2008 HostingFu Year In Review

It’s going to be a new year in a few more days. Similar to what I have done last year, I think it will be worthwhile to look back what I have done over here in 2008.

Blog Statistics

One thing for sure — 2008 has not been the year of growth. I had around 400-600 uniques a day pulling around 2GB/month last year. 12 months later I think I actually has less visitors. According to Google Analytics, I am having 130,000 visits and 196,000 page views so far for the whole year (which is not a lot). Google PageRank has actually dropped to 3 (from 4/5 last year). The growth of HostingFu leaves much to be desired.

I guess the lack of posting is to blame. I have written 33 posts here in 2008 (comparing to 54 back in 2007), including this very review. For the month of November I have not written a word. No wonder traffic is dying. However the solution might be less trivial than saying “okay I am going to write more in 2009″, as I am constantly side-tracked by other projects, work and family.

However I’ll keep on writing and use this space to provide unbiased web hosting reviews. Hopefully someone will find the content useful.

Hosts I am Currently Using

A list of hosting providers that I am still using at the end of 2008:

  • DreamHost — same story as last year. In fact I have renewed until 2013, and bought another hosting account for another congregation at my church. It is cheap, it provides virtually unlimited storage space and data transfer, and it works (although can be slow at times).

    As of this year DreamHost also provides 50GB personal backup space that supports SFTP and rsync, which I am now using to back up all my other VPS. Somehow there are enough people who signed up using my promo code (which gives you $50 discount + 3 free domains) that my hosting account at DreamHost has been fully paid-for.

  • NearlyFreeSpeech.net — yes I am still using their service, and I have not spent my initial $20 deposit either, which I made in March 2007. Okay I know that there’s no one visiting my site at NFS.net, but that’s the whole point — why pay more for an over sold shared hosting when a top notch provider with pay-as-you-go can cover it?

  • SliceHost — it has been more than 2 years since I signed up with SliceHost, and I have nothing but praises for them. Although I have not wrote much about them this year, the service simply cruise along without any issue. During this year I have temperately resize the VPS to cope with site migration, rebuild it with Ubuntu and then upgraded to the latest LTS. Current uptime — almost 250 days, and my slice is currently hosting this very website + around 20 other light-traffic sites.

    A lot of happening at SliceHost as well this year. Big news being that it has been sold to Rackspace back in October, becoming part of RS’s cloud computing line up. Looking forward to my 3rd year of satisfaction.

  • VPSLink — here is another service that I have used for more than 2 years. Although even with my 50% off early adopter discount their plan has ceased to be “cheap”, when you compare the feature with many that are on offer at WebHostingTalk, I have been too lazy to cancel the service because (1) the server I am on is very under-sold, and (2) the service has been very smooth so far.

    I used to run LxAdmin + CentOS to host some of my friends’ sites but I have moved them somewhere else. I am currently running Ubuntu 8.10 on this OpenVZ VPS, running 1 small website (Nginx, PHP, MySQL) + my secondary MX + an ejabberd 2 server for 2 domains using around 150 MB all together. I did have to get support a couple of times because of my attempt to upgrade from Ubuntu 8.04 to 8.10, and the standard upgrade procedure pretty much rendered the VPS unbootable (note: don’t try apt-get dist-upgrade on OpenVZ). The support has been excellent and has always resolved my issues in a timely manner.

  • Linode — I did a quick review early this year and ended up being a customer of theirs. Then in April I moved one of my busiest site there, and that has to be one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. I highly recommend Linode to anyone thinking of unmanaged Xen VPS.

    Currently I have a Linode 540 at Fremont in HE.net data centre, running Ubuntu 8.04. It hosts a Drupal site + a WordPress blog with Nginx + PHP/FastCGI + MySQL, and this month it served 2 million page views, 32 million HTTP requests and used 160+GB of data. If I ask on WHT what sort of hosting do I need for a 2m page view/month site, I’ll probably get $150+ dedicated server kind of responses. I am happy to say that my $29.95/month Linode is more than capable of handling that. Current uptime – 212 days.

  • Web24 — at the beginning of the year I had quite a few issues with my Web24 VPS — the host feels oversold and the IO-wait is killing my sites. So I closed my account there, moved the sites to Linode, and left a mixed review for them. Last month Aaron S. from Web24 contacted me for a new review, as he believed that Web24 has resolved the issue.

    So I picked up the cheapest VPS they are offering, and I will evaluate it again over the next month or two. It seems that they have upgraded to Virtuozzo 4, but is still offering very high burstable memory that is prone to abuse. We’ll see.

  • Data Realm — I picked up one of their budget VPS ($4.95/month, 64MB Xen VPS) for a small experimental project in February. It runs fine on an old Xeon with 1x CPU core. Very old kernel as well (2.6.9). Otherwise it’s a capable little VPS.

    The management facility is however very lacking. There’s no control panel to reboot or rebuild the VPS. I will be writing a review in the next month or two.

There are a few other providers that I won’t mention just yet but expect to see reviews in the coming year.

Hosts I Not Longer Use

There are also a few hosts that I no longer use this year due to various reasons.

  • ServerWays — I bought a low end VPS from these guys on 31 Jan, posted a review on 4 Feb, and then terminated my account on 14 Feb. Working on a VPS with CPU throttled to 4% of core speed is simply too painful to do anything useful. I do not think that review matters anyway — ServerWays sold their VPS business to Web-Wide-Hosting soon afterwards. The business model is still the same though.

  • NCL Hosting — while I am generally pretty happy in my review back in August, I decided to cancel the service in November to “cut cost” (hey, that GFC thing is really kicking). I’ll still recommend them for high data usage hosting in Australia.

  • Gandi — got a test Xen VPS from them back in March, and did not manage to write a review until December. However my review has not been positive because of their poor CPU performance. Still waiting for Gandi to figure out the issue but my testing VPS is going to expire on 31st of December…

Thank You Sponsors

Finally, let me use this opportunity to thank all the sponsors that have purchased advertisement on HostingFu this year:

Thank you for paying my hosting fees 🙂