I have a local centos setup with the following installed. Ive got kind of used to my local server (i like setting up my own servers) and would like to find the easiest way to replicate it online. I need to keep it v cheap to begin with, but it could scale very fast so would like to have minimal messing around with upgrades etc

java - tomcat
solr (need to have multiple solr setups)
DNS - already setup
Mail server

I need root access and to be able to vnc using a desktop client of some kind and I also need to be able to install software like perl, php modules etc.

Can anyone suggest to me the type of hosting i need to go for? shared, VPS, or dedicated, colo?

Also any good hosts i should go for? (should I go for one in the UK since im there)

My guess is VPS with a good host (like rackspace) so i can upgrade without much fuss, but would like to here comments from those "in the know".

I see linode offer 360mb for 20$ per month, but ive got a feeling this will be much less than i need. My db and solr index is very large and my app itself is extremely intensive (even my x64 with 12gb of ram struggles with it). Im scared i will shell out for this and find out it wont fit my needs.


What is the purpose of this server?

If this is for a business endeavor, I would start outlining your requirements, e.g.

  • uptime
  • support needs
  • backup requirements
  • scalability options

Let those items guide your server search process. Read reviews, call the companies and do your own due diligence.

If this is for a hobby, I just say find a provider that meets your minimal requirements and minimal cost. Be sure to get a month to month contract so you can bail out.

You can find many vendors discussed on www.webhostingtalk.com But don't rely on reviews from that site alone.

I've dealt the the following providers ... www.softlayer.com www.rippleweb.com www.bocacom.com www.1and1.com www.layeredtech.com www.godaddy.com www.rackspace.com .... probably 50 others.

They all have strength and weakness, which is why if this is this is for business us, start with your business requirements first.


First issue: What type of hosting (shared, virtual, or dedicated) will meet your requirements?

Shared hosting won't work, since you require root access. Virtual (VPS) hosting can be a lot cheaper than dedicated hosting, and I don't see anything in your requirements that demands dedicated physical hardware. As of June 2011, an unmanaged (read: minimal tech support) 512 MB, KVM-based VPS starts at around ~$20/month, far lower than the cheapest dedicated hosting plans. In fact, most dedicated hosting providers wouldn't bother offering a server with as little as 512 MB of memory. (Prices do change, over time, but you can find up-to-date offerings on WebHostingTalk [see below].)

The cheapest VPS providers usually use OpenVZ/Virtuozzo. In my experience, OpenVZ/Virtuozzo also makes it easy for less-than-ethical providers to over-sell their hardware. Some providers offer Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) solutions, which are generally more expensive because it's harder to get away with under-provisioning memory.

Second issue: How can you choose a good hosting provider?

I don't want to comment on any specific virtual hosting providers, here, but I will warn you that there are some TERRIBLE hosting companies in the market, today. VPS hosting is a cutt-throat business, and the profit margins are razor thin, so there is a lot of pressure on providers to cut corners. It's difficult to tell the difference between good and bad providers, and sometimes a good hosting company will go bad, due to changes in management or policy. (I've had this happen to me, a couple of times.)

In order to weed out the worst VPS providers, I would encourage you to spend some time reading the reviews, complaints, etc. on http://www.webhostingtalk.com/ (WHT). There are a lot of horror stories on there (including some of mine), but the volume is high enough that you should be able to get a pretty fair look at your options. The forums are mostly English-speaking, with plenty of UK representation, so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding a provider in your own country.

Also, one of WHT's sub-forums is dedicated entirely to hosting provider offers. You'll find coupon codes for discounts, or other special offers, etc.

In my opinion, Amazon's EC2 would not work very well for you. (All due respect to the other poster who suggested it.) EC2 is a very "do-it-yourself" service. In my experience, it takes more technical know-how to get an EC2 instance running than an un-managed VPS instance, since most VPS providers have turn-key images with common hosting control panels, etc. pre-installed.

In fact, I would suggest that you consider whether you want to spend the money on a managed hosting plan. Most VPS providers have some kind of full-service, managed option. If you're not confident that you can handle setting up and running your own server, the extra support might be worth the money.

  • $10-$15 for VPS hosting? I have been searching about them, but have found $20 to be the minimum. – dharm0us Dec 4 '10 at 11:27
  • Yeah, I can't find anything that cheap in the current offerings, either. My guess is that providers aren't overselling OpenVZ instances as much, anymore, which raised the price floor. I edited my answer to that effect. – Ryan B. Lynch Jun 24 '11 at 16:24

Have you considered Amazon EC2?

  • I havent, are they good? can they do all the stuff for my requirements? as I say my main worry is that my apps are too intensive for the ram being offered 12g to 360mb seems a huge drop. what you think, does the ram make a lot of difference, say if i have a db or solr index thats 50gb in size? also could i just drop the image from my local centos install on amazon servers? this would make life much easier to go back and forth without reinstalling all the plugins, modules i use? – Ke. Feb 18 '10 at 2:15
  • No, you can't just drop in an image. You can build your own and upload it, but it would be easier just to use one of the prebuild CentOS images. You can also get various sizes of VMs. Some of the larger ones have some pretty substantial RAM. IMHO, it's worth at least experimenting with EC2. There is no setup fee and you only pay an hourly rate when an instance is running. So testing the setup is really inexpensive. I use it for almost all my apps nowadays. – jamieb Feb 18 '10 at 4:26

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