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Moving Hosts – Now Settled

Penguins_on_the_Move_600A month ago I started experimenting with various VPS hosting solutions [1] for this website. Well I now consider myself settled for the time being.

Here are a few of my findings for those that were interested. Nothing Delphi-related there.

Note that while I am listing some Virtual Private Server [2] vendors here, they are all from France.

The benefits of switching from a shared host to a VPS can be summarized by the following chart, I do not have to point the day the switching occurred, do I?


From Google Webmaster Tools [3] point of view, all VPS were similarly good.

UptimeRobot [4], which I also used to monitor things reported similar findings.

Windows or Linux?

windowsserver2008-logoAmong the VPS I tried was a Windows one from Ikoula [5]. We use them at work, and they are very reliable. I also tested one from OVH [6]. I did not even test Microsoft Azure, as their VMs are completely over-priced [7], and you need to pay extra for storage and bandwidth…

The performance of PHP and IIS is very, very good. While I did not make a perfect comparison, my gut feeling is that it is not just faster than Apache, but faster than nginx as well. MySQL performed well enough, but is quite the memory hog.

Compatibility of WordPress with IIS is not perfect (mostly because most plugins just expect Apache and its .htaccess), but administration of the machine through RDP is a breeze, while Linux console is definitely a less smooth experience. On the bright side, Linux prevents your Kung-Fu from getting too rusty…

However, where things are not so rosy for Windows is the price. The cheapest Windows VPS are still quite costly, and for a given price, where the Windows VPS would have been “tight”, I could get a vastly over-spec’ed Linux VPS.

I’ll be keeping a couple of 1€/month VM from Ikoula for testing and backup.

Linux VPS providers

500px-Tux.svgIn addition to Linux hosts at Ikoula and OVH, I tested Digital Ocean [8]. Setup is very simple, but while their entry price VPS is cheap, the higher spec’ed ones aren’t. Also I might have been unlucky, but the physical host I was on was obviously quite busy.

The other one I tested was pulseheberg [9], which is also the one I settled on. They are priced very low, for 7€, you get a dual vCore, 2 GB VM with plenty of HDD space… or about a tenth of what it would cost on Azure.

Another very noteworthy advantage (for me) is that they’re using the Data Center of the hosting branch of my ISP, meaning that for administrative tasks, I have very low latency. Coupled with the over-spec’ed VM, WordPress administration has become a very comfortable, LAN-like experience. This is something you may want to keep in mind when choosing a host for a blog or web site.

I didn’t try Amazon EC2 [10], mostly because the setup and billing would be too complicated for this website. But by experience, once you start to need to ramp up, they’re quite competitive (unlike Azure… Microsoft, seriously?).

I do use Amazon Glacier [11] for backups (I already used it for personal backups), as you just can’t beat the price.

Content Delivery Network

Finally, CloudFlare [12] seems to have been quite beneficial overall, as the latency for international visitors got reduced. I’ve kept the filtering and security settings to a minimum, and haven’t seen any negative effects so far.

I wouldn’t mind seeing blogs and Delphi websites from overseas use Cloud Flare so I can benefit from it as well 😉

Between the VPS and the CDN, I’ve also noticed that page views per visit went up, bounce rate down, so I guess the site is more friendlly to viewers now. And that’ll conclude my short foray into the realm of web hosting!