Words by David DarkeJanuary 23, 2017
Forge is a server provisioning system, it will spin up a completely blank VPS on Digital Ocean, Linode or Amazon Web Services and then turn it into a fully configured (and most importantly) tuned Nginx web server.
Even thought it was originally released for the automated setup of Laravel hosting, as long as you are using PHP, Forge will work great! In fact, it even provide one click installs for WordPress out the box:
Beyond that, the extras it provides are inline with the most essential day to day tasks of maintaining a web server.
Forge directly connects to a hosts like Digital Ocean to create servers through the Forge admin itself. If you are used to using DO, all the standard droplet options are available:
After you start the server creation, forge takes over to install and configure everything required. This can take as little as 5 minutes to run from start to finish, the speed and simplicity of this provisioning feature alone would be worth the subscription fee, but there are other features as well:
Forge doesn’t just spin up the server and leave you stranded, it maintains root and standard user access to run tasks. One of the major background activities is to update and install server security patches. As a server administrator, knowing this is happening without any prompting or interaction is greatly reassuring.
Automated scripts (‘Recipes’) can be saved and run at any time, on any server within Forge. For example here is a recipe for install the WordPress Command Line Interface (WP-CLI).
There is also a dedicated resource for these scripts called Forge Recipes.
Setting up and managing cron jobs on a server can be incredibly frustrating. I find decoding the ‘*’ based puzzle for how often a job needs to run confusing and I often end up using tools like crontab-generator.org to help. Forge makes this process so easy:
Forge can connect directly into mysql to generate users and databases. There are no further ways of inspecting data, or other sorts of management tools, yet just being able to generate a database this quickly is very useful.
Finally, SSL certificates can be managed from directly within Forge:
It also bundles in a full letsencrypt.org certificate manager which grab a Free certificate and automatically renews it every week with almost zero configuration.
All of these features cost $15 for individuals and $30 for teams and can be used for unlimited servers. It’s offering is refined without the bloat or expense of other provisioning systems.
Equivalent services like Server Pilot would cost us hundreds of dollars a month due to their per server pricing model. Disregarding the cost, the service Forge provides is exceptional and I can’t recommend it highly enough.