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Ask HN: Where do you host your webapp?
135 points by kr1 on Aug 1, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 135 comments
Which web hosting provider do you use ?


Found their machines to be faster than Slicehost, the service to be superb, they have datacenters around the world that you can select to be your location (I chose London, UK as my users are here), and recently they upgraded the RAM for free in all VMs they run.

Hosting with them has been a delight. Slicehost are a very close 2nd in my opinion, but Linode are #1 currently.

I'm also using Linode for http://wasitup.com. Thir pricing is affordable and I found them to give most bang per buck: http://journal.uggedal.com/vps-performance-comparison

I used SoftLayer for a few years. They're a great dedicated server provider. Perhaps even the best in unmanaged. But.. I downgraded to Linode to save some money and was amazed at how performant even their small VPSes are. I could run what I ran on a $200 box at SoftLayer for about $80 spanning 2 VPSes at Linode, no trouble.

+1 for SoftLayer for unmanaged dedicated servers. We've been using them for all of our dedicated servers since April 2007.

And they don't have any contract. Some real root servers companies still have setup fees or contracts, linode, slicehost etc don't.

First, I'll mention what I no longer do: rent servers by the month from places like 1and1 or Rackspace. You probably get good value, but at an admin cost.

What I do use:

1. VPS from a quality hosting company. I use RimuHosting and people I know also like Linode. I like the extra level of managed server support for backup, maintaining RAID devices, etc.

2. AWS - love AWS. Some people have problems with performance of SimpleDB and SQS but these services handle queries in parallel so, for example, for a web app that needs to access a lot of data to render a page, queries can be done all at once. (Same comment on AppEngine's datastore)

3. AppEngine - great if your application is a good fit for the platform. Watch out for long loading request times: I use Java with Objectify, and I can keep loading request times down to about 1 second. (Non-loading requests are obviously a lot faster).

4. Heroku - for Rails apps. Love it.

Wow, Objectify's documentation manages to describe how the GAE datastore works and how to use it in a single wiki page which is much, much clearer than any of Google's many pages about it. Thanks for the recommendation.

I do recommend Objectify - seems just about right: close to the metal, but manages things a bit better than the low level datastore API. Enjoy!

Heroku is also great for Sinatra apps.

heroku + github + sinatra + rb = super fast prototyping. Love Heroku!

Ditto for Rimuhosting.

Yeah add my recommendation for RH. I've been with them for about 3 years, they've been fantastic.

I'm on Rimuhosting as well; I've been using them since 2006, and it's been a pretty smooth ride (and prices have dropped along the way as well).

I can recommend http://hetzner.de/en for root servers in Germany. For example the EQ-4 package (for €49 per month):

* Intel Core i7-920 Quad-Core with Hyper-Threading


* 2 x 750 GB SATA-II HDD (Software-RAID 1)

* 5 TB transfer; €6,90 for an additional TB

* 100 GB backup space for free, nice control interface (incl. reboot), NS control, good support

WOW that's cheap. You don't say anything about service/support though?

They have 24/7 english and german language telephone support http://www.hetzner.de/en/hosting/kontakt/telefon-support/ (all the root servers are in DC 10/11/12). In over a year I didn't have to call them once, therefore I can't tell you about my personal experience. They answer emails very quickly.

The competition in this market is quite strong in germany, there are 5 major companys offering basically the identical dedicated server service. The servers are not virtualized, therefor you usually have to commit to longer running contracts or higher setup fees.

Would you mind enumerating what 5 companies those are?

Exactly :)

Been with them for a year now, their service is top notch.

Presumably compared to a VPS, they have no redundant PSU, no ECC memory, scaling up or a hardware failure will involve real downtime.

i also use these guys; in the past it has helped to have a german speaker around...

If you are a company outside of the EU (like the US) make sure you mention that you are VAT exempt so they don't charge you for that.

If it really needs to scale: AWS EC2

For DNS: Dnsmadeeasy.

For low latency content delivery: Akamai

For dirt cheap makeshift content delivery: several servers from 478east

For servers that need lots of RAM(>24GB) on the cheap: webnx

Here's a general rule of thumb: If you're paying for Akamai, you're paying too much. :)

What does this mean? That Akamai commonly provide free services to high profile, high traffic sites that need their levels of throughput? Or..?

It really just means Akamai's expensive and you should find someone else to do CDN stuff. :)

VPS.net resells Akamai at shockingly low prices.

