The other day someone left me a comment regarding the lack of good VPS options in Europe at a low price. His claim was that there are much better option in the USA and for a lower cost.
I thought that this would be an excellent topic for a post as I’m aware of several good VPS hosting options with servers located in Europe that are available for a reasonable price. In this post I’m going to provide you with some basic details regarding each VPS hosting service and make recommendations based on my own personal experience from actual usage, as well as extensive benchmarks that both I and other VPS hosting customers have compiled via ServerBear.com. I won’t be delving into the minutia of the benchmark result but if you’re into that I recommend that you head over to Server Bear and check them out. (Hopefully after reading this post)
Although the topic of this post is the VPS hosting on servers located in Europe, each of these VPS hosting companies also has data centers located in in the United States as well as in Asia and my recommendations are the same regardless of the location of the data center.
With the price of a managed VPS of acceptable quality, now as low as 4€ a month there is really no excuse for using low quality shared hosting any longer.
The reasons for choosing a VPS host in Europe
Proximity to your users
If you plan on configuring your VPS as a web server then page load times are important. The closer you are to the majority of your users the happier they will be with your site. People are willing to spend more time on sites that load quickly. Packets take time to travel from your server to your end users browser and the closer you servers are physically located to your users the less network latency your users will experience. This is part of the reason many large sites such as Google, Yahoo and Facebook use geological based DNS and load balancing.
If you’re planning on using your VPS for some other purpose the same latency concerns are still an issue. When it comes to latency it’s generally better for the server to located as near to the majority of the people that will actually be using it.
Many people have concerns regarding NSA and other government agencies snooping on USA based servers. My personal opinion is that the location of the servers won’t actually make much of a difference. I’m not sure exactly how much additional privacy protection hosting in Europe actually provides. Given that many European countries will work in cooperation with USA government agencies and the fact that the NSA snoops on the traffic that flows via underwater fiber cables that are connecting pretty much everyone. However if you’re of the belief that the benefit is real hosting in Europe may be of interest to you.
Bypassin IP based geolocation access restrictions
You or your users may be located in a country that does not have access to content that is restricted based on the location associated with your IP address. A common way around such restrictions is the use of a virtual private network (VPN) or proxy located in the country that is allowed access to the gelocation restricted content. A hypothetical examples would be setting up a VPN so that you could access to UK based Netflix while you’re living in Moscow. There are several services that provide DNS based proxy services which bypass location based access restrictions. The best of which is probably Smart DNS Proxy. If you wanted to build yourself a clone of a service like this you would need servers with IP addresses that have access to the content.
What are the European VPS hosting options?
There are literally hundreds of options to choose from. I hate the blog posts that list the “top 100” type lists that provide a lot of links but don’t offer any real insight. I’m not going to waste you time and try to overwhelm you with low quality options. I personally use each of the VPS hosting companies mentioned and each for a different purpose.
Each of the four VPS host have the following in common:
- Overwhelmingly positive reputations
- Offer solid state drives for faster IO
- Provide 1GB or better network connections
- I have personal experience and am able to personally recommend their service.
I’m listing them in alphabetical order but will provide my recommendations after I’ve provided a brief synopsis of each service.
European data centers
Digital ocean has a total of four European data centers.
- Three located in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- One in London, England
Of the four VPS hosting companies in this review Digital Ocean has the most refined user interface on their website. They appear to be targeting novices to Linux Systems administration and they’re doing an excellent job at it. Their tutorial are excellent and I often find my self reading over them while I’m configuring servers with other hosts.
Servers are billed for by the hour or monthly. Support for many different Linux distributions and Free BSD.
You can scale your server up as your site grows and requires more resources.
If you want to get up and running quickly Digital Ocean offers several applications such as WordPress, Drupal, Appache and Nginx which can be automatically installed and configured at the time of deployment. You can have everything up and running literally within two minutes.
Digital Ocean offers and entry level VPS with 512MB RAM, 1 CPU, 20 GB SSD, and 1000GB of monthly data transfer for $5 a month. These specifications are more than adequate for most small blogs or even several dozen static sites. If managing a VPS isn’t something you’re interesting in attempting you can get the same $5 Digital Ocean VPS with management for the same price if you order it via CloudWays managed VPS service.
An API is available for integration and deploying servers.
Digital Ocean’s network can get congested which can add about one half of a second to your servers response time. If you’re hosting a web page where every additional milliseconds can and does have a negative effect on the number of page views and sales. The CPU performance is by no means bad but it can be the worst of the four compared if your on a heavily utilized host server.
Slowest SSD disk IO of the four VPS hosts compared.
European data centers
Linode currently only has one European data center with and additional one being opened in the spring of 2015
- London, England
- Frankfurt, Germany (Spring 2015)
Linode is targeting a different demographic than Digital Ocean. They’re marketing more to businesses that have knowledgeable staff that are experienced with Linux systems administration looking for a better option than the bigger and more expensive cloud hosting services such as Amazon EC2 or Microsofts Azure. Linode’s network is five times faster than that of each of the other VPS hosts mentioned in this post. (5GB vs 1GB) and the SSD that they are using are the quickest when compared to the others.
With Linode you have the ability to scale your VPS up or down depending on expected usage. This can be useful if you have a site that does not receive much traffic throughout the year but get a large amount of traffic around Christmas you can scale the site up for a month or two and then back down after the rush which saves money. The process will take the site offline for about half an hour each way so you would want to also have a fail over server. With the other Hosts mentioned in this post you can scale up but not back down so this can be a big advantage to using Linode if you have large variations in seasonal traffic patters.
