FWIW, I've never run into a case where I've needed to open a support ticket. Their forums can be pretty helpful, if ever needed.
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
You're welcome.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.
AWS definitely has a learning curve associated with it, you have to do everything yourself and support other than the forums, similar to this one, is a paid extra, so it's not for everyone. Whatever solution you go for, it's important that you're able to run the latest PHP and MySQL. I don't know why all the hosts out there insist on these old versions with no option to use the latest, but it's asking for trouble.
If you see the system requirements for XF, they recommend PHP 8.x now, although it still works with 7.4. Similar with MySQL.
I'd be interested to see what you finally decide to go for.
One comment about backups--some managed hosting services do provide a backup, but even those companies do not recommend their customers rely on those backups. So anyone hosting a forum should have their own backup mechanism in place. Some hosts do offer a more robust backup for an additional fee.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.
One comment about backups--some managed hosting services do provide a backup, but even those companies do not recommend their customers rely on those backups. So anyone hosting a forum should have their own backup mechanism in place. Some hosts do offer a more robust backup for an additional fee.
I run three server instances (called Droplets) at DigitalOcean and aside from email, have never had an issue. I use one droplet for the web server, a second for the database, and a third for ElasticSearch. For backups, I run a full nightly backup--my sites aren't busy enough that if we lost a day's worth of data, it wouldn't be the end of the world. I do a MySQL dump of all database tables and compact those in to a ZIP file. Same on the web server--I copy all of the web directories into a ZIP file. ElasticSearch does not need a backup--I would simply regenerate the search indexes, as the process does not take very long. After the ZIP files are created, I use a server script to copy the ZIP files over to the ElasticSearch server, and also save them to my OneDrive account. (I think I use rclone for that.) So I have a week's worth of backups saved in OneDrive as well as on the ElasticSearch server. (And my OneDrive syncs to my NAS at home.) I figure if the two important servers (database or web) ever get hacked or corrupted, I have the data safely stored in three different places, and a week's worth of files to refer back to if the most recent backup is also corrupted.
Which services do you use now and which do you intend after the free period? I am far away from my free year and currently my setup is a single EC2 with SES, that's all I need. Periodic backups of the EC2 SSD give me a point and click restore of the whole system if something breaks. An error in the database or whatever? Just restore the backup to a new SSD and put the SSD on a new instance, it works out of the box.I use AWS for my XF installation which works great.
For absolute best performance on the cheap rent a whole server and switch off the power saving functions for each core, let the cores run really hot. You have to do that for each "cpu governor" - I do not remember exactly. That gives you a real performance boost for all cores.I have professional experience with AWS and Azure, and would never host my own XF install with that kind of cloud services.
It is great for companies that need a lot of different cloud services. However, the cheaper servers always run on slow storage. If you want NVMe in those clouds, you are going to pay alot and even then the latency is not that great.
If you need the best performance with a VPS hosted on pure NVMe, I would go for one of the many hosting providers out there.