Their Wiki says it's Highwinds: http://www.vps.net/wiki/cdn-more-info

VPS.net sells both highwinds and Akamai. Akamai is $100 for 1 TB. However, they only offer origin pull, so performance will be slightly degraded versus using their NetStorage.


If we're recommending DNS, let me suggest Nettica.

+1 for http://www.dnsmadeeasy.com/ . We've been using them for DNS since February 2007.

http://dyn.com/dynect is supposed to be pretty good too.

I've used both prgmr.com and linode.com and my experience with both has been excellent. I currently use prgmr.com to host all my projects (which are only hobby projects) because they are very cheap. There is no fancy admin system, but I don't need one. Their SLA isn't any worse than linode. I have had no issues with downtime. My one experience with support resulted in a very good outcome.

We have half a rack at a colo in Portland. All our public sites live on a single fast box.

Before that, everything was running off a fast desktop machine sitting behind a Business DSL line at Sam's house. I'd highly recommend that option, since it's so cheap compared to VPS and you get to use as big a box as you like (and as many too). You only really outgrow it when your bandwidth starts to max out the line, which is a lot later than you'd expect.

Twiddla survived it's first few Reddittings in that garage. It was only for SXSW and the simultaneous TechCrunching, RRW'ing, LifeHackering, and Mainstream Pressing that followed that forced our hand in moving it someplace a bit more professional.

except when you DSL line goes down.

In two years of self-hosting, we had a few minor downtime instances, but nothing to do with the DSL:


You run the same risks hosting at home as you do in a datacenter. Things can go down and it's your job to put them back up. There's no greater chance of the ISP cutting off a Business DSL line that happens to point to a residence than to a business downtown.

Depends on where you live, but your house doesn't have redundant connections and service contracts to fix them ASAP.

Your home net connection may be reliable, now, but if something bad happens it could be down for days, not hours.

When you're starting out, your service can, quite frankly, be down for an entire day and it won't kill you. Once you've got enough traction that downtime could be a money-losing issue, you can step up.

But let's be realistic. Plenty of real businesses host their public site from their own office. At least, several of the startups I've worked for have their own server closet. Many of them don't have redundant internet connection nor redundant power.

It's OK to be a little bit flaky. Look at the poster-child for flakiness (some microblogging service that seems to be popular among, well, everybody), and you'll notice it's still pretty successful even with it's weekly tech-blog-worth downtime. Your average little startup probably doesn't need five nines from the word go. What it does need, though, is a backend setup that only costs $50/month. Hosting from your home-office will give you that.

Depends on the business. I wouldn't outsource, say, my bookkeeping to a startup web company whose servers I notice to be unreachable for a longer amount of time.

>Depends on where you live, but your house doesn't have redundant connections and service contracts to fix them ASAP.

Might not be a problem if you can pick up the server and relocate it to another DSL terminal (and re-point your DNS). Indeed a home based server might be more robust, line goes down or electric is off then move the server. YMMV a lot.

I like the irony of the fact that that site is down so I can't read the article titled "Redundant is never redundant enough".


I've got about a decade of experience as a sysadmin, and I can vouch that their staff definitely knows what they're doing.

I've got dedicated servers from the french companies OVH and Online.net (previously known as Dedibox) since four years. The price is cheap including unlimited free reinstalls and a rescue mode. The service is great IMHO. I've also had one server from LeaseWeb but they are more expensive and comes with less services.

I'm interested in cloud hosting like Amazon EC2 or VPS like SliceHost, especially because I want to have my servers in more than only one country but so far all the solutions I found were not as great and/or cheap than the ones I use.

Here are some links for specific low cost servers:

http://www.kimsufi.co.uk/ks/ - OVH, great and cheap little servers!

http://www.ovh.co.uk/products/rps_offers.xml - OVH, great too but no disks, they use iSCSI which is better because it removes hard drive failure risks but with bad disk performance costs.

http://www.online.net/serveur-dedie/comparatif-des-offres-de... - Online.net, the other good french hosting company for dedicated server.

BTW until now most of my servers were hosted at my home but I'm moving to another country, this will not be possible anymore, too bad! Independence is one of my top priority so I don't want to be stuck with any hosting company if I find better somewhere else, like in my next basement!

Google App Engine. :-) Download the SDK. Write your app in Python. Click one button, and deploy it to Google's cloud.

Also heroku. Install gem, write app in Ruby. A shell command or two...

Google App Engine has a few big services built on top of it: http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-biggest-sites-built-on-top...

What options do you have if you decide to stop using Google? Are there alternative server implementations available?

There was AppDrop - http://github.com/jchris/appdrop - but it doesn't look like it's being maintained anymore.

