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Ask HN: What hosting do you use for personal projects?
106 points by j_baker on Dec 19, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 126 comments
I'd like to set up a webhost just to play around with during my spare time. I'd like some kind of virtual private server so I can have root access and customize it to my heart's content.

I don't need anything too expensive. Does anyone have suggestions?

For VPS: I'm using Slicehost currently, but have seen some good reviews of Linode. I think I'll likely give them a spin in the new year instead of Slicehost - you get a bit more for your money, and can customize more from what I understand.

I believe they both have quite good support from both community and company perspectives. Lots of good articles and tutorials.

Some comparison links:

recent: http://journal.uggedal.com/vps-performance-comparison

older: http://journal.dedasys.com/2008/11/24/slicehost-vs-linode

The companies:

Linode: http://www.linode.com/

Slicehost: http://www.slicehost.com/

Thanks! The second comparison link is mine, which focuses a bit more on memory, as opposed to performance. And that's where Linode and their 32 bit systems win over Slicehost and their 64 bit systems. The latter chews up a lot more memory for something like Rails, so even if Slicehost only looks slighty more expensive, they end up being significantly more expensive. Which is unfortunate, because they seem like good people doing good work, and who treat their customers pretty well. However, Linode are that way too, and are also cheaper, so it's just not that difficult a choice at this point in time.

Most interesting summary. The one thing that's kept me from trying out linode is slicehost's support for whole-slice backups. Linode doesn't have backups, right?

Check out http://is.gd/5ub0S -- the service is free while in beta.

Linode's backup feature is currently in beta.

I went for slicehost about a year ago right when they were bought by rackspace. At the time HN recommended them as the best choice by far, and I think they were. I never did have any problems with them at all this year, and everything from customer support to management interface has been great.

I'm a bit sad though that I'm also thinking about switching. Price/performance wise they're not even close to the top, plus they still don't have any data centers in Europe.

I recently purchased a linode account for the same reason and am really enjoying it. For $20 I have a linux server to toy with and have been learning a lot from it. The one really nice thing about their setup is the management console that makes deploying whichever distro you want really easy and then monitoring really easy.

Also as Jaddison said, they have some a really solid community and the support is excellent.

If this is your level of personal use (experimentation), yes, Linode might be fine.

+1 for Webfaction.

You get a shell, a gazillion different application types (CGI, Rails, PHP, Django, custom). You can compile Apache and/or MySQL and configure a custom port for it.

Their support is responsive. Service has competitive pricing. I've been with them for three years and haven't experience any outages.

I've also been with them for quite some time. I originally got it because I wanted something cheap with django hosting, but I've stayed because they offer plenty of different setups and have great customer service. My credit card thought they were fraud a couple of times and stopped payment, and the Webfaction guys were very understanding about it, and kept my sites up while I worked my way up the bank chain trying to convince them that I actually wanted to pay them.

Another vote for WebFaction. I've tried half a dozen hosts over the years, and WebFaction is the best one so far.

I've actually had webfaction before and was quite satisfied with them. However, I was wanting to use something with just a little bit more hackability. Thus, I'm looking for a VPS which will allow me root access.

prgmr.com is very cheap and has worked well for me for the last month (which is when I signed up)

It's also run by fellow HN user Luke Crawford:


Been using prgmr for about 6 months, can't beat it.

prgmr.com customer also. Works perfect, no problems of note for me. Luke is doing a great job.

On twitter: http://twitter.com/prgmrcom

Edit: He also has a book: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Xen-Practical-System-Administrato...

Prgmr here too. Upgraded to a 256mb pkg just 4 days back. Been with them with a 128mb pkg for 6 months. Cheap and value for money.

I have two instances at prgmr.com, 256mb and 1024mb, and they're more than enough for me.

I'm also using prgmr. Signed up in June or so, no complaints.

Anyone manage to get Gentoo running on there?

yes, it was simple with images provided on http://stacklet.com/downloads/images/lister/Gentoo/2010-0/x8...

Great. Thank you!

Would you happen to know where I could find detailed instructions on how to install these images?

+1 for prgmr.com

I also use it. Awesome.

+1, 2yr happy customer


Insanely cheap. I deposited $5 on November 17th and I still have $2 left in the account, pushing 4.5 to 5GB/month.

