When I first got involved with the web and other online technologies I decided that I would learn as much as possible about the various technologies involved by doing as much as possible on my own instead of relying on modules and services built by others. For quite a while this strategy worked out fairly well. I hosted my own DNS, stored my own email, ran my own CVS server, built machines from scratch, and did my best to keep them operational.
This worked fairly well for a while, at the cost of a considerable investment in time spent learning one-off skills. Great skills to have, but skills that I would spend some time learning only to need them just once or twice each year. I would often find myself re-learning the same technologies every couple of years since I needed to be proficient yet never worked with them for a long enough time to gain a permanent level of proficiency.
Over the past year I’ve been experimenting with various services to reduce the amount of time that I spend learning and re-learning. Here are the ones that I can heartily recommend:
- IMAP – I am a very happy customer of fastmail.FM. I can get to my mail using a web interface or with an IMAP client (I use Mozilla Thunderbird).
- CVS – I recently purchased an account at CVSDude.org. The service is fast and stable. The proprietor of the site is very accessible by email and responds to every discussion board post.
- DNS – I like ZoneEdit. The service is free for up to 5 domains. Changes are made using a simple web interface.
- Web Hosting – The Syndic8 server is hosted at BocaCom. Run by a husband and wife team, they have consistently gone the extra mile to keep my server running.
Of course any of these services could vanish at any time. I try to purchase paid memberships where possible, and I try to make these services popular by spreading the word about them (hence this post). Needless to say, I don’t use them as the master copy of any of my data.