Using a couple of dedicated root servers from hetzner => http://www.hetzner.de/en/ don't know exactly how the connection to the usa is but around europe it's super fast...and cheaper than aws, slicehost or similar.

How long have you been with them?

I've heard that their customer support can be less than cordial.

I've been with them for I think about three or four years. I havn't thought to rate their service on cordiality, but they've been perfectly competent and fast the few times I've needed them.

I use Webfaction for my small stuff (and have no big stuff). You get a SSH account on a Linux server and can run any web server program behind their reverse proxy, as long as it fits into your plan's memory limit.


I've experienced their customer service as friendly and competent.

Rackspace Cloud -- Is it true that it's overpriced? I'm really happy with it and I don't use many resources ($11/month right now, maybe) people have been telling me that it's actually really expensive when you're running something real though. Hrm, I'm considering a linode since everyone's seems so satisfied with them

Same here. Only complaint is a significant spike in attacks. Which may or may not have anything to do with them, but started right after we switched from ServerBeach.

If it's Ruby: Heroku

If it's Python: App Engine

Anything else: Linode

In this category, if it's server-side JavaScript one of these:

- Heroku (Node.js beta)

- Joyent Smart Platform

- JGate on AppJet

Heroku is horribly slow, I wouldn't recommend it. Go with Linode, slice host or Rackspace cloud

I have seen this comment before, but I believe it is only valid for free accounts which get swapped out after a short period of no incoming requests. I think that for any paid plan, your app is always loaded so there is no loading request delay. You might want to give it another try with the lowest cost plan and see if your results are different.

Yes I'm referring to the free plan. I don't get it, why let trial users try with a subpar offering, it really is bad for "showing off" what Heroku is. I would put free trials at 30 or 60 days limit and give trial users something to talk about.

I'm using Google Application Engine with a hacked version of Django (Django Nonrel).

You get both App Engine Admin Console and Django Admin Module => Double Win!

Worked pretty well so far.

Agreed. I recently had to move away from AppEngine for a project that involved outbound connections and I KNOW I'm going to really miss the dashboard. Do you know of any third-party tools I could install to get anything even remotely similar?

Nope sorry, I'm a total newbie when it comes to webapps too. Maybe you should start an "Ask HN" about it.


The pricing can't be beat for static content and I haven't noticed any problems with uptime.

I have used NFS for two years now without any complaints. If you're doing something small-scale, it's an excellent service at great pay-as-you pay scheme.

This. They also are running a "pools" beta for when you need to run something on port 80, but don't want to fuck with the overhead of a full-blown VPS.

I run ThatHigh.com on Google App Engine. I'm building a friend's author website on Dreamhost and I'm building a new twitter-related web app on linode using django.

I am currently using 2 Linode 512 MB servers for a simple free application. One of my Linode got hacked recently. But for another paid app I am exploring other options like PEER1 for managed Security such as IDS and Managed Firewall / Load balancer. It would cost significantly more than ($600 - $1200) Still not sure whether I should be managing my own security using tools such as OSSEC/Snort or outsource it.

What are the solutions everybody is using for Load Balancing and Security.

Do you mind sharing about how you got hacked?

Linode guys contacted me that my server was being used to carry out ssh brute force attacks. I saw that somebody had created a user named test on my Linode. I think it might be related to postfix or dovecot. After I stopped those services so far there have been no problems. The other services I have running are Apache, Tomcat and ssh.

Both Linode and Slicehost.

I like the Slicehost admin system more than Linode's, but Linode got servers in Europe which is a big plus - and Linode have better specs than Slicehost as well.

Heroku, they just make your life so much easier. For those few things (especially client stuff) where we need LAMP we host on Rackspace Cloud.

SoftLayer, very professional.


As a server management company, we get a chance to see the support side of many hosting companies.

Softlayer is still the best for dedicated server in our opinion.


how can you compare hosting companies when you do not have ALL server specs? Really, how?

For example, Linode does not disclose the type of disk drive they use nor slicehost disclose theirs. Hosting compaies always have a thing or two to hide. And trust me if it is cheap there may be something hidden out of plain view.

I use http://www.servint.com and they are really transparent. They use RAID 10 SAS 15K RPM disk drives, and run their VPSes on Dual Xeon Quad Core processors. Free cpanel, free daily backups. Linode can beat them in pricing but guess what? Check the server specs. I asked Linode what kind of disk they were using in an email and they said they cannot disclose the information!!! Servint is open and they show you everything they use. Free cpanel, free backups. What else do you want.

