My blog has been running in Windows Azure now for one week so I thought I’d post an update on how the billing is coming along and also the usage of the platform.
I’ve just dived into my subscription summary and here are the charges thus far:
Data Transfer Out (GB) – Zone 1 – 0.6GB (5GB Free)
Compute Hours for Cloud Services – 21.28hrs / £1.08
If the above holds true to the remaining three weeks of my billing cycle then I am looking at having consumed 2.4GB of egress data transfer which is less than half of the free allowance and I will have consumed 85.12hrs of compute time producing a bill of £4.32. As I predicted in my original post, the number of compute hours my blog is consuming is much less than the hours consumption shown on the Windows Azure Pricing Calculator.
At this rate of consumption, my annual bill for the site will be £51.84. When you consider that I was previously paying around £150 a year for a hosting plan with lower quality hosting providers offering much more clunky and cumbersome management interfaces and inferior billing transparency, I think I’m getting an amazing deal.
I am paying more than I had originally hoped for the Backup Recovery Services feature which I use to backup my Windows Server 2012 Essentials server to the cloud, protecting all of mine and my wife’s documents and files along with all of our family pictures of the kids growing up but. For the peace of mind having that data properly protected I’m happy to pay it. I actually made a change to the retention period for my backups in Azure earlier this week so fingers crossed that, that will reduce my bills going forwards a little.
Aside from billing, what else is there to show? Below is a screenshot of the Windows Azure Monitor page for the blog. As you can see, there is a huge spike at the beginning of the week. This was caused by me doing the deployment and maintenance of the site including uploading all of the WordPress files, doing the WordPress upgrade and then upgrading all of the plugins. As you can see though, it settles down nicely after this. All of this is running on a Shared Website Mode single instance. I don’t generate enough traffic to consider adding a second instance and scaling out the site although I might do it one day just to test it.
So, anyone who frequents my blog may have noticed a performance improvement in the last two days. The reason? I’ve moved house, or at least my blog has.
Previously hosted byÂ a US company called ASPHostCentral, I had been having a lot of issues with MySQL of late where the blog couldn’t even connect to the instance. Several support tickets were raised for the issue and every time they resolved the issue, but never fixed the root cause which they claimed was a customer on the same shared server as me hammering the database engine. When the blog could connect to the MySQL database, I was seeing round-trip ping responses to the server of over 175ms at all times, with it sometimes peaking to 250ms. I setup a free website monitoring tool (http://www.uptimerobot.com/) to monitor the blog and a few other sites I own. I was receiving upwards of 10 alerts a day per site to say that they were offline for a few minutes and then back up again.
I haven’t fully completed the move as I have a forum site I run with a large database I need to migrate, but the blog and a few other mini-sites are moved over but so far it’s great. The blog is now hosted by HostingUK.net, a British company with datacentres based in the London area so the geography is much better for me and my primary user base. The new server is running Windows Server 2012 which means I get some of the newer features in IIS 8 for running the site not to mention a sub 20ms ping response from my home. If anyone is wondering, the reason I used the US to host the sites previously is that UK based web hosting hasn’t really been able to compete with the US companies until recently and being that this is all paid and run by me personally, I need to keep it cheap.
I’m going to be doing some performance tweaking of the blog soon, playing with caching plugins for WordPress, maybe even tweaking my theme to try and optimize some of the imagesÂ to try and make the site fly, but I’m really happy with the new service I’m receiving so far, it’s faster and seems more dependable, I can get support in my time zone and the couple of questions I’ve had for their support people have been answers by certified IT Pro’s who actually sound knowledgeable.
So after typing the Surface Pro article earlier today, I realised that all of my WordPress plugins and my WordPress were out of date. After about an hour of tinkering with plugin versions, authorizing Twitter OAuth plugins and upgrading the main install.
So what’s new? Well the media manager in the admin interface is very nice and welcoming over previous iterations. Internet Explorer 10 still doesn’t get recognized as a modern browser still as logging into the admin interface produces an error that looks like it thinks I’m running IE6 – Something I as hoping would be fixed. Looking at the categories in the admin interface makes me a little sad too because my categories are all over the place so I think I need to spent a few hours aligning and rearranging them, and I also noticed a few quirks with my custom theme which I need to resolve.
Every time I upgrade my WordPress instance though, it reminds me how junk my current hosting provider are. I was only able to get between 10-20Kbps transferring files to and from the FTP site. A ping to the site results inÂ a round-trip time of 165ms and the load times are terrible not to mention the HTTP500 errors I’ve been getting on a couple of my other sites recently because of some new user on the shared server pillaging the MySQL instance.
Normally, I forget about the issue by the time I get round to sorting it, but I’m determined to remember this time especially as my hosting is up for renewal soon, so I’m going to be finding a new home in the UK as UK hosting prices have dropped in recent years. I did take a look at Microsoft Azure earlier today, but the free instance doesn’t allow the use of custom domain names and the shared instance works out at about $45 a month for my sites which is too much.
If anyone knows a good UK hosting provider for £15 or less a month then please feel free to drop me a line.