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(TIP) Inexpensive VPS solutions
Don't pay for more than you need to!
by @admin, august 04, 2021, 10:04am utc

When we reviewed the VPS market for recent customer installs, we were surprised to find that the major VPS review sites only turned up the high-priced VPS services. Even searches for "cheapest VPS" or "inexpensive VPS" still showed the same higher-cost VPS companies. So, we set off to find why this was.

It seems that this is due to a few industry tricks that even the VPS review sites fall for (spoiler alert: Don't worry, we have a couple of non-tricky, fairly-priced, VPS providers below).

Our VPS Goal

The project that lead us down this path was when trying to find a suitable VPS for a new client in July 2021.

The desired specs for the VPS would:
• use KVM,
• allow the user to operate a GNU/Linux Debian instance, with full root access,
• be accessible via SSH,
• have at least 4GB RAM,
• have at least 50 GB of SSD storage,
• have at least 2 CPUs,
• come in around $15/month or less.

Does that cost seem shockingly low?
It may, if you have only read the big VPS review sites.

Good news follows, as we have two coming in under $15 below.

THE TRICKS

1. The click-bait price

The expensive providers often have a very inexpensive "first month" sale/deal/promotion price. It is JUST for the first month. And this is the price that a lot of review sites base their comparisons on. We actually recommend that you completely ignore this first month price and focus on the total cost for comparisons.

2. But only if bought in bulk

Once you get past that month-one price, they may show a fairly decent ongoing price. But make sure that you look closely. Often the attractive ongoing price is only if you order a year, two years, three, or as you will see below sometimes even four(!) years at once.

And these are often presented in reverse order. The FIRST (and lowest) price that you see will be the price for a three year commitment. It's just all very tricky.

3. Weird, just-a-little-off, configurations

Often (and they will not customize one for you differently) various configuration options are available; but none of them are really what you want, until you get up around $20-$40/month. The idea here seems to be to edge you up into a more expensive plan, by leading with "almost there" plans.

As we searched for our desired configuration, there were indeed all kinds of configs available, but none that made sense at a reasonable price-point.

For example, one VPS vendor just doubled each of the 3 main components (CPUs, RAM, Disk Space) at each level.

Here is a similar type-of example from A2Hosting:


figure — a2hosting-1

Now, if you truly have have a dedicated CPU, then memory becomes the more important factor -- at least for a web server. It is more likely that you can run your (Linux) web server in 4GB of RAM and 2 CPUs than you are to run it in 2GB/2 CPUs -- but it was very hard to find 4GB/2CPU as an offered option, at a reasonable price.

Do you really need 4TB of data transfer?

And, do you really need 450GB of SSD?
There are much cheaper VPS options for strictly-data storage, if that is what you need.

Most websites (or 3 of them; or even 10) do not need 450GB of disk.

40GB is often just fine.

So, it looks like they are adding things that you do not need at each price level, until you are finally ratcheted up to a level that costs too much for what you actually need.

4. Re-up hell

Regardless of the opening deal, the re-up price (the price that you pay after the first deals expires) is automatically much higher.


figure — IONOS-1

Let's take a look at just one of these in some depth.

Let's start with the options for hostinger (June 2021).

Below (figure host-1) is the opening set of choices that the user is presented with.

We found what appears to be a "close" match to our requirements in the $15.95/mo option.

You will notice that there is no mention of term on the opening page.
This implies that a month is, well, $15.95...


figure — host-1

So far, so good... that is, until you click the $15.95 "deal".

It would actually be $49.95/mo on a month-to-month basis.

It is only $15.95/mo if you sign up for FOUR YEARS!

They wanted $765.60 to continue!!!

And it renews after 4 years at $32.76/mo, or roughly twice as much!

How this does not amount to fraud, is surprising.


figure — host-2

5. The expensive cancellation

Some vendors prefer to hit your wallet on the way out.
There were various clauses like special cancellation fees; or very high cancellation charges.

We certainly were not interested in any of these games ourselves and moved on.

But be sure to read the fine print yourself regarding cancelling (which even means, the period when your contract finishes).


But Look At What We Found!

Amazingly, these vendors rarely turn up.

1.) GreenCloud

Green Cloud VPS
https://greencloudvps.com/billing/aff.php?aff=3052&a=add&pid=596

$7 month.
And, that is $7/mo for one month or a full year for $60.

PROs:
KVM. 4 CPU, 8GB RAM, 60GB SSD, Direct access to a headless OS (which is Debian 10 Standard, in our case).

We had 3 websites up and running, fully SSL/TLS certified, software fire-walled, with a Postfix email server running, within two days of having the VPS provisioned. We only had to contact GreenCloud once, for the PTR record discussed below.

We asked to make sure that the VPS was not actually on any of the large spyware platforms from Google, Amazon or Microsoft. We were told that No, GreenCloud operates their own servers.

CONs:

  • Billing Issue
    We ordered the site online, in a painless process. However, after ordering, and after seeing the payment successfully arrive at our bank just fine, GreenCloud then held it up for unknown-to-us reasons. GreenCloud could not tell us why other than their "fraud system put it on hold". They wanted us to email a copy of our credit card -- which nearly cost them this rave review :-)

          One does not email credit cards in this day and age of "the Hacker".

          A ticket to support got everything rolling again.

  • Variable CPU Count
    Unlike many other KVM VPS providers, the number of CPUs is a variable. It is "up to 4" -- You don't really get a hard and fast 4. You share the 4 with others. This is what we would expect from an OpenVNZ vendor; not a KVM one. Note: It appears the RAM is also "depending on need" up to 8GB. We haven't experienced a problem (yet); but this is worth noting anyway.

  • Login credentials Credentials to log into your VPS as well as into your control dashboard are emailed out in plain text.
    No, no, NO!
    This is a poor idea in today's hackerville internet.
    Make sure to change your passwords immediately after getting this email.

  • AS with some other VPS providers, they won't let you set a PTR record to your IP right away. Ostensibly, the reason is to cut down on spammers; because one tool to defeat spammers is to check to see if a PTR record is present. Since the VPS provider is the actual S.O.A. (Start of Authority) the PTR record has to be created by them and not through your registrar (you can create one at the registrar yourself -- it just will not work.).
  • Make sure that you are getting the $7/mo deal from our provided affiliate link.
    Their other prices are not as good.
Additional GreenCloud Services
You can customize (YAY!) your VPS by adding RAM/CPU/Hard drive for the following prices:   

          $3/1GB RAM/mo   
          $3/CPU Core/mo   
          $3/10GB SSD/mo   

2.) InterServer.net


https://www.interserver.net/r/537557

This is another low-cost VPS provider that works pretty well.

PROs:

  • Still comes in at $12/mo for an unmanaged (that means, you manage it), 4GB RAM, 50GB SSD with 2 CPUs.
  • A (preferred) KVM VPS.
  • Same headless Debian 10 standard with full root access.
  • Same SSH access to the server.
  • Their support is very good.
  • Less of the 1-4 CPU, 1-8GB RAM stuff of GreenCloud. You get actual dedicated RAM and CPU slices.

CONs [relatively speaking]:

  • They have some re-captcha issues (as on June 2021) making it hard to get around the site.

There is more detail about InterServer here.


The Net Result Of Our Search?
One year of GreenCloud VPS for $60.
3 running websites and a Postfix/Dovecot mail server, using around 0% (sic) of the available resources. So there is plenty of RAM and disk to grow into.


figure — Our System Use, via htop



figure — Available Space

Our customer is happy.

tags: All users, Tips
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