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  #1  
Old 06-24-2009, 03:18 PM
bubbanc bubbanc is offline
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[Review] RAM Host VPS


This review is based off of my personal experience with RAM Host VPS (http://www.ramhost.us) over the past 2 weeks.

100MB Test: http://s0.ramhost.us/100mb.zip
My UnixBench results (which I'm told is on a fully loaded server): http://pastebin.com/f6bbacd31

Bottom Line:
Great value VPS provider whose owner has a background in UNIX and security.

Detailed Review:
I'm new to this forum (brought here by the hacking incident of my previous provider since I couldn't actually get any useful information out of them directly), but I have experience in hosting and security and over the past 15 years I've held paying posititions as as UNIX sysadmin, Network engineer, and Security engineer. I've also run my own co-located Linux servers before (even Debian on a SUN pizza box) as well as most recently utilizing shared hosting faclities to run the majority of my web sites. I run Linux (Debian and Ubuntu) as well as MAC OS X at home.

My first experience with VPS hosting was with a VPS provider that had almost a week of downtime due to a hacking incident. I also had another incident with this same provider where I believed the host system was compromised but support totally wrote the incident off, so needless to say, I wasn't off to the best start in the world of VPS's. I knew that I was tired of my shared provider having over-loaded servers, thus resulting in horrible laod times for my Gallery 2 installations, but I wasn't sure about trusting my previous provider since they appeared to have little to no security experience.

My search for a good VPS provider has ended with RAM Host. I found them by seeing them referenced in the "Speed Test" section as well as a "Benchmarking" thread. Their benchmarks and speed proved to be above and beyond what I was getting from my other provider, not to mention I did some research on the company and owner and determined that he was much like me:

From: http://wiki.python.org/moin/RobertMarder:
Quote:
I also have a business - RAM Host.us - it is shared and virtual dedicated server hosting with professional features run by professionals for professionals. I founded it because I was sick of web hosts who treat their customers like idiots. Because we cater to the smart person, it has the effect of allowing us to charge much less than others - the untapped market of smart people who don't want / need / can afford a full blown dedicated server or expensive VPS and all the administrative overhead that it entails. We cater to the programmers (including the python ones) and webmasters - raw fully-featured web hosting with specifications that can be customized based on your actual needs so you don't pay for stuff you don't want.
Not to mention Robert appears to have security experience and has had paying jobs in the security field. Based on this information, and being in the security field myself, I was convinced that I should at least give the little guy, RAM Host, a shot. I initially inquired with support about my needs and almost immediately received a response. My initial concerns were with regards to continuity of business if something were to happen to the owner since the company appeared to be a small business. Robert assured me that there was another person involved with day-to-day operations that would at least provide me with 1 months notice if something were to happen. This is more than enough time for me to move my sites elsewhere.

My VPS was setup within about 15 minutes of my order being placed. The web console wasn't anything special, but it wasn't HyperVM (which made me happy). It does allow you the abilty to see your IP, bandwidth used, power on/power off/reboot your VPS, and the ability to reload it with the UNIX distribution of your choice. By the end of the day I had already restaged my VPS, moved my sites over (transferred 10GB of data in about 15 minutes!) and they were being served from RAM host. The speed and benchmarks quoted were exactly as advertised. I've had the service for 2 weeks and haven't had any issues with bandwidth or response times to my sites. Ping times are good, and overall connectivity seem to be on par with my previous provider.

You may have concerns about going with a small company to do your hosting, but sometimes the personal service and support you get from a small company outweighs the limitations. Nothing demonstrated this more than not being told what was happening with my previous provider when they were hacked.

Pros:
- Price - 11.99/mo for 40GB Storage, 500GB Transfer, 512/1024MB RAM VPS
- Fast install, fast servers, fast network connection
- Servers are not overloaded or oversold: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU E7200 @ 2.53GHz with between 4-6GB RAM serves typically 9 VPS customers per server, absolute maximum of 11 per server)
- Fast and Knowledgable support; they surely don't treat customers like they are idiots!
- Customized plans so you get exactly what you need.
- Includes weekly backups with customer allowed downloads and support can perform restores if you haven't downloaded the latest backup.
- Not running HyperVM!
- IRC client access is allowed for VPS's (not IRCD)
- Status page updates with upcoming planned outages, etc
- Reported an issue with network speeds when developer was testing backups, and they responded with an answer within 5 minutes and had resolved the issue.

Cons:
- Disks are not running RAID however hardware is new and backups are performed
- No emails were received when an outage occurred however it was on the status page
- Backups are weekly and bandwidth to perform restores are currently limited; however this is currently a work in progress as features are currently in the works for the backup process and should soon provide faster restores (restore data available from the same datacenter). Either way, no matter what your provider provides you for backups, you should make your own (as obvious by many that lost all of their data when FSCKVPS/VAserv was hacked).
- No RDNS.


