One of the popular deals that no one expected this Black Friday/Cyber Monday is the GridPane‘s Lifetime Deal (LTD). A pleasant surprise, indeed.

GridPane is the service to manage VPS hosting from providers like DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode. You will get equivalent or superior performance and support compared to premium managed hosts like Kinsta for a fraction of the price, especially if you have or manage multiple websites – either yours or for your clients.

To learn more about what GridPane is and how it works, see my previous article here.

GridPane has two LTD plans: Pro and Developer.

Check out GridPane LTD (sold out)

The features and benefits of these plans can be seen on their Pricing page.

The following are the extras in Developer plan over the Pro:

In this article I shall explain the above features based on my conversations with GridPane’s support, their public replies in the various Facebook groups etc. so you can make an informed decision on whether to go for Pro plan or the Developer plan.

Features available only in the Developer version:

DNS Service Integrations

At the moment GridPane Developer users can make use of their built-in integration with DNS Made Easy. See this article.

Cloudflare integration is apparently almost ready. Developer plan users will get the fullest integration with Cloudflare as they develop that integration. Also new features like these are made available to the developer plan users first.

Initially Cloudflare integration is going to include automated use of Cloudflare’s API for SSL and management of your DNS records, all via the UI.

Pro plan users will still be able to use Cloudflare API for SSL, but they will need to do this by setting up token files on their server or using the GridPane CLI (Command Line Interface). Note that this does not mean that Cloudflare can not be used with GridPane in the Pro plan. It will involve some manual work vs the automated convenience in the Developer plan.

Overtime as GridPane adds more Cloudflare integrations to the platform UI via Cloudflare’s API, these will go directly into Developer plan, and later on again some may move into Pro as things evolve, but there is no guarantee as to what and when.

Malware Protection

Linux Malware Detect often abbreviated as LMD or Maldet, is a software package that looks for malware on Linux systems and reports on it.

ClamAV is an antivirus engine for detecting trojans, viruses, malware & other malicious threats.

GridPane installs Maldet and ClamAV on the server, auto-configures them and runs the scans automatically in the background for all your sites on the Developer and Enterprise plans.

Update: These will not be set up by default, but Developer account users can do it themselves by running a GPCLI command available or request GridPane support to do it for them. I have been advised that these will be in the UI soon. It is generally recommend to start with a 2GB RAM server instance.

High Priority Chat Support

GridPane already has an excellent live chat support. Developer plan users are given priority in getting their questions answered before the Pro and free plan users when there is a queue.

Snapshot Failover

Snapshot Failover takes a full backup of all your sites in the specified primary or source server and clones them or creates snapshots of them onto a redundant secondary failover backup server at a frequency that you can set (like 1 hour).

This way if ever your main server goes down, you can simply point the domain to the IP of failover server and get the sites up and running in minutes rather than hours trying to create new sites and restore from backups.

Here’s a video walkthrough.

It is also possible for the DNS to automatically failover to the secondary server using the built-in DNS Made Easy integration.

You might be wondering as to what the difference between Snapshot Failover and normal automated scheduled backups is.

Snapshot Failover connections a ready-to-go copy of the primary server. Backups are just point-in-time snapshots on a schedule. Would require a restore. Snapshot Failover is active i.e., the cloned sites are already in place ready in case of emergencies and extended downtimes.

Teams/Client Support

With the Teams feature we can create teams and for each team, invite users by their email addresses as Admins or Staff.

Admin user has full access, pretty much like the owner of the account, can do everything like spinning servers except manage billing.

Staff user has server by server access, and can do things to all sites on specific servers.

Client user will have site by site access, and can do site level things but not server functions.

High Availability Optional

With the true High Availability option, GridPane supports 3rd party offsite options for Snapshot Failover. They are going to point us in the right direction to set it up ourselves or we can pay them to build it for us.

This is not generally needed for 80-90% of small business websites and the regular Snapshot Failover will be sufficient.

Premium Themes/Plugins

GridPane’s premium plugins and themes is a curated list of some of the best available tools for the job for a number of use cases. They purchased enterprise licenses to plugins and themes that they can share with developer level accounts on a case by case basis.

Gravity Forms, Swift, SEOPress Pro, Divi are currently included. This is not the complete list and GridPane will be adding more.

Developer plan users can request for new themes and plugins once their user voting system goes live.

Personal Onboarding Call

Developer plan users can schedule a personal one-on-one Skype/Zoom call with Patrick Gallagher, the CEO of GridPane and get advice on choosing servers, deploying sites, and anything else related to GridPane platform for helping you successfully manage the hosting for your business websites.

Additional Benefits

  1. Developer accounts will have full visual comparison options with customizable settings (check more pages, adjust comparison thresholds etc). Pro will basically just have automatic updates On or Off. Updates will get pushed or they won’t based on your desired settings. Developer accounts will have more advanced visual regression testing.
  2. In near term GridPane will be adding the ability for Developer account users to add multiple API keys per providers, so users will be able to provision servers from each provider from multiple accounts, or manage DNS records of domains at different accounts – users’ own IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) accounts, or their clients IaaS accounts.

Summary

I have been using GridPane’s Pro plan for the last 6 months and it was nothing but amazing.

If your budget allows for it and keeping in mind the fact that it is a one-time payment, go for Developer plan if you can.

Otherwise, Pro plan is just fine.

I purchased the Developer plan. Built-in automatic malware protection and snapshot failover are the main reasons for me. Cloudflare DNS integration and premium support are cherry on the top.

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