Is Amazon LightSail a good option for XenForo hosting?

Chernabog

Well-known member
Hey everyone! I was wondering, as I begin to rebuild our XenForo communities, if Amazon's Lightsail is a good choice for moving our XenForo hosting? I've been using NFOServers for years now, but they lack a backup that is compatiable with XenForo and that has caused some challenges in the past. Does anyone have any hosting recoomendations for a good, reliable, all purpose host that can handle XenForo emails - requirements and be a solution that is trust worthy and established? Thanks for your input! Please stay safe and well!
 

Chernabog

Well-known member
I would never host anything with Amazon. They are far too biased. :) If one of your communities producing anything they don't agree with and you don't bow to their command you are SOL.
Super good to know; thank you. I really like NFO.. but they are just not totally up to snuff with XenForo and having a host that doesn't have the ability to backup or restore your community is a bad sign.
 

fly

Active member
Super good to know; thank you. I really like NFO.. but they are just not totally up to snuff with XenForo and having a host that doesn't have the ability to backup or restore your community is a bad sign.
Remember, AWS isn't a webhost. You're responsible for being your own webhost and it can be a wonderful learning experience. In my case, it's how I eventually became an AWS consultant.

And FWIW, I've been working with AWS clients for years and never had one kicked off. By my unofficial tally, 99.9999% of people will never have an issue. 😉
 

FTL

Active member
I use AWS for my XF installation which works great. In particular, you’re not stuck with old versions of PHP and MySQL, so I’m using the very latest versions. They’re easy to upgrade, too. This is so important for security and performance.

Note that there’s no handholding though, so there’s quite a learning curve with AWS. I loved it though and it’s a fantastic solution with a service for every need.

The Multi AZ failover is a godsend too and AWS is also quite cheap if you select the right VPS and services. You also get a year’s free use of certain things as well, such the VPS (a low powered basic one, but good enough for XF). I’m currently paying about 3.00 per month for everything, which is next to nothing. It will go up after the free tier expires after a a years use, but it will still be quite cheap.

For an XF installation Lightsail isn’t appropriate. Just run a Windows or Linux server and install XF using the web server of your choice.

Whatever you do, make sure that you set AWS to make regular backups of the database, if nothing else.
 

Chernabog

Well-known member
Remember, AWS isn't a webhost. You're responsible for being your own webhost and it can be a wonderful learning experience. In my case, it's how I eventually became an AWS consultant.

And FWIW, I've been working with AWS clients for years and never had one kicked off. By my unofficial tally, 99.9999% of people will never have an issue. 😉

Oh well if it's not turnkey and I end up going that route, I may have to become one your clients too :)
 
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Chernabog

Well-known member
I use AWS for my XF installation which works great. In particular, you’re not stuck with old versions of PHP and MySQL, so I’m using the very latest versions. They’re easy to upgrade, too. This is so important for security and performance.

Note that there’s no handholding though, so there’s quite a learning curve with AWS. I loved it though and it’s a fantastic solution with a service for every need.

The Multi AZ failover is a godsend too and AWS is also quite cheap if you select the right VPS and services. You also get a year’s free use of certain things as well, such the VPS (a low powered basic one, but good enough for XF). I’m currently paying about 3.00 per month for everything, which is next to nothing. It will go up after the free tier expires after a a years use, but it will still be quite cheap.

For an XF installation Lightsail isn’t appropriate. Just run a Windows or Linux server and install XF using the web server of your choice.

Whatever you do, make sure that you set AWS to make regular backups of the database, if nothing else.

Does AWS handle mail services/domain based emails or is that a draw back? I am so use to 'all inclusive' hosts, I've never had to get my hands dirty too much or try to configure much. Not against learning... knowledge is power, but it's also not my forte. My biggest concern is after losing two databases ... it needs to be able to be backed up and restored so that the community doesn't face any extreme content loss.
 

