Sunday, July 5, 2020

Hosting Options

For various reasons I've been looking around for "new" VPS hosting options again. This is a brief summary of the "neat" things I found. It's not a "review" of any kind, it's literally just a bunch of links and commentary. (If I ever use any of these options for long enough to have an opinion, I'll add a review or three.)

Historically I've mostly used Linode, especially "back in the day" when I was running lots of game servers across the US (and even in the UK for a while); my longest-running (shared) server is also on Linode. They have some great tech, nice support, and it's generally very smooth sailing indeed.

But there are "issues" as well, especially these days. First they don't have a "cheap" storage option. Everything is NVME SSDs these days and so with a small plan (what I usually run because I am cheap) you get 25 GB. Not too shabby if you grew up in the 1970s, but not great either.

After a bit of research, I noticed that RamNode actually offers plans with good-old "spinning rust" disks. Yes, the kind some of you don't even remember. As of today, you can get 160 GB for $3/month and 325 GB for $5/month. Pretty sweet if all you need is a bunch of space, for automated backups for example. Of course you need to keep an eye on bandwidth, but hey, here's the storage if you need it.

Another "issue" is that US companies are, well, US companies. Just like German companies are German and Australian companies are Australian. Doh! What I am getting at is that by picking a hosting company, you're also picking (to a degree) the laws that protect (or not!) your data, privacy, freedom, or life. So depending on what you plan on doing with your VPS, you may want to pick an "exotic" jurisdiction instead of the obvious one.

I ended up looking at Switzerland, Austria, and Iceland in more detail. From a "Five (Or More) Eyes" perspective, these are places that at least have no "overt" history of large-scale "illegal" spying. They also have "reasonable" Press Freedom Rankings which can be helpful if you plan to do some investigative reporting online. But don't forget the "small print" of your VPS provider either, different companies have vastly different "Terms of Service" regardless of the level of "freedom" that exists in their respective countries. Also these things are never as simple as shoving your data or services elsewhere, so if in doubt get yourself a lawyer!

For me, 1984 Hosting in Iceland checks most of the boxes I care about. Also their pricing is a lot better than many other VPS vendors in Iceland. For example they have a reasonable $5/month plan that's actually comparable (except for bandwidth) with a cheap Linode plan. On top of that I was impressed by their recent report on a 2017 incident that brought down much of their operation. Yes, maybe it's a little late, but it's certainly detailed and I very much like the idea of them trying to be this transparent about what happened, why it happened, and what they've done to avoid it in the future.

A final "issue" is operating systems: It's kind of a pain (or at least it used to be, maybe it improved recently?) to install OpenBSD on Linode. Yes, I've been mostly a Linux person for the past 15 years or so, but I've recently "tuned back into" the BSD world a bit more and I like what's happened there. I currently run OpenBSD on a small Vultr instance and that works reasonably well. But I also found a small outfit in Amsterdam that not only offers OpenBSD VMs but also uses OpenBSD to run the virtualization infrastructure itself! On top of that, they donate to the OpenBSD developers. Their pricing is yearly and works out to $5/month for a small VM (half the RAM of Linode, but twice the disk space).

That's it for me and hosting for now. Feel free to share any hosting tips you have in the comments, I am "all ears" as it were.