ServerPilot VPS Management for PHP-based websites

ServerPilot is a cloud-based service for managing web servers running PHP-based websites.

This year I left MediaTemple after using them for many years. I switched to DigitalOcean for its superior performance, better pricing, and the ability to customize the server in a way that's not possible with shared hosting. I initially tried zPanel to manage my server but it got hacked from well known security flaws and I had to re-roll my websites from backups.



I looked into other solutions and I stumbled upon ServerPilot and it seemed to offer everything I was looking for. They support multiple servers from providers like Amazon EC2, Rackspace, DigitalOcean, Linode and many others in one dashboard, which installed control panels don't really offer. It requires a fresh install of Ubuntu LTS 12.04 and is easy to get started with a simple copy and paste install of their ServerPilot agent software.

What it does


As a designer, I enjoy playing around with Linux server configurations but am unable to focus on every security issue or required updates/fixes that arise. ServerPilot handles setting up a firewall, security updates, SFTP access only, vhost configuration, MySQL database creation, and other security best practices. It also takes care of assigning processes to non-root users and monitors server performance, logs and security.



Beyond reliable security, ServerPilot has a great mix of server and application software to give pretty impressive performance with no tuning. It installs Nginx to offer much better performance and RAM usage than Apache. It uses PHP's official FastCGI processor, FPM, allowing your websites to scale up the number of PHP processes as demand increases. While only supporting PHP-based apps officially, each server can be customized further manually. Pagespeed mod is installed and must be activated manually. Their configurations do not run IMAP/POP mail services but has Postfix installed so apps can send emails out. It's simple enough to set up email services with Google Apps, Rackspace, or any cheap shared hosting company.

The best part about ServerPilot is their support. Even with a free account, the company's founders respond to emails and provide help that is hard to quantify at any cost, let alone FREE. They are very helpful and have considerable Linux sysadmin and security experience. They pro-actively contacted me about a server firewall issue and really offer a great service that more people should be using.

Pricing (the free plan is great)

ServerPilot offers a 14 day trial that includes all of their log management (viewing/notifications/rotation), real-time server performance, SSL deployment, and email notifications. Their pricing options range from $10/month per server to $199/month per server for hands-on support and ops team monitoring. The free plan includes unlimited servers, unlimited websites, firewall configuration and server security updates, which is enough for most people that come from using shared hosting.