Comparing DH VPS with others, includes Q&A

Ref a thread where I asked if it was acceptable to discuss this topic.

I have a number of WordPress sites in shared space, some with over 20 plugins. The average RAM/transaction is 60-90MB. With just a couple simultaneous hits this will cause procwatch to kill all processes. This has become a daily pain. The next step is to get a VPS. I’ve researched the topic, prefer to host VPS with DH but had to check competitors. Here are some numbers and questions.

Current requirements/preferences:

  • 2GB RAM, will probably need to scale to 4 or 8 within the year
  • 2 Cores
  • I want host-provided management of the web server (Apache or NGinx) and MySQL. Specifically I want someone to keep up with patches, security, and optimal configuration. I can do this but don’t want to spend time in ongoing research to keep up with it. The internet is a wild place and I value a host that keeps us safe and performant with regular server maintenance.

HostGator advertises these plans:
2 GB RAM, 2 Core, 120GB disk, $20
4 + 2 + 165 = $30
8 + 4 + 240 = $40
For “shared-host-like” management of the web server and MySQL, a CPanel and other common conveniences, add $10 to each tier. I consider this a hidden price above their advertised price.
VPS does include root.


2 GB RAM + 2 Cores + 40GB SSD is $47/month plus $7 management fee as described above. At that price for the most basic plan I won’t look further.


Advertised pricing:
1 RAM + 1 Core + 20 Disk = $5/month
2 + 1 + 30 = $10
4 + 2 + 48 = $20
8 + 4 + 96 = $40
Like the others, add monthly management - in this case a whopping $100/mo offsets the awesomely low prices there. This is for people who don’t need any help, more like DreamCompute. That’s a significant issue that takes them off the table too.

And now DreamHost...

DH requires a separate, normal account, which I already have of course, so add $10/month to VPS prices:
1GB RAM + 30GB disk = $15
2 + 60 = $30
4 + 120 = $60
8 + 240 = $120

  • So DH uses a simple multiplier like Linode, where HostGator offers a quantity-discount. Since I know I’m going to need to up-size soon, so far DH at $60/mo isn’t as attractive as HG at $40. No, this isn’t a big difference but when we’re talking about $240/year, now all of a sudden the numbers look more significant.
  • DH doesn’t mention cores.
  • DH says “Additional RAM and Storage can be added after signing up.” but there’s no pricing advertised for this Before signing up. I don’t care much about disk so 4-8GB of ram with 2 cores would still work for me with 60GB disk - assuming the RAM cost is trivial. With my current plan, and being a DH client for over a decade, I have “unlimited” DH disk anyway.
  • DH doesn’t mention support for web server or MySQL, which is a big deal for me.
  • I’m happy with my normal, non-optimized MySQL for now, so don’t need MySQL VPS - note this isn’t offered anywhere else.
  • DH also doesn’t mention pricing for MySQL VPS.
  • DH does not support root in VPS. This has caused some people to move to DreamCompute. I don’t know if I’m ready for that, and would still need support for the web server and mySQL. I’m willing to see how far I can go without root. I’d like to run Java apps so I hope root isn’t required to install, run, or update Java.

Summary for now:

  • I need answers from DH to the above.
  • For this comparison I have to put aside intangibles like uptime/SLA, effective support, etc, as there’s no way to quantify that for comparison.
  • Ultimately if I need to scale to 8GB RAM, with DH I’m looking at $120+10=$130/month, more than what I now pay per year, and with Hostgator it’s $50 including root. I believe they’re also going to have a BlackFriday event to lower prices… I will not give up my DH shared account for minimal needs, and I don’t want to move everything else to another host, but at this moment I feel compelled to consider adding the other provider.

I will continue to look elsewhere, since HostGator has really bad reviews for support. But I’m hoping DH will come up with something I don’t know, a sale, a loyalty discount for a long-term client, some detail that reduces that $80/month disparity. I’ll even consider moving to DreamCompute if someone can convince me that support for a web server is trivial.

Thanks for your time, interest, and information.

Dreamhost can deliver mysql as a “Goodie” if you have a VPS. Comes with PHPMySql. When you setup a VPS it pretty much behaves just like shared hosting, only you’re isolated on your virtual drive. All of Dreamhost’s shared features work on VPS so you have to manage as little as possible. If you have shared hosting already, Dreamhost can migrate all of your shared projects onto your VPS automatically. The only setback is you don’t get root access to your VPS.

On the other hand, you could check out DreamCompute and get 80GB of HD space and 2Gb of Ram (only 1 CPU core) but it’s completely hands on. You get root access here but you’d have to learn how to setup a web server in a linux environment. The cost is $3 less per month than their $15 managed VPS plan and you can sort out your own load balancing with whatever web server technology you choose to install and use.

I’m not sure that number is as relevant as some people think but in any case, depending on where the VPS is deployed, there can be as many as 16 cores available.

Prices are on the VPS hosting page.

