Random Thoughts on Self-Hosting

I’ve been thinking about what it means to self-host a service, and that there are degrees even within that.

I have a self-hosted WordPress blog in the sense that I manage an installation of WordPress, but I run it on a VPS at a web host. It’s not as self-hosted as someone running a server on a Lollipop Cloud or FreedomBox, but it’s more self-hosted than someone using WordPress.com. It’s also more self-hosted than someone using the managed WordPress hosting at the same web host.

The key advantages of self-hosting are privacy and control. Unless a service uses end-to-end encryption, the admins at each level can probably read your stuff – you have to trust that they won’t do it unless they have to.

And of course when you run your own service, you don’t have to fear losing control when Google Plus shuts down, or Flickr changes their pricing structure, or Tumblr changes their TOS, or MySpace botches a server migration.

The obvious disadvantage of self-hosting, of course, is that you’re on the hook for all the maintenance. Spam filtering, moderation, security updates, server migrations – those are all on you.

And unless you’re using your own software, even on your own box there’s still the risk that a project is going to shut down & leave you without security fixes, or pivot to a new direction that no longer fits what you want. (So glad WP’s block editor is still optional!)

I’ve settled on a balance where I manage the top-level web apps, but my webhost handles the hardware, the virtualization and the LAMP stack. (And email. Ugh, I’d forgotten how much of a pain a mailserver can be to handle until I tried to set one up on a Raspberry Pi a couple of months ago.)

I guess I’m kind of splitting the difference. 🤷

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