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Frequently Asked Questions

Sending emails

Some apps need to send emails to work properly. Currently PikaPods doesn’t offer email sending services. Some popular and proven options are Mailjet, Mailgun and Postmark. If you already use Amazon AWS, there is also SES.

Using custom domains

If you already pay for your own domain, you can map a subdomain to your pod. So your pod will be reachable as e.g. status.my-domain.com. This is done by adding a CNAME record and setting your pod’s pikapod.net domain as target. We will also apply for a SSL certificate for this domain. So it can take a few minutes before the pod is reachable from the new domain. Precise steps for setting a CNAME record vary by provider, but roughly you should check the following:

  1. Take note of your pod’s xxx-yyy.pikapod.net domain
  2. Ensure no CAA records are set that may prevent us from applying for a SSL certificate. If you already use CAA, please also add sectigo.com, as mentioned here.
  3. Add a CNAME record that points to your pod. E.g. status.my-domain.com. 3600 IN CNAME xxx-yyy.pikapod.net
  4. Use a tool like DNS Checker to ensure the record on your domains shows your pikapod.net domain
  5. Finally, add the new domain on PikaPod’s control panel

After adding a domain, we will periodically check if DNS is still set up correctly. If there is any issue you will receive a notification.

Accessing pod files using SFTP

SFTP is a way to securely access remote files. It’s similar to FTP, but uses encryption. To access your pod’s files, first enable SFTP in the pod’s settings on the Pod Settings > SFTP tab. This will display the hostname, username and password to use.

Then use any SFTP client to connect to the displayed hostname. Some popular SFTP clients:

  • WinSCP: free, Windows
  • Cyberduck: free, macOS
  • Rclone: free, Unix command line, good for larger transfers
  • OpenSSH SFTP: free, Unix command line, included with OpenSSH

To connect to a pod, you need the following details, which will be displayed in the SFTP tab of your pod:

  • Hostname: This is the .pikapod.net domain of your pod. E.g. eager-beaver.pikapod.net
  • Port: This is always 22, which is the default port for SFTP
  • Username: Usually something like p9999
  • Password: A randomly generated password

The first time you may be prompted to verify the server signature. So you can be certain to connect to the correct server in the future.

Adding new apps

New apps are regularly being added. If your favorite app isn’t available yet, you can suggest or vote for it on our feedback page. For an app to be suitable for PikaPods, it should roughly match those criteria:

  • Be a web application and use one HTTPS port only
  • Not use large amounts of CPU or bandwith by design (e.g. video encoding)
  • Not have a potential for abuse or impact on other pods (e.g. proxies or VPNs)
  • Have a license that allows self-hosting
  • Not compete with the author’s own paid hosting service, unless alternative hosting options are actively promoted.
  • Have an official (or semi-official) Docker image available
  • Be actively developed and security issues are adressed

Updating apps

Providing you with a stable experience is our main priority. As such we don’t just automatically apply updates as they are released, but test them in a staging environment before making them available to all pods. Updates should also be for a stable release (in the context of the project) and released for a minimum of 3 days. Generally updates will reach your pod within 1-2 weeks of their release.

For security-related updates, we may do ad-hoc updates of single apps.

Backup of pod data

Keeping your data safe is very important to us. In addition to redundant drives, there are also daily backups of all databases and mounted files (everything you see over SFTP) pods use. These backups are meant to recover from server-wide failures. While it’s also possible to restore individual pod files in emergencies, we currently can’t offer this service regularly.

All persistent pod data is available over SFTP. Some pods also use an external database, usually Postgresql or MySQL/MariaDB. To retrieve a database dump, use the Dump Database button under Pod Settings > Backup. Old database dumps are automatically removed after 30 days and count towards your storage quota.

You can make a full pod backup by following the steps:

  1. Enable SFTP on the pod
  2. Open the Backup tab in Pod Settings. If your pod uses a database do Dump Database. This saves a compressed database dump to SFTP. Not all pods use an external database. If a pod uses e.g. SQLite, you will find the database file on the SFTP volume.
  3. Stop the pod to make sure all data from memory is written to disk (e.g. for SQLite or Mongo databases)
  4. Copy all files and the database dump (if any) from SFTP. Using those files, you can run the app elsewhere or copy it to another pod.
  5. Start your pod again

We plan on adding more granular backup- and restore options in the future. See here for the current progress.

Debugging a Pod

If a pod shows “Pod is loading…” for more than a few minutes, there is usually an issue with starting it. This could be an issue with settings or permissions. In most cases the detailed error can be found in the pod logs. To view them, just click the Show Logs button and look for obvious errors. If the error is unclear or log is empty, you can also use Report Issue, include the logs you got and we’ll investigate further.

Support for individual apps

If you have any concerns with your PikaPods account, billing or with running apps, email to hello@pikapods.com any time. You will generally receive a response within a few hours on working days.

For well-defined, one-off setup tasks (like setting up email), we can sometimes help, if your account has seen a minimum of $50 in top-ups.

Unfortunately we don’t have the resources to help deal with specific app issues. You may find help in a community forum or similar for that app. Please don’t file a Github issue, unless it is a genuine bug report. This is to avoid overloading the app author with support requests.

Have any other questions? Email Us!