VPS Provider Review
The Good the Not so Bad and the Ugly
Over the last year or two I’ve used a few different VPS hosting solutions for my Masternodes ranging from the well known to the not so well know in the search of a cheap, easy to use and reliable VPS host.
The hosts I’m going to be looking at here are:
Since I’ve been using different VPS hosts I’ve come to the realisation that cheap shouldn’t always be the first thing to look for! Reliability should be the number one thing on your list of requirements! It’s all very well getting a VPS for $1.50 a month, but is it worth it if it’s going to be falling over every couple of hours because of naughty neighbours on the same server using the cheap service to send out a gazillion spam a day using all the bandwidth or mining some shit coin making the server unstable. When you are running Masternodes like the Secure Nodes of Horizen (formerly Zencash) which require a certain level of uptime and performance; going with a cheap and cheerful host won’t cut the mustard as it’ll eventually end up losing you Masternode rewards and money.
No, for our Masternodes we want a stable service and at the end of the day you get what you pay for! That’s not to say you can’t have trouble on some of the big names I’ll talk about below but it’s extremely rare and they’d be much quicker to find and fix the problem than some guy who’s selling cheap VPS deals from his garden shed.
After Reliability it really depends on your level of technical expertise if you go for ease of use or cheapness for the next criteria, you should know if you need a click and forget option or don’t mind getting dirty with some configurations!
So I have 2 names in my ‘Good’ list, Vultr and Digital Ocean, because they both cover all 3 of my requirements as detailed above but only one of them will have the top spot on my recommended list of VPS providers for Masternodes.
No.1 – Vultr
Vultr takes my top spot for hosting Masternodes, their service is second to none for ease of use, I mean just look at my Masternode Setup Guide to get an idea of how simple it is to get a VPS up and running. The setup page is so clean and simple even my nan could use it. It takes 6 mouse clicks and requires 2 text boxes to be filled in (from the Dashboard) to get what I call my standard VPS setup! My standard VPS consists of 1GB Ram, 1 CPU core, Ubuntu 16.04 and a location of London (just for the purpose of this testing).
Plus I’ve just noticed they’ve now added a new $3.50 price tier into the mix! Awesome.
At the $3.50 or even the $2.50 tier for an IPv6 only VPS with 512MB of RAM each you could easily host a single Masternode or with suitable Swap setup you could get away with 2 different wallets running (as long as they ran stable and didn’t eat memory).
In terms of Stability I’ve never really had a problem with Vultr, there’s been a few occasions where I’ve logged in and seen a notification about reduced/degraded network performance or something or other but it’s never affected the performance of my Masternodes in any way. Plus they always notify you well in advance if they are going to be performing maintenance that may affect your VPS.
In fact I love Vultr so much so that this very site is hosted by them 🙂
In terms of guides and examples etc with regards to linux or servers, Vultr has a quite a selection available as shown below, probably due to their offering of $300 per article submitted by users!
No.2 – DigitalOcean
The number 2 spot goes to DigitalOcean, it’s a very close call between them and Vultr but when it comes down to it Vultr just edges out DigitalOcean by the narrowest of margins due to their more cleanly laid out interface and cheaper options. That’s not to say that DigitalOcean isn’t easy to use or expensive because it’s not. In fact to set up my standard VPS (they call them droplets) it only takes 5 clicks and requires you to fill in only 1 text box (from the Dashboard) so it’s actually quicker than Vultr!
In terms of pricing they don’t offer anything as low as Vultr does but I don’t think anyone can moan about $5 per month for a easy to setup and stable VPS.
Again similar to Vultr if they have any planned maintenance they will tell you well in advance, though if they say the work won’t affect you, take that with a pinch of salt. I have my Crave Explorer hosted at DigitalOcean and their planned upgrade of the backup power systems ended up disconnecting my VPS from the web for 23 odd minutes, this isn’t much but it’s a lot more than “shouldn’t affect you”!
Where DigitalOcean really shines is in terms of their documentation, they literally have a guide for anything and everything with respect to linux and servers. I have learnt a lot from their docs over the years. Also they are more aimed at the advanced commercial users than the simple Masternode crowds like Vultr, the array of bolt-ons you can add to your droplet to expand it are mind boggling.
One thing to note with DigitalOcean, if you’re an avid WinSCP user like me; once you’ve set up your droplet your first SSH connection to it will have to be via Putty as WinSCP doesn’t work for some reason, I spent many hours trying to figure this out 🙁
The Not so Bad
No.3 – Linode
I currently have only 1 VPS at Linode which I use to enable me to log into my Masternodes via SSH from work as they block all ports except port 80 and 443 so it’s not technically a Masternode but I have have literally just switched off my Syndicate Masternode that was hosted at Linode so I have over a years experience of using them!
