Thoughts on migrating this website to InMotion

Also: the new sold state discs powering this site, as well as a word on Physics Capsule.

Two days ago, Physics Capsule was suspended. I had not seen this myself and it was my friend, Roshan, who is also the co-founder of the website, who first brought it to my attention. Needless to say, I was extremely unhappy about it. I would only become unhappier still about the reason for the suspension: there was no breach, no malicious files like I had imagined but rather there was a spike in viewership. Physics Capsule had been shut down because too many people were reading it.

On the one hand this sounds ridiculous, but from a server-perspective this appears to be justified at first. The log files showed, though, that the spike in viewership was not as great as one would imagine it to be for the entire site to be pulled. My own website (this one) routinely sees hundreds of more readers in a day. Make what you will of it, but after contacting server support later that day I received an e-mail asking me to upgrade my hosting plan. It sounded suspiciously like a marketing move (and I may have been wrong, but I was in no mood to take chances) so the two of us discussed for a considerable period of time and decided to simply host elsewhere.

This was all about three days ago. Today, this website has moved to servers in Los Angeles, CA, hosted by InMotion, and I could not have been happier with the setup. Soon Physics Capsule will follow; unfortunately, I have neither heard back from nor seen any indication of my previous host wanting to respond to my e-mails regarding bringing Physics Capsule back online. This is definitely something I will be following up seriously.

InMotion is great in so many ways. They are an American company and make some great offers including considerably faster sold state disc servers, multiple offsite backups, secure, climate-controlled data centres with armed guards “like in sci-fi movies”, a flawless track record with 99.9% uptime, and, just as importantly, a deep concern for the environment. InMotion supports many open-source programmes, runs camps etc. and prides themselves on going green wherever possible. They say they have cut down their carbon output at the rate of nearly 2,000 tonnes a year.

Moving websites across servers is no game, but the support team made it easy. I especially want to mention Austin, Kale and Daniel who courteously helped me through various stages of the migration, at the end of which the website was moved with near-zero downtime. Although I decided against simply backing up my old site and restoring it on the new server, favouring a fresh start instead, the whole process could not have been more convenient. I did have the option to pay InMotion to do the job for me if I wanted to, but the fact that the support team went out of their way to offer instructions (and remained jocular the entire time) made it a breeze. I am now confident enough to join their support team myself.

Jokes apart, I have come to realise that my old host was lacking in a lot of ways. I will be decent enough not to name names. I have also come to realise, having installed Ghost and Movabletype on sandboxes on my server, that WordPress is, at least as of now, the way to go. The difference in speed from the SSDs is noticeable. (The only other time I felt this way was when I first moved to my SSD Macs a few years ago.) On top of this, I have now gone over the source code with a fine-toothed comb to minify, compress, zip, cache, enqueue and generally make the website small and incredibly fast without compromising in any way. As they were before, files are served from Amazon Cloudfront edge caches.

The results are fantastic, even if I say so myself: Google Page Speed Insights rate it 91/100 on mobile, 97/100 in desktop, and 100/100 in user experience; Pingdom and GTMetrix both consistently show load times of less than 1s, rank it faster than 97% of all tested websites, and report straight As for PageSpeed and YSlow grades.

If these metrics are replicated on Physics Capsule, it would make a world of difference to our small but growing website. (After all our readership did overload our servers.) For now, thanks to my old host’s absolute disregard for me as a customer, Physics Capsule remains suspended. It will be back soon and we will undoubtedly move it to InMotion. As for this website, running it has never been more of a pleasure than it is now, and if you will excuse me, I now have to rush to my research room.

Addendum: Starting December Physics Capsule has been back online with InMotion. A big thanks to everyone who wrote in to enquire and to all who offered their thoughts and suggestions.

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