Part of it is expectations. I know I'm not paying anything for this box, so I don't expect 100.0% uptime and the ability to run a high traffic service of which I really care about the availability.
I just need a place that can run cron scripts, regardless of whether my computer is on/online. And run screen so that it can download something that takes a few hours. And I do have a webserver on there, host some very unimportant things on there (like static versions of showoff slides from presentations I've given ... I'm guessing they get hit by humans once a month, though I guess I could check the logs), and occasionally I'll scp a big file into the web directory for someone to download.
The uptime isn't great. Pingdom sends me emails about it being down basically every month, but usually it's like 30 minutes. Uptime hovers right around the 99.9% that they guarantee. Sometimes pingdom monthly reports say it's a little less. I haven't bothered to try to invoke the SLA to get my month's $5 back, or whatever. For what I use it for, it works just fine.
If I were running a real website that I was invested in having people visit, I'd go for Linode/Slicehost/AWS/etc for sure. But this is the cheapest way to fullfil my needs for this box.
While there is certainly a huge amount of fanboyism surrounding buyvm, most of it comes from the stock scarcity.
I personally run 3 vps' with them (first three plans) and the performance has always been far more than acceptable.
I run an adult tube site that has exploded in popularity due to a fun domain name and being one of the first to post a leaked sex tape for a latin american actress. It can reach around 200 to 300 thousand uniques per month. Never had a load issue.
Of course, your mileage may vary. I could have ended up in a lousy node. Many people outright abuse their service for portscanning, spam sending and what not. Also, many people won't do this intentionally; they get infected through ancient wordpress installations.
My experience has been worse with Burst. Their IO is acceptable but their network is dismal. Ping times from aroud the world tend to confirm this.
Notes to take home:
ALWAYS make backups! If a provider goes deadool on you all of the sudden, you should always have fresh backups in a remote site. Honestly, there's no excuse these days. You can always get your money back if you file a dispute on Paypal. I wasn't affected by the collossal Hostrail crash, but many people were.
Lastly, always choose Xen over Openvz.
Edit: Forgot to add something very important: Avoid Hurricane Electric (he.net) like the plague. They are an absolute fuck up of a datacenter.
To be fair, that applies to any hosting, cheap or expensive, virtual or dedicated. I've only once had to restore data due to the fault of the host, but I've lost track of the number of times that I've had to get things back because of a user error. :)
I would recommend someone a Low End Box over a free Amazon Micro Instance any day, just because the CPU they limit you at is just bad. You start Apache or Nginx on those things or do a big yum install/apt-get and the terminal slows to a crawl.
Running a Production server off any low end box is definitely risky depending on who you're hosting with, but that goes without saying. I'd second BuyVM and Xen, I had a VPS with nordic and my cluster just died one day and was unrecoverable. They gave me a free small instance for half a year, but I opted to just switch instead.
My other recommendation is definitely Rackspace. Their low end service is only around 10 dollars a month, their chat support service is pretty good, and its fast and easy to scale. Database transactions on the cloud are still shit however. :( Really want a dedicated server if you're a larger or badly optimized site.
He does a serious amount of caching (obviously) and offloaded all assets to S3, but it looks like it is still possible.
FWIW, I am still skeptical given the amount of complaints you see about the Micros on the EC2 forums regularly. He could have just gotten lucky I suppose (as far as his neighbors on the host).
Also noticed while speed-testing the different nodes the CA connection (to Tucson, AZ) is phenomenally fast, but to PA about half the speed and to EU it drops quite a bit again.
When I do the speed tests for Linode using similar locations they all perform fairly well, same goes for AWS.
I must clarify that my experience was related to their regular VPS offerings.
They do offer a premium VPS (notice how its product descriptions mention "1GBPS port" and "Less than 50% load of budget VPS nodes", in contrast to just "XXX GB/MONTH" for the regular).
I didn't try their dedicated servers. They may have fatter pipes. I just had very poor latency, consistent with all their locations, being Florida the most stable for me.