Nginx and Apache are supported. MySQL is available also, just like in shared hosting: if you’re happy with the databases you have now, keep them as they are (no need to add another VPS for MySQL only).

On my VPS:

$ java -showversion
java version "1.6.0_41"
OpenJDK Runtime Environment (IcedTea6 1.13.13) (6b41-1.13.13-0ubuntu0.12.04.1)
OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM (build 23.41-b41, mixed mode)

But I don’t run Java applications so I have no idea what that does in practice :slight_smile:

I would suggest you to try moving your sites one at the time to a VPS and see how things go: you pay month-by-month and you can always go back to shared hosting. DreamHost support team will help you move your sites, too.

@smaffulli - you add AWESOME value to DreamHost and this community. Please don’t change. :slight_smile:

I wasn’t clear about a couple points:

When I say “support for web server or MySQL”, I mean management. With Shared hosting we never need to worry about web server configs, updates, or security patches because you guys handle all that (I hope… LOL). When we’re running in a VPS it’s my belief that we have our own instance of a web server for which we are entirely responsible. I need the isolation and performance of VPS without the responsibility for web server maintenance.

Since we’re still using the default MySQL and that Is supported/maintained/updated by DH, that’s off my list of concerns.

About additional RAM, I still do not see pricing for increasing RAM. My ideal package would be to get everything just like shared hosting but with a 4GB memory limit without procwatch killing processes. So I would look at the low-end VPS plan with minimal disk, 1GB RAM, and pricing for increasing that to 4GB or higher.

I feel we’re very close to ending this saga. Thanks again!

Yes, MySQL and webserver are both managed on VPS, just like shared hosting. That’s why there is no ‘root’ access for users.

I guess the web page could be more clear: if you need more RAM, you need to get to get a different package. Say you start with a 1GB VPS and later you realize you need 2GB, you’ll hit a button on the control panel to “upgrade” the machine going from $15/month to $30/month.

So, I guess I’m stating the obvious for those who already “get it”, but it seems DH VPS is the same as shared hosting but with a higher and guaranteed memory limit. Where in shared space procwatch steps in at around 128M/process and/or some number of processes using some amount of RAM, VPS is not vague about a hard limit. VPS is also “generally” not influenced by other server users, whereas in shared space, even if we’re not abusing RAM, our services are more subject to resource usage by neighbors. And while we don’t have root access, I believe VPS doesn’t have restrictions against installing software, where in shared space we can’t install anything that requires writing outside of our username folder tree.

For these benefits the price is a base of $15 for 1MB of that reserved RAM plus our normal $10/month DH account. Well, it looks to me like DH VPS is one of the most expensive that I’ve seen, even when adding the service fee for management to competitor base pricing for VPS. I have a lot of MySQL databases so there is significant value there. Fast and easy SSL and CDN add value, as well as the email services.

Now I think the decision is much simpler. I’ll accept $15/month as reasonable for 1GB of managed VPS. I have a problem with that doubling for 2GB and again for 4 where competitors add $10/month at each increment rather than doubling the price. And when I’m adding that cost just for reserved and increased memory, are the other services actually worth an additional $120/year? (db and email primarily, I don’t care about the convenience of SSL or CDN)

Aside from this, I have a frugal little DIY guy on my shoulder. In my research I’ve found stable VPS hosts with happy clients that are Much less expensive (no names) for unmanaged services, and in discussion with their users, to my amazement it seems I may over-value management for web server and database server. Those folks claim that while they don’t run default servers they also don’t feel a need for maintenance beyond standard auto-updates. That doesn’t stand the test of targeted hacks, 0day malware, etc, but (a) I’m not worthy of such targeting, and (b) I’d be fine with a wipe and reinstall if I did get hit by this. So I ask myself - why do I care about management when I can get unmanaged services for SO much cheaper, and still keep my DH shared services for non-critical, low-profile usage.

That’s a question that only I can answer but actual Value is a huge factor in this comparison. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any intent to leave DH. But as a loyal client for over a decade just don’t want to pay above market rates for modest (1-2GB RAM) VPS services.

If I were getting paid for these sites, or funding them with advertising dollars, etc, then money wouldn’t be a real concern. But at the moment that’s not the case, and that’s my problem, not DH’s.

Here’s my short-term conclusion.

  1. I’m going to start with the 1GB VPS now. As @smaffulli said, I can always change later. I accept $15/month as being average for that platform, though not competetive or compelling with the need to add $10 for a DH account (which I have anyway).
  2. I will also get started DreamCompute as a way to play with self-management of a public-facing server, and perhaps for shifting some of my non-critical efforts off-line and out of primary shared/VPS space.
  3. I will continue to look at lower-cost, DIY, non-DH solutions, maybe for hosting my non-public development projects and stick with DH only for production sites … or the other way around.

In the longer term I just need to work on better funding for my projects so that I don’t need to do so much soul searching on things like this. If we spend more of our time on generating revenue, and do that well, we don’t need to spend so much time being cheap about expenses.

More later… Thanks again.

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