Migrating to a VPS

After having pretty stagnant websites costing me $10/month for years and years on shared hosting, I’m finally in the process of migrating to a VPS hosted by DigitalOcean. I was pushed over the edge by the fact that my shared host of 10+ years (Dreamhost) runs Ruby 1.8.7, and I had no way to upgrade. The prospect of administering my own web server is a bit daunting, but heck, I write websites for a living, I should be able to figure it out.

So how does one go about moving one’s digital life?

The one good thing about my shared hosting provider was that they were a “one stop shop.” I had my domain registration, email, web hosting, version control, everything in one place. Moving to a VPS means that all my services are all over the place. Such is life, I guess. Hopefully being able to run modern webapps for $5/month will make me feel better.

The first step for me was to migrate my old email into my Gmail account, which I’ve been using for about 10 years. Fortunately, email has an “Import from POP3” option right in Settings -> Accounts and Import. I grabbed all my old messages, labeled them, and called it a day.

Next was to move all my crummy, half-baked SVN repositories over to GitHub. Most of these are pretty worthless, but I’m a digital packrat (as well as physical), so I followed this tutorial from the Git Book. I’ll have to go back and delete most of them later, as they are of no use to anyone, least of all myself.

I moved my domain names over to Google Domains. Seems a bit sketchy since it’s in the perpetual “Google Beta,” but the offered email forwarding, and the last thing I want to do is deal with an email server to handle my legacy email address.

Lastly, I converted my Wordpress blog over to Jekyll, a static site generator. Conveniently enough, there’s a Wordpress importer which I used to grab my existing posts. After installing nginx and Ruby on my shiny new VPS, I created a Git post-receive hook to rebuild the site every time I push to the remote repo.

So far it’s been pretty fun to muck around with these things – I feel like I don’t know nearly enough about system administration, so hopefully I’ll pick up a few things.