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Virtual Hosting Prices

Linode has just announced a significant increase in the amount of RAM in each of their plans [1].

The last time I compared virtual hosting prices in a serious manner was over two years ago [2], so it seems like a good time to compare the prices again.

Now there are some differences between these providers that make things difficult to compare. Gandi used to not include the OS in the disk allocation – presumably they did de-duplication, I’m not sure if they still do that. OpenVZ/Virtuozzo and Xen can’t be directly compared. OpenVZ is an Operating System Level Virtualisation that allows virtual machines to share resources to some extent which should allow better overall utilisation of the system but may allow someone to hog more resources than they deserve – I prefer virtual machines so tend to avoid that. Virtuozzo is a technology I’m not familiar with so with all things being equal I would choose Xen because I know it better.

Years ago Vpsland deleted one of my DomUs without good notification and without keeping a backup and I’m not about to forgive them. XenEurope and Gandi get good reviews, but I have no personal experience with them so in my personal ranking they are below Linode and Slicehost.

RapidXen offers native IPv6 – a very noteworthy feature. But they are quite expensive.

Note that I have only included providers that advertise in English. I could use Google translation to place an order on a non-English web site but I am not going to risk a situation where Google translation is needed for technical support.

In the price comparison tables I have used $US for price comparisons, where the price was advertised in another currency I put the $US price in brackets. For every provider that doesn’t advertise prices in $US I used XE.com to get a spot price. Note that if you convert between currencies you will not get that rate, I used the spot rate because most of my readers don’t use the $US as their native currency (either due to living in a country that uses it or having business interests based on the $US) – converting from $AU to $US has about the same overhead for me as converting to the Euro or pound.

The bandwidth is listed as either a number of Gigabytes per month that can be transferred or as a number of Megabits per second that the connection may use.

I have tried to roughly order the offerings based on how good they seem to be. But as there are so many factors to consider it’s quite obvious that no provider can be considered to be universally better than the others.

The biggest surprise for me was how well Xen Europe compares to the others. Last time I did the comparison they were not nearly as competitive.

Finally note that I am comparing the options for low-end servers. These are services that are useful for hobbyist use and low-end servers for commercial use. Some providers such as Xen Europe exclude themselves from consideration for serious commercial use by not offering big servers – Xen Europe only supports up to 1GB of RAM.

Prices of Xen virtual servers:

ISP RAM Disk Bandwidth Price
XenEurope 128M 10G 1TB E5 ($6.15)
XenEurope 512M 30G 1TB E17.50 ($21.52)
Linode 512M 16G 200GB $20
RackVM 128M 10G 100GB #4UK ($5.90)
RackVM 512M 30G 300GB #16UK ($23.62)
Slicehost 256M 10G 150GB $20
Slicehost 512M 20G 300GB $38
Gandi 256M 8G 5Mb/s $16
Gandi 512M 16G 10Mb/s $32
RapidXen 256M 20G 2Mb/s $20
RapidXen 512M 20G 2Mb/s $30
Rimuhosting 160M 4G 30GB $20
Rimuhosting 400M 8G 150GB $30

Prices of non-Xen virtualisation systems:

ISP Virtualisation RAM Disk Bandwidth Price
Quantact OpenVZ 256M 15G 300GB $15
Quantact OpenVZ 512M 35G 600GB $35
FreeVPS VMWare 256M 10G 100GB #10UK ($14.76)
FreeVPS VMWare 512M 20G 200GB #15UK ($22.14)
Vpsland Virtuozzo 512M 10G 250GB $20
Vpsland Virtuozzo 1024M 20G 500GB $35

Update: Added RackVM to the listing, and removed the ambiguous part about Gandi disk allocation.

25 comments to Virtual Hosting Prices

  • What is amazing is that at those prices, you can get a dedicated server, on which you could have *several* virtual servers.

  • nine

    Virtuozzo is to OpenVZ as ESX is to ESXi

  • etbe

    glandium: Please provide the URLs for a couple of companies offering such cheap dedicated servers and then we can discuss the pros and cons of the various options.

    nine: That was my general impression, but in the 5 minutes I spent doing some quick reading on the topic while writing the post I couldn’t see a good reference for that. As it’s not relevant to the main points of the article I didn’t bother researching it in detail. Thanks for clarifying this.

