Tag Archives: VPS

DigitalOcean Review

DigitalOceanSince the beginning of April, this site has been hosted by DigitalOcean. I’ve been a longtime customer of VPS.net—from September of 2009 up until April of 2012—but the difference in service was so huge that I had to switch. While VPS.net was a good choice back in 2009, when I chose them over the then-comparable Linode, their competition has outpaced them over the years. I’m now getting substantially more for half the price. It was a big decision to move, but I’m glad I did.

History lesson aside, here’s what DigitalOcean has to offer: affordable VPS hosting with plenty of memory and fast solid-state drives. Their offerings are comparable to those of the venerable Linode, though cheaper. (The difference comes down to which is more important to you: CPU or price.)

Their cheapest plan gets you a VM with 512MB of RAM and 20GB of space for a mere five dollars per month (or $0.007/hour). That’s cheaper than a lot of shared hosting plans, for a speedy box with full root access. The plan I’m using is their $10/month option, which comes with one gigabyte of memory.

DigitalOcean Pricing

Backups and snapshots of VMs are priced reasonably, with backups costing 20% of the server’s price (e.g. $1 per month for a $5 per month server) and snapshots being $0.02 per gigabyte stored.

The service has been stable so far, and the one support ticket I opened was resolved in a timely manner. Performance-wise, there has been a definite improvement over my previous host. (It’s also nice having the server be in New York, which results in a much more favorable network latency from where I live.)

DigitalOcean has a freshly redesigned control panel, from which you can manage your servers, DNS, billing and other settings. It’s also the place where you can set up your API access if you want to manage things from a mobile app, command line utility, or even use a Vagrant provider.

DigitalOcean Control Panel

I’ve been very happy with DigitalOcean since my big switch, and definitely recommend them if you’re in the market for a decent VPS provider. If you want to give them a try, here’s my affiliate link. If you enter the promo code SSDPOWER on the billing settings page, you’ll get $10 worth of free credit. You can spin up a VM, play around with it, and delete it when you’re done.

ServerBear: Performance Benchmarking For Linux Servers

The popular options for VPS hosting for the past few years have been the venerable Linode, VPS.net (my provider of choice since 2009), the late SliceHost, Rackspace and Amazon EC2. A new name has been cropping up more and more lately, though: DigitalOcean. After seeing it mentioned yet again recently, I decided to check out their web site and see what all the fuss about. Apparently, they’re very competitively priced, charging about one quarter the price for a comparable offering for Linode. There are pros and cons for each (Linode offers more CPU cores, DigitalOcean has SSDs, for instance) but the price is very attractive. Heck, shared hosting from reputable providers tends to cost around that.

Fast forwarding a bit to spare you the gritty details, I went looking for benchmarks to see how DigitalOcean stacks up against the major competitors. In doing so, I found a new Interesting Thing.

ServerBear provides “a no hassle all-in-one UnixBench, IO, IOPS & Network performance test for Linux Servers,” and compiles an index of benchmarks for the different price points offered by dozens of web hosts. You can look up a service, such as DigitalOcean in this case, and view benchmarks for each plan purveyed by the host.

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Ditching GoDaddy? Here Are Some Alternatives

Whether it’s because of the recent major outage, their brazen support for SOPA, or their longstanding questionable business practices, there are many reasons one may wish to avoid doing business with GoDaddy. (Archive.org has a mirror of the old NoDaddy site if you’re curious about some of the hijinks they’ve been behind in the past.)

There are countless alternatives for the services GoDaddy offers, but many newbies are not too aware of them. After all, they don’t pour money into TV ads during the Superbowl.

Since I’m frequently asked for suggestions, I figured it would make for a good post.


It is usually prudent to register domain names with a separate company from the one that actually hosts your web site. That way, if you have cause to switch for one reason or other, you can simply edit the DNS to point it to your new host, and you don’t have to worry about transferring the name from one service to another.

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Load Test Your Server with Blitz.io

Want to test how your server performs under load? If you’re in the process of optimizing a server, or have just installed a caching solution, it’s good to see the effect your changes have had.

Blitz is a configurable service that will pound your site with page requests, allowing you to specify the concurrency, timeout, and duration of the onslaught. As it goes about this, it builds statistics and plots them along timelines. You can watch response times, errors and timeouts as it slowly ramps up the number of concurrent users until it reaches the maximum. At the end, it even projects how many hits per day your setup can handle at that rate.

The service has a generous free tier, though they offer paid upgrades for higher concurrency and duration. The free tier offers 250 concurrent users over a one minute rush. (Though if you sign up with this invite link, they will add additional concurrencies to your account.)

I found Blitz very useful when I was trying to squeeze faster response times out of my WordPress setup, tweaking my caching system options and adjusting Nginx and PHP configurations. Since they use the connections at their datacenter, you get more real-world results than if you simply ran Apache Bench locally on the server, or from your residential internet connection. Both tools have their uses, of course, and Blitz is a good one to have in your arsenal.

VPS.net: An Underrated Hosting Company

I have hosted Webmaster-Source, along with my other websites, on VPS.net since September of 2009. It has been an excellent experience overall, and has provided me with an opportunity to get my hands dirty and gain some hands-on experience configuring and maintaining a web server.