I don't know why the hell people are downmodding you, http://nearlyfreespeech.net is pretty brilliant. Sure, having to use classical CGI is undesirable in 2009, but they were doing true distributed cloud-based hosting long before Google App Engine and Heroku came along.

Them and Dreamhost are the only simple shared hosting providers I ever recommend to anyone.

You just lost all credibility for recommending Dreamhost. They're down more than a hooker in red light district and overload their boxes to an average load of 10+. I would not use them for any hosting again.

They're also cheap as hell, have great support, and are honest. They're pretty upfront about CPU being their only contended resource. They'll go as far as corralling CPU hogs together into ghettos so they don't affect normal customers as much.

Classic shared hosting is bullshit in general, but Dreamhost makes the most of it. They're the only one I'd ever recommend.

I use my home computer for this purpose. There is a simple WAMP setup on the main OS (winxp) for quick and dirty stuff, and then I have VMWare running a 512 MB RAM image of Ubuntu Server to let me play around with more interesting stuff. So the cost is effectively free.

If something then turns into more than a personal project, I use the home setup as a development/staging server and then push it out to a hosted server.

same here- but centos on the home server because I am somewhat familiar with fedora.

Heroku, hands down. It's free unless it gets serious. (ruby only, though)

If it's ruby only, then one obviously doesn't have root access.

On heroku, no (that's the point - it takes a bit to get used to but it's worth it), but on another host, why would you not have root access?

Come on, man. From the OP:

I'd like some kind of virtual private server so I can have root access and customize it to my heart's content.

Which means if heroku is ruby only, as you said, and thus doesn't provide root access, then it doesn't fit the request.

Well, I suggested Webbynode in another comment. I think that, if by coincidence, the OP uses Ruby, he might want to take a look at Heorku. And the OP also asked what we used ;)

+1 for Linode

From a European/UK standpoint by far the best value for money with their recent launch of a data center in London.

I found the VPS market in the UK was dead, with very little that excited me, the London data center was Christmas coming early.

Love it! As far as I know, they are the only one that officially support slackware which is why I went with them in the first place.

Anyone use one of the Mac Mini hosting services?

http://www.macminicolo.net/ http://www.xservhosting.com/mac-mini-colocation/mac-mini-col...

Looks like you buy a mini from them or ship one you already own and the hosting starts about $30 a month. I'm not sure if this is just to appeal to "Mac Fanboys" or if it's actually a good setup. I'd be interested if anyone has used one of these services.

Linode and slicehost are quite expensive if you price out the RAM and disk you get per dollar, but they do let you rent quite small instances. I've found the main difference in favor of Linode to be nice monitoring tools and graphs.

Serverbeach occasionally runs specials on rented dedicated that offer very good value if you need a somewhat larger box.

An EC2 small instance is also surprisingly good value if you can commit to a year up front.

Not really hosting per say, but I've started to use Google App Engine recently. No control over the software/hardware but it's nicely designed if all you want is a rest front end (web/api) to your application.

I use dreamhost. Why? Because a while back they did that 777 deal, and I posted about it on a few forums, and ended up with like 250 primary referrals and 200 secondary referrals.

So basically I get paid money to host my stuff with them :) I made like 3 grand from them so far.

Also since they bump your storage/bw every week, at this point I have 10TB Bandwith and 500GB hosting. Which isn't half bad.

Linode for general stuff.

Amazon EC2 when I need a sudden burst of computational power.

Can you give an example of an actual case when you needed this sudden burst of computational power? I'm curious what sorts of things people are actually using it for in real life. (instead of "well, you COULD use it for ....")

I use high-capacity EC2 for problem sets in my bioalgorithms class. Basically whenever something's taking too long for my liking on whatever machine I'm running it on, I'll throw it up on a beefy EC2 instance and let it run there.

Image processing and analysis (some of my work involves cbir), processing large amounts of data of statistical analysis, brute forcing needs, etc

Load simulations for VR systems

It's also good for hosting websites (well, duh) and especially excels when you need a lot of storage; EBS volumes are almost unbeatable on price and comfort.