The only reason I have really placed Linode into the Not so Bad category and into 3rd place is due purely to cosmetics. I know at the end of the day how their site and client areas look have absolutely no bearing on their level of service but I can’t help but think their user interface is stuck in the 90’s and it really bugs me as I think a company of their size should make more of an effort on their user facing elements.
I mean look at that, it’s awful! To be fair to Linode though they are working on a new much nicer interface that is currently in beta (and has been for quite a while), see below for a taste.
Some might even say it looks very similar to Vultrs implementation (which isn’t a bad thing by any means)! Once this new interface goes live and becomes the standard one you see once you log in I think it will probably jump up to either 2nd or maybe even 1st place in this list, this is due to the fact that Linode for me has been slightly more stable than both Vultr and DigitalOcean. The only downtime I’ve had was recently when I noticed they offered me a small (5GB) upgrade to my HDD on my VPS so not a downtime to be sniffed at all as it was me who ultimately instigated it by pressing the button!
In terms of speed of setting up a VPS it took me 9 clicks with 2 text boxes to fill in (from the Dashboard) which is quite a bit slower and more cumbersome than DigitalOcean did.
Pricing wise Linode are comparable to digitalOcean with $5 being the cheapest VPS available!
The rest of the plans are hidden away in the other 2 tabs as seen below should you need a beefier server.
The documentation is probably their weakest area right now, don’t get me wrong they do have lots of guide and tutorials etc, I just don’t find it as welcoming as the first 2 services reviewed here so I’d be less inclined to use it if I needed to. As it stands DigitalOcean is my first port of call if I need to know how to do something in Linux.
No.4 – OVH
OVH are in the Not so Good list for the same reasons as Linode, they have really stable servers with great performance (probably the best in this review actually) but I kinda feel like you need seperate training (possibly a PhD) to be able to order and setup a VPS with them, pretty much everything has to be configured and switched on manually including the automatic payments, I mean really!!! Why is that even an option let alone being off by default. And if you are new to them and their dashboard/control panel/manager interface, good luck trying to find that option! Everything seems to be hidden away in some menu buried under yet another menu! If you were to click on your VPS you have with them, you can’t even see what it’s specs are (CPU, RAM, HDD etc.) you have to find what plan it is then go to their main page and look it up in the pricing chart 🙄
Ordering a new VPS is a massive undertaking where you’re taken through multiple pages, I stopped counting clicks at the screen where you have to select a payment method (why they can’t just use your current payment method I don’t know). The total clicks to get to that screen was 13 which doesn’t sound like much more than the others but when you take into account the 7 pages you have to wait to load, some of which reload multiple times when you change a selection it seems to take an age. Vultr and DigitalOcean does it all in 1 page, easy.
The other thing I hated about OVH in the past was whenever you set up a VPS you had to wait for it to be approved/activated……. manually, and guess what, the people who do the approving don’t work at the weekend 🙄 At least now though they appear to have fixed that if you pay using a card
Once you go through that whole palava jumping through all the hoops to get it to the same state as the other hosts mentioned here, you are rewarded with the most stable and best performing VPS of the bunch (in my opinion of course, I’m sure there’ll be many who disagree). I mean just look at the specs and pricing below.
If we add VAT (20% here in the uk) to the cheapest £2.99 option we get £3.59 and if we convert that to USD we get $4.66. The $5 tier seems to be standardized among the other hosts giving 1 CPU, 1GB RAM and 25GB HDD. With OVH you pay $0.34 less to get 5GB less HDD space but double the RAM with 2GB. I don’t know about you but I’d much rather lose a smidge of storage to gain double the RAM! More RAM = more Masternodes per VPS.
In terms of documentation I’m afraid OVH leans more on the very basic side of things, their guides are mainly aimed at how to use their services.
No.5 – HostUs
HostUS is a much more grass roots host than the others listed above, they are more aimed at very small business or public users in terms of their services offered. They don’t have a custom user interface like the others, instead opting to use WHMCS which is an off the shelf software for people to set up their own hosting companies by renting someone else’s hardware or hosting your own hardware in someone else’s datacenter.
