Brand New Infrastructure

Good bye, Bluehost.com! Hello, AWS!

I’ve been running this website from WordPress for a long time. WordPress is convenient, though it does have its security issues. Originally, the site was hosted by my department, which was free, but I got hacked and decided to move to a managed WordPress site. After some digging, I decided bluehost.com was my best bet, even though they’re a little pricey. What eventually turned me off bluehost.com was the constant upselling pressure, which made me feel like they were scammers, really.

On a different front, I’ve been learning more and more about AWS, so it made sense to move my website there. There were some challenges here, in that I didn’t want to have a dedicated EC2 instance to host the website. Rather, I wanted an autoscaling group so that the website would restart whenever anything went wrong. That means I had to setup permanent storage, e.g., an S3 bucket, for any uploaded media files, and I also had to figure out how to install my custom theme onto a brand new WordPress instance.

I spent some time working up a solution, but it turns out there was a much easier way. I discovered the plugin WP2Static and installed it. This lets me export a static version of my site, which I then upload to an S3 bucket and serve as a static website. So there is no EC2 instance. It’s just an S3 bucket! I moved my website out of bluehost.com and happily canceled my account there. Now I run a WordPress instance on my personal desktop, behind a firewall, of course. Periodically, I export the entire site to an S3 bucket, and voila!

It wasn’t exactly that easy. During the transition, I struggled to get DNS and email working correctly for my custom domain, but it’s all working now. Phew!