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I'm about to launch a startup site I've been working on for some time, and I'm just now looking over hosting plans. The site's main feature is fairly processor-heavy (a lot of text processing), so I probably need something other then shared hosting to ensure I don't get shut down for overusing resources.

I would like to spend as little as possible on hosting until the site starts generating income, so under-$60/mo is my goal. One caveat is that I need a Windows box for this particular site, so it's harder to get a good deal. For that price, I can either get a bottom-tier dedicated (2gigs ram, pentium 4) or a middle-tier VPS (3gb RAM, a bit more traffic and HD) for a few bucks more per month.

I had a bad experience with a low-end VPS a few months ago, so making sure that whatever I get can handle the basic traffic of a website as well as giving me what I need (extra processing power) is essential. Do you have any suggestions as to which way to go, or a certain hosting company you've worked with that you can recommend?

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5 Answers 5

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If you don't have estimates of how much site traffic you'll generate, it's best to save your money and go with a virtual server. I've had great experiences with the Rackspace Cloud Servers for Linux, though I have not tried Windows. You won't run into "overuse" penalties there like you would at a traditional VPS. If you find that you are gaining traction and can afford to spend more for hosting a would like a dedicated server, I think Rackspace also has dedicated Windows servers as well.

I agree with TomTom, stay away from P4s, they're terrible for multi-threaded applications.

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I agree with you on VPS for the flexibility, but TomTom addressed my main concern with a VPS - processor power. I have no idea what will happen when alot of users are running my application at once, and I need to know I have as much power as I can get for my money. –  MarathonStudios Aug 20 '10 at 18:42
    
I would recommend setting up a good jMeter test and run simulations on your local environment and then see how they stack up on a VPS / Cloud Server somewhere. Though this guide says it's for Drupal, the concepts work for any site: johnandcailin.com/blog/john/… –  alanthing Aug 23 '10 at 19:00

Dedicated server, sorry. VPS will not have the amount of procesing power you need. Processors are one of the limiting factor for virtualization.

Note: A P4 SUCKS performance wise. A modern six core end user AMD will around it in circles.

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I would say do some testing, and look at your application how does it scale?

Assuming your app at a minimum scales by having 1 web server and then 1 database server.

Scale
If your proccessing "large" amount of text, does this mean it will take the web server several seconds to proccess it?
If thats the case what happens then when a second user does something, will your web app hang for that user?

Like what the ppl said above, multi threading is your friend and you properby need a cpu that can handle it.

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My application downloads large amounts of text from remote sources and processes it, the whole process takes 10-15 seconds on my 2-year old dual core dev machine (but alot of that is download time). I tried running a few instances on my local network, but it only runs one at once (I assume it's a problem with my dev box's IIS settings). –  MarathonStudios Aug 20 '10 at 18:40

I understand the concerns others have regarding processing power for a VPS. However, I would recommend you to go for a VPS.

It is always unpredictable what traffic your site will actually draw. So in case of high traffic, you want a bigger machine behind it - but probably prefer not to pay for such a machine if the traffic turns out to be lower than you hoped.

This is exactly the power of a VPS. Quite a few VPS providers, like Slicehost, Linode or Rackspace, will allow you to upgrade a VPS very quickly. In a maximum of one hour, but usually just a few minutes, you can switch from a 128MB machine to a 1280MB machine. And back, if traffic levels go down again, paying the bigger machine per day, or even per second.

Make sure your setup is relatively easy to replicate, then you can even build it on a second machine if processing power is limited. Linode will allow you to easily get a floating IP address for failover and switching between VPSes.

So, I think a VPS is especially suitable for a startup, as it's so quick to modify. And if in doubt: just get a VPS, and test how it performs. Do some basic benchmarking.

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sorry i dont have any reference sites for you as im unfamiliar with hosting policy in the US.

From what you have said about your setup try to find a company that provides you the following :

  1. CPU on demand - having ran a website before chances are there are peak hours and off peak hours for your website, make sure you get a flexi plan where u can scale up your CPU during peak hours and then drop down to the bare minimum when not needed.

  2. Bandwidth - same as above as well as its a start-up unless you say its going to be a overnight hit(keep me posted if it does!) you are not gonna use that much bandwidth at first.

  3. Memory on demand - works like the 2 above.

  4. VPS - dont go wasting your money like the guy asking you to go out and get a 6 core or AMD rubbish, if you do like what he asked you to do u are going to end up with a system running at 20% all the time or even less. All that wasted CPU power all that wasted money. Give it to charity as well as make a greener earth. VPU is able to scale upwards and downwards as and when you need it!

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