If you do any sort of data crunching, you can get a good value for your buck. Certainly cheaper than AWS.
For my taste, Linode's latency has been pleasantly consistent.
95% of the time, it equals 142ms from Atlanta to South America (so far, the best I've found). I just wish they had a smaller offering.
I'll go back to watching the presidential election, have a nice day!
Hurricane Electric in Fremont has had issues with power and previously with wide-scale IP block blacklisting due to widespread illegality (bot nets, etc) running on equipment in their Datacenter.
It might be fine now, I'm not sure, but there's a ton of DC's out there where this has NEVER been a problem, so I fail to see why I'd want to stick my assets there.
That said we run kvm on every box and run all customer and own apps in different VM managed (all managed by chef). So we're kind of running our own inhouse VPS-hosting-service.
We can achieve ultra-low-per costs per VM (as regular VPS providers would charce) but in the position to be the "root" customer of the box. We can decide which virtualization stack we want to use etc.
I am aware of the big players (AWS, Linode, Softlayer, RimuHosting) but they all seem to have shortcomings that don't make anyone particularly ideal and I'd love to avoid a combination of all if I could.
I am looking to minimize network latency and maximize disk space with memory and CPU being secondary concerns. More or less think CDN edge location requirements.
AWS - Speed to China and AUS/NZ from the Singapore region
is subpar. Speed to Japan from Singapore is much worse
compared to the Tokyo region directly. Managing many
images in many regions across the AWS stack can be time
Linode - Their CA datacenter (hosted by HE) has a terrible
reputation and uptime. I love that they normalize their
bandwidth pricing across all data centers though. Disk
space is an issue for us (media distribution).
Softlayer - Looks solid, nothing for the AUS crowd or
Voxel - Not cheap, again nothing for AUS/NZ crowd.
RimuHosting - Doesn't buy enough in EU/AUS to offer budget
bandwidth pricing, the London bandwidth is horrifically
JoyentCloud - Single data center at this time.
For example, I had never heard of BurstNET or BHost or A Small Orange until reading this thread... so I'm hoping I might be missing some fantastic host somewhere with medium/large VPSs or small/medium dedicated solutions.
This is orders of magnitude better than Singapore for AUS/NZ.
Actually, for some people in AUS, West Coast US will be better than Singapore because some ISPs (eg TGP) route via the US to save money. 
Edit: Of course, Amazon are supposed to be launching EC2 (or just a CDN node?) in Australia sometime soon.
 http://akb.id.au/2011/amazon-ec2-latency-australian-soil (look at the Melbourne latency to Singapore)
You can use LEB's to get a good geo-spread if you need to do network topography examination, ping/traceroute/looking-glass from multiple nodes, etc.
If you are hosting media, not sure a LEB is the right choice for you.
Ninefold are also in Sydney and doing a good marketing job, and I know several first-class engineers that have been involved in their setup and have made only positive remarks on their potential (with the usual caveats around Australian market scale being an issue).
So if you know what your deployment needs are, take the On-Demand price and roughly divide it in half for your real cost-per-month (with a majority paid up front).
If you don't know what kind of deployment you need, then yes, running everything on-demand can be pricey compared to alternatives.
Relevant part of the terms:
These free tiers are only available to new AWS customers and are available for 12 months following your AWS sign-up date
Budget VPSs are the modern "shell account", their primary users are a combination of learners, early-stage developers, small-scale control-freaks, people who don't know any better, and of course the odd criminal enterprise.
Some of these will never grow much, the ones that do should normally have the cash for better accommodations and/or more EC2 bandwidth, and the criminals I don't really care about.
There has of course been some limited downtime.
EDIT: Uptime statistics hit 99.99% this month. http://buyvmstatus.com/info/34 On top of that, the Frantech Announcements feed is pretty good at explaining the state of their datacenter, maintenance, node migrations etc
A Linode 4096, where you're sharing CPU and disk IO with all the other users on the physical server, is $159.95/mo.