The good thing about HostUS is they offer some attractive packages in terms of VPS hosting, initially you have the choice between a OpenVZ or a KVM VPS. These are basically the software that’s running in the background creating and managing the VPS’s for the clients. It’s something you will never interact with but it may have an impact with things like stability etc but for what we’re doing with Masternodes it makes little difference. A KVM VPS seems to be more expensive so I assume it’s considered the better option so I chose to go with the cheaper OpenVZ VPS. With my Standard requirements (with 1GB of RAM being the most important) you get the specifications as shown below.
The price comes out at to $4.95 per month, just shy of the seemingly industry standard of $5. For that price you get 2 CPU cores, 1GB of RAM, 1GB of Swap already configured and 50GB of HDD space. One thing to note here though is you’re not getting fast SSD storage like the others but SSD-Cached HDD which will be quite a bit slower than SSD but for our Masternodes it probably won’t make much difference!
Their cheapest tier comes out at $5.95/Quarter. Yep that’s just $1.98 per month. You do only get 1 CPU, 512MB RAM, 512MB Swap and 10GB of HDD for your money, though I’m not sure if that 10GB of storage will last very long after taking into account the Ubuntu OS, especially if your running a wallet for an old chain that’s GB’s big.
HostUS has been a bit of a mixed bag for me, I originally needed hosting for 2 Zencash (now Horizen) Secure Nodes (that’s their name for a Masternode) and due to the higher hardware specifications required for their Secure Nodes I went with a deal I found online to get a high powered VPS very cheap (4 CPU, 6GB RAM, 6GB Swap and 150GB HDD all for $18 per quarter). I chose to have 1 in London and the other in Amsterdam. The London one is still going and has been relatively ok stability wise, the Amsterdam one on the other hand was always having trouble and I had to move it to another provider in the end as it was costing me ZEN. To make matters worse I regularly created a support tickets every time the VPS fell over and their help wasn’t very helpful at all! on at least one occasion I had to wait quite a while for the physical server to be rebooted!
I should also note I later added a second VPS in Charlotte USA which was also fine though I have since cancelled it due to not needing it any more! It’s just one of them things kind of like a postcode lottery, will you get a flakey server/connection or not.
In terms of speed of setting up a VPS it took me 8 clicks including 1 text box across 3 pages from the Client Area so not too shabby. A good thing with HostUS is they give you the option to pay Monthly, Quarterly, Semi-Annually and Annually giving a larger discount the longer the period between payments potentially saving $13.45 per year (effectively $3.82 per month).
With regards to their Documentation/Knowledge Base, it’s probably best avoided to tell you the truth as they only really have very basic stuff and not much at that. Stick to DigitalOcean or Vultr for your questions/tutorials.
No.6 – Enoctus
Enoctus is the only entrant in the Bad category and the last host I’m going to talk about here. My story with Enoctus started quite well, they are a UK company (I like to support UK companies where I can) they had pretty good specs and were about average in terms of their pricing and the 3 VPS’s I had with them were running just fine.
And then it happened, on the 18th of April 2018 and without warning all 3 of my VPS’s went offline! I contacted support by creating a ticket, a day went by with no response and still no working VPS. I decided to reach out to them on Twitter and Facebook only to find lots of unhappy customers all saying the same, servers down, no contact etc etc. The strange thing was their main website was still working and I could still log into my Client area, but that was it, none of their servers were running at all, I cancelled my services with them just to make it known I no longer wanted to have anything to do with them should they ever decide to get back work and thought nothing more of it. I was left with no choice but to start my Masternodes and my Crave Explorer again on different hosts.
Then almost exactly 3 month later I had an email from Paypal (the automated kind) saying my automatic payments had been cancelled! A few days later they were back on Facebook posting a new deal like nothing had ever happened (see the reply from an unhappy customer below). Since then I’ve not been able to log into my account and have had no contact from them whatsoever, not even a sorry for taking my money and running (if I remember correctly I’d paid for a years hosting up front a few weeks prior to them disappearing).
It’s clear that Enoctus was just run by one guy (probably from his bedroom) who clearly didn’t give a shit about his customers, as such they are deservedly in my shitlist! >:(
As you can see from my experience with Enoctus it’s not always best to go with the smaller hosts, You should go with the big names and play it safe! Even HostUS showed me that with a great VPS with fantastic specs you may not get a plain sailing experience. You could easily host 10 different Masternodes on one of their VPS’s with 4 cores and 6GB of RAM, but if they are prone to falling over then you’ve got 10 masternodes you may need to start again and possibly have to resync. Is it really worth it to save a few $$$!?
Please let me know in the comments if you agree or even disagree with anything I’ve mentioned here, or maybe if you’ve had a similar experience to mine with a rogue host!