Last edited by bubbanc; 06-24-2009 at 03:31 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-24-2009, 03:58 PM
Nnyan Nnyan is offline
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I have to say that I'm not a big fan of any review under 3 months but this is a good comprehensive review, so kudos to you for taking your time to put it together and post it. Come back and keep us posted at the 3,6 and 12 month mark.

I have to say that you get 10 people looking at the same thing and you'll get 10 different opinions! Not necessarily a bad thing. For myself not having a RAID setup on the disks is a big NO NO. And just b/c the hardware is new and there are weekly backups doesn't make that any better but to each their own.

Good luck

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  #3  
Old 06-24-2009, 04:19 PM
bubbanc bubbanc is offline
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I can sort of agree with the RAID issue for a hosted setup, but at home after trying both software RAID 1 and hardware RAID 1, I much prefer having a secondary disk that I can rsync data to, thus being able to keep more multiple revisions instead of only duplicating the current data on the disk. backuppc is good at this, as well as other customized rsync/rsnapshot scripts. Worse case scenario I have to reinstall my OS, but losing everything is less likely.

I plan on updating this as things move forward. Thanks for the kind words.

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  #4  
Old 06-24-2009, 04:24 PM
RavC RavC is offline
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The problem of data integrity is only one thing. With a single disk, multiple users and varied data access patterns you IOPs will dive, RAID-1 and more preferably RAID-10 with a decent controller bring tangible benefits. IMHO of course

But I digress. Great review, and glad you are enjoying the service.

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  #5  
Old 06-24-2009, 06:59 PM
ramnet ramnet is offline
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Thanks for the review - i'm very happy that you are pleased.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RavC View Post
The problem of data integrity is only one thing. With a single disk, multiple users and varied data access patterns you IOPs will dive, RAID-1 and more preferably RAID-10 with a decent controller bring tangible benefits. IMHO of course
Well with a good SATA-300 hard disk and only 9 or 10 users to a single hardware box, we've encountered no slowdowns whatsoever (at least none I can notice).

On the box this reviewer is on are about 3 mysql databases (one is a phpbb forum (50 members online at once), the other 2 are wordpress's), a couple of call of duty game servers (~15 players each), a user with a 2 gig cvs/svn repository that changes several times an hour, and another with a small git repository. (for those of you wondering no I'm not snooping, this is all publicly accessible info if you know where their websites live).

After all that, the disk access times are still very fast - I don't know much about raid (not a fan), but logic would tell me that while read times might be twice as fast, write times would be twice as slow (that would be raid 0 i guess).

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  #6  
Old 06-24-2009, 07:36 PM
Qgyen Qgyen is offline
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No RAID? Wouldn't even finish reading the page. Openly not a fan of RAID? Are you also not a fan of redundancy or uptime? I seriously hope you have reactive monitoring in place and restore quickly, otherwise a single hard drive crash will lose you 9-11 customers.

Single SATA disk pulling about 70 iops for 9-11 users? The is kind of scary. On just a dual core CPU, meaning you're pushing 4-6 VPSes per core too.

Wish you the best of luck with your new provider.

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  #7  
Old 06-24-2009, 07:47 PM
ramnet ramnet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qgyen View Post
No RAID? Wouldn't even finish reading the page. Openly not a fan of RAID? Are you also not a fan of redundancy or uptime?
We have a more traditional type of redundancy in place - besides, we're a budget provider - much of our competition doesn't do any backups at all. technically we're ahead of the game on that point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Qgyen View Post
I seriously hope you have reactive monitoring in place and restore quickly, otherwise a single hard drive crash will lose you 9-11 customers.
You bet we do - if a machine goes down i'll get several alarms (cell alarm if I'm out, buzzer if I'm asleep, flashing light if I'm outside, and more)

We had one of our old boxes crash back when we were in atlanta last month (early may 2009) (power supply caught fire - all hardware ruined) - we we're back up and fully restored in less than 3 hours on an old PIII box we had handy - it was slower, but we were up (and we had a new full power box up the next day). Would raid have helped? no! all raid does is give a false sense of having a backup - you can't beat real backups.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Qgyen View Post
Single SATA disk pulling about 70 iops for 9-11 users? The is kind of scary. On just a dual core CPU, meaning you're pushing 4-6 VPSes per core too.
Now that's not fair - most users will not use their system to excess (saturate everything) - most users use a bit of burst cpu and disk when they need it, and it idles for another user when they don't. We have 2 regular vps machines right now (expect a third one in a few days) that are both over 70% full - and in use - and cpu load spikes to 25% every now and then (late afternoon mostly), and network and disk i/o is fast enough for me to run backups in the background without causing a problem.

When you take all things into consideration our boxes could probably handle twice the number of clients we put on them easily! (we won't do that of course).