For $159/mo you could rent a Xeon 3230 quad core, 4GB RAM, 2x250GB HD server from Softlayer with more than 4x the bandwidth allotment and a better data center with a larger support staff.
I inherited this setup, so to me it looks like the servers are overpowered. Also, the customer service is terrible, which is the primary reason for wanting to leave them. I want a service where I can easily requisition and kit out new servers quickly in an "a la carte" fashion.
I have 3 servers running on EC2 already using micro instances. They're mostly to handle minor services (email list subscription/requeuing for all the web properties, payment processing postback handling, etc.) They've been up for nearly a year without any problem.
I've been leaning toward EC2, but I wanted to hear what else is out there.
Have you considered just using Amazon S3, especially now they offer full 'httpd'-like functionality (no more bucket XML listings if you try to visit the root of the domain).
If you are running a CDN in front to stream the content, this sounds like the best solution to me. You could probably get away with Reduced Redundancy Storage too if you have backups.
I pay £15/month per VM, which is probably $15-30/month each depending on where the exchange rate is.
> I've run all my personal services (email
If you use a half-decent provider who quickly investigates any unusual traffic on their network then I can't see it being a problem.
On a side note, it was AWS getting blacklisted that I was remembering hearing about (though it was at least a couple of years ago).
My experience with EC2 is that you get more RAM for the buck when compared to Rackspace and others, but IO to disk and CPU is sub-par. As a result, I tend to prefer Rackspace who are also big players in the open source space.
Keep in mind, regardless of any advertising, there is no such thing as guaranteed performance in the cloud. Ever. Every provider oversubscribes ... they do not expect and cannot handle 100% utilization by their subscriber base. Behind the scene, a VPS is sharing all of its resources, always. If your provider does its job right, you'll never experience a drop in performance. Everything will be consistent. But there is no way for that provider to guarantee that. They can experience an unexpected jump in resource usage at any time.
With dedicated hosting, that's not a possibility. It's your hardware. You're the only one using it.
Seconding this. And I'd recommend a hybrid solution if it's possible. Dedicated db server with some cloud webheads for your front end. I really think that's the best bang for your buck. Has anyone tried the Amazon RDS or the RackSpace R2 servers? I'd really like to know if they provide any advantages over just straight up hosting your database on another cloud instance.
The benefit here is that you can exchange data between servers/VPS's via the private LAN - low latency and potentially no bandwidth costs.
If you go with an Amazon based solution then you don't have this benefit due to the NAT-like way Amazon works and the fact they either own their own datacenters or at least don't allow any private routes between other servers in the same DC.
(I don't know whether every Amazon availability zone is in a wholly operated Amazon datacenter)
13:50:03 up 118 days, 5:10, 1 user, load average: 0.09, 0.10, 0.13
May I ask what you are running in those servers?
Are your services bound to CPU, bandwidth or memory? All three?
I've had good times with 100tb.com, but the price is prohibitive for me (The dollar is not my "native" currency and I have to work my day job very hard to reach the 200usd it costs)
The only thing that a more expensive provider will give you that linode does not is server management which can be useful but I don't really mind sysadmin at this point in time so I can't really review that.
I've had a few Linux VPSs under $3/month (posted specials on lowendbox.com). I agree with the article: don't expect the world for $2/month, back up anything of value frequently, and enjoy the too-good-to-be-true ride while it lasts. The performance is hit-or-miss, you'll find your VPS rebooted more often than you'd like, but for dinking around with an idea, they're perfect.
I'd even be comfortable using these cheap services for backup mail relays or DNS servers. Just don't forget the backups.
Most seem to support PayPal subscription payments, which makes them easy to set up and forget.
Shh, don't tell them, but given the'll host unlimited domain zone files I even use it to manage a few extra domains that have no zone entries pointing to a linode VPS. They don't seem to check/mind.
I'm sure their VPS support would be just as great.
I have used Voxel.net in the past, and their technical support team are absolutely amazing. Always willing to go that extra mile. Uptime was also very good.