I used it a lot for video encoding

I want to caveat my choice by saying that I have been through the following options before settling on my latest and honestly greatest choice by far:

I used and cancelled; lunarpages, dreamhost, mediatemple, globat

I switched to HostGator Alluminum reseller program (but do not actually resell the space)

I house each project in its own cPanel so that I can modularize each project and have any join or access it if necessary. Helps me track bandwidth and start from scratch fast on new things. It also affords an infrastructure I have not seen elsewhere.

I support this decision after using Pingdom on my sites at MT then hostgator and seeing large latency differences. I feel it was a good sample set as the sites were identical (PHP\MySQL) on both services.

However that being said I am going to be using Engineyard for the first time now that I have a RoR project.

My older php\SQL sites will remain however on hostgator.

Depending on your purpose/needs, http://www.lowendbox.com/ lists sub $5/month VPS. Of course, dont expect much, but i have a couple for testing network connectivity. vmware/xen are great for local playing around though as others suggest.

Wow, ramhost (one of the links from that site) offers $3/month VPS.

That sounds about as cheap as it gets... anyone have experience with these guys?


I'm using Slicehost right now at $20/mo, but I did calculations, and if you pay for what you use on Rackspace cloud (and assuming you use almost nothing), Rackspace cloud comes out less than $20 per month. I'd be switching over if I weren't so damn lazy.

I use a share at www.gandi.net, 1 share isn't too expensive. In my experience they respond the same day to support emails, and you can enable temporary console access via their website in case you really messed up your installation.

update: gandi is in france.

Gandi here too, great service.

Media Temple. I absolutely hate it, but moving to a new host is a bitch. When I get some time to move I am either moving back to Slicehost or Linode and built my server up from scratch.

Note to everyone, don't ever use media temple. They are absolutely horrible. Every week, either the servers gets hacked, servers goes down or something is wrong with their admin panel and they won't let you access it. And of course its slow as hell. I have used their both dv and gs setup, just horrible. Their customer service is decent, but what am I going to do with good customer service when the server has so many problems?

They do have a good marketing and design team. I have to give them that.

Haha same deal. The gridserver is $20/mo and I have a dozen sites on it, nice control panel but the uptime is horrible and its slow as molasses

It blows yet I have to keep it unless I want to migrate 12 different sites...

I feel you. Migration can be a pain in the ass. Fortunately I only have 5 site with media temple. Next month I will have some free time and I will definitely dump this horrible hosting.

I personally recommend slicehost, there are excellent. Never had a problem with them, leaving them was a mistake. I was looking for a managed solution and MT was recommended by some guys so I jumped.

If you have a Plesk (or whatever other panel they have as an offering) it should actually be close to trivial to move to another provider that offers the same control panel. Most of the big panels have command line utilities that allow you to backup a site at a time or the entire set of sites, then restore them to a different machine.

MT uses plesk for their VPS, but currently I am using gs (grid server) which has its own custom panel. Even if they had plesk or something similar for migration, it wouldn't help because I want to move to slicehost/linode and they are non-managed server, so they don't use plesk/cpanel (to the best of my knowledge).

Almost all migration needs to be manual, its not difficult, its just pain in the butt repetitive manual work and has potential for lot of things going south.

I use amazon ec2 for http://freeciv.net/

I prepayed for a 3 year reservation for a small Amazon EC2 instance and I am very happy with that decision because I frequently deploy customer projects to AWS, and any experience from my own projects is a big help.

I also permanently rent a small VPS from RimuHosting. I like their customer service and their low costs.

And, the elephant in the room is Google AppEngine. I have several deployed apps and an effective price of free is difficult to beat. Surprisingly (to me) I have had no customer interest in deploying to AppEngine. I have had ongoing problems using JRuby+Sinatra on AppEngine, but the Java support is fairly much hassle free.

I've been very satisfied with RootBSD so far.

Awesome to see a BSD-based hosting service. Are they fairly new? I was looking for one a couple of years ago and don't recall seeing their name.

As a company they're not new (they're part of Tranquil Hosting) but the first time I heard about RootBSD was in early 2009 I think.

I've been wanting to try out RootBSD for a while now. I'm a hardcore FreeBSD user (I have three FreeBSD servers at home)...

RootBSD has been very reliable for us, and good service.

I'm also a happy rootbsd user. It's been rock solid, with very quick answers to any questions via their support emails.

