Cloud Confusing

Explaining hosting, AWS, Wordpress, static sites, and all manner of cloud solutions.

This won’t be an interesting topic for most people, but it will sure come in handy for a few of you! So you have a website setup on Route 53 and at some point in the past you pointed the name servers off to whatever your hosting solution was at the time. Now you want to do something else with that domain (maybe build a static site on S3) and you need your original Route 53 name servers back. But… what are they?

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July 24th, 2019

Posted In: AWS

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Ever wonder: when does AWS CloudWatch run rate events? I had this same question when I started using CloudWatch as a trigger for the Lambda job that backups my Lightsail instances.

Basically I had created a few events an told them to run once a day. That’s great, but when would that be? Rate events are not like cron events where you set a time and they run at (or very close to) when you specify. After all, you are simply saying “run once a day” not “run exactly at 01:14 UTC every day.”

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June 10th, 2019

Posted In: AWS

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Amazon’s Lightsail is a great option if you want affordable hosting and the power of a virtual private server (VPS), but the lack of cost means a lack of convenient features. One of the most glaring of these missing features if Lightsail’s complete lack of automated backups. This is a glaring oversight for Lightsail and it’s especially odd given that Lightsail has a built in — and very easy to use — snapshot tool.

How to: Cheap WordPress Hosting with Lightsail

Lightsail snapshots are one-click backups of your entire instance, which are better than simple backups, but there is no way to automate them through the Lightsail UI.

Using Amazon Web Service’s API and AWS Lambda you can automate Lightsail snapshots without much difficulty. In fact, thanks to a good web Samaritan the code is already done, so you just need to do the setup on your AWS account.

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May 16th, 2019

Posted In: AWS

Tags: , ,

Amazon’s Lightsail is affordable and easy-to-use, but it comes with some serious limitations. Hidden away in the middle of an FAQ page Amazon notes that Lightsail accounts are limited to:

  • 20 Lightsail instances
  • 5 static IPs
  • 3 DNS zones
  • 20 TB of attached block storage
  • 5 load balancers

Which one of these is probably going to be the most immediate problem? That’s right, the 3 DNS Zones. Don’t worry, this is easy to fix.

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April 18th, 2019

Posted In: AWS

Tags: ,

Yes, Amazon Web Services has a free tier. This free (as in beer) stack is a 12-month program that gives developers who are new to AWS a powerful set of tools, though one that comes with some limitations. It can be seen as a gift from the massive AWS cloud or as a gateway to AWS lock-in, but either way it’s worth checking out.

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October 21st, 2018

Posted In: AWS

Tags: ,

It’s 2018. We live in a world where email is supposedly being replaced by Slack, Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, and about 100 other services. That said, email is still mission critical for almost every company and if you have a business application with its own domain you almost certainly need an email address associated with it.

It turns out that setting up email for your domain is still a bit of a pain. Here’s the easiest way to handle custom domain emails.

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October 11th, 2018

Posted In: AWS, Google Cloud Platform

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It used to be that hosting WordPress on AWS was a difficult task. You needed to deal with EC2 and the huge AWS management console with its dozens of tools and hundreds of options. Then Amazon introduced the AWS Marketplace and “WordPress powered by BitNami,” which made things easier but left many of the same hurdles in place. Then, finally, Amazon introduces Lightsail, which is basically AWS on easy mode.

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October 8th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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If you are in the market for an affordable VPS, there is a good chance you are considering Amazon Web Services’s Lightsail and a Digital Ocean droplet. Or perhaps you are already a custom of one and want to learn about other options. Either way, this is a full comparison of the two hosting services that might help you choose between them.

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October 6th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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The centralization provided by AWS is great — all your web services are in one place with one bill. But if your account is compromised (and you don’t have proper permissioning / IAM) things can go very bad very quickly. So you’re going to want to lock down access to accounts as thoroughly as possible, which means multi-factor authentication of user logins.

And yes, that’s mutli-factor (MFA), not two-factor. Two-factor authentication (TFA or 2FA) is great, but when additional security levels are possible and they can be done almost seamlessly, they make total sense. With the loss of SMS authentication at the end on January 2019 it’s debatable whether Amazon will have multi-factor (as in more than two) or two-factor authentication but we’ll avoid the semantics from this point forward and use the term that seems best in a given scenario.

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September 26th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

Tags: , ,

So you have an Amazon S3 hosted site with CloudFront caching in front of it? Nice work — it’s an affordable and highly scalable solution. One downside with this is that the cache, which helps makes your site so fast and cheap to run, is designed to hold on to files, possibly serving an old version to visitors.

That’s normally not a problem (it’s literally the point of a cache), but if you are making a lot of changes to the site and you want visitors to see them as soon as possible, then you will need to invalidate the cache and tell CloudFront to serve the most recent files.

Here is how you can do that…

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August 6th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

Tags: , , ,

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