Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another short hosting web sites review

Thoughts about hosting web sites

October 2007

Fri, 5 Oct 2007 11:14:58 -0400
Web Host Industry Review Magazine - October 2007Table of Contents

Gabriel Murphy

Richard Rosenblatt

Bob Parsons

Robert Marsh

Alvaro Albarracin

Blocking Spam

Las Vegas, Nevada - (The Hosting News) - September 19, 2008 - Hosting.com, global hosting solutions and services firm, has unveiled the public release of a new cloud computing environment solution, designed to provide intuitive, scalable business solutions.


Sat, 30 Aug 2008 07:50:02 -0500
Errett Cord is a commentator on new trends in the Information Technology industry. Formerly an executive at a Web hosting firm, Errett discusses and reports about cloud computing and other internet business issues and services.

Choosing a Domain Name

Mon, 18 Dec 2006 12:09:12 +0000
What Is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the name of a part of a domain which corresponds to certain files on the internet. For example, if I have a web site at www.mywebsite.com, the www.mywebsite.com would be the domain name, corresponding to my web site. No one else would be able to use this ...]

VPS Media Xen VPS Review

Wed, 02 Jul 2008 18:26:45 +1000

VPS Media Logo VPS Media, a relatively young provider in the virtual private server scene — yet have years of experience in application hosting, is marketing itself as “for Designers and Developers”. Thanks to Carlos T. who has provided me a testing VPS over the last two weeks, and here is my review on Xen VPS at VPS Media.

Xen Hosting Plans

Xen VPS Media uses Xen to power its virtual private servers. Currently LxLab’s HyperVM is used for server management, however a custom control panel is in the works. The VPS plans range from 384MB of memory for $20/month, to 2GB for $140/month. Servers are available in either Miami with Vault Networks or San Francisco with ColoServe (currently full).

The plan I tested with is their “The Starter” plan with

  • 384MB RAM + 512MB swap partition

  • 15GB RAID10 storage

  • 150GB/month data transfer

VPS Media Home Page

Sign up was easy, and the VPS was instantly provisioned (probably some hooks between WHMCS and HyperVM). Not really sure about the fraud detections in process — as it seems to be the biggest excuse for manually provisioning the VPS. However I can’t see why my sign up request should ring the bell when I was clearly coming from an Australian IP address, has provided a valid AU address, and used Carlos’ special coupon code so credit card wasn’t even needed :)

I started with Ubuntu 8.04 32bit and then reinstalled CentOS 5.1. Thanks to HyperVM, rebuilding the node is trivial and there’s no need of intervention from their support staffs. cat /proc/cpuinfo shows that my node is hosted on a dual core, dual CPU AMD Opteron box running at 2Ghz. Not the state of art processor at the moment (Opteron 2212 — I think it was released in late 2006), but even a low-end plan can burst to all 4 CPU cores.

Pricing wise $20/month is very good for an unmanaged 384MB Xen — it offers more memory than SliceHost (256MB) and Linode (360MB) at this price point. In fact I think VPS Media is indeed targeting directly to what SliceHost and Linode are targeting — web application developers (I’ll talk a bit more about that later). When VPS Media first launched early this year it has only 256MB for its Starter Plan, but has increased the offering in early June to be more competitive.

As its California data centre is currently full, I probably cannot recommend them to my Australian colleagues who would like to have minimum ping from US West Coast. However if you are in US or in Europe, VPS Media provides good unmanaged VPS solutions at great price.

Server Performance

I have already stated that the raw CPU performance of the physical server is not great. I have actually had a few attempts to run the Unix Benchmark 4.1 on that node and the result is a bit disappointing — it seems the older Opterons are just no match to the current generation of Xeons. Performance seems to be stable, i.e. the benchmark yields similar result during different time of the day. Do note that from their hardware page they stated that they are using both Xeon and Opteron servers, and it could be just me who got randomly dropped to this box whereas there might be other more recent boxes around. YMMV.

Do note that “being able to run Hardcore Game Servers” like Counter Strike and Team Fortress 2 is one of the points listed under Why VPS Media. Many VPS providers actually do no like to host game servers because (1) high CPU requirement especially with recent games (2) potential target for DDoS. I am sure VPS Media has thought through all the possible short-falls, but potential customers might still need to be aware that there might be a FPS game sever running in the neighbourhood.

Disk is supposed to be RAID 10 — which means at least 4 disks forming mirrored stripped images. The result of running hdparm and seeker:

# hdparm -tT /dev/sda1

Timing cached reads: 3660 MB in 2.00 seconds = 1831.90 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 422 MB in 3.01 seconds = 140.13 MB/sec

# ./seeker /dev/sda1
Seeker v2.0, 2007-01-15, http://www.linuxinsight.com/how_fast_is_your_disk.html
Benchmarking /dev/sda1 15360MB], wait 30 seconds.............................
Results: 123 seeks/second, 8.11 ms random access time

Again, the performance is satisfactory but not excellent. I could have been on a busy node. However thanks to the isolation provided by Xen, I have no idea who I am sharing the server with.

