Thank you ISP for blocking my outgoing ports. Guess I will have to get a VPS

I had finished my LAMP stack and my WordPress site was up and running. Network changes had been made. No issues so far. I was bragging about it to a colleague at work and offered to show them my website. Sure enough, this is what we saw:

I spent a few nights trying to figure what the issue was. I double and triple-checked all of my app, server, and network settings. Interesting enough, I noticed there were no issues accessing the site from within the network. When I was on a hotspot or any external network, I saw that error. I googled the error message like crazy but nothing seemed to work. Finally, I remembered that I had heard from somewhere that some ISPs block various ports as per the service contract agreement. I ran some port scanners and sure enough, some common ones were blocked.

I updated the server settings so that the web server listened and served web pages on different ports. Oddly enough, the site started working (no tunnel error), but I would see a different connection error about the server timing out, or sometimes I would see part of a website. After a lot more investigating, I concluded that it must have been a combination of the ISP blocking some of the common ports, blocking outbound HTTP/HTTPS traffic, and our abysmally slow upload speed. Residential plans just aren’t cut for hosting web servers. I checked some Rogers forums and sure enough there were lots of reported cases of that.

At this point, I had sunk in a lot of time and my wife was complaining about the power bill going up, so I decided to look at other options. Despite wanting to this all without paying a cent, I considered going to a private cloud for hosting. I wanted something still that I could administer and manage myself. I found this interesting comparison article:

It was tempting to go with the most recommended platform Siteground, but I figured I would spend the extra $1 to manage it all myself. So I went with DigitalOcean. They also had a $60 free credit for signing up, which was a big plus. Not as big as I thought, because it expired in 2 months, but I’ll take it.

Sign-up was quick and easy, and I really liked being able to customize the OS to exactly what I wanted. After 15 minutes, I had my own personal VPS with Ubuntu Desktop on it. I ran through all my steps from before and had my WordPress site back up and running within a night.

It was frustrating that I couldn’t do it all for free from home, but I am very happy with the speed and reliability of my VPS. Honestly, $5/month is a steal seeing as I would have spent probably more than that keeping the home server on all day and night.