VPS.NET Review – One Year Later

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VPS.NET Reviewed

We’ve been hosting Learncomputer.com on VPS.NET for slightly over a year now, and I wanted to share my experience with this provider, as well as compare it with our previous web host, HostGator. Moving between web hosts is always a challenging task, so one must tread carefully when choosing one so as to avoid any unnecessary hassles down the road. By now, I am convinced that there is no “perfect” web host, but some definitely try harder than others. Is VPS.NET one of them? Read on to find out.

When we launched our business in 2008, we had chosen HostGator as our host after reading many positive reviews on the company. And HostGator hadn’t disappointed… at least for a while. As long as our Alexa traffic rank remained in the seven-figure range, HostGator had been the “rocket ship” our site needed. The troubles began when our traffic volume suddenly increased 10-fold. Our blog posts and article marketing campaigns have steadily begun attracting more and more visitors, and our “rocket ship” suddenly developed severe engine problems. After some painful back-and-forth with HostGator support (which you can find here and here), we had decided it was a time to “eject”. HostGator’s problems notwithstanding, we also wanted hosting that would give us a complete control over the server and its configuration environment. We were now mature enough for root access!

Coincidentally, one of my favorite bloggers, Joost de Walk, whose work I follow regularly, had posted an article on The Best WordPress Hosting, praising VPS.NET for its affordable high-performance Virtual Private Service (VPS) hosting packages. Joost’s own yoast.com was hosted on VPS.NET, and to me, that was a good-enough reason to jump on the bandwagon.

Having root access to the server has its ups and downs. You have complete control over your server environment, from operating system flavor, to web server and to every single module that defines your runtime environment. This can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on your sysadmin skill level. Luckily, VPS.NET kindly offered us to fully migrate our site from HostGator to our freshly purchased two VPS nodes at no extra charge. The entire migration took less than a day. The files were copied, database scripts run, mail servers configured, and by the end of day one, we were ready to switch DNS to our new hosting provider. We had later run into a few wrinkles, but these were quickly addressed, thanks to VPS.NET’s great forum with a very active community eager to help newcomers. Three days after our initial email to VPS.NET sales, we’ve had our “perfect” setup, powered by Apache, W3 Total Cache WordPress plugin, Alternative PHP Cache (APC), and Amazon S3/CloudFront CDN. Compared to HostGator’s shared business plan, this was an incredible step up! VPS.NET costs more than your run-of-the-mill shared hosting, but you get what you paid for.

Recently, Joost had posted an article on VPS.NET newest offering, Cloud Hosting: Cloud Hosting, Cloud Servers, what’s the difference?, which generated quite an uproar from users unimpressed with the service. As much as I sympathize with them and realize things can go south for us as well, I must admit I didn’t have any of the problems these users are reporting. We’ve had exactly two downtimes (according to Pingdom monitoring reports) in the entire year. One of these was strangely caused by the Apache’s “MaxClients” unexpectedly reaching its limit of 100, causing the server to quit. The other, more recent, was due to VPS.NET’s scheduled maintenance which we were failed to get notified about. The latter was reported to VPS.NET, and we have since received their assurances that the notification failure has been rectified.

As I said in the beginning, if you are looking for a “perfect” web host, you might as well invest in your own data center. As for the rest of us, we’ll stick with the few companies out there that care more than the others. I think VPS.NET cares. Their support is far from perfect and their infrastructure is not immune to hiccups and downtimes. Being your own “sysadmin” carries a certain degree of responsibility and preparedness you must possess to keep your server running at its best. VPS.NET will help as best they can, but you are still mostly on your own when it comes to troubleshooting your server issues. If you don’t have these skills, VPS.NET (or VPS in general) may not be the right fit. For crazies like me, however, who don’t mind to live on the “edge” (if only a little), VPS.NET offers a relatively inexpensive way to develop and launch your own “rocket ship”!

If you enjoyed this review, please give VPS.NET a try.

P.S. I just ran a fresh Pingdom test of learncomputer.com, using Pingtom Tools’ new interface, and the result is still quite impressive, with the homepage having loaded in just under 1.5 seconds from Dallas Texas, and just slightly over 1.5 seconds from Amsterdam, Netherlands:

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15 comments

  1. craig says:

    Yes, there is not a perfect web host; we currently have three different hosts and VPS is at the bottom of the bunch. to simplify, we are using the cloud hosting rather than cloud server. With vps.net had a little of a “bait-and-switch” problem since their ‘cloud hosting’ website (http://vps.net/product/cloud-hosting/) explicitly promises free migration but then when we signed up we were told that isn’t for all new accounts. Their customer support has been quite poor with some responses so uppity and brief we are not sure if the answer means something HAS been done, CAN’T be done, or WILL be done.

    • Michael Dorf says:

      Thanks for your comment, Craig. Agreed, their support is a hit-and-miss at times. As far as migration, we had asked them about it before we signed up and got it without any issues. I had to do a few tweaks myself to get the site running smoothly, but these mostly had to do with switching from a shared to dedicated (vps) hosting.

  2. Darren says:

    I was a huge fan of VPS.net until they changed their on-demand structure to be super expensive i.e. £35 for one ticket.

    An increasing number of Indian sounding names replying to tickets as well, which is worrying if you’ve ever worked with Indian programmers. Sounds like they’re cutting their own costs whilst upping their customers.

  3. I have officially given up of VPS.net. Their customer service consists solely of telling you its not their fault. My sites have crashed several times, now they are running slowly (any other sites on the browser are fine – except mine).

    When I asked for an explanation their response was “is there anything else I can do for you”?

