I control the horizontal. I control the vertical.
Ladies and gentlemen, as of this weekend, I am self-hosting my site. Hey, I’ve had the hardware and the software for months now. In that time I’ve been reading up on what I need to configure and run my own Web server, and I’m finally ready to take the leap.
What will it mean to you, the reader? Not much right now. Okay, I guess my site will be more vulnerable to power failures and such, but I’ve got lots more space to play with, tons more than I had with my old hosting service. And I’m backing up everything, so barring an act of Gawd on my computer itself, we’ll be okay in the long run.
As for me, well, I’m not paying for hosting anymore. And, for the first time ever, I’ve got complete control over the server side of things: configuration and access logs. That was something I’ve wanted for a long time: my old hosting company provided daily stats which were kind of useful, but not terribly informative. Now I’ve got access to everything, every possible bit of information. I installed the excellent (and free) AWStats package for a good overall view, and the raw logs are there for when I need just a bit more detail.
Just yesterday all of that came in handy, when I found out that another site was hotlinking to one of my photos to use as a background image. I wasn’t mad, really, just annoyed (and, I won’t name names: I’ve emailed the author, and it turns out it was just an honest newbie mistake. However, I have taken some precautions to prevent future bandwidth theft. (Because I’m not a bad guy, I chose to just send back a 403 code. I could have been a bit meaner but I guess that would have been a tad extreme.)
And, I know, if it had happened last week, I could have implemented this just as well with a .htaccess file instead of fiddling with the main server config, but my previous Web stats might not have told me (or not so obviously) that there was hotlinking going on, and they wouldn’t have led me to the offending page. And you know what? I’m thinking maybe I wouldn’t even have bothered to prevent it right away. But since the site is sitting in my computer, in my office, in my home, I’m a bit more motivated to defend it. It makes it all a bit more personal.
Maybe I won’t be able to keep this up forever; if/when my site becomes more popular, I’ll have to find another hosting solution. But in the meantime, with the relatively low bandwidth it’s pulling, I can easily afford this.