To VPS or Not to VPS?

VPS logo "in tha cloud"

Introduction

Some readers may remember that almost a year ago Happy Hotelier and its significant sister blog Chair Blog were kicked from its then shared hosting plan by a Dutch Hosting Company without any warning. I was Furious!, to say the least. After the dust had settled it appeared (and they admitted) they had been overselling.

Hasty move to a US based shared hosting plan

All of a sudden I had to find another hosting company. I found and moved to Westhost through a post by Yoast.

I was very impressed with Westhost’s outfit and client service…I felt I was back to “normal”

However, shared hosting proved too slow

I found my sites loading too slow. As Yoast’s article also mentioned VPS.net and I respected Yoast’s expertise I followed his advice to try and use VPS.net……So in December 2010 I moved to VPS.net, which, with the benefit of hindsight I regret:

My 10 months uptime

These snippets from my pingdom report show A measly uptime of 97,23 % – Total Downtime since December 8, 2010: 8 days 15 hrs and 49 minutes with 190 instances!!!!

It is noteworthy to see that the numerous comments to this original post of Yoast seem having disappeared completely. In a Twitter conversation Yoast admitted the comments dissappeared though his own fault through a sloppy MySQL dump. [update] However with the number trimmed down they can now be found on a Separate Page.

Yoast’s Second Post

A couple of weeks ago Yoast published a second post about VPS.Net Cloud Hosting, Cloud Servers, what’s the difference? It featured an interview with one of the guys at VPS.NET. I just read it when my sites were down for 5 hours on September 4/5 and made a comment in a series what turned out to be many comments, mostly of people who had issues with VPS.Net.

Some VPS net clients reported about their dissatisfaction

Through the posts of Yoast and via Twitter I found som blog posts from other (former) clients of VPS.net:

Yoast’s Third VPS Net post

Yoast was taken aback by the many negative comments the prior post attracted.

Therefore, in VPS Net Issues and what they do about it Yoast grilled the CEO of VPS.net in an interview with some tough questions and some pertinent answers from the CEO.

However, My situation even deteriorated afterward:

Pingdom September and Oktober Outages

Click the image for the full downtime report according to Pingdom: Uptime 93.08 % Downtime over three days in hardly two months at 93 instances with September 5 with 5 hours and September 15 with 10 hours and September 16/17 with 29 hours downtime the most frustrating days…

You have to be a Geek bigtime to be able to manage a VPS!

  • Domain registration management. Do keep it separate from your hosting provider in case you want to move away from your hosting provider. Rather than moving a domain from one hosting outfit to another which can take up to 5 working days, you can easily change the url to where your site is hosted and depending on the TTL you’ve set the propagation can be as fast as a couple of hours.
  • You must always keep a separate e-mail, because if you don’t and your VPS goes down, there is no other way of communicating with the support other than a slow web based ticket system
  • Server management. Anybody know how to login into and manage an Apache server from a command line? I don’t. It is very specific linux stuff.
  • How to secure or harden your server against outside intrusions? I’m not technical enough to give you guidance.
  • How to manage a CDN (a Content Delivery Network)?
  • Control panels for the VPS (the server itself)?
  • Control pannels for the programs you want to be run by your VPS?
  • Updating the stuff.
  • Preparing for calamities with backups and so on.

I can assure you it is a steep learning curve and actually much too time consuming to be bothered with. I’m sure Yoast is well versed in all these matters, but I am not and I don’t want to be. I simply want to be able to run my business and occasionally post here and on my other blog, without all this hassle.

Alternatives for VPS Hosting

I came across two companies who do dedicated WordPress hosting: Page-Ly and WPEngine. Both take away the hassle from you.

If you are interested here are some reads about them:

Page-Ly relies on Firehosting. WPEngine relies on its own servers (and not on Amazon as I assumed earlier).

I’m very much inclined to make the step to WPEngine despite the following consideration:

In Which Country do I want to host?

Basically I don’t want to host my site outside The Netherlands. The reason is that I am not familiar with the ins and outs of foreign (mostly Anglo Saxon) law and I don’t want to get involved into another legal system by the mere fact my sites are hosted in a foreign jurisdiction. The Netherlands itself has red tape enough.

That’s the reason I’ve tried a VPS plan with XLS hosting in the meantime. XLS hosting is a pure Dutch provider, but has a setback: It’s helpdesk closes after office time. But during the day I’m usually busy with my business and later in the evening I can find some time to go into hosting details so their service level doesn’t work for me.

I’ve also tried JaguarPC as they advertised having Dutch clouds. However after signing on they admitted that they wouldn’t start new Dutch clouds in the foreseable future.

Preliminary Conclusion

So despite their setbacks I’ve decided to try VPS.net once more with their AMS based cloud servers.The speed of VPS.net is great as well as its support..They promised me a migration….Also, their slogan is 100% uptime, but they do not refund you for downtime…they credit you for future use…..

Or am I being stupid staying with them one more time?

Updates:

  1. It went very well for 6 weeks…
  2. After an appalling almost 9 hours downtime on December 29, 2011 I’ve decided to move away to Dediserve

Last edited by GJE on April 20, 2012 at 9:50 am

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7 Responses to To VPS or Not to VPS?

  1. [...] as indicated before, with the help of VPS.net our hosting has moved to [...]

  2. Jason Cohen says:

    (I’m the founder of WP Engine).

    Thanks for the kind mention!

    Very important correction: We’re not on Amazon. In fact, we’re on dedicated servers where we have 100% of the power of the hardware, SSD drives, the best CPUs etc.. Then we have a LOT of them so we have no single point of failure etc..

    We did try very hard to make shared hosting and cloud hosting work, because obviously the IT costs are lower and the attendant services and automation are awesome. In fact we built that automation! But speed and scale for our customers is even more important than that, so we ditched it.

    RE: The Netherlands: Of course we can’t help you there. :-) I understand your concerns and won’t argue with them. None of our competitors have physical servers there either.

    I will say, to be fair to our competitors and folks like VPS.NET, that although I won’t defend their downtime, it’s normal for the SLA to be in the form of “store credit.” We typically do that too.

    • GJE says:

      Hi Jason
      Nice seeing you chiming in. I’ve corrected my wrong assumption.
      There are European based initiatives in the making.
      There wil be a sequel to this post.
      But actually your view is: Don’t VPS;-)

  3. [...] blogger I stepped in when I moved to vps.net approximately 15 months ago – see my post To VPS or not to VPS?. I wouldn’t like to cause such disappointment as I’ve felt to any of my readers. [...]

  4. Mark Gutman says:

    Vps net wanted to make some extra money and when I started to ask questeions, Rus Foster, MD of VPS net simply deleted himself all my code. It’s was not just some mistake, he did it on purpose, he even doesn’t regret. I asked him to return my property, but he refused and wrote to me that going to delete all my data base, 1 day after he even sent me a message that all my data base destroyed. Vps net really shits on every one. If you want, you are wellcome to read it here: http://vps-net-review.com/ I collected all the print screens and mails from them.

  5. [...] I came across WPEngine while doing research for this post on Happy Hotelier: To VPS or Not to VPS?. [...]

  6. […] I first came across WPEngine in fall 2011 while doing research for a Happy Hotelier post: To VPS or Not to VPS?. […]

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