Like Tree3Likes

VPS/cloud hosting providers

This is a discussion on VPS/cloud hosting providers within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; Been playing around with the idea for months now to buy some cheap VPS hosting to do my heavy lifting ...

  1. #1
    Epy
    Epy is offline
    Fortran lover Epy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    977

    VPS/cloud hosting providers

    Been playing around with the idea for months now to buy some cheap VPS hosting to do my heavy lifting (CPU and I/O intensive tasks) rather than buying a new desktop. As I understand it, VPS is a set amount of resources you can use and cloud is on-demand resources. All I'm really looking to do is to have an empty Linux (or maybe Windows) server to do things like compiling and running some computational programs, as well as hosting a small website maybe.

    I can't be the only one here who has played around with the idea, so I'd like to hear who uses what provider and experiences, etc.

    The way I see it, if I can get access to a "server" with multiple cores, few gigs of RAM, etc. for under $10-15/month, it's makes much more sense than buying my own hardware. (Obviously, this is the whole basis for cloud computing)

  2. #2
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    4,359
    All I'm really looking to do is to have an empty Linux (or maybe Windows) server to do things like compiling and running some computational programs, as well as hosting a small website maybe.
    O_o

    Without knowing any other details, I'd recommend a "VPS" slice and a "cloud" stack.

    You can get a remarkably cheap "VPS" for a small, mostly static site with a little scripting/database on the occasion. That will take care of any small community "Web 2.0" platform and give you access to whatever server stack you require. For that sort of situation, "cloud" infrastructure billing will probably be more trouble that it's really worth. (I'm not going to recommend anyone unless you specifically ask because I can earn money if you go with anyone I'd be willing recommend at all. Yes, I just have accounts set up with everyone I'd care to recommend.)

    If you go with a good "cloud" service, what you pay depends on the resources you actually use. (Be wary when shopping for the "cloud"; sales would like to pretend and for you to believe that all compute cycles are the same.) Sure, you can reserve a chunk of compute cycles in advance for a monthly or yearly price saving on each compute cycle, but a good "cloud" service will also and still let you reserve smaller slices and scale to demand. (Now, you may think that is the definition of "cloud" services. I tend to agree, but a lot of "cloud" services disagree!)

    The point is, you can just pay a simple $5 (USD) fee for a "VPS" slice on a shared service to get more resources than you'll likely use. Sure, they will oversell the available machine which means you may be crowded on occasion, but for non-critical use, you could do a lot worse with $5 (USD). (I actually use all three possibilities. I also have a simple virtual server account which is notorious for oversell, but they still also give access to far more real resources than a lot of "VPS" give you which is also, in practice, the result of oversell.) The rest of the available financial resources can go to a real "cloud" infrastructure service. If you only use a little bandwidth and storage, like me, you only really need to pay for the compute cycles you use. (I upload the source. I download the results. The intermediate storage is a few gigabytes for a few hours. The actual storage used is less than a gigabyte until my local server is notified and downloads the results.) I pay about $.40 (USD) an hour during this sort of use; with a similar thing you'd get about ~30 hours month with a similar contract. Of course, if you get with a legitimate business with real "cloud" infrastructure, you will not really pay for what you don't use so if you use 10 minutes one day and 19 hours some other day you still just pay for the 20 hours used that month. (If you sign a monthly contract for far more resources than you intend to consume it isn't really the providers fault.)

    I'm not going to name names, but many "cloud" service providers will bill you against peak usage as if the platform was a traditional server. (This as opposed to just billing you for the time you use the extra resources.) With my plan, bursting to use 4-core, 1 GiB assuming no extra bandwidth or storage, for say 47 minutes would hit me only the hourly charge difference (about $.85 (USD) instead of $.09 (USD)) for that single hour dropping back to standard for my tier because I use a platform that really is built over "cloud" infrastructure. I have seen what I believe to be unethical billing with my own eyes. So, for example, instead of billing me the standard rate for every standard hour I use, I would have been billed for the the month as if I was at the higher use for every hour. (For my busiest month, that would see me paying $115 (USD) more than the $30 (USD) I paid.) This billing strategy is much closer to the classic overselling of "server leases" in high-density racks.

    *shrug*

    I guess I just wanted to share that last bit as a warning to look for legitimate "cloud" infrastructure billing.

    The way I see it, if I can get access to a "server" with multiple cores, few gigs of RAM, etc. for under $10-15/month, it's makes much more sense than buying my own hardware.
    How much you pay for how much is, with a legitimate "cloud" company, going to be based on several factors, how much you are willing to reserve, and how much "compute" you may need to hit at the heaviest loads.

    I never need that much RAM, and I don't want to pay more just for the possibility of using a 32-core, and I don't use the service consistently enough to reserve anything significant on a monthly basis. (I pay a year contract for the minimum slice reserving hours over the entire year.) With the tier I'm on, I have, at most, 1 GiB RAM, 4-core CPU, and I think something around ~1000 stores/retrieves an hour. I rarely use that much, but that's the most I can hit on my tier. If I was willing to pay a more an hour, I could "burst" to get more resources if I wanted. (The highest tier is something insane; I think it is 64-core CPU, 128 GiB RAM, and ~1000000 store/retrieves an hour, but it obviously costs more for each hour just for that potential even if I'm only using a single thread and a few MiB of RAM at any given time.)