If you need load balancing Linode is the only host on this list to offer them as I’ve mentioned previously they’re the host most appropriate for a site that’s getting a lot of traffic.
The price may not be as the lowest but at $10 for a VPS with 1GB of RAM, 1 CPU, 24GB of SSD storage and 2TB of data transfer it’s still an incredible deal.
Linode offers a web based server resource monitoring tool called LongView which provides terrific insight. None of the other VPS hosts on this list offer anything comparable.
Managed hosting and hourly systems administration are available. Linode bills $100 per month per server in addition to the cost of the VPS for managed hosting and they offer systems administration at $100 per hour. It may not be the cheapest but If you’re in a pinch and you need it it’s available.
An API is available for integration and deploying servers.
The UI of their website isn’t the most user friendly. It looks like it was designed by a systems administrator. Everything is functional but at times I find myself searching the page for the correct link.
The CPU performance isn’t that good when compared to RamNode or Vultr.
European data centers
RamNode currently has a single data center in Europe
- Rotterdam (suburb), Netherlands
When benchmarked their servers perform the best of the four VPS hosts when it comes to raw CPU speed.
Super low price low end servers ideal for hosting small static sites that don’t receive much traffic. As low as $15 per year for an OpenVZ based VPS.
Their current customers love them and their support. You usually won’t get anyone willing to go above and beyond for you at larger hosting companies.
Support for Windows VPS, if you need to set up a windows server for an additional cost it’s an option with RamNode.
Their website is clearly made up of several separate systems that have not been fully integrated into each other. The UI is confusing and frustrating to use at times. When using their site It quickly becomes very apparent that they are a small hosting company.
RamNode only offers monthly billing. If you like to set up a VPS from a backup specifically for testing new functionality and then destroy the clone after testing this is a major con.
Most of the self service functionality available via the other VPS hosts mentioned in this post are missing from RamNode. Nearly everything requires opening a support ticket.
No API means there is no way to deploy and configure new VPS’s via code.
European data centers
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Frankfurt, Germany
- London, England
- Paris France
Vultr seems to have positioned themselves as a direct competitor to Digital Ocean and Vultr outperforms Digital Ocean in every benchmark. They have a clean easy to use interface that makes deploying servers relativity painless. They’re lowest price plan is €4.5 which is the same and Digital Ocean’s lowest priced VPS but the specs are better on the Vultr Server with 768MB of Ram, 1 CPU, 15GB of SSD and 1000 GB of monthly data transfer.
Vultr offers support of Windows VPS at an additional cost as well as the ability to deploy a custom ISO which is unique among the four VPS hosts that are being compared.
API for provisioning and monitoring VPS.
Vultr’s network can get a bit congested and the IO rate off the SSD can be slow at times. This is a common issue among many VPS hosts.
Conclusion and recommendation
So what are my recommendations? It really depends on your needs. Do you need a managed VPS or will you do the management yourself?
Managed virtual private servers (VPS)
Small web site, low cost managed VPS hosting
If you plan on using your VPS for web hosting and you would rather not have to worry about installation, security, and updating yourself you would go with a managed VPS. The least expensive way to go for a typical smaller website would be to use a CloudWays managed VPS on top of Digital Oceans “cloud”. A reasonably provisioned server with 1GB of RAM will only cost you around €13.50 monthly.
CloudWays is currently offering a 15 day free trial on their managed VPS with 1GB of RAM.
Large site with redundancy managed VPS hosting
If you’re a larger business that has the need for fail over servers and load balancing and you would like to outsource the management of the servers for your site I would recommend going with Linode and paying the additional $100 per month per server in addition to the server costs for management.
A typical 2 server configuration plus load balancer with management will run you around €300 per month. That price may sound steep but when compared to other managed server options it’s quite inexpensive.
Self managed virtual private servers (VPS)
Web server with caching or static content
On web servers faster CPU speeds don’t usually equate to faster websites. For serving static content such as images, static HTML, CSS and JS files the quality of the network connection and the speed which the files are read from the disk have a greater effect on a web sites performance and Linode has both the best network and the fastest disks. In case you were wondering what I use for my own site, this site currently hosted with Linode. I currently host the majority of my clients sites on Linode and do most of my development on Vultr.
CPU intensive websites or Windows VPS
If you have a web site that can’t make use of caching and every page is served dynamically a faster CPU can improve a web sites performance. Both RamNode and Vultr offer excellent CPU performance and they both also offer Windows as an option. The only thing that is keeping me from recommending RamNodes is the lack of hourly billing. I will often find myself testing new server configuration options using a cloned server based on a snapshot of live server. Fore this reason as well as the additional data centers I’m going to recommend Vultr. If hourly billing isn’t something you will need or want then by all means go give RamNode a try. I have a VPS with them that I use as a VPN/Proxy and it works great.
You may have noticed that I didn’t recommend Digital Ocean for anything. They’ve been thoroughly defeated by Vultr in nearly every way considerable and I currently only recommend using them in conjunction with CloudWays.
I have a page with coupons, promo and discount codes for each of these services that I update frequently. You may be interested in taking a look if you’re planing on giving one of them a try. Rather than post the coupon codes here and potentially forget to update them in the future it makes more sense to link out to the coupon page and I’ll update them there as needed.
That’s it for this post I hope that you’ve found the information in it useful and that I’ve been able to help you select the European based VPS with SSD that suits your needs. If you have any comments or suggestions please leave me a comment. If you would like a personal recommendation based on your needs either leave a comment or fill out the contact form. If you have any other questions that you would like answered I’ve also launched a new forum section for Q & A. You can also join my mailing list by filling out the form on the right hand navigation.
Thank you for reading.