Support and Community

From my past reviews of VPS companies I have always stressed the importance of building a community around your customers. I am glad to see that VPS Media is no short of online resources for its communities! Here is the list:

  • Blog — WordPress powered blog that is used mainly for announcements.

  • Forums — vBulletin powered support forums where members can ask question and show off their work. Service status is also posted here.

  • VPS Media Articles Articles — again WordPress powered site that contains a growing list of how-tos on setting up servers.

Support is provided via either the support forum or WHMCS-based support software. Their contact page also contains toll-free phone number, although I am not sure how much response you’ll get during an emergency (obviously I have never tested).

I can’t seem to find whether real-time chat is provided as a support option. Personally I found being able to message someone on MSN or Jabber is more useful than the iteration of submitting the tickets and waiting for replies. However I also understand that tickets and email-based support is much preferred from administration’s point of view because you want everything to be logged and ID’ed (at work I won’t work on a patch unless there’s a ticket associated with the bug already). Hint: Maybe client management software like WHMCS can automatically convert a related chat messages into a ticket against a client for archiving purpose.

Targeted Market — Designers and Developers

VPS Media markets itself as the VPS solution for “Designers” and “Developers”. Whatever it means, VPS Media is probably not for those who need lots of hand-holding as only unmanaged services are provided. As I have stated before — it is targeting the niche where Linode and SliceHost are targeting — those who have no problem managing their servers and use alternate stacks to run their Django, Ruby on Rail, Seaside or ErlyWeb applications.

I am not a designer (and the template of this blog shows clear evidence) so I cannot speak for them that whether VPS Media is really suitable for the designers. They do have very nice web site(s) though, with integrated design all the way through not just their forums and blogs, but also WHMCS and HyperVM control panel.

I am a developer though, and VPS Media gives what a developer needs — a Xen VPS with a root shell (which is actually not asking much). What VPS Media lacks is becoming a “recommended host” from a developer community (like SliceHost with Rails). I guess it depends on what VPS Media is cooking with their next generation control panel that is set to replace HyperVM.

Short Interview with VPS Media

Well. To get a better perspective on the internal working of VPS Media, I actually emailed Carlos a short interview. In fact I was trying to sus out a bit more details on their new control panel but Carlos has kept the secret pretty tight. I guess we’ll see when it is released.

Here’s the full interview.

HostingFu: So Carlos, can you tell us a bit of background behind VPS Media? For example why did you choose to start a VPS hosting company?

Carlos: You see Scott, when our company started back in ‘01, our services were geared towards a select group of companies who needed hosting and maintenance of their ERP (oracle), CRM (siebel & dynamics) and Enterprise Email systems (exchange). After a few years of working with high-availability setups of ESX, and Xen for our customers, we decided it was time to bring this ‘Business’ service, down to the people who need it most.

HostingFu: Is there a particular reason why you chose Xen instead of other virtualization technology?

Carlos: Definitely, Xen rules ;). No but seriously; its Isolation. We really like the hard-caps on each VPS, and the guarantee that your neighbor won’t take your VPS down.

HostingFu: Currently VPS Media uses WHMCS for client management and HyperVM for VPS management, however I heard that you have plans to roll your own customized panel. Can you tell us a bit more about it? What technology/programming language will you be using?

Carlos: Ah! our new system it’s still in the works, and currently testing the new features as I type ;). Lets make it a surprise.

HostingFu: How do you plan to build VPS Media in the next 12 months? What do you envision it to be?

Carlos: We envision VPS Media as a great resource for Designers & Developers who want full control. Who want to be able to load their own kernel modules, who want to customize their setup, and who want a real system. Also, as part of a big community in which developers and designers alike, come together and participate helping each other.

Thanks to Carlos for answering all the questions (and kept the part that I, a software engineer, am interested in, a surprise :)


VPS Media is still a very young company that is growing its customer base, and is still going through a lot of changes. I am generally happy with the service they have provided, and would not hesitate to recommend them if you are looking for an unmanaged Xen VPS server around US East Coast.

However they also face a lot of stiff competitions in their targeted market (developers looking for unmanaged Xen server). Around East Coast there are also Linode and Panix and many others. All the best to Carlos and the team, that they will be able to build something unique.

Today`s suggestion:

Company information

hostgator is one of the fastest growing companies in the web hosting industry.
It has been talked about a lot on popular web hosting forums like
WebHostingTalk.com for example. The company has been founded in 2002 and by the
time of this review their site says that more than 200,000 domains are hosted on
their servers.

hostgator hosting facilities are located in the one of the best Internet data
centers in US: �The Planet� (www.theplanet.com) Dallas/TX, USA.

hostgator is one of the so called �GigaHosts�, but it looks like so far they
manage to deliver what they promise.


The company offers Linux based hosting. By the time of our review the servers
were running Linux Red Hat 9.0. The server where our account has been located
was running 4 x Intel(R) Xeon(TM) 2.40GHz CPUs with 4GB RAM and a 200GB SCSI

hostgator hosting environment is based on Cpanel/WHM - one of the most popular
web hosting Control panel software packages. It is feature-rich and easy to use.

