Cloud Confusing

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

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

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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

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So you have an awesome, affordable new VPS instance — maybe even a WordPress or Drupal installation — hosted on Amazon’s Lightsail. Setting up a Lightsail instance might be quick and easy, but moving it from HTTP to HTTPS isn’t as intuitive as you might expect. This is one of those instances where AWS stops holding your hand and expects you do to some real work of your own. But don’t worry, setting up HTTPS isn’t too tough and, thanks to Let’s Encrypt, it’s free.

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May 13th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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Amazon’s S3 is a great tool for hosting static sites for nearly free (and often times free). Setting up a website in S3 takes just a few minutes, and once it’s there it’s secure, scalable, and affordable. That said, it’s not the tool for everyone — like AWS, S3 has many quirks and it has a real learning curve. Also AWS support is far from free and if you want to do anything non-standard, like URL redirects, there can be many headaches. So here are some of the best alternatives to S3 static site hosting for every user, need, and budget.

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May 2nd, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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If you are looking for an explainer on S3 redirection rules, you are going to have a tough time finding a good one. Available on redirection rules is available from all over the place, no one source (including Amazon) is even close to complete, and then outcomes don’t always match exceptions. Welcome to cloud confusion.

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April 29th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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HTTPS on AWS

If you have followed CloudConfusing’s previous guides on hosting a website on S3 and then adding HTTPS to that site, forcing HTTPS is surprisingly easy. The whole process will take about two minutes per site and involves no risk factors, assuming your HTTPS setup is already functioning properly.

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April 28th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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This has been one of the worst parts of S3 hosting for me. In fact, it’s been one of the worst parts of all of AWS since I started my cloud hosting journey (shenanigans?). Understanding the Amazon Web Services S3 Website and REST API endpoint has been endlessly confusing and has caused me hours of frustration.

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December 24th, 2017

Posted In: AWS

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