I’ve been using Subversion for many years, probably since 2002 or so, and when I started using it, I imported my existing CVS repository, which contains stuff dating back to 1995 or so. It’s a big and (to me) very valuable archive, especially since I started early on to put all sorts of stuff in there — not just source code, I mean, but rather everything that may be versioned, and that just benefits from being backed up in that repository. All my business paperwork, things like that.

(As an aside, I’m regularly surprised that many people don’t seem to do anything similar — what do you guys do with important documents that aren’t source code? Every now and then I have this discussion where somebody has the opinion that a source control system only needs to be integrated nicely with Visual Studio to make them happy, and I find that position extremely weird.)

I’ve always hosted my repository myself, in my home office and/or at the company I worked for. Up to this day, the main reason for doing so has always simply been connection speed — the same problem I have with using cloud storage and that sort of thing. Where I live, my broadband connection gives me a 3Mbit downstream on a good day and typically less. Now, after many years of hosting my infrastructure myself, I have decided in recent months to make an effort to push things outside a bit more. My personal internet connection has been the bottleneck every now and then when I was away — maybe the main reason for me to change my mind. I looked at a few hosted subversion providers, but I have now decided not to go for any of them. I might host my own subversion on a dedicated server somewhere — will see. But I just wanted to document my reasons for a decision against a hosted service, because when I was looking around on the internet, I had the impression that these things were rarely discussed.

  • Starting at the beginning: where are the services hosted. Well, all over the place of course, but I think that’s an important consideration. If my source code, and other even more important content, is stored on servers owned by a US company, for instance, what impact does that have on legislation applied to my property? To be honest, I don’t know, and I don’t want to spend time and money finding out. It just seems a much safer bet to host in the same country where I live, which brings down the choice of providers quite considerably.
  • I saw some people comment that they prefer a free service. What a weird idea is that? There’s a consideration regarding long-term reliability there anyway, and if a service is free, that issue suddenly tops the agenda, doesn’t it? And let’s not talk about warranty — IANAL, but I know that in many countries there’s no warranty whatsoever for free services. Kind of understandable as well. So — “free subversion hosting, super-duper nightly offsite backup, somebody personally copying every byte onto a secondary server on commit” — worthless. Please charge me, so I can even begin to trust you!
  • Some services aren’t cheap at all. I can almost get a dedicated hosted server somewhere for a similar price. For me, there’s always an implied advantage in the latter — agreed, it’s because I know what to do with such a server, and that doesn’t hold for everybody.
  • Finally, and most importantly: I wasn’t able to find a single provider who made reasonable promises, at least, about keeping my data secret/private. Why not? I want my data encrypted in its own private partition of the machine, for instance. I want info and guarantees about checks performed on the personnel that maintains the servers. This is essentially the same huge problem that’s out there with cloud computing — I’m not putting my business papers on somebody else’s machine without that sort of guarantee.

If you are a provider offering hosted subversion services, and you think I should consider your service because you don’t have any of these issues, feel free to let me know — for now I’m all set with my own setup on a dedicated hosted machine, but who knows what the future holds.