I’ve been searching for a cheap VPS for some of the projects I’m working on. I needed an affordable plan… (by that I mean CHEAP! <$20) with great stability and reasonable support.
This sounds almost impossible to pull off… even in today’s world. Most popular shared plans cost more than $20…
But wait, introducing Unmanaged VPS service.
An unmanaged VPS is basically an empty VPS space with a metred uplink. The hosting companies will not install ANY software for you… no Apache, no MySQL… no PHP. You must do all the work yourself. Their job is keeping the physical servers and their uplinks online. (Previously I worked remotely for a web hosting firm… so I know a fair bit about keeping things running.)
Before choosing a hosting company, you must understand some of the terminologies used to value VPS packages.
CPU Speed/Limit: some hosts will give you an estimate of CPU in megahertz; obviously the higher number the faster. However, as a user you do not really have any practical way of measuring performance by looking these numbers… so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Other hosts will specify if multiple CPU instances are allowed on the VPS to create a virtual multi-core space. These options are probably very expensive. Choose wisely according to your budget.
RAM: like the RAM in your computer, RAM on your VPS will be a great limiting factor of performance. The OS, Apache, MySQL, PHP instances all require quite a bit of RAM to run. I would say that 128MB is the absolute minimum you should have. I would recommend getting at least 256MB… because after I installed everything on my VPS… it was eating up more than 200mb while idling. I seriously would not recommend running production sites on a 128MB VPS.
Burst RAM: since resources on the physical server are still shared among multiple users, each VPS instance will have a guaranteed RAM size and a burst or peak size. The burst RAM specifies the maximum amount of RAM the VPS is allowed to allocate should the resources be available. You will see companies advertise their plans as 512MB RAM/1024MB Burst. This indicates that your VPS will get 512MB in any situation, and it is allowed to go up to 1024MB or 1GB when it is under load and the other VPS spaces on your server can spare you a few MB of RAM.
Bandwidth: no explanation needed here. definitely more the better. Most hosts will offer you quite a bit of bandwidth. A few hundred GBs will do for small to medium sites.
IP: each VPS should be accompanied by its own IP address. usually this is included in the initial process of setting up your account. You may also ask for more IPs at your expense.
Control Panels: Unmanaged VPSs do not include goodies like cPanel, which is slightly annoying at times. However, I’m a guy that grew up on Webmin – an open source, generic remote management application. I will be posting a guide on how to set up Webmin as your control panel and perform some of the tasks you do in cPanel. No big deal! However, if you really need cPanel, you can licensing it at about $10/month extra.
Virtual Machine: I do not know a lot about virtualization to create VPS spaces… However I can tell you that most people favour Xen machines because it is impossible for the host to oversell the server. When you have Xen, what you see is really what you get. OpenVZ and HyperVM are usually geared toward low-end VPS spaces where servers are packed with clients, and they offer very limited admin interfaces. So go with Xen if the price is within your budget, otherwise try to look for OpenVZ… HyperVM is the worst as reported by other users.
After reading some reviews and getting some recommendations from friends. I nailed my choices to:
linode.com – Genuine Xen powered VPS spaces, not oversold, awesome admin features, quad-core CPU instances.
intovps.com – OpenVZ powered, very cheap.
fsckvps.com - both OpenVZ and Xen spaces. fairly cheap.
However, after reading encouraging reviews and seeing some very pretty benchmarks on webhostingtalk.com…
I was introduced to this particular host – ramhost.us
They are a new and small company, but the feedback on the forums are surprisingly positive and their prices are VERY competitive!
I went with their 40GB, 512MB RAM + 1GB Burst with 500GB uplink package for $11.99/mo. The server is SUPER fast! low latency! and their support is simply amazing! Someone will respond to your request in minutes, and the support person goes out of his way to help customers.
Right now I’m in the process of transferring my sites from this shared server to my shiny new VPS.
At this price, I will certainly choose VPS over shared hosting from now on!
I will be posting guides soon on this blog to teach everyone how to setup a CentOS 5 powered VPS from scratch!