If it is not the first time you come across this blog you are probably aware that I host most of the cloud services I use on (now virtual) servers at home. To make sure my Nextcloud and other services are always available when my main connectivity over DSL fails, I have backup LTE connectivity that can take over automatically. There is one major issue with that however: I can’t access my servers from the mobile network.
So What’s The Problem?
This is because despite getting a public IPv4 address that is reachable from the Internet, it is not reachable from the same mobile network for a number of reasons I don’t want to dwell on here. Anyway, so this is only half a solution for me as my smartphone and other mobile devices need to be able to connect to my services at home even over the LTE fallback connectivity to sync the calendar and address book and to keep me connected to my XMPP chat server.
And the Solution Is: Let’s Have A Redirection
The way to get around this problem is to have a server on the Internet with a public IP address that acts as an intermediary between me and my servers at home when the fallback is active. Over the past few years I’ve been using a virtual Ubuntu server at Amazon AWS in Ireland for the purpose. As a few years ago, even small VMs cost around 10 euros a month, I only booted the VM when fallback connectivity was required. The main hassle of this approach was that the VM got a new public IP address every time I booted the system. This meant that I had to change the IP address in the fallback scripts on my servers at home every time this happened. Especially at a time when my DSL line failed, this significantly added to the overall stress level.
Moving On To Hetzner
Over the past few years, VMs in the public cloud have become a lot cheaper. Despite the Amazon, Google and Microsoft ‘almost’ oligopoly, there are (still) national players in the cloud market such as Hetzner in Germany. I guess that despite having two massive data centers, I imagine they are just a little dwarf compared to A, G and M. But hey, I really like diversity! This coupled with a monthly price of €3 for a small VM to run 24/7, I decided to switch and have the VM running continuously. The virtual machine can be decommissioned at any time and there is no minimum contract length. Also, there is a fixed public IPv4 address connected to the machine so there is no need anymore to change my scripts when main connectivity fails.
IPv6 – Go!
As an additional bonus, the machine is also assigned an IPv6 prefix so even when I have to fall-back to LTE connectivity and the redirect via the VM at Hetzner, I can still connect to my cloud over IPv6. Even up to today, Amazon did not offer this to me. One more reason to switch
And yet another reason to migrate is that this gives me the opportunity to move this blog from a hosted web server to my own VM. The hosted web server currently costs me 5 Euros a month so the VM will actually save me 2 euros a month once I’ve made the switch.
And finally, while it wasn’t a reason to switch, I was very positively surprised on how easy it was to sign up and configure the VM for my purposes. I didn’t time it but it was no more than 5 minutes before the VM with a pre-configured Ubuntu 18.04 was up and running. Amazon’s AWS interface is an order of magnitude more complicated.
Together with virtualizing my servers at home I’ve now completely revamped my hardware setup. But I’m not quite done yet, my Dynamic DNS setup also needs a bit of a shakeup. More about that in one of the next posts.