Low price, big power: Virtual Private Server picks for power nerds

AWS not the boss of you? Try these VPS options...

Keep calm and carrion

It's worth noting that, while Digital Ocean offers a number of pre-configured set-ups – including popular apps like a basic LAMP stack, WordPress, ownCloud, GitLab and Ruby on Rails – it does not allow you to install custom operating systems, as you can with Linode.

Another relative newcomer to the VPS game is Vultr, which just sprang up last year as a kind of Digital Ocean clone. Vultr offers 50 per cent more RAM than either Digital Ocean or Linode on otherwise equivalent low-end plans. More surprising, in my testing Vultr often outperformed both Linode and Digital Ocean in many benchmarks, though usually not in bandwidth, where Linode consistently took top honors.

Vultr has a few things Digital Ocean does not, including far more data centres: 12 cities around the world, compared to Digital Ocean's four offerings.

Vultr also has a few plans designed for VPS-as-storage. These plans ditch the SSD in favor of slower, but much larger, spinning hard drives, primarily intended for use as cheap, off-site back-ups.

One downside for developers is that Vultr's API pales next to what Linode and Digital Ocean offer. Vultr's dashboard is similar to Digital Ocean's, but lacks the level of polish you'll find with the latter.

Your choice of VPS host will depend on what you want to do. For mission-critical client hosting I still rely primarily on Linode. For personal projects or running non-public applications like OpenVPN or ownCloud, I've been using both Vultr and Digital Ocean.

The good news is that all of these hosts, as well as many others not reviewed here, have bill-by-the-hour payment options, which means you can spin up a VPS instance for testing and only spend a few pennies.

It's worth nothing, though, that while all of these VPS hosts are often labelled as "cloud" providers, none of them offer the kind of high-availability, automatic failover or other selling points of distributed cloud hosts like AWS or iwStack.

Though iwStack is bringing down the costs of high-availability hosting, "true" cloud VPS hosting is still typically more expensive than the VPS plans I’ve looked at here. On a positive note, though, just remember that a few short years ago you could have said the same thing about VPS hosting compared to shared web hosting. ®

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