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I've just made my first craft application and I'm ready to launch it. After looking at some topics I've decided I should go with DigitalOcean and ServerPilot. I have a domain, the only thing is that I don't know how to start. I've been hosting simple, static sites without databases and stuff before, but this seems complicated. Anyone know about a guide or tutorial or can share some knowledge on how to proceed to get the site online?

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If you've never built a site with a database before, I'd caution against going straight to DigitalOcean & ServerPilot. Those services are designed for people who have several years worth of experience dealing with:

  • Databases
  • .htaccess files
  • Apache and/or Nginx
  • Command-line tools
  • Separate email management

It's like saying, "I've never driven a car before, how does this Ferrari work?" *

* No disrespect, just meant as a joke.

Instead, I'd highly recommend a hosting service that will provide you with cPanel. While cPanel definitely has its flaws, it's an existing industry standard and a great way to get your feet wet with some of the more intricate aspects of web hosting.

DigitalOcean & ServerPilot are great... I just wouldn't want you to get in over your head at this point.

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In light of RitterKnight's answer, perhaps you deserve a real answer to your question... You asked "where can I learn", and I said "don't try this at home".

RitterKnight said:

"If you're just screwing around, though, there's no better way than to jump right in and start learning."

If the stakes are low, go ahead and give it a shot... We've all been there before, so who am I to tell you not to try.

ServerPilot + DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean without ServerPilot

Misc.

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    Great set of links! – RitterKnight Jul 6 '15 at 17:58
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I agree and disagree with Lindsey's answer. Hosting really depends on how much downtime can you live with and what you have to spend.

If this is a professional job (where a client is paying you money), I'd heed his advice. It sounds like you want it on online pretty soon. There's a lot of guides on getting a stack running (like this one) but that can be a catch 22—you really need to get to a certain proficiency before all that will actually start working reliably.

If you're just screwing around, though, there's no better way than to jump right in and start learning. I was in your shoes. In the last decade or so, shared hosting has gotten to be so terrible that a VPS—where you control what software you want to run—is ideal. I bet the bullet and started with a VPS myself (it was like a 384 MB RAM instance back in those days!). There were no clients on the line so it was a great way to learn. Nowadays, I have a few clients who pay me for hosting and keeping their Craft (and WordPress) instances up to date.

In additional to the Digital Ocean with a Server Pilot front end that you mentioned, I'm a big fan of Linode as well. I haven't used their managed service but they will set things up for you and do the grunt work for a little extra $$$ per month. That lets you poke behind the curtain and see how the wizard set things up (without taking a chance on some dicey freelancer or something from e-lance). They can even setup something like cpanel for you if you need it to be more like "shared" hosting. That gives you most of the benefit of a private cloud server but without the cost of dedicated, managed server.

In other words, if you want to stick with those unmanaged services, get someone who knows what they're doing, have them set it up for you and then help you maintain it while you get your feet wet. I haven't used server pilot, it seems interesting, though it really helps to know what's going on "behind the scenes"... 'nix is based on the command line so if you're not comfortable there, maintaining a server long term is going to be an upward battle no matter if you're using server pilot, webmin, ispconfig, etc.

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    Wonderful answer! You're right... if the stakes are low, they might as well give it a shot. We've all been "newbies" once, who am I to tell someone not to bother trying. – Lindsey D Jul 6 '15 at 17:33

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