like ProtonMail, and he recommended Skiff as an email alternative. I was intrigued by the clean aesthetic of their email client, so I did some reading. Turns out they provide email services for your own domains. They even offer 1 domain for free, and at that point I was sold.
There are a few limitations with their free tier, such as a file size limit. It's 10g. Fifthdread Email hasn't used over 1g over 12 years of service, so no big deal there. There's also the limit of you can't get a catch-all email address. I ended up biting the bullet and getting their cheapest yearly subscription, which is pretty affordable at $36 a year. Much better than the $260 I was paying for at webhostinghub, so I'll take it.
I had a pretty elegant but convoluted Dynamic DNS setup for any *.fifthdread.com addresses, such as server.fifthdread.com. Basically anything that was *.server.fifthdread.com and server.fifthdread.com had a CNAME entry to redirect to fifthdread.mooo.com. This was managed via afraid.org and a script on my server. However, it was time to move on.
It was time to push everything, including fifthdread.com to my custom server. I logged into my GoDaddy account and set the fifthdread.com DNS servers from webhostinghub to GoDaddy's DNS. Then I setup an excellent docker container to update my A records automatically. It's so clean!
The Website Itself, Fifthdread.com
I've always used Wordpress for my homepage. It's "good enough" in the sense that it's customizable, and can be used to make basically any type of website you want. However, I found that I don't use all the features that it offers outside of the web blog. I now use micro services for everything I need, and don't use a website to provide those services. I just needed a clean website that was fast, easy to setup, and easy to maintain. That's where Ghost comes in.
I was browsing the docker containers out there, and I discovered Ghost. It's a CMS platform like Wordpress but it focuses mostly on blogging or newsletters. It's super elegant and clean, I'm honestly impressed. Not to mention, it's very fast. I found that it's much faster to display a page than my old site, and I'm at the point where a clean, fast, and simple webpage is more attractive to me than a slow to load but fancy one.
The End Result
After all these changes, we are now paying $36 dollars a year vs $260. We get a faster, cleaner website. We also get all Fifthdread.com and subdomain traffic pointed to my servers. This means that I get to shorten my domain names for things from "bitwarden.server.fifthdread.com" to "bitwarden.fifthdread.com". It also means that to connect to any of my game servers, you no longer need to use server.fifthdread.com. You still can, but now fifthdread.com works as well.
Small victories, but it adds up to a huge change. To an outsider it doesn't seem like much, but for someone who has been using a web host for over 10 years, it's liberating to take full control over my web services and website. Skiff is a very cool email provider, and Ghost is pretty nice as well. I'm overall elated to have this elegant self-hosted setup.