colourful words and phrases

techy tangents and general life chatter from a tired sysadmin.

Virtual Servers and their providers

Since I figure it's bad form to have a blog and /only/ use it for ranting, here's a somewhat useful post. I've been with [a][1] [number][2] [of][3] [different][4] [hosts][5] over the past year or two, and I figure it'd be useful for others to know why I like or don't like them.

[SimplexWebs][6]

SimplexWebs has been in the hosting business for quite a while now, and do enterprise webhosting, online radio hosting and domains, as well as VPS (Xen, powered by OnApp) hosting. I was lucky enough to grab one of their limited birthday sale servers, which gave you 256MB RAM, decent CPU speed, 20GB disk and 100GB monthly bandwidth, for £25 a year.

This server's basically been my primary server/main workhorse - despite initially purchasing it to run a VPN server, and has held up ridiculously well. Uptime has been fantastic - my server's only been down a few times over the last half a year or so, including migrations between their old SolusVM platform to their new OnApp platform, and including the recent downtime when they moved datacentres.

Server and network speed are really good. I think this is one of the fastest servers I've ever used, and that includes the brief time I was with Linode. Support is fantastic, their team is always quick to respond and very helpful, and you definitely get the feeling that they actually care about their customers. Overall, they're one of the best hosts I've ever been with, and I don't feel I'll ever need to move to another host.

Here's some benchmarks:

Network speed:

~ wget cachefly.cachefly.net/100mb.test -O /dev/null
--2012-04-28 02:34:32--  http://cachefly.cachefly.net/100mb.test
Resolving cachefly.cachefly.net... 140.99.94.175
Connecting to cachefly.cachefly.net|140.99.94.175|:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 104857600 (100M) [application/octet-stream]
Saving to: `/dev/null'

100%[======>] 104,857,600 11.8M/s   in 8.7s

2012-04-28 02:34:41 (11.5 MB/s) - `/dev/null' saved [104857600/104857600]

Disk I/O:

~ dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/disktest bs=64k count=16k
16384+0 records in
16384+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB) copied, 4.52632 s, 237 MB/s

[Bhost][7]

Bhost are a UK-centric VPS provider, primarily dealing with OpenVZ servers although they've recently launched Xen PV plans. I should mention their servers are some of the cheapest you can get, the cheapest OpenVZ server being £4.70 (before VAT) and including 512MB RAM and 512MB burst RAM.

Their support is pretty great, considering they're a budget host, and the servers themselves are quite speedy. I do have some issues with the OS templates they have available - their Arch images are broken due to the host kernel being too old, although I'd say that's an Arch issue, and their Gentoo image is too old to actually use. Debian works fine though, so that's what I'm using. Overall, network and server speed is really good. Uptime is fantastic, in the entire time I've been with them (a number of months now), my server's almost never been down. Definitely one of the most reliable hosts I've been with.

Here's some benchmarks, since I still have a server with them: Network speed:

# wget cachefly.cachefly.net/100mb.test -O /dev/null
--2012-04-28 02:30:40--  http://cachefly.cachefly.net/100mb.test
Resolving cachefly.cachefly.net... 205.234.175.175
Connecting to cachefly.cachefly.net|205.234.175.175|:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 104857600 (100M) [application/octet-stream]
Saving to: `/dev/null'

100%[======>] 104,857,600 10.2M/s   in 9.8s

2012-04-28 02:30:49 (10.2 MB/s) - `/dev/null' saved [104857600/104857600]