I’ve been a New Media developer (RIA developer in modern speak) for a fair few years. Despite a period of Web-Application development, I’ve so far managed to avoid any serious sysadmin. However I now have a number of different applications I’d like to run on-line (the likes of WordPress, Bugzilla, Drupal and others), and keep them live 24/7. None of them are high-traffic, and while I have machines at home that I could run them from, for the sake of the planet, my electricity bill, as well as the temperature, and noise in my flat, I didn’t want them running here 24/7. So the quest was on to find a VPS, and do so without breaking the bank.
Obviously Googling on VPS Hosting will return loads of potential providers. Following are my notes against those I gave further examination and my final choice.
I’ve been with Hostway for what seems like for-ever, both through my last ‘permanent’ employment, and my more recent years with my own company. My main site is hosted there via a windows shared hosting account. It is relatively in-expensive, and has served me well over the years. However it doesn’t allow me the flexibility I feel I now need. Their VPS solutions start at £39.95 / month, which is way too expensive for me. (The value of VPS with respect to my requirements is far less than that.)
I was quite interested in MediaTemple. A number of prominent respected bloggers are hosted by them, and they seem very much oriented to serving freelance designers and techies of my ilk. Their “Grid-Service” is a step up from a shared service – but not quite VPS. This service allows multiple domains and one-click install of loads of applications, and includes SVN pre-installed. They are US based, and at $20/month the current £:$ ratio makes the pricing pretty good – especially compared with my Hostway web-share. The fear-factor for me was the mysterious GPU measurement. I have read some bad press out there (although I think they’ve fixed most of the mysql issues that were the root of most complaints).
I suspected that my chances of getting Bugzilla to run in that environment, may be problematic. (It is not the most straight forward install in the world.) Admittedly I didn’t get around to asking them the question.
An alternative for which I’m sure I would have had no trouble installing Bugzilla is their “dedicated-virtual” at $50/month (20Gb disk 256Mb Ram, 1Tb bandwidth) seemed worth a look and good value compared with Hostway’s VPS. However I really wanted the server based in the UK if at all possible.
I had a look at WebFusion. Starting at £19.95/month for “VPS value” seemed worth investigating. I’m generally happy with 123-reg (part of the same group). However I’ve had a bad experience with WebFusion in the distant past. Since they were bought out by Pipex I thought they’d be worth a fresh look. A cursory glance shows that pre-installed software is quite old – PHP4, MySQL 3.23.58. A quick google-around revealed a couple of complaints of poor support, and an unresponsive VPS over a prolonged period of time. These complaints made me somewhat less interested.
Following a thread in the WAUK mailing list, a colleague made a valued recommendation for ByteMark.
You essentially start with a 150MB (RAM) machine, 10GB disk, 50GB traffic at £15/month but can grow it if you need to. The machines are in the UK (helps with things like data protection).
This is for a plain VPS. I’m not a sysadmin (nor do I wish to be one), and while I can cope with Apache config, I’d be a complete newbie as regards DNS and email etc, so thought I’d really need/benefit from a control panel. The only black mark against using ByteMark for this is that I’d need help finding and installing such a control panel.
I chanced upon CheapVPS. Normally a name like that would deter me immediately. But I thought it worth a punt, with the pricing for an entry level Linux plan:
£4.75 / month
The server is in the UK. It is implemented with HyperVM which allows you to install the LXAdmin control panel which itself includes an application installer for a load of stuff including WordPress 2.1, Drupal 5.1 etc.
After playing around with it for a few days, I got a couple of plain sites, a test WordPress site and Bugzilla running. I am pretty happy with progress so far. I’ll follow up later with a post on installing Bugzilla into this system, as it did take me 3 attempts to get it right.