Their cloud system has been solid, with the only unscheduled downtime (that wasn’t my fault!) being a brutal Denial of Service attack that occurred a couple months after I signed up. I love the scaling features and flexibility they offer, and their support has been excellent so far. Tickets are answered quickly, their on-demand “here’s some money, please fix this for me” service is a lifesaver, and they constantly monitor their Twitter account and forum.

Two years later, I finally finished ironing the kinks out of my setup. I’m running the tiny and lightning-fast NGINX server, which servers PHP scripts through php-fpm. It uses very little RAM compared to the usual Apache setup that is the de facto standard. There’s still room for further optimization, but I’m very pleased with what I have so far.

I have to wonder: why do so many people have an issue with them? They’ve provided nothing but stellar service to me, and other bloggers who have voiced their happiness with VPS.net. I’ve noticed a recurring theme among complainers being that cPanel isn’t installed by default, so I have to wonder: are most of the dissatisfied customers people coming from shared hosting, lacking Linux skills, and not wanting to learn how to set up and administer a server?

I really wonder if they’re having a fundamental misunderstanding of the product, and they’re thinking they’re buying a managed VPS at the cheaper price of an unmanaged one. They do offer a managed service, which I have seen people write about, saying they were “shocked” that they would demand money to “set up their website.” I guess that’s why the have their new idiot-proof Cloud Hosting option now.

Rackspace is Shutting Down Slicehost

Customers of the well-liked VPS service Slicehost will be shutting down sometime over the coming months. Rackspace, the company that acquired Slicehost back in 2008, says that this is because of the difficulty of managing “two brands, two control panels and two sets of Support, Engineering and Operations teams,” and that the impending transition to IPv6 will be easier with only one infrastructure to coordinate.

Slicehost customers will be given the chance to move onto the Rackspace Cloud Servers platform. The pricing is good, though. You can get the equivalent of the “256 Slice” plan for a little more than half the price, excluding bandwidth.

Of course, there are still other options for affordable VPS plans. Linode is a popular choice, and I’ve been using VPS.net for awhile now.

Rackspace to Shut Down Slicehost [The Next Web]

What are Some Good Places to Find Linux Server Tutorials?

Are you planning on moving from shared hosting to a more robust hosting platform, such as a VPS? It’s easy enough to find a provider, such as VPS.net, Linode or Slicehost. But that’s just the beginning. You have to learn how to set up and maintain your new server.

Here are a few resources to help you figure things out:

  • HowtoForge — All sorts of Linux tutorials. They have guides to setting up server configurations on the various Linux flavors, as well as basic  introductions to Linux.
  • Slicehost Article Repository — Even if you aren’t a Slicehost customer, you will find some invaluable guides and tutorials here.
  • Linode Library — Much like Slicehost, Linode maintains a collection of useful tutorials.
  • Official Ubuntu Documentation — Select your version of Ubuntu and look for the “Server Guide” link.
  • Google! — Search engines are your friend. If you don’t know what something means or you want to learn how to do something, search for a tutorial. The chances are good that someone else has already written something on the subject.

If you really get stuck, try leaving your question on your host’s forum or on Server Fault.

VPS.net Increases RAM and CPU Allocations

VPS.net, the web host that I have been with since September, is celebrating their first birthday by increasing the RAM and CPU allocation for every node, for existing and new customers.

Over the past few months we’ve been preparing for this celebration by sliding new hypervisors into place with an additional 50% in RAM – and now VPS.NET*is happy to announce that this week we will be increasing the RAM per node – every VPS.NET node for both current clients and new signups will go from 256MB to 375MB per node – every node will also receive an additional 200MHz in CPU (600Mhz per node). This is all given to you at absolutely NO cost.

No worries – we’re still not overselling. . It’s taken a few months (and we’ve somehow stayed quiet on this!) but we’re finally almost ready to roll these upgrades out to you.

For those of you who haven’t heard of VPS.net, they take a “cloud” approach to managing their Virtual Machines. A VPS can consist of as many (or as little) “nodes” as you wish, a node representing a fixed unit of computing power. As your needs grow, you can instantly order and activate new nodes, and your VM dynamically expands. A 119MB increase in RAM per node is a very welcome bonus.

Happy birthday, and keep up the good work, VPS.net!

VPS.net Review

I signed up for an account with VPS.net at the beginning of September, installed Ubuntu, and I’ve been slowly migrating my various websites over since.

What exactly is VPS.net? They are a provider of Cloud Virtual Private Servers. You can affordably purchase as much hosting firepower as you need, and have full control over the management of it. VPS.net isn’t like other providers though. Their unique “cloud” twist makes things a bit more interesting…

VPS.net Header

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Slicehost and Linode: Affordable and Reliable VPS Hosting

I know I’m going to outgrow my current shared hosting plan someday, so I figured I might as well be prepared for that eventuality. While I don’t want to go and pay 4-5 times the monthly rate I’m currently paying before I absolutely have to, it makes sense to have already done your research.

I came across the two hosts by chance, by reading an up and coming design blog (Usability Post). Noting the fast load times, I decided to see who the host was. There was a little Slicehost logo in the footer, so I clicked through.

The Slicehost homepag loaded quickly, and the clean theme greated me. The page advertised affordable VPS plans, ranging from $20/mo to $280/mo, along with a list things included in every plan. Slicehost promises

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