I spent weeks trying to figure out DreamCompute and kept failing. Then I discovered ServerPilot, after actually coming across a thread on these forums and someone recommended ServerPilot with DreamCompute which made everything easier. ServerPilot is definitely an amazing tool. It took me over 5 tries – the destruction of 5 instances – before I was able to get anywhere and succeed with DreamCompute and Serverpilot. I think there was an issue with my own firewall or wifi blocking me and once I corrected that issue, everything in terminal was smooth.
As much as I loved being with DreamPress on an optmized WordPress server with HHVM for 2 years, it was costly and my major issue which pushed me to seek an alternative: absolutely no control over your own server. In other words, when my website went down, which it did randomly at least once every few months, I had to contact the DH support team for help to restart the server. They could never figure out what was wrong. The restart button was an important thing in having and I knew nothing about Terminal or a VPS at the time. They took away that simple restart button in the control panel which basically turned me off of wanting to continue paying for DreamPress. If they had not done that, than I would’ve still been paying the $16+ a month. At least once or twice, my website had been down for well over an hour because no one responded or I had to hop on chat to get a hold of someone to let them know of my sense of urgency.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy DH support and it is probably the reason I continue to be a customer of DH. They are extremely helpful. But there are just some things I’d like to do myself. Anyways, I finally got DreamCompute and ServerPilot setup, and over the weekend, I moved my website over.
Confessions of the Professions now proudly sits on DreamCompute in its own cloud. It has been almost 2 weeks so far and I love it. While I did have issues in the beginning, not realizing that because the website is semi-popular and has some plugins running, the website was crashing because 512 MB really wasn’t enough. If you run a non-WordPress website or are just developing, this is probably best.
So I upgraded it to 1 GB for now… and for a day or two, I had run into the website crashing. After optimizing it with Supercache and some other techniques, the website is up for the most part. I also wrote a script to ping and detect a response from the website IP address. A cronjob runs every 5 minutes to detect whether the website is up or not and attempts to restart the server automatically if it does not respond.
I have seen it go down for a minute or two and it goes back up. So I had success in getting the script to work.
So what can I tell you about the pros/cons of ServerPilot so far?
ServerPilot really does make it easy to get up and running in minutes. ServerPilot has a firewall to protect your website as well as automatic updates so you don’t really have to worry about anything. ServerPilot is very well documented and fairly easy to understand. They certainly get an A- for finally speaking English and not so technical – something DreamHost is kind of guilty of in their documentation, though they are improving. ServerPilot also led me into a lot of research and installing new software, trying out new things, and not being so scared to do it like I was in the beginning.
I’m certainly far from a professional, but I no longer hesitate to create new instances and spin up test sites via command line in the terminal. ServerPilot does all the hard work for you in helping to set up a PHP or WordPress site in minutes. ServerPilot also optimizes the server with Nginx, Apache, and PHP-FPM, which seems to help protect and speed up your website. ServerPilot offers a free version and you don’t have to feel obligated to ever leave it and you can create as many servers as you need. Upon upgrading for just $10 a month, you can have access to free and unlimited SSL certificates, users, and other stats.
ServerPilot is certainly there to help make life easier for those who want an unmanaged VPS that they can understand.
While ServerPilot is great for anyone, it is really geared towards beginners. In other words, in a lot of their documentation, it is like they lead people away from trying different things because it will probably mess up their own configuration. The “red” they use is quite scary, although there are some people who have looked past it and experienced benefits, even with ServerPilot installed, such as installing HHVM. There are some other programs, similar to ServerPilot out there, that can be installed via Terminal that are just as beneficial, though you have to have a bit more knowledge than the norm. Your freedom of doing things on your own server is seemingly limited by the ServerPilot configuration.
ServerPilot does not, but would do well to offer a backup service for your servers, especially in their paid versions. ServerPilot could also improve its one-click install dashboard or even offer some preset installation scripts to help you install other things. Offering WordPress is great, but offering just WordPress plays favoritism. They could easily have other one-click install apps on there. Currently, ServerPilot is a very minimal platform and while I am not complaining about that, I’d love to see more features offered.
Having said all that, I would still recommend ServerPilot to anyone, and will probably use it for my other websites, though as you learn more about terminal and getting a DreamCompute instance up and running with a website on it, you may find yourself no longer needing or dependent on ServerPilot.