kmod's blog

7Dec/0911

Linode vs EC2 vs Shared Hosting vs Dedicated

As I mentioned in the first post, I set this blog up on a Linode virtual server.  I debated for a while about how I wanted to host it.  My options were:

  • EC2 instance
  • Linode VPS
  • prgmr VPS
  • On my desktop machine
  • Shared hosting
  • Get a dedicated server

First I looked into shared hosting, like 1and1.com.  I wasn't that impressed -- you can only host the types of things that they let you, and overall they want to manage your experience.  I'd have to go to one of their higher service levels to get python capabilities, but I still wouldn't get ssh+root access to the machine.  I also worry about the security of these shared hosting options -- not that I worry about losing all of my precious blog posts, but I know that these solutions aren't that secure (it only takes one person putting a dumb piece of php code in their site to give an attacker root access to the box), and I'd rather not have to think about it.  And most of all, I just wouldn't have any control over the server, so I couldn't do just whatever I wanted.  I dismissed shared hosting as an option pretty quickly.

Then I thought about getting a virtual server (VPS), which would give me the control I wanted.  I found this interesting comparison of different VPS services, also compared to EC2, and it seemed that Linode was a clear choice when it came to performance.  prgmr.com can be a fair amount cheaper ($6/month vs $20/month for the cheapest options at prgmr.com and linode.com, respectively), and the "we assume you're not stupid" attitude was appealing, but I decided that since I'd have to switch away from it eventually it wasn't worth it.  They also support many features only inasmuch as you can send an email to the guy who runs it and get him to change some settings for you.

EC2 has a lot more features, primarily aimed at cloud computing / production web services.  For instance, you can shuffle IPs around machines, load balance between multiple instances, and spawn new VMs if your demand is high (these all cost extra, though).  You can also shut down your servers and not have to pay for them.  I figured that I wouldn't need any of this stuff for my personal server, so it wasn't worth the cost ($40/month+bandwidth).

I also thought about hosting it directly off of my local machine.  That's what I've done in the past, and it works okay, but there are some real benefits to having the server be unlinked from my machine.  Uptime is the main benefit, but also I don't have to worry about taking down my box at all.

So the next step from that is getting a dedicated server for myself.  There seem to be some pretty good dedicated hosting options out there, but they all start at $100/month, which is way more than I want to be spending right now.  Those options, though, are highly competitive with the $100 VPS options (ie they are often better in many regards).  There are some features that you get with VPS, such as the ability to resize servers and move them around, but this would be negated if I could easily transfer the settings and data from the server to somewhere else.  And I'm going to have to do that if I ever want to change VPS providers, so I'm going to keep that in mind when I configure my server, and most likely if I ever hit the $100/month performance tier (not likely given the current traffic I'm getting on my blog -- thank you spam bots, though, for the love), I'll switch to dedicated.

So in the end, I ended up settling for a linode VPS.  Luckily I got put on a pretty idle machine, so I get as many CPU cycles as I want.  I don't know how long 360MB is going to last me, though.  The other services all give upwards of 1GB of ram at this price range, but so far 360MB has been okay.

It's only been a week with the server, but so far I've been happy.

Update 5/12/2010:

It's been a few months now, and I've been very happy with the quality of service from linode.  It's not perfect -- when I switched this blog to use SSL for the admin pages, there's a noticeable lag when I try to open pages.  This worries me, especially since I've never seen any load on the node I'm on.  Also, the $20/month is somewhat high given the specs of the VM.  But I've been very impressed with the professionalism and management options that they provide -- I'm paying extra for it to "just work".  Up to you if that's worth it.

I'm thinking of getting a second VPS, and for that I definitely don't want to pay that much extra.  I just want a cheapie VPS that I can throw random personal stuff on, just to have a server at a well-known address that I can count on to be up 99% of the time.  Paying $10 extra a month for the comfort of linode doesn't make much sense.  My conditions are at least 256mb, and at most $10/month (after discounts).  Here are some potential providers I've found:

One thing they have in common (in addition to being budget VPS providers) is that they all have terrible reviews online (except for prgmr).  I'll give prgmr.com some more time to get more hardware, and then look more into these other options.  I guess the upside is that if I sign up with them, my maximum loss is $10 (less if I pick one with a money-back policy, though that's extremely rare with these sites because they know they're terrible).

Comments (11) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I’d go with linode for 99.9% uptime, prgmr for everything else. EC2 is way too expensive when you scale up and dedicated sounds like more than you need.

  2. +1 for linode!

    prgmr looks interesting, but it’s hard to have too much confidence in them after reading how small their operation is.

  3. I’m having a difficult time myself growing out of hosting. Narrowed it down to linode and ec2. I see ec2 small instances getting quoted between $60-90 p/month in blogs, but it isn’t terribly expensive if you use a reserved instance ($35 p/month inc. the one time fee). I’m also seeing a lot of linux benchmarking that isn’t all that relevant to serving a website when comparing hosts- thanks for pointing out that comparison, it’s the first I’ve seem benchmarking postgres and django.

    On paper the sc2 small should kill the linode 512, but it doesn’t appear to be that simple in reality. Linode is definitely doing something right.

  4. You might also consider my partners at Rackspace. You can get industry standard, self-managed, cloud hosting with 256MB (ram) VM or 512mb (RAM) VM at budget price points (starting at 10.95 per month or 1.5 cents per hour). Rackspace will provide you an API that you can use to make automatic weekly and daily backups and it’s backed by fanatical support. It’s very easy and cost effective to scale up (vertically). Let me know what you think.

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  6. Came across this from looking for ec2 and linode comparisons. I have a dedicated server at my office at work and been looking at external hosts. I’m using ec2 right now just because they have micro instances for free for 1 yr. Could be something to look into for your 2nd vps since you don’t get a whole lot of bandwidth for free. And then after a year just signup with a new email and have another free year. For right now I’m just using it as another outside server if I need to check that something at work is available from the outside.

    The problem I’ve been running into with VPS is I use a lot of disk space on my current server. Mainly for offsite backup of my music that isn’t important enough to toss on spideroak or s3 (can always rerip it) but still want to have it backed up somewhere. And yeah, linode seems expensive for what you get. But I guess you get what you paid for.

  7. is hosting an online store on linode good option ? the load on the site will be moderate, it will have a central database that will be required by the site and our inventory management software (will not be running on linode). Do we need to have a full time sysadmin to manage the server ? We want a hosting where we don’t have to worry about server maintenance. Is it a good option for such requirement ? If not can you suggest me some more alternatives .

  8. From the above content we can get a clear cut idea of the quality of service from lincode. The management options that they provide is also fair and not bad.

  9. I’ve been using a linode box for over 3 months now, and I have a major SSL issue, really really show on SSL. Is this synonymous with linode?

  10. How about EC2’s price? i have 5 websites and 1 forum with 2000 visitor per day, i want to used EC2 service but i confuse about price. Thanks.

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