  • haploc

    Hi

    I’m currently using a small vps at http://rackvm.com/
    They have some nice options as well, so it might be worth checking them out.

    best regards

  • Anonymous

    Three notes about Gandi, since I use them and have had a great experience with them:

    – They give you 8 GB of quota per share, and they normally allocate the first 3GB as a “system” disk mounted on /. You can put the rest into one or more “data” disks, attach them to a server, and mount them somewhere like /srv.

    – You don’t list CPU shares in your comparison tables. Gandi actually gives you one full CPU rather than a fraction of one, even if proportionally your shares would only give you a fraction of one.

    – The prices you list apply to normal shares purchased monthly. You can get a discount if you purchase annually ($14/share instead of $16/share). Much more importantly, though, they offer excellent FOSS developer discounts: $7.50/share.

  • Anonymous

    Clarification: the FOSS developer discount doesn’t require purchasing annually.

  • etbe:
    http://www.online.net/serveur-dedie/offre-dedibox-v3.xhtml
    http://www.kimsufi.com/ks/

    Both unfortunately in french. These servers are cheaper and probably better than most virtual offers you list here. Depending on your needs, they can also be used to host a few virtual servers.

  • etbe

    haploc: Thanks, added them to the list.

    Lukian: jumba.com is a parked domain.

    Anon: I intentionally didn’t list CPU power. It’s often difficult to find out what share you get and then there’s the issue of over-subscribed servers with “stolen” CPU time. Generally for the systems I run the bottlenecks are RAM, disk space, disk IO capacity, and Internet bandwidth. Disk IO capacity is really difficult to measure on a shared server so I didn’t attempt to compare on that basis either.

    Almost every provider has annual discounts, so I think it’s easiest to compare by monthly prices. If you make a short list of 2 or 3 providers from my list and it comes down to saving the last few dollars then you can check on discount rates. But the first stage of analysis can be done without bothering with that. Also if you are looking for discounts then a Google search for promotions and coupons can sometimes do some good.

    As for FOSS developer discounts, that’s a really good thing! But as I get my personal hosting for free it doesn’t directly affect me (I’ll update the article to mention this).

  • etbe

    Anon: Do you have a reference for that price?

    http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2008/11/msg00004.html
    According to Joerg’s announcement the discount is to “rate E”.

    http://www.gandi.net/hosting/proposal/price/
    According to the current pricing scheme “rate E” is $11 per month and with no further discount for paying by the year. It’s still a good discount but is nothing like $7.50 per share.

  • etbe

    glandium: The first link you provided is for a server with a single SATA disk. Now if one wanted to have several servers in a cluster then it could be argued that the cluster would provide enough reliability to not need redundant disks. But in any other case for a server you really want RAID.

    http://www.online.net/serveur-dedie/offre-dedibox-xl.xhtml

    The above URL seems to be their cheapest server with two disks. E71.74 (including VAT) for a system with RAID-1 which has 500G of storage, 3G of RAM, and no apparent limit on bandwidth. That’s $88.24, which is slightly more expensive than a Linode 2G instance which admittedly has only 64G of storage. But the upside of Linode is that you have the management interface. You can do lots of recovery tasks through that which would be really painful with any interface to a physical machine (my experience with running a physical server on such a plan in Germany has involved some pain when things didn’t work as desired).

    For the second URL you cited, the cheapest offer which included two disks for RAID was E119.59 per month including tax. This is almost expensive as the most expensive Linode offer (the 4G plan) but offers 12G of RAM. If you really need more than 4G of RAM then this could be a really good deal.

    In summary, while I agree that such offerings can be really good value for some people, if all you want is a small or medium size server and you don’t want a huge amount of effort to be spent running it then virtual servers have some significant benefits.

  • etbe: http://www.kimsufi.ie/fs/ has a 2x2TB server for €50, with software RAID.
    http://www.ovh.com/fr/produits/superplan_mini.xml has 2x500GB for the same price, but with a much more powerful CPU. Interestingly, this one is cheaper in ireland: http://www.ovh.ie/products/superplan_mini.xml

    OVH also has some interesting cheap offerings, where the server is dedicated, but storage isn’t:
    http://www.ovh.ie/products/rps_offers.xml
    They also have virtual servers, btw:
    http://www.ovh.ie/products/vps_tarrifs.xml

  • Another xen one you may want to look into in the future:

    http://prgmr.com/xen/

    Lots of low end level server options starting at $5US/Mon.

