tl;dr: PikaPods is an awesome + cost effective place to host your blog 🥳
quick side-note: first time I've seen a picture of a pika and they are so cute 😅
I've been hosting my blog on PikaPods for probably close to a month now, and I've loved it! I kept having issues with my self-hosted ghost instance on DigitalOcean (DO) that'd keep falling over and I didn't have time to figure out why...Since I've moved over to PikaPods my uptime has gone from 87% over 7 days.
DigitalOcean 7 day uptime
To being at 97% (with DO still affecting the percentage a little bit at the beginning of the time period)
Almost 30 day PikaPods uptime
That's not only let me focus on just enjoying my blog running, because I'd get frustrated everytime I'd get an email from Cloudflare & uptime robot (now testing out uptime kuma (which pikapods has 😁)). Which meant people weren't able to ready my blog posts...and another side-note apparently there are quite a few people who do 😅 (checkout my analytics post to see more info about that and checkout my Plausible dashboard).
The really awesome thing is that they're really cost effective! I've been running this for close to a month, and it'll probably cost me less than $2 (or around that amount). Which is cheaper than hosting it myself on any VPS provider!
The other thing about them being so cheap is that it lets me trial out open source projects that I wouldn't personally have time to setup and play around with. As you can see from the screenshot above I've enjoyed checking out a few apps I've wanted to try for only fractions of a penny. Plus it's informed me about some apps that I might want to self-host on my own LAN (i.e. monica CRM), and before PikaPods I'd never heard of them.
Security & Containers
I've always wondered in the day and age of container'ing all the things..."Why has no one made hosting apps cheaper yet"...and now someone has 😁. They talk about on their homepage, PikaPods are rootless containers with SELinux restrictions on them (which is perfect for extra security).
The other security thing they've got going for them is that they don't let you get direct ssh access into the pods, they require you connect over SFTP (KDE's dolphin file manager has SFTP support BTW) and you can manage your files that way. I'm sure there's probably something you could figure out for trying to get shell access into the application, but overall it's a really good step for security IMO. You can also disable ssh access right from their web-ui, so when you're not using it you don't have to worry about other people trying to gain access 😁.
The last thing about security is that my Ghost pod (container) is now also getting it's updates automatically, and I don't have to touch it. Besides DigitalOcean affecting uptime, that's the only reason (from what I can gather) that my blog has gone down. It's so that way the PikaPods team could apply updates to the ghost pod. With Ghost moving at such a fast pace for releases it was always a pain to make sure I manually update my ghost container on DigitalOcean. I tried doing automated updates before, but my blog ended up really getting messed up when I did that without checking release note. Now, the PikaPods team (according to their FAQ) does internal testing to ensure updates will go smoothly and only then will they update the pods.
I think the only thing I'd possibly want (because I like to automate things) is an API that I could use to control the pods. This could then be extended to be used by something like terraform or ansible, and then you could deterministicly deploy pods, get information back about the pods, and modify the settings (if implemented fully 😅).
I've wanted this so badly I've considered using selenium or a similar headless browser alternative to try and see if I could script something to take actions for me on their website 😅
I just noticed that they actually had someone submit feedback about an API in their forum. So, if you end up using PikaPods and want to use an API make sure you up-vote it! 😁
Also, there was a small hiccup whenever I was trying to point Cloudflare to the PikaPod when I was migrating the DNS resolution. I believe I had to move my SSL/TLS setting from Flexible to Full (strict), or something like that 😅 (might have been the DNS proxy settings), and then everything started working again.
2022-12 edit: looks like Manu's last comment on their forums isanother potential problem (might have been what mine was): https://feedback.pikapods.com/posts/84/add-cloudflare-support
Overall I'm super happy that I moved everything to PikaPods, and I'll definitely let you all know if anything changes about that 🙃. I also want to thank the actual app (open sourced on GitHub) and the Changelog podcast because I heard about actual from their podcast episode, and actual-server was how I found PikaPods (because of their "One-click hosting solutions" section) and became a very happy customer. 🥳