    That is customer service speak for “F you”.

    When I asked to move my account to a different server platform they told me the charge was $250! A lot for their error…

    So, I am moving to a vendor that hopefully gives a s**t.

  4. Hi Robert,

    We are also extremely disappointed with VPS.NET. Today, we’ve had our website down since 6:30 in the morning. It’s now 12:30 and their best estimate is that the repair service they are doing can take up to 36 hours. 36 hours of downtime!! Can you really call this a “serious company”??

    Michael, maybe you don’t use the London VPS, but if you do, I’d seriously reconsider your review. Not only their service is crap, their support is appalling and leaves clients in the dark with their website down.

    Any suggestions of a decent vps provider which can offer decent uptime?

  5. Hi Guys,

    I’m Terry Myers, the Chief Evangelist for VPS.NET. First off, I greatly appreciate the candid review of VPS.NET. Just to clarify a few things, we are no longer offering free migrations, unless it’s explicitly offered as part of a custom package.

    We are launching 7 new locations, located around the world, which will be using a new SAN type. This should prevent the long downtimes that other users have mentioned.

  6. Alex says:

    If your looking use the VPS business critical items such as email, website I do not suggest using VPS.NET. My server in the 1st month has been down 4 times and sometimes for hours due to SAN issues. Stability is terrible!

    After asking VPS what my uptime for my server has been for this month, they reply they don’t monitor and I would have to buy a service from them to do this. REALLY!?

    We do not provide such info, and I don’t have root password for your server to check how long your server was down last time. You can order Server Density monitoring service from our dashboard, set up nagios, or use another third party monitoring tools.

    Does anyone have any recommendations of a stable VPS provider that is fast and that you have had experience with? Just out of interest, what SANs are you using thats so bad, and what new ones are you using?

  7. tim says:

    My vps.net account has been down for 2 days now. …speaking of the 100% uptime promise:/ and even worse, nobody is getting back

  8. Kalle says:

    Be aware that VPS.net has had extreme downtimes during this winter. They never solve any issues, just tell clients to “wait a little while”. It’s ridiculous. The amount of downtime we’ve had is far worse than when we were on cheap shared hosting. They honestly seem rather incompetent – and especially reluctant to making improvements that cost money.

  9. Az says:

    I was really considering migrating to VPS.net but I don’t think that’ll happen any time soon after those comments. It’s a shame, I was really excited about this.

  10. Stefan says:

    Never never never!! try a VPS by vps.net. Downtime, slow servers bad service and after 3 months a lot of frustration and payed money.. And what you got? NOTHING!

  11. Craig says:

    Thanks for this review – I think I will be looking elsewhere for VPS hosting as this is not the first patchy review I have read about VPS.Net. Shame because their offering looked good.

  12. Kalle says:

    We’ve recently moved two of our websites to Futurehosting.com with success (so far – but it’s still early), and with additional downtime the last two days, we’re just about ready to move the rest of them… VPS.net really is going from good, to bad to horrible…

  13. I’m escaliting an issue with vps.net and left a review on the vps.net section of this site, however I feel that I must share it here.

    I echo the comments of Tweaked Geek.

    Initially things were great; however their servers / services are far too unstable to be considered something that you would want your business relying upon.

    They responded quickly to issues, however its like putting a sticking plaster over a wound that needs stitching, its soon bursts open again and the problems resurface.

    Not only that, when I presented them with my problems and gave them an opportunity to resolve them, they thought that it made more sense to lose an existing customer that paid them regularly because they would not offer a reasonable credit given the problems I was experiencing.

    They made excuses about DDOS attacks and how they were going to fix them, yet according to this article;

    http://www.uk2.net/about_uk2/press/2010/march/vps-cloud-hosting-next-generation/

    They were supposed to have been resolved two years ago?

    This not only shows a lack of congruency between their promises and service delivery but an unbelievable degree of ineptitude in business and customer service.

    Marketing to them is merely a veneer, and they forgot that they actually needed to follow through on their promises.

    They make money at the disservice of customers, not by servicing them. What the hell is going on in the world of business?

    We are not the only people with issues and concerns about this company;

    http://thepcspy.com/read/why-i-cant-recommend-vpsnet/

    http://www.webhostingtalk.com/archive/index.php/t-1087587.html

    I’ve had to escalate this now to the directors of the holding group UK2Group, however I’m not holding my breath for a satisfactorily outcome.

    It’s a pity as it could be a great product / service offering, however the reality is that it’s too unreliable and they must resolve this and fast. It may be too late for me.

    ARE YOU LISTENING VPS.NET ?

  14. JJ says:

    I know this article is over a year old and I just wanted to add my two cents. We were with them for about 6 months and there were weeks with downtime close to 30%! I confirm that customer service is useless and blames everything on customer, than if you press and press and press they’ll all of sudden come up with something else.
    I got really pissed off when they started blaming server problems on us and trying to force us into paid managed service which we declined. At the end of the day fault proved to be on their side. Than we had “SAN issue” for about 2-3 weeks and experienced terrible downtime during this time. Eventually our we were moved to a different location. They said they resolved problems but it was too much for us.
    I also read about the same problems years ago, so I can’t see them solving anything at all. They just outright lie, try to blame cutomer etc.
    Also – we lost substantial amount of money during this period (two of our clients have had enough) and ask for some sort of compensation only to find out that it’s not within “their policy” (sic!). They never give money back despite the fact that service was faulty the only thing we got was ……. $25 credit on one month.
    To summarize: stay away unless you like emotions associated with your sites being down and dealing with useless customer sercvice

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