I use Linode. It's inexpensive, reliable, and easy to set up and use. The company also makes significant contributions back to the open source community. On my rating scale they get double bonus points for that.

SchoolRack(.com) is built on a small cluster of 4 Slicehost servers. I know this isn't a small/personal project but it's given me a lot of experience with them. Of course, they're a great web host and definitely mean it when they say they're built for developers.

But... Linode is (so far) better. You get everything you get at Slicehost, for a little bit cheaper, with a more useful admin panel. Statistics are built in for CPU and Bandwidth. However, the panel is a bit more complex than the average park rangers jeep, so if you're a newbie you might wanna stick with Slicehost.

I say so far because I've only been a customer for about 3 months now. whalesalad.com (my personal site) runs on a small $19 Linode (which gives you 360mb of ram vs 256 on Slice, 16GB of storage vs 10, and double the bandwidth). At the moment I'm powering my aforementioned blog, a couple of WordPress sites, and another Django site. Nginx + FastCGI for both the Python and PHP side of things. It's holding up like an absolute champ.

Linode also lets you play around with other distros easier. You can basically cut up your allotted HD space and boot whatever you want. You can cut it in half and play with Fedora/Debian, or whatever you choose really. For experimentation, that's good.

This is a great performance breakdown/comparison of the popular VPS' out there - http://journal.uggedal.com/vps-performance-comparison

Finally, if you choose Linode, help a guy out with this referrer link :D - http://j.mp/linodesalad

I started with a host called "kiloserv"...I haven't yet met anybody else who has heard of them (saw them in a sig on /.); they were fine for something that I wasn't too concerned about (all I really needed was an off network box for testing my network setup at work). Kiloserv was $10/mo for a VPS, it never went down on my in ~2yrs, and it worked...

That said, the bandwidth didn't seem too special, the company had 0 support of any kind...didn't offer a console, or DNS hosting (that I know of), and on and on and on...they worked, but not for a business.

After them, I switched to slicehost (per a recommendation here) and they were/are awesome. Totally professional, good bandwidth, $20/mo, everything I wanted. I recommend them 100% to anybody doing a semi-serious project.

After a recent comparison here, it sounded like linode was also really really good, so I bought a VPS from them ($20/mo again) to use a development server/sandbox. The linode box seems to, honestly, be outperforming my VPS from slicehost with benchmarks on AB (although this could just be a slight disparity between my httpd.confs on the two boxes).

Slicehost or Linode are outstanding +1 to them.

My next box will probably be a colo'd box with prgmr. ($50 for 1u including power and bandwidth is really enticing to me).

Slicehost/Linode are what I use right now...

I'm using hosteurope.de (as I'm in Europe and want decent ping times). They have pretty good deals, starting at €13/month for 1GB RAM and 5TB data. I'm still on an earlier plan, 256MB for €10/month though.

They have pretty decent service, but their English (understandably) isn't that good. They've been down a few times in the last few months, but otherwise have a pretty good track record.

I think for the money you pay them, you get a very good price, but don't expect 99.99% uptime

I did a short and non-representative comparison between the ping times to my Linode in London (http://vix.io) and hosteurope.de. From my home in the Netherlands my Linode VPS is 10ms faster (~31ms for Linode versus ~41ms for hosteurope.de). Considering that hosteurope.de is hosted in Köln (Germany) which is about 190km from where I live the routing to London is a lot better.

Seconded, they've had a few network glitches recently but are generally rock solid.

We're hosting a few production sites with them since 2004 and overall the expirience has been great - and it's hard to beat their traffic prices.

Looks like I am the only one in here that uses dedicated servers. Mix of theplanet, colo at level3 and gigenet.

I've been very happy with Rackspace Cloud, and especially with how well it scales down -- as low as $10/mo. It's not quite all the flexibility that Amazon does, but the API's nice and getting better, and for personal stuff the smaller size is a big win.

I use WebbyNode as my main VPS provider, but over the years I've made enough friends on the Net as to be able to get shell accounts on several servers, as well. Add to that a machine at home which is used for less important stuff.

I have been using OVH to host my main projects They offer dedicated servers for the hobby market, at unbeatable prices (http://kimsufi.fr, you'll have to look for your local OVH distributor), but also top-level servers at very good price. Plus they're very good (have awesome peering/transit quality, unbeatable prices, 3 datacenters and 10 years of experience).