  • Anonymous

    etbe: No reference other than what I pay every month. :)

    Possibly I got a better discount since I’ve had an account since the beta (which cost $7.50/month/share). I’d forgotten about that d-d-a mail about a more standardized discount program for Debian developers.

  • Anonymous

    Personally, I rather hope that this article turns up a good VPS/RPS/something provider in the US with unmetered bandwidth. I like having 5Mbps unmetered with Gandi, so that I don’t have to worry about how much bandwidth I use. However, I’d love to have somewhat less latency to my server. :)

  • Hetzner in Germany do a great dedicated deal for 50EUR a month:
    http://www.hetzner.de/en/hosting/produkte_rootserver/eq4/
    Since I can’t seem to find a similar deal in the UK , therefore I use a Bytemark (UML?)and Bitfolk (Xen) to keep my pings super low. And use hetty for Webconverger daily builds and the sort.

  • Linux Guy

    OpenVZ is an Operating System Level Virtualisation that allows virtual machines to share resources to some extent which should allow better overall utilisation of the system but may allow someone to hog more resources than they deserve.

    This is actually incorrect. OpenVZ and Virtuozzo both allow the hoster to set limits for each environment. It also allows you to manage one OS, manage one set of configurations and scale scale scale. VMs require full system admin for each one.

  • Why no mention of KVM virtual server providers?

  • @Kai/@Marius – Bytemark are fully KVM these days, and are just about to upgrade all their RAM:
    https://forum.bytemark.co.uk/comments.php?DiscussionID=2281&page=1#Item_0
    Disclaimer: I work there.

  • As per John Eikenberry’s comment: prgmr.com is cheap, Xen, *and they offer IPv6*

    A friend of mine has two VPSes there and is pretty happy with their service (he moved one off of XenEurope because of some problems he was having with them)

  • Craconia

    XenEurope is really cheap. Looks interesting. I might try it.

    Russell: Can you run SELinux on a XEN guest without any problem?

    Best regards,
    Craconia

  • etbe

    glandium: Thanks for that information, the RPS concept seems to be a really good one. One problem with typical virtual machine installations is that you have a bunch of VMs sharing a small disk pool (maybe a RAID-1 or RAID-5). If none of them use much IO capacity then things are good, if one of them does a lot of small writes then it sucks for everyone. Running QoS on iSCSI (how do they do that?) would prevent the problem of one write hog killing performance for everyone. iSCSI servers can potentially offer significant economies of scale for IO performance when compared to small and medium RAID arrays.

    Kai: The server that runs my blog is a Xen DomU on a server from Hetzer. It works well and is cheap, but there have been some incidents of down-time that wouldn’t have occurred if I had been running a DomU from a managed VPS provider. The amounts of my time spent running the Dom0 and the down-time has to be balanced against the extra costs of renting a DomU at a time. Probably everyone who knows less about Xen than I do shouldn’t use a Hetzer machine and should instead look to providers such as XenEurope, most sysadmins know less about Xen than I do…

    Marius: I wasn’t aware of anyone offering a commercial KVM option.

    Steve: Thanks for that information. I wasn’t aware that you were doing commercial KVM hosting, I had the impression that you were just running a cooperative for that.

    http://etbe.coker.com.au/2010/06/28/se-linux-xen-guest/

    Craconia: I’ve written the above post about the issue of SE Linux on Xen guests, in summary I don’t know of any commercial offerings, but there is no technical obstacle to doing so.

  • Anonymous

    I just discovered Neutrino (neutrino.us), who look quite appealing, assuming they’re reputable. In particular, they have a special running right now that makes their hosting $5/month, for 512MB RAM, 75GB of disk, 500GB of bandwidth, and a dedicated CPU core.

  • prgmr.com is great and very inexpensive, I’m very happy with my $11/month VPS.

  • etbe

    http://vpschoice.com/

    The above URL allows browsing and searching the various offers that are available. It has some bogus data in it’s database though – like offers with a zero price.