Particular hosting requirements

I have developed a site for a voluntary organisation. It’s mainly a simple content-based site but it also includes a searchable pdf archive. This latter entails certain hosting requirements:

  1. The pdf documents are over 20GB in total, too large for me to upload to a server over my home adsl line. I would need to send them as CDs and have the hosts load them onto the server (unless anyone can suggest alternatives).
  2. It requires installation of certain software such as: swish-e + PECL extension, pdftk, xpdf etc… I can install this with ssh account.
  3. To prepare the pdf archive, I need to run some php cli scripts. As a one-off, these may consume a fair amount of CPU/memory. Afterwards, I expect a relatively modest amount of resources to be required (other than disk-space).
  4. Once the site is running, there will be no one at the organisation to do ongoing server admin tasks. I guess the hosts will have to take care of that.
  5. The organisation are very budget conscious and have up until now been using cheap shared hosting, which do not allow installation of extra software, running CLI and have not answered my queries regarding data transport.

In short, we need some flexibility and control to begin with, thereafter it needs to be cheap and more-or-less look after itself.

I have previously only administered servers ‘in-house’ so have very little knowledge of the hosting world. This forum has been a helpful introduction. However, I would still appreciate any guidance on what a fair price for hosting with these particular requirements and suggestions on best kind of hosts to approach. (I’m in the UK)
Thanks for reading.

I believe you need to look through various VPS solutions, then create short list of them 5-7 companies and then do your own research for their reviews. I recommend have a pressales chat with every candidate.

I appreciate the replies. VPS seems the way to go in terms of balancing flexible configuration/price. Previously, I had thought that sending CDs to a data centre via snail mail was a ludicrous notion, so was looking at smaller companies offering dedicated hosting, where you would be able to speak to the same person who is familiar with your needs. Unfortunately, the quotes I recieved were beyond the organisation’s budget. Now I think I’ll put the data transfer problem aside and concentrate on the other criteria. Perhaps find someone with an sdsl line I can use to upload the data.

I was hoping not to spend too much time researching different companies, as I am not being paid for this site. However, the knowledge gained will be valuable in future.

Your answers have been helpful in setting me in the right direction. I now don’t feel so much like an idiot who is missing something obvious.Cheers.

A VPS does sound like a safe bet.

That being said, I have read that Webfaction’s shared hosting give you quite a bit of control too. I haven’t used it myself, so my suggestion is to contact them and ask if their service fits your requirements.

It definitely sounds like a virtual machine. Dedicated would be expensive and Shared might not work for you, unless it is some kind of High Availability hosting account.

Thank you.

I doubt that you are going to find any shared hosting that will offer you those features for setting up but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

You might be more likely to get that sort of assistance with managed VPS hosting athough that may be way beyond the price range you are looking at.

You may be able to get away with it on shared hosting if you can work out a way to do all the setup yourself - that may mean uploading the PDFs gradually over a period of several months.