Recommending a host for a community funded web server
I am looking for some advice on possible new hosts. My site currently runs on a 3 year old 2.4Ghz Celeron with 512Mb RAM and an 80Gb disk running Free BSD 4.11. The site gets 700,000 hits a day, 350,000 of them php/mysql generated page views and we currently use 300Gb of bandwidth per month (from webstats). Hits are primarily from the USA/UK/Australia.
It needs replacing as at peak periods the server is running out of memory and starting to page due the number of apache threads combined with the mysql cache requirements, plus it is 3 years old so the hardware is out of date and is no longer worth the $99 a month we are paying aplus.net. In the 3 years we've been there we've had no trouble with their support and only a few minor outages but their offering doesn't seem to be the most competitive on the market.
The server hosts a community site and is funded purely through paypal donations from our visitors, therefore low pricing is paramount and a lack of surcharges - e.g. I'd rather the bandwidth usage was either capped or was way beyond our requirement rather than surcharges for exceeding it. I don't need a fully managed service - I'm happy enough to do OS patches / software installs etc. but I'd like a host that in the event a full restore to the original config was required does not charge for this (or at least does not charge much). Of course uptime/ping time/bandwidth are important but I think almost everyone offers a service "good enough" for these needs so it probably won't be the deciding factor.
The main hardware improvement I'm looking for is more memory 1.5Gb minimum, 2Gb ideal and of course the faster the processor the better but we don't max out the processor we have before it starts paging. I don't care about disk space - we only use around 20Gb so the basic 80Gb disks usually offered are fine.
I'd also like to get a much more up to date operating system but was disappointed to discover most companies still seem to only be offering fedora core 4, which according to the fedora project pages with was released June 2005 and has had versions 5 and 6 released since. A lot of vendors also seem to offer "CentOS 4.x" without saying what the "x" is.
I'm currently considering offerings from the following, mostly in the $100-$130 range:
(I would give the full URLs but this forum won't let me because I'm a new member, even if they aren't made into links. Annoying.)
- Min 1.5Gb Server RAM
- Low Cost - as close to $100 as possible
- Availabilty/Service received for IM/Email support - I don't want to need to use the phone
- Any software installed by default that uses mysql such as control panels uses version 5
- Processor speed - ideally not a celeron.
- Modern distribution - Fedora core 5 or Centos 4.4
- Good Hardware break/fix time
- A control panel that runs on mysql 5 (e.g. plesk 8.1) would be nice but not a requirement
- Financial stablilty / age of company
- Bandwidth provided / what happens if it is exceeded
- Delivery time of server after placing order
- Ping time
- Disk size
- Data Center Bandwidth speed
- Telephone support
Can anyone recommend any other well established company that may meet the above requirements, offering a 1.5-2Gb server for less than $130 ? I'd also like to hear opinions on the suitability of the providers I am currently considering for this service.
Finally, I'd be interested to hear if anyone has any opinions on enabling the SE Linux features in Fedora Core 5 - I've been testing my application using it on a virtual machine and it appears to work but I'd like to know if anyone is using it - did the servers come with it enabled ? - did it cause any problems ?
i could not recommend strongly enough to avoid aplus hosting. i had such a horrible experience with them that i have taken the time out to put up a blog about them, in hopes that I can help people avoid the very expensive mistake i made.
I strongly recommend you make an SATA HD an additional requirement. If you have an IDE HD that could be a real bottleneck.
The difference between IDE and SATA is not that big. IDE is 133MB/sec max, SATA either 150 or 300MB/sec. But you'll have to keep in mind that these speeds only work for reading/writing to cache...the hdd drive itself maybe gets up to 50MB/sec max.
Can't speak to the quality of your current web host, but it seems like you're happy with them. Any chance they're willing to double your RAM to keep you as a client, or move you to a more current box? It seems like you're reasonably happy with them after all.
If I were you I'd look for a solution that includes mirrored drives as well (ideally hardware RAID rather than software). And, of course, make sure backups are performed frequently.
We are borrowing space on someone else's machine with the current hosts so its not a matter of keeping us as a customer. I'm happy with then from the perspective of up time / server quality. I don't know how good/bad the technical support is as I haven't had to use it and I've no expereince of their billing. I must admit, I haven't seen anyone else saying much good about them.
I've found the dedicated server advertising forum since posting this a there are several companies there offering deals much better than the initial 5 I listed above. Surfspeedy is the only one of those I'm really still considering. Layered tech is ok on price but I've had friends around the world download their test file and its never got over 200Kbytes/sec from anywhere - even people in the midwest. I'm also now looking at corenetworks, hivelocity and colostore. corenetworks looks particularly attractive on price and features - no one else I've found is offering hardware firewall, remote reboot and remote kvm on servers less than $100. The $130 core duo's from cari.net are also tempting.
As for the disks, the plan is 2Gb of ram will put the bulk of the database in cache memory and its not a write-heavy application so IDE/S-ATA is largely irrelevant and RAID is unfortunately out of the price range.