Lots of this hosting companies, have those as addons, and you end up even paying more. People concentrate too much on base pricing. Please get the addons you will need then calculate final price.

I wonder if anyone could recommend a VPS service that runs Windows (too)?

Dare I say it, but if you need to run Microsoft in the cloud then Azure is probably a good bet these days. Also, if you don't already have MSDN and want to run a Microsoft stack you can get a BizSpark license and that comes with some good freebies.

We use azure for our webapp. Works great so far, although the azure-website for managing server deployments is not very good. Also, you can use powershell and the azure tools for VS2010 instead of the azure-website.

I'd love to hear more about what you don't like about the site (email address on my profile page).

Btw, I ran the feature team that built the APIs that powershell and Visual Studio use. So if you don't like those, that's probably my fault. :)

We also use Azure. Deploying from Visual Studio is pretty slick. The biggest problem in general with Azure deployments is the speed. Perhaps its normal, but its pretty annoying to wait 15+ minutes to deploy and wait for a Web and Worker role to be 'Ready'

Its also VERY annoying that only 1 Live account can have permission to sign in and manage the Account and Services. Yes, I know you can do some stuff with the certificates to allow others to deploy, but its a huge pain. Especially for a startup with a few people who are trying to learn and manage our account.

It might be cost-effective to just buy a Linux VPS and run Windows on it with VirtualBox. You'd take a performance hit, but maybe it wouldn't matter that much.

Wow. I can't believe that idea has never crossed my mind..! (I'm not being sarcastic.) Do you do this? A blog post or two about this and how it's worked out for you would be awesome reading.

We have been using SoftSys for a few months - had no any major issues. Support replies very quickly.

GoGrid supports Windows.

Slicehost for my personal box. AWS for gazehawk.com (crazy architecture, looking forward to blogging about it)

Used to be on VPSLink (was one of their first customers) but they sold recently and everything quickly went to shit. Don't think I'd recommend them anymore.

I use Engine Yard for an e-commerce Rails app. Deployment is simple with a post commit hook. I simply commit and push to Github and the rest is done. You are on your own unless you fork over at least $250/month for a support plan though.

I've used Heroku for smaller Rails and Sinatra apps.

For my Windows Dedicated running some .NET apps and a Linux VPS for a few Wordpress blogs, I use Liquid Web. I feel they are better than most hosts as far as speed, support, and reliability but not yet a Rackspace.

I use Amazon Cloudfront for content delivery and S3 for backups for all of these sites.


All of my personal sites are on Slicehost, and I can't say enough good things about them. I've also got one client site on Heroku and, while there has been a learning curve, I really love the amount of server administration I have to do (which is "none").

I'm starting an app up now, and I'm using Heroku. It's really as good as it says it is, but obviously it's only a viable choice if you use Ruby.

Linode for me.

Linode doesn't say how much CPU you get, where other hosts (like vps.net) tell you. Isn't that an important info?

From http://www.linode.com/faq.cfm#how-do-i-get-my-fair-share-of-... , they state that you get access to the full CPU of the box (if idle/best case), or access to your fair share of the CPU (if fully loaded/worst case). For the smallest plans this could mean 1/40th the overall CPU if under load. They only put accounts of the same size on each machine.

yeah i saw that, but still. how much is my minimum share? i scanned their site and couldn't find any hardware info, perhaps i'm missing it - maybe it's not really that important since i get to use more than the minimum if the CPU isn't maxed out.

Linode host boxen have dual quad core processors. Each Linode has access to 4 cores.

For their smallest plan (512MB/$19.95 a month), there are an average of 40 Linodes per box. So, on paper, you are "guaranteed" 1/20 of 4 cores. In reality (according to Linode staff), most host boxes are for all intents and purposes idle most of the time, so if you need to, you can max out those 4 cores.

I'm on Dreamhost and it's been fine for my limited sites. They're cheap, give me ssh access, and I can install whatever I need. I let them handle my registration as well, nice and easy.

I've used my primary domain to variously host standard HTML/php, a perl-based wiki/blog, a ruby on rails blog, and most recently a django blog.

I've also use it to host a private git repository, do ssh tunneling, etc.

Not bad for $8 a month.

I had several bad experiences with uptime and configuration wackiness with a client's site on Dreamhost. No problems with WebFaction. Linode is my current favorite and default generic platform.

Heroku. I love you Heroku.

Linode works great for me, it is cheaper and faster than slicehost, but lacks of backuping your entire disk with one click.

