Webhosting with Pair.com and Webfaction

A few months ago I wrote about shopping for a new webhost that would let me run Django and other python apps. Pair, my long time web host has been great, but they are pretty conservative in what they support, and python and ruby frameworks that need long running processes, like Django and Rails aren’t something they allow on shared hosting.

I ended up signing up for the basic account at Webfaction, and I’ll be running a couple of feed aggregating “planets” on it soon, and I have a learning project or two that I’ll also host there. In the long run though, I may end up moving our blogs there, and maybe even our e-mail. I haven’t done anything very challenging there, but so far, so good.

Of course, Pair isn’t holding still. Every year, they increase the bandwidth and storage allotments, though the price of the advanced account, which is the cheapest account that will run dynamic applications, never drops. Last winter they added additional options for domain hosting. There used to be a $1/month fee for each separate domain you hosted, though with the advantage that that domain had a unique static IP. Now you can host multiple domains on a single IP without a recurring charge.

They’ve also rolled out a new brand called Pair Lite. There is only one plan, and it’s about half the price of Pair’s Advanced account. For that price you can run PHP apps, get 5 mySQL databases, shared IP hosting for 10 domains, and enough bandwidth and storage for most hobbiest sites. This gives pair an offering at about the same price point as bargain hosters Dreamhost or a specialized host like Webfaction, but you still don’t get what you need to run Django or Rails apps.

It’ll be interesting to see what the future brings though. Pair is using the new service as an opportunity to deploy more modern software, like MySQL 5, PHP5, and Apache2, instead of MySQL 4.1, Apache 1.3 and PHP4. One issue is that the Pair Lite plan offers no real upgrade path. They suggest you should move up to one of their traditional plans, but that’s not going to be a real option for anyone who needs PHP5 and MySQL5 until they migrate their traditional hosting to the newer versions.

Note: Some people have been running Django as a CGI app, but something about that approach feels icky, so I’m not going to do it, but here are some links on how to go about it.

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