    My point is, you could probably get access to 8-core with 8 GiB RAM for the same $.40 (USD) I'm paying now if you are willing to reserve a good chunk each month. (If you use at least what you reserve the price of the reservation isn't a cost.) The price for using that much compute would certainly cost more than the $1.35 (USD) I'd pay for maximum resources, but you'd probably not use as much store/retrieve all the time because you'd have more RAM for more expensive algorithms.

    However, I seriously do not see you getting real access to a real 8-core, 8 GiB RAM slice for under $15 a month. I did, just out of curiosity, see what an 8-core with 8 GiB RAM slice would cost with fewer store/retrieve operations on a medium reserve and it came out to about $17 (USD) for 30 hours a month. (I was basically thinking 1 hour per day.)

    That would work for me, because I just use it for spare CPU when I have all my other machines busy, but it may not work for you. (That is, I don't generally use 30 hours a month so the limit is fine. You may need more than that.) If you don't have the financial resources and aren't planning anywhere near common, daily usage the "cloud" may not be the way to go at all for just an 8-core machine. I know that it may sound backwards, but that is actually a very miniscule slice. (The slice I have is literally considered "microscopic" by the sales staff. I pay a yearly contract fee, but there is no actual contract fee. I know that sounds stupid, but that's actually the way the slice I have is rented. They consider the slice so small that isn't actually worth the cost of considering a contract fee versus just having people pay in advance and getting a refund for the unused portion on early termination. Of course, they'd be lying if they said offering such a service cost them anything and didn't also grant them a lot of goodwill.) Let me put it this way, with everything else being exactly the same, 3 hours daily usage is $33 (USD). You have tripled your available usage, but the cost has only doubled. However, the cost has doubled; you may not be able to afford that price. Even if you can afford the $33 (USD), you can probably do better than that slice because isn't that good. If you are looking for compute and not availability, you can keep the 30 hours reserve jumping to a much more sophisticated 16-core with 384 GiB RAM machine for about $33 (USD).

    However, the "cloud" platform still may not be the right way to go to get what you need done unless, like me, you use it sporadically enough that is basically overflow from machines you actually own. (Of course, if you have the financial resources and planning near constant, daily usage of varying demands the "cloud" platform is obviously a better choice because of the flexibility which reduces total cost of ownership. In cases with a more fixed expectation, the "cloud" platform is less spectacular.) You could get a very reasonable, fairly beastly 8-core with 8 GiB RAM machine for $600 (USD). You could get two or three years of a similar machine for that price, but by owning the machine you've effectively granted yourself 720 hours a month. By the way, if you were to hit constant use threshold with everything else being equal, you'd be paying $233 a month on the "cloud" service I use.

    I don't wish to speculate on the "cloud" platform being right for you because there is so many variations and so much complexity with the pricing, but I do think you should carefully consider how I'm using it primarily a compute platform with no expectations of external availability because I think a similar use pattern is the only way you will get access to such a machine for anywhere near the price you quoted. If you do have expectations of external availability, such as serving up an "Apache" instance for the web, I really do not think the "cloud" is right way to go at that price point.

    Also, consider that I only use the cloud as overflow when I'm particularly interested in some result or another. I have many machines of my own for me to use all the time. If you are interested in compute, but you only have real potential in your primary development machine, I'd highly recommend buying another local machine first even though the initial investment cost will be higher. (I'm not considering tablets, all my "RPi", or my cheap laptop as real potential sources for compute. A single $300 machine is more powerful than all of them.) Of course, I don't know your exact situation, but if you are interested in compute without having a dedicated machine, I think you'll be a lot happier with a machine you actually own that is subject to all your whims without the hourly meter running.

    Soma

  3. #3
    Epy
    Epy is offline
    Fortran lover Epy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    977
    Thanks Soma, I'll be thinking about all that.

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    3,183
    I have hosted my own website and mail server (and a few other misc things) for couple years. For the first few years I used my own hardware, but eventually moved on to Linode ($20/month plan), for better uptime.

    It was just not realistically possible for me to get anywhere near the same uptime with my own hardware (without spending a lot more money) as Linode.

    Harddrive failures, heatsinks getting clogged up and overheating the processor, power supply blowing up, ISP connection reset and dyndns script decided to mysteriously not work, router failures, cable modem mysteriously needing a reset, black outs (and weird BIOS bugs preventing the machine from auto-restarting), random kernel panics that seem to indicate hardware failure (but I couldn't for the life of me find out what), etc... are all problems I had to deal with in the past few years.

    If uptime is a concern (website, mail server, etc), VPS is definitely the way to go (unless you are an experienced admin with a lot of money and a lot of time).