Didn't they just add that feature? http://www.linode.com/backups/

Linode. The only issue is my app creates subdomains on signup, and it takes about 5 minutes on linode to become active.

Why don't you catch-all subdomains in your web server and handle them on application level?

Use wildcard cnames, and have your application handle them internally.

You can even do this for MX records with Linode, thanks to their excellent support staff adding the functionality to their DNS interface when I asked for it. :)

Thanks! Completely overlooked the cname. Was struggling with A records all the while

You can avoid that lag if you host your own stealth master and configure the Linode DNS servers as slaves. Having your domain distributed is just a NOTIFY and an AXFR away.

Couldn't you use wildcard cnames?

If you really need that level of DNS control, you should probably be running DNS yourself. Linode lets you slave their nameservers to your master. So you get all the benefits of geographically distributed nameservers, but all the custom control of your own setup.

I used to use Slicehost, but moved to Linode once they launched their backup service. The admin UI isn't as pretty, but IMO the service is better (and they have VPS hosts in London, which shaves a few milliseconds off for me).

At Fantastic, we recently moved from Slicehost to The Rackspace Cloud. We're pretty impressed with them so far.

I went with Linode since they let me set the size of the vm. I can then make my own copies/backups. Slicehost does have a nicer looking interface though, but I think their backup service is not free.

I've also been waiting for prgmr.com to have more available slots so I can give them a try.

Twitterfall.com is mostly run off a dedicated server from Rapidswitch (one of their base specs I think), though we also have a couple of VPSes from before we had the dedi. One from xeneurope.co.uk and one from Gandi. Both are reasonable. Rapidswitch is awesome.

Slicehost for my personal website (plus $5 extra a month for snapshot backups). At work, we use Rackspace dedicated servers & managed hosting...its expensive, but it means we don't need to hire a sys-admin


For more control, I have a VPS on linode. But usually I just publish on webfaction.

I'm a Rackspace Cloud customer until I found this post. After reading much of the comments, mostly +1 to Linode, I decided to give it a try.

The service is superb, instant activation and the speed made me jump ship.

LicketyTrip just moved from a 8 year old, colo'd, dual P3 PowerEdge - yah, I said P3 :) - to a large Windows 2008 instance on EC2. I've been very happy with the results.

I use Slicehost and am very satisfied, although I always hear wonderful things about Linode. http://cliniccases.com


Sure, but things go out of date, staleness creeps in and new providers or those that have changed their game won't be reflected.

I've no problem with questions like "What's the best..?" being asked again and again. If the answer never changed then fair enough, but thankfully the answer does change and we benefit from discovering what others are doing now.

Yeah, fair enough a lot of those posts are a bit old (although Linode/Slicehost seem to be dominant still). Removed the link to YC archive, it won't add much value to this discussion.

EngineYard Cloud (EC2), S3 for images, Edgecast for CDN

Bulk data goes to Leaseweb (cheap, tons of bandwidth) and virtual access for the web servers (very expensive, extremely reliable and great service)

Linode and Heroku here. I am still learning, but Heroku is awesome for quick little apps and Linode is awesomely fast with great support teams.

I have a VPS, but I'm wondering what happens when you just pay to "host your site" in some defined infra-structure (Python+MySQL for example) ?

I am currently using webhost4life but I am in the process of moving my web apps to rackspace.com and my blogs to wpengine.com

I use LiquidWeb, expensive... but I am a server management noob and they are quite excellent.

They are very expensive compared to most other services. I was going to host with them, since I live in Lansing and am acquainted with the owner, but Linode is much cheaper (for VPS) and I found the support to be nearly as good. If you're hosting on Linux you may want to consider taking a look at Linode.

Slicehost and The Planet's Server Cloud.

Webfaction, Rackspace Cloud and Heroku.

google app engine, rackspace cloud sites, rackspace cloud servers, and one server left at serverbeach

linode.com for shouldget.com and big4work.com

The Planet.

App Engine, for everything.

I've been using Unix for 3 decades and at this point I see any time spent administering or setting up servers as time wasted when I could be adding value to the product. App engine gives me all the administration and half of the scalability solution I need, so I spend my time adding value.

I am amazed that so many of you have root. I'm guessing it comes because you value the control, and don't mind spending time on system administration?

What is everyone doing for data backup when using App Engine?

You can use the bulk up/downloader: http://code.google.com/appengine/docs/python/tools/uploading...

The admin interface has an export option too, if memory serves.


Fastest there is, cheap, and they have an API.

Plus no contract.

I use and recommend Webfaction.

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