Fivebean Media OpenVZ VPS Hosting Review

Fivebean Logo Looking at my history of past reviews and found that I have not done a hosting review for the last 8 months! Meanwhile, I probably have used half a dozen different hosting providers since my last review (my review on Gandi.net’s Xen VPS, which I will hopefully write about them again sometime soon). So, it’s the last day of August, and let me do a quick review on one of the VPS hosting company that I have been using for the last 3 months and are quite happy with — Fivebean Media.

I first came across Fivebean Media on LowEndBox.com of their $5/month VPS deal (which I do not think is currently on offer). According to the about page, the company started as a “technology/web consulting company” back in 2004 (XlogicGroup, a service/consulting company), and Fivebean Media was created in 2008 to offer web hosting. It is still a relatively young company, and it has a weird name for a hosting company, but I do like their clean design 🙂

Update November 2009

If you find this review helpful and wish to sign up with VPS products from Fivebean Media, feel free to use my referral code (if there’s no better discount currently available). Here’s my referral link:

fivebean.com/account/aff.php?aff=067

You can also quote the coupon code FB20 to get 20% recurring discount — although you can usually find better discount on their website (40-60% off VPS products).

My next encounter with Fivebean is from their advertisement on OzBargain — yes a Michigan company posting “deals” on a website which the main visitors are all the way across the Pacific. It was one of those offers that was “too good to be true” (and yes I am a sucker on bargains which was the reason I started that site in the first place) — an OpenVZ VPS plan with

  • 768MB dedicated memory, 1,200MB burstable memory
  • 35GB disk space
  • 275GB monthly transfer
  • Equal share CPU
  • $17.51/month AUD

It’s the “Bite” plan on their VPS plan page at more than half the price. Their servers are hosted at Databank in Dallas. Since I have not yet had a VPS in Dallas before (yeah, pretty lame excuse), I went for the impulse buy to took the bite…

Signing Up

Signing up was almost instant. Ordered on 23 May at 11:02pm AEST, and the VPS was paid for, activated and the welcome email was received by 11:19pm AEST. In this day and age some VPS providers, especially on the budget end that have no expertise in writing their own automation, still have not been able to provide instant activation. Big plus for Fivebean on this one.

Welcome email contains URL and credential to HyperVM’s control panel as well as IP address and root password to the newly activated VPS. Note that like almost all the other budget VPS providers back in May, Fivebean used HyperVM to power their virtualisation infrastructure. That was before the hacking incident at FsckVPS and the tragedy at LxLabs. On 7th of June, prior to FsckVPS’s hacking incident but after LxLabs’ last vulnerability report, Fivebean decided to turn off HyperVM access completely for security reason. A few days later a new control panel project was announced, and on 18th of June, their new VPS control panel was released to the customers — a very impressive turn around time.

Name of their own control panel? MoxieVM.

MoxieVM

MoxieVM is Fivebean’s VPS control panel to replace HyperVM. It has almost all the features you need to control a VPS — restart, bandwidth/disk space stats, change root password, reverse DNS, etc. I won’t call it ugly, but certainly has a very simple design.

MoxieVM

It lists out all the VPS under your account and some basic stats when you log in, and when you click on “Manage”, it then goes to a page with all the operations you can do with that VPS.

MoxieVM

As you can see it is pretty straightforward no-frills kind of design. The only lacking in my opinion is some kind of console access built into the control panel, in case of getting firewalled from your own VPS. MoxieVM offers recent version of Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, OpenSUSE and Slackware templates. Some are in 32bit and some 64bit. On the rebuild page it clearly states the rebuild process can take up to 7 minutes to complete if there is a queue.

I think MoxieVM is good enough for most of us, even though it is still a work in process. You can find notes in the applications that state out there’s a bug and “will be resolved in the next update”. Some features (TUN support) are currently turned off.

Plan Upgrades

Another big plus is the plan upgrades that I have been receiving. I am already paying 1/2 of listed price for the Bite plan, and then on 2nd of June the spec got upgraded again. Now logging into MoxieVM I can see that my VPS has:

  • 768MB guaranteed/1.5GB burstable memory
  • 60GB disk space
  • 550GB/month transfer quota

All for USD$13.71/month. I guess it is the power of OpenVZ which makes overselling easier. As I am still in the process of migrating some service over, my VPS is using only around 170MB privvmpages out of 1.5GB available. I am sure many are in the same shoes on the same box, which means they can squeeze a few more users on that box.

Nevertheless, occasional plan upgrades make customers happy. Take a note on that, SliceHost 🙂

Performance

Now let’s come to probably the most important bit — actual performance of the system. I am using Debian 5 32bit here. Dumping the /proc/cpuinfo revealing that:

  • Core 2 Quad CPU Q9300 at 2.5Ghz was used on my VPS
  • No CPU-limiting has been set for OpenVZ, so equal-share CPU time.
  • Access to all 4 cores

Q9300 is actually a desktop class CPU, although it is available for many rack mounted servers at configuration time. It does however led me to believe that they are opting for cheaper servers with Core 2 Quad instead of Xeon, RAID’ed SATA instead of SAS drives, etc. Nothing wrong with that in this end of the market I think, as some providers choose to have less-beefy boxes but fewer VMs per box. Just don’t be surprised that it’s not a Xeon (or Opteron) though.

Here is a dump of Unixbench that I just ran:

                     INDEX VALUES
TEST                                        BASELINE     RESULT      INDEX

Dhrystone 2 using register variables        376783.7  9116420.8      242.0
Double-Precision Whetstone                      83.1     1368.0      164.6
Execl Throughput                               188.3     5134.4      272.7
File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks         2672.0   142437.0      533.1
File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks           1077.0    38563.0      358.1
File Read 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks        15382.0   685888.0      445.9
Pipe Throughput                             111814.6  1560446.2      139.6
Pipe-based Context Switching                 15448.6   443351.5      287.0
Process Creation                               569.3    18032.8      316.8
Shell Scripts (8 concurrent)                    44.8     1417.8      316.5
System Call Overhead                        114433.5  1350673.5      118.0
                                                                 =========
     FINAL SCORE                                                     264.2

Not bad.

Network connectivity and bandwidth is pretty good as well. I created a 30MB file and tested out downloading them from various places on the Internet:

  • From Fremont CA (my Linode VPS): 8.6MB/s
  • From St. Louis MO (my Slicehost VPS): 3.3MB/s
  • From London: 1.1MB/s
  • From Sydney: 550KB/s

I think the test result would of course vary depending on location and time but I am generally happy with what I got.

Conclusion

Initially I thought I would just test it out for 3 months but I think I am getting pretty good performance from the amount of money I’ve paid, and are happy to continue to renew. Other reviews I found on the net (here at WHT) are also positive.

I will be gradually migrating some services over to this VPS at Fivebean in the next few months, and might follow up a review when it’s finally “fully loaded”.