For my own thing, I've got a shared hosting at SurpassHosting.com. I used to rely on Dreamhost to host my blog and do random tests, but they're just crap. Surpass is just good for what I need in those cases...

OVH are - OK

But they have absolutely terrible support, heaven forbid if your server goes down or experiences a hardware failure - its often a battle just to get them to replace hardware. They also throttle FTP traffic.

Although, apart from the throttling and assuming your box never dies, yes OVH are good.

I have a pretty good contact with the old-skool OVH community and their administrators. And I can say that they don't throttle any traffic at all! (I'm sure of that)

And their support may be pretty bad if you have a non-pro offer. That means that if you get a 200€/month box you'll have a pretty awesome, first-class support. But if you have a 20€/month box and your hard drive dies, you'll have to wait one day or two. That seems fair to me.

I have 300 servers from the Kimsufi to PRO and the support is pretty much the same.

As for the throttling, that doesn't happen (as far as I'm aware) however they do have poor peering connections to the US so it's pretty normal to get 5kb/s there which is much worse.

I use linode for work and think its great. I used to use webfaction but switched because they were too inconsistent. Poor performance sometimes and they were always responsive to deal with problems, but they happened every couple weeks.

For home use I have an old Thinkpad thats way more powerful than a cheap slice somewhere which cost me $150 on craigslist + 12kwhrs/mo. I used to use an old desktop, but the laptop will actually save me money on my power bill in about 2 years, by using 17watts instead of 100. Saves carbon too since we get mostly coal power here.

Before Heroku, I used Webbynode (http://webbynode.com). It has root access and much more, all you need, and it's not expensive. They're also very good.

No one likes AWS? You can turn it off whenever you're not using it.

AWS starts at around $60 a month, a basic VPS (Rackspace, Linode etc) starts at around $10 a month. With the VPS, you wouldn't have to spend time turning it off and on to save pennies, and you wouldn't have to learn all the EC2 oddities (Elastic IP, EBS, Ephemeral Storage, AMIs, Availability Zones, KeyPairs, etc).

For someone looking to get started, a normal VPS seems easier and cheaper.

Rackspace bought slicehost who charges $20/month.

Linode's lowest VPS is $20/mo: https://www.linode.com/signup/

Am I missing something? I'd love to find a decent VPS provider at $10/month.

No, grandparent poster was off on pricing, but his intent is correct. AWS is several times more expensive than the other 'lighter' VPS solutions out there, which is why is isn't brought up/suggested more often.

Thanks, I was a little off on pricing - I didn't realize Linode started at $20.

Rackspace is $11 / month for the 256MB slice, no bandwidth, though there's no bandwidth included in EC2 so that's apples-to-apples. I doubt bandwidth costs would be that significant for the OP's purpose.

Looks like prgmr also has cheaper entry points, including some bandwidth.

Rackspace Cloud is probably what he's referring to. Smallest instance is ~$10, no bandwidth included though.

I'd only recommend it for test projects, but RapidXen is $6 per month. The quality is about what you'd expect.

If you're playing around in Ruby, you could give Heroku a try (http://www.heroku.com). They have a free plan for small projects.

I've started using Zerigo.com's cloud-hosting. So far, it's been fantastic for keeping my LAMP stack imaged for quick deployment so I can test new projects in their own sandbox for pennies.

Note, it's a private beta still, but I figured they were worth mentioning. Having a VPS on SliceHost as well, I'd recommend something quick & small for "tinkering" and keep the VPS for your existing sites until you're sold on a new environment.

Free Yahoo Developer Accelerators from Joyent, they apply same terms and conditions and AUP to free developer accounts as well as their customers - http://is.gd/5uR3I

PCSmart Hosting is cheap at 4.95 pounds / month - http://is.gd/5uR4E unmanaged linux vps, pure bliss for the low price.

To the general hosting question:

blog: Nexcess.net

small project sites: HostGator.com

Old ASP.NET site that I'm going to discontinue: DiscountASP.Net

"Real" web projects: roll my own using VMWare or Xen

There's no root access and might not suit you, but the answer to "what hosting do [I] use for personal projects?" is Google App Engine. It's really very convenient and easy for small things. (e.g. http://h4ck3r.net/, http://skulpt.org/)

I've been a happy Linode customer since August 2007. There were two minor issues with DNS (not their fault, I believe) during that time. Once I had to do an emergency RAM upgrade on a Sunday -- it was the best customer service experience I've ever had.