FTL

Active member
@Chernabog Oh yes, with over 170 services to choose from it does everything and then some. It scales from the smallest website, to big corporations. It does eveything you can think of and more and all with rock solid reliability. All for a fee, of course, depending on what you use.

There's a function called Simple Email Service (SES) which will allow you to send forum email alerts from your domain. Don't let the name fool you though, as setting it up isn't particularly simple, but it's solid and worth it. There's another one for user accounts too, eg ftl@example.com, called Amazon WorkMail.

In the end, avoiding data loss is up to your working practices and I can understand your concern after being hit with data loss twice. However, AWS gives you the means to set up a rock solid database implementation with failover that is very hard to corrupt. The function for the database that you want is called Relational Database Service (RDS). This will host the very latest versions of MySQL or MariaDB as a "black box" function that you can use and allow you to create a backup regime and access from your EC2 virtual machine, all in a totally integrated way.

Another way to think of AWS is to compare it to a standard hosting package where for a set fee per month, you get so much CPU power, so much memory, so much storage, so much bandwidth, so much network bandwidth, running on a certain OS, Windows or Linux and certain apps (PHP, MySQL etc) and versions of those apps, all decided by the hosting company, not you. This includes versions of Windows or Linux decided by the hosting company, not you and in every single case that I've seen, they're old versions! What a joke. For example, most of them limit you to PHP 7.4 and MySQL 5.5 which are several years out of date, when the latest versions are now PHP 809 and MySQL 8023. Their excuse is compatibility, but that's garbage, because they can easily offer them alongside the latest versions too. I wanted to set up a brand new site on a brand new domain and I had to accept out of date, insecure versions of the software? You gotta be joking, no wonder websites are hacked all over the place. With Amazon, you don't have to put up with this crap and can have the latest everything.

With AWS, you pick what you want and can change it on the fly whenever you want. This flexibility is unrivalled and just what I was looking for. Oh and watch out for hosting companies that are simply reselling a packaged set of AWS services at a profit. ;) I wouldn't touch those and yes, they don't usually advertise it, either.

One thing I'll say about the OS on Amazon though, is that what's offered in their selection of AMIs, infuriatingly, also isn't the latest version either. However, you can get around this by creating your own virtual machine image and importing it into AWS. In my case, I'm still using the old version offered by AWS, but it works well enough and I'll be creating my own image with the latest OS version and importing it soon enough. I'll then move the site over to that.

Of course, there's a downside to all this and that's the learning curve and lack of handholding by AWS, but after researching the market, I decided that it was worth the investment in time and effort, implemented my site on AWS and haven't looked back.

Finally, you might be thinking about AWS's prime competitor, Microsoft's Azure, the number two in the market. I tried it, but didn't like it at all. Didn't like the interface and often clicking links was very slow, unlike with AWS where the wait times are very short, or near instant. It wasn't as integrated or user friendly, either. AWS however, is a very polished service, that gets most things right, with great documentation and no, it's not perfect, lol, so it was a no-brainer over Azure.

To familiarise yourself with AWS, start off with its homepage, here:

 
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Chernabog

Well-known member
You gotta do better than that. And as @briansol says, it's a platform that allows you to build your own hosting solution. This is apparent from my post about it. Looks like you don't have a clue about what AWS is.

I appreciate your detailed and assistance with my question @FTL -- It's easy for people to remark, or emote, but not everyone takes the time to write several paragraphs of their views. I can go easy route and go stick with what I am familiar with and currently use -- or I can try to get my hands a little dirty and find a more solid solution. The input is helpful. I am also researching MattW and KownHost, too.
 

Jake B.

Well-known member
One thing to consider is that AWS will not allow you to create any technical support tickets, regardless of what they're about unless you pay for a support tier (Anywhere from $30/mo and up in addition to the cost for the actual resources you're using). Without that you're limited to account issues and limit increase requests for things like SES email limits. If you're just wanting a basic unmanaged VPS similar to what LightSail will get you I'd definitely suggest something like Vultr or Upcloud before it
 
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