Low end boxes are capable of more things than many would have you believe.

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Last edited by ramnet; 06-24-2009 at 07:59 PM.
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  #8  
Old 06-24-2009, 07:58 PM
Nnyan Nnyan is offline
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It's all relative to your customer base. You bring up a good point Ramnet, your target customer is the budget host type, so for those price ranges there are different expectations. You also are very open about the type of support you're giving and that goes a long way towards setting expectations.

My only suggestion would be to better define support response times and data recovery (in case of for ex: a hard drive failure) but other then that it's really about what works for your customers.

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  #9  
Old 06-25-2009, 01:32 AM
ramnet ramnet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nnyan View Post
It's all relative to your customer base. You bring up a good point Ramnet, your target customer is the budget host type, so for those price ranges there are different expectations. You also are very open about the type of support you're giving and that goes a long way towards setting expectations.

My only suggestion would be to better define support response times and data recovery (in case of for ex: a hard drive failure) but other then that it's really about what works for your customers.
We plan to define a lot of things very soon - right now things are highly variable (support times range from 1 minute to ~5 hours, and recovery is nearly impossible to define just yet as we've barely got that worked out - in a month or 2 we'll define a few more things that matter).

Thanks for the kind words.

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  #10  
Old 06-25-2009, 03:23 AM
ramnet ramnet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbanc View Post
- No RDNS.
We have just launched RDNS (reverse DNS PTR resolution). Expect to see working examples of it in action within 16 hours (it takes us a while to update PTR records currently)

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  #11  
Old 06-26-2009, 06:04 AM
ramnet ramnet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbanc View Post
Backups are weekly and bandwidth to perform restores are currently limited; however this is currently a work in progress as features are currently in the works for the backup process and should soon provide faster restores (restore data available from the same datacenter).
No longer an issue now - we are backing up the vps machines to each other (since the boxes have lots of disk space) - I stayed up all night finishing this clustering backup solution.

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  #12  
Old 06-26-2009, 09:25 AM
bubbanc bubbanc is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramnet View Post
No longer an issue now - we are backing up the vps machines to each other (since the boxes have lots of disk space) - I stayed up all night finishing this clustering backup solution.
Very nice. Any chance you'll go back to the daily frequency since the machines are on the same network? Having a week-old backup is better than nothing, but yesterday's backup would be preferred if something was to happen.

Also, if they are "clustered" does that mean each of the VPS servers are aware of the state of the other, and could bring up your VPS instance on a backup server if something was to happen to the primary, or are they simply rsyncing back and forth between the two. Just curious.

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  #13  
Old 06-26-2009, 11:32 AM
ramnet ramnet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbanc View Post
Very nice. Any chance you'll go back to the daily frequency since the machines are on the same network? Having a week-old backup is better than nothing, but yesterday's backup would be preferred if something was to happen.
We are reviewing how feasible that is - backups cause a lot of overhead, so we'll see how it goes - more than likely it will be done every 2 or 3 days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbanc View Post
Also, if they are "clustered" does that mean each of the VPS servers are aware of the state of the other, and could bring up your VPS instance on a backup server if something was to happen to the primary, or are they simply rsyncing back and forth between the two. Just curious.
They're not really clustered like that - the networking overhead would be much too big - almost as bad as having the vps file system over nfs - we refuse to do that simply to increase recovery time at the expense of being ultra-slow.

And then it might generate false alarms (like if you "stop" your vps on purpose, or it might trigger during an os reload) so it's not really a good idea to do that.

"clustering" is likely the wrong word (wrote that when i was very tired) - the backups are generated with vzdump (in a way that has no downtime for vps's, and very slowly so disk access remains quick), compressed with gzip (very slowly so cpu load is not noticed and disk remains quick), and then sent over rsync to another predefined machine (also slowly - 20 mbps - to ensure network remains fast). With all that it takes about an hour to run the backups (initial sync 2 hours).

---

And we also have announced a new feature - in addition to doing reverse-dns, we will also handle regular forward dns now.

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Last edited by ramnet; 06-26-2009 at 11:35 AM.
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  #14  
Old 07-08-2009, 08:12 AM
bubbanc bubbanc is offline
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No issues as of a month of service. We had about 2 hrs of downtime yesterday due to a DDOS (I realize these things happen). RAM credited affected clients with 2 weeks of service, which seems more than fair considering the downtime and has taken steps to make sure a single host can't saturate the entire bandwidth.

Also happy about the progress of backups and RDNS!


Last edited by bubbanc; 07-08-2009 at 08:17 AM.
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  #15  
Old 07-08-2009, 09:48 AM
AirSpaceHosting AirSpaceHosting is offline
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I'm going to have to agree with everyone else here... No RAID is a big issue when it comes to hosting.

Still, at those prices it's a steal! As long as what you are hosting can afford the possiblity of some down time - I'd stick with it.

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