Services and features

hostgator offers shared hosting packages, reseller hosting plans and dedicated
servers. I would not recommend their dedicated servers as they are pricey.
However, the Shared and Reseller plans are quite a good deal.

Shared hosting plans: The cheapest plan costs only $6.95/month paid on yearly
basis and includes 3.5GB of web space and 50GB of transfer per month. It is
quite a lot of space at quite a reasonable price. It has all the regular
features Control Panel, Webmail, scripting languages, databases, a free scripts
Installer (Fantastico), anti-spam protection, etc. With the cheapest plan you
can host only one web site per hosting account. If you wish to have multiple
sites hosted (multi-domain hosting) you will need to go for a more expensive
plan where prices start $9.95/mo and you have the option to pay on a monthly
basis. With the shared hosting plans you can host multiple sites; however they
are add-on domains. (e.g. you do not have separate Control Panel for each hosted
web site)

Semi-dedicated plans: At first we thought these are kind of VPS plans, however
after we talked to an online sales rep on their site it appeared that these
semi-dedicated packages actually are like shared hosting plans, however they
include more resources (25GB space, 500GB transfer) and most importantly what
makes them different from a shared hosting plan is that the server where the
semi-dedicated plans are located host relatively small number of users. That is
you share the server resources with less users and in this way you have more CPU
power at your disposal. For example if you have 300-400 users on a regular
shared hosting server, when you are on a semi-dedicated you will share the
server with only 15-20 other customers. Of course the pricing is much higher
compared to a shared hosting plan � $74.95/mo.

Reseller hosting plans: Starting $24.95/mo you can purchase a reseller hosting
account with 5GB of web space and 50GB of bandwidth. The reseller package gives
you the option to host separate websites using a single reseller account. If you
are a web designer a reseller account might by the right option for you as you
will be able to offer you clients decent hosting services. hostgator even went
one step ahead and offer some great tools for resellers, such as Billing manager
application, merchant accounts, ready-to-use templates and even a free domain
name registration account with one of the biggest registrars eNom.com. So if you
are looking for a place to host multiple sites with separate Control Panels
hostgator is worth trying out.

Dedicated servers: As mentioned above hostgator services include dedicated
server packages as well. The offerings start with a 2.4 GHz Super Celeron to
Dual 2.4 GHz Xeons servers. So in case your site outgrows the shared or
semi-dedicated hosting plans you may go to a dedicated server. All servers are
equipped with a Panel/WHM which makes the server management an easy task.

Customer service/support

hostgator offers 24/7 customer support over email, phone and live chat. While
we�ve been testing our account, we had several interactions with their support.
Usually, we got replies in 15-20 minutes. However on some occasions it took a
bit more. Our questions varied from simple howtos through some more
advanced/tech related ones and finally some requests that should be handled by
3rd level support (which usually take more time to be completed than a regular
support request). Almost all of our requests have been handled properly. The
only problem they fail to resolve was a question regarding a PHP script. We saw
they have the PHP engine running as CGI and decided to check their knowledge in
PHP. We�ve created a sample HTTP Auth script (actually we took the example
provided at http://www.php.net/features.http-auth) and uploaded it to our
account. Just of reference, when PHP is running as CGI HTTPAuth will not work
properly (this is a limitation by design). The support person who handled the
ticket was unaware of this limitation and provided us with some wrong answers.

In general the support reps were friendly and polite, even we acted as a bad
customer and even we�ve been rude in some of our requests. Our overall rating
for their support is 9 out of 10.

Signup process

The signup process is easy and intuitive. They accept a wide range of payment
options, including: Credit card payments (VISA/MasterCard/American Express),
Paypal, checks, bank transfers, cash and money orders.

In general you will get the account active in 20-30 minutes after your payment
has been processes.

However with our signup we encountered a little trouble. When you go through
their order process at some step you are asked to specify username and password
for your new hosting account. For the matter of simplicity we used one and the
same word for both our username and password. The order form accepted these
values, however later on it appeared that they have created an issue. Most
probably hostgator use some hosting automation software to open hosting accounts
when they receive a payment. However, the Cpanel has a restriction for username
and password similarity. So when we placed our order their billing system failed
to activate the account on the hosting server and the hosting account email we
have received was incomplete and was missing the hosting server IP address. So,
we have been unable to use the account as actually the account has not been
created at all. Luckily, the troubles have been resolved in several support
tickets and email messages and a short live chat session.

Overall experience

Our overall experience with hostgator is positive. Although we have used their
services for a month we had no major problems and the hosting account
performance and speed were at a very good level. The only issues we had were the
ones we have already described above. Despite these, we would recommend
hostgator to anybody looking for a web host. They offer quality and reliable,
feature-rich services backed up with friendly and prompt support.

Click Here to go to hostican website.

Writing all this on hosting web sites can be considered an obligation to us. This is because we felt obligated on imparting all this knowledge we knew about hosting web sites.

host gator com
host gator control panel
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