Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Taking advantage of the Feebies!

I'm getting to the point with my project where I need to start testing the ability of my code to send of emails. I tried using the SMTP/POP3 services associated with my Gmail account, but I found it to be incompatible with both the native mail function and PEAR mail objects in PHP. What I needed was a mail server for my domain.

I originally thought about using EC2 (the Elastic Computing Cloud) from Amazon for hosting and I may still do so in that my architecture is designed to load balance out to child servers once a user logs into a main web server, but what I need right now is a cheep Linux web and mail server.... and I found it!

As you recall, I bought a template from for my project's look and feel. The email I received which explained how I could access the template I had purchased also listed some "bonus offers", including 1 year free hosting from After looking around the Globat site to get details on their capabilities I signed up using the coupon from Template Monster.

For security, in additional to a credit card, Globat uses a system where an automated system calls you up to confirm your phone number. You press a web form button and a voicemail robot calls you up 30 seconds later on the phone number you provided during registration and reads off a three digit code, you type that number in the web form and you are informed that your site will be provisioned very soon and that you'll be receiving an email with your new server information shortly. So I waited... and waited... and waited... finally I went to bed, assuming it would be provisioned overnight.

The next morning I woke up to find nothing. I opened a trouble ticket with Globat billing and soon received an email back saying that I would have to fax a copy of my credit card and drivers license to them. I thought my website was being provisioned, but I guess not. I faxed the front of my credit card and drivers license to the phone number provided. Meanwhile, I received a second email stating that in order to provision my website I would need to fax both the front AND BACK of my credit card and my drivers license to a completely different fax number. Now I was confused.... I was just about to fire off another email when, KABOOM, a email came in with my provisioning info (URLs, password, etc.).

So, besides the provisioning hoops they make you jump through, I have been pretty happy with their service. I don't have terminal access to the web server, but I can FTP and use their control panel to control my server (MySQL, email accounts, etc.) My only hiccup so far was finding out that they use port 587 instead of the standard port 25 for SMTP... I had to use their online chat system to speak to a help desk person to figure this out as this information is not mentioned anywhere in their FAQs or online help.

Web Hosting (1 year from $95.40 + $19.99 setup - coupon = $0

Total cost of project to date: $59.99

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