  5. #5
    Epy
    Epy is offline
    Fortran lover Epy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    977
    Thanks cyberfish. Doing a little research on Linode and apparently that $20/month (vs. maybe $8 for others) really gets you what you bought instead of having to worry about not really getting what you're paying for (resources, uptime, etc.) Is that a fair statement?

    One question for the both of you for which I assume the answer must be yes: with the control panel provided, you can deploy your choice of operating system or maybe there's already something installed for you (say CentOS). Can you easily wipe everything and start with a fresh install? A lot of my uses for this won't be to set up something permanent, but to start with a fresh install and then break everything or whatever, then the next day start fresh.

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    3,183
    I cannot compare it to others because I have never used another provider, but yes, I am happy with what I am getting from Linode, and I have used it for about 5 years. Uptime is the most important thing to me, and it has been excellent. The only unexpected downtime for me was a random very high bandwidth DDOS attack.

    You definitely get the RAM, disk space, and network bandwidth (at least ~10 MBytes/s up and down). I can't say about the CPU since I never pushed it.

    Linode only supports Linux. This page lists their currently supported distributions - https://www.linode.com/faq.cfm
    It's possible but not easy to install other distributions.
    They provide fresh disk images for all their supported distributions, so to start a new VM, you just have to pick one, and wait a few minutes. Starting fresh is easy. Just click a few buttons on control panel, and wait a few seconds.

    If you pay a little more, you can also do snapshots of your VM, and restore to them.

  7. #7
    Epy
    Epy is offline
    Fortran lover Epy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    977
    That's great to hear. Like I said, I was hoping that I'd be able to just wipe it clean and start over. I'm good with the distros they have available.

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    2,539
    Quote Originally Posted by cyberfish View Post
    Linode only supports Linux.
    they recently had a very serious security incident. I'd be pretty wary about using them.
    Epy likes this.
    Code:
    namespace life
    {
        const bool change = true;
    }

  9. #9
    Epy
    Epy is offline
    Fortran lover Epy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    977
    I don't have anything that I need to keep private so I wouldn't really care, but regardless, I may not go with Linode per se. Just go with a more popular named VPS provider as opposed to a no-name that probably won't give me the resources it's supposed to.

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    2,539
    the security breach was with their management website and the database that contains their credit card and billing information.
    Code:
    namespace life
    {
        const bool change = true;
    }

  11. #11
    Epy
    Epy is offline
    Fortran lover Epy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    977
    Any opinions about myhosting? They seem to have comparable service for a bit less

  12. #12
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    4,359
    O_o

    I've never had any exposure with them, and I freely admit, I only looked at specific things I'd need so may have missed a lot without noticing viable alternatives, but with all that said, it looks like you don't have a "bring-your-own-os" option or even elementary access to the layer where you'd get such a thing as installing a new operating system done, and the sales area also seems to imply "cloud" infrastructure and related possibilities while none of the configurations seem to reveal those possibilities.

    So, that said, make sure you are comfortable and familiar with one of the operating system offerings (CentOS, Debian, and Ubuntu) before you buy. I, unfortunately, made the "It's GNU/Linux!" mistake once upon a time; I paid for the service for about four months before I was comfortable enough with the flavor to get what I needed done. ( ;_; )

    Also, I don't know that if are still thinking "cloud" at this point or if you've decided on "VPS", but if you are thinking "cloud", you better research "myhosting" a lot before you buy because it doesn't seem to me that they have real "cloud" offerings. I don't know one way or the other, but at least the "VPS" offerings seem legitimate.

    Soma

  13. #13
    Epy
    Epy is offline
    Fortran lover Epy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    977
    Thanks for all the help. I think I will go with "cloud" after all. Digital ocean seems to be exactly what I want. SSD hard drives and a lot of different options for hardware for reasonable prices

  14. #14
    Captain Crash brewbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    7,263
    Quote Originally Posted by Elkvis View Post
    they recently had a very serious security incident. I'd be pretty wary about using them.
    They were hacked via a zero-day exploit. It could have happened to anyone. Obviously, it's something to be concerned about, but I've used a number of VPS providers and Linode has by far been the best of the ones I have used.
    Code:
    //try
    //{
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);
    //}

  15. #15
    Epy
    Epy is offline
    Fortran lover Epy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    977
    I may reconsider Linode in the future, but I was able to test out DigitalOcean yesterday and was very satisfied with it. The cloud billing model is perfect for me just as Soma was saying. I can create a fresh server in a few minutes, do some work with it for a few hours, and then destroy it. I can take the few hours a week I have for real programming, cut down on compile time, and pay a few bucks a month for the convenience.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Popular pages Recent additions subscribe to a feed

Similar Threads

  1. Grid and Cloud computing?
    By redox in forum General Discussions
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 04-06-2011, 05:13 AM
  2. New cloud effect for engine
    By VirtualAce in forum Game Programming
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 02-08-2005, 03:23 AM
  3. Hosting
    By RoD in forum Tech Board
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 04-06-2004, 01:43 PM
  4. Cloud or Sephiroth?
    By joshdick in forum A Brief History of Cprogramming.com
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 12-01-2003, 02:57 PM

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21