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The mythical $15/year VPS


March 27 2012

In this blog, I briefly go over low-cost VMs, discuss the non-availability of BuyVM's nodes, and give updated reviews of my VPS providers.

As I have blogged about before, it is now possible to order a basic virtual machine for under $20 a year. Indeed, this blog is hosted on a network of four such machines with failover set up. Pretty much mythical

When going to web forums, such as WHT and asking about who supplies a good low-cost virtual machine, one name that constantly comes up is Unfortunately, it is practically impossible to get a $15/year account with them.

To wit: Some stock of these $15/year 128 megabyte accounts opened up in the wee hours of the night today; I woke up at an ungodly hour, stock opened up, I ordered a 128/256 VPS, hit "complete order", and it never went to the Paypal page to complete the order. I did get a message that the order was completed, and that a confirmation email was sent, but I never got an email and there is no record of me getting an account anywhere in Frantech's system.

Stock ran out within five minutes; I did try going back to to see if I could get stock again.

For all intents and purposes, it is impossible to get a basic account. This is 10 times worse than the special at Fry's that runs out within an hour. I'm not going to try again; a responsible company is one that has product available for customers in sufficient quantity so that there is at least, say, a one hour window to order stock.

Update: I was finally able to get a BuyVM node many months later Very good service

I mentioned, in an earlier blog posting, that it is difficult to update CentOS on a basic 128/128 account. Indeed, it is, but the procedure is pretty routine once I figured it out:
  • yum install strace
  • yum -y update This will crash
  • cd /var/cache/yum/base/packages/
  • for a in *rpm ; do strace rpm --upgrade $a --nodeps; done
  • cd /var/cache/yum/updates/packages/
  • for a in *rpm ; do strace rpm --upgrade $a --nodeps; done
  • "yum -y update" This should now report everything as up to date
  • Should the rpm process freeze while trying to do this, restart the OpenVZ container via the "reboot" command and try again
And, indeed, 123systems just opened up some more 128/128 stock and people can get a good VPS for less than the cost of an impossible-to-get account; I have gotten very good service and am very happy with my 123systems node. Moving to Chicago

My node with moved everyone to Chicago this weekend; there were a lot of issues with my node with them in Kansas city being very slow to the point of frequently being unusable (It would serve pages via nginx and domains via MaraDNS, but logging in to perform rsync updates would often not work). So far, things look better with the Chicago node and I hope they don't start having the slowdown issues they had in Kansas City.

AlienVPS: Good, fast node with downtime issues

I have two nodes with AlienVPS; both nodes run really great when they are up. As reported on WHT, they are fairly frequently down. Roughly speaking, one of my two nodes with them is down for a couple of hours every two weeks or so. It's very rare that both of my nodes with them are down at the same time.

Because of how my domains are set up, this is a non-issue with me; every time one of the nodes with AlienVPS goes down, DNS failover kicks in and traffic is redirected to another one of my low-cost nodes.

In order to still be able to work when a node goes down, I do all of my work on a VPS on my home computer and use rsync over SSH to transfer the files over.

See also: Dirt cheap Linux hosting - Adios - A brief review of my VPS hosts

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