I run two servers -- Gentoo and Ubuntu. I recommend Ubuntu.

I was with a company who used Linode from about 2003 to 2007. It was awful. We had a one-day outage when someone kicked out the power cord. Another outage with some routing mishap by Linode. DDoS floods destined for our VM due to irc bots or whatever running on another VM.

Linode would start an upgrade without notice during normal business hours, and then only admit they were messing with things if there was a crash.

Get a dedicated machine. The lost productivity alone makes it worth it.

Since Linode started in June 2003 (and your company was one of the first customers -- I'm looking at your tickets), you got to experience a lot of the growing pains of a new company. If you were to try us today, you wouldn't walk away with the same impression as you did then. I'd bet on that.

We learned a lot during that time, and I think it's a defining aspect of our company that we can admit that.

I am, however, unable to find a one-day outage for your account; the longest I've come across -- which is power-related, so I'm assuming the one you're referring to -- was reported by your company at 5:39 p.m. and resolved at 8:01 p.m.

That is probably not the norm and you probably should have asked to be moved to another machine and seen if they could investigate the source of the problem.

From my experience Linode (2-3 years) has been excellent especially if you want a server just to mess around on and learn how to host and make projects work while being able to stop and change distros very quickly.

I've used MediaTemple which has become so awful as to be unusable and Slicehost which was great and reliable but now owned by Rackspace and starting to suffer from the problems with their datacenters...

Been hearing good things about Heroku and after reading this thread psyched to check out Linode

I use a server at The Planet. Probably more costly than what you want for your needs.

I've used linode for a couple of years now and I've been very very happy with them. I use dnsmadeeasy for critical projects even though Linode has their own custom dns you can use, just to keep it separate.

http://lithiumhosting.com/ pretty cheap. haven't noticed a second of downtime in the 6 months i've been with them. very responsive staff, too.

http://www.volumedrive.com/ They have real servers for reasonable prices. Or some kind of linode/slicehost, if you don't need too much.

I've used Rimuhosting VPS http://rimuhosting.com/ for a while now and they have been nothing short of excellent.

For my personal projects my main consideration was price, I found fsckvps.com. For $12.95 a month I get 512MB memory, 30GB disk and 400GB transfers a month.

I have a server at fdcservers and one at theplanet - both "unmetered" 100Mbps, no problems so far (I'm with theplanet for more than 5 years, since ev1)

I am a very happy VPS customer of WiredTree.com. Their prices are great, servers are fast, and the support is top-notch.

Edit: root, WHM/Cpanel, etc as well

I've used OpenHosting with no complaints.


Pretty cheap, and only down two or three times in the last two years (since I started with them). They are somewhat less communicative than I'd prefer when something happens, but they did tweet updates last time.

Chunkhost.com is giving away half-gig instances right now.

Just decided to try these guys out. You can't complain too much if it's free! Plus, their pricing seems like it will be reasonable once it gets out of beta.

Sorta, they're not free, it's only for the beta period, and they still require a (valid) credit card number, and presumably they'll start charging you once the beta period ends (and they don't specify when that is on their homepage).

I have no experience with these people and never heard of them, but I am guessing that the CC information is needed because they are giving you root access to their server. From a purely legal and business point of view, it seems to make sense.

What if someone registers for more than one vps (or dozens with the help of proxies and gmail account) and runs illegal activity like spamming or DDOSing some other site? These are all plausible scenario and having valid CC number is the most reasonable thing to do.

if i needed need stupid easy backups, i would go with linode, as it is, i go with slicehost.


dirt cheat: good vps with loads of ram, disk and traffic for $20 or $30 per month.

Absolutely! Great company. Though the KIS is a bit clunky.

Another vote for Linode.

github for static pages + heroku.



RackSpace Cloud ($10 per month for 256MB instance w/o traffic). RSC allows me to follow modern administration practice ( http://vlisivka.pp.ua/en/modern_administration ) even at my own private host.

Geocities bitches.

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