A Look at the Top Xen VPS Web Host Providers

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The virtualization race is on.  Now that concept of hosting several accounts on a single server as if they are on their own server has taken off, multiple platforms have been developed to try to perfect this emulation.  Each of them have their own strengths and weaknesses, and there already exist long online discussions about which is better.

The battle is just in its opening stages, but so far as best as we can tell, the leader in this area seems to be Xen.  This is all dependent on exactly what you most need it for, and do note that some hosts will provide more than one platform.

A quick summary of Xen’s appeal

What makes Xen attractive to many users is its powerful flexibility.  It uses a type of architecture known as “paravirtualization.”  That convoluted word may be the last straw for some of you technophobes, but don’t sweat it.  What that means is that underneath the Xen kernel is an extra layer virtual kernels.  This means that each user on a Xen-backed VPS machine effectively has their own virtual operation system.  The advantage to that comes from the fact that, since there is an invisible kernel controlling the action in the background, system resources that are normally static can shift around a bit as the users on the machine require it to.

The bottom line is that this creates a very robust type of type of VPS server.  Many web hosts have seized on this and offered some very worthwhile packages utilizing it.  Let’s take a look at some of the best ones out there.

BudgetVM

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Each of the VPS packages that BudgetVM offers has roughly double the specs of the one below it.  With 11 packages this gets pretty big.  Since you are not likely to want to pay $1,899/month for 64 TB of bandwidth, we suggest looking at their lower-middle packages instead.  $19.50/month for 1GB of RAM, 1TB of bandwidth and 40GB of disk space is one of the best deals you’re going to find anywhere.

Their Xen platforms run on 11 different Linux variants, and BudgetVM themselves operate out of 4 different locations.  One minor drawback is that cPanel and DirectAdmin are both addons with large monthly fees, $20 and $10 respectively.

Crucial Paradigm

Crucial Paradigm’s web site explains their services in great detail.  They also off a number of packages that more-or-less double each other, but they don’t go hog wild like BudgetVM.  Just about all of their account types are arguably good deals for the appropriate customer.  Even their top-level choice, the CP-Xen-8192, is only $199/month for 8GB of RAM, 4TB/month of storage and access to all 4 of your machine’s cores.

As usual we’re going to push customers towards the middle options here, though CP’s under-$10 bargain plans cannot be ignored.  Their installed control panel gives the user many types of server reboot controls, from restarting the virtual server, to a hard reboot, to rebuilding the VPS’s operating system.  You can even install multiple operating systems, and change them at the touch of a button!

ProVPS

ProVPS does something with their plans that more hosts should do, and may well be an indicator of their quality.  Each of their VPS accounts comes with a guaranteed maximum number of users on it.  Most hosts don’t publish that information, and many won’t even tell you when you ask.  Those who are going the VPS route would do well to remember that multiple users on a single machine is still multiple users on a single machine.  While the virtualization technology is getting better, it will never be infallible, and will always be vulnerable to the creative problems presented by That User.

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Anyway, this leads us to point out that with ProVPS the higher the plan you pick the lower the number of users per server, going all the way down to 10 on the top choice.  The machine specs are impressive as well: all of their plans right down to their lowest utilize a dual quad core Xeon (that’s 8 CPU’s), and SATA II Raid 10 Arrays for their drives.  This is a host that has gone the extra mile to ensure stability, and they don’t charge you an arm and a leg for it.

Prgmr.com

We have to admit it.  After constantly poring over one host after another with sleek, almost magically interactive site designs, we’re just not sure what to make of a web host whose front page looks like it was written as a 1997 HTML 101 assignment, and whose company logo is made from ASCII art.  Their slogan is “We don’t assume you are stupid”.  From looking at their site, it almost appears the opposite:this looks like a VPS host for the experts.

Don’t get us wrong: this is not a bad thing.  Not everyone needs to be hand-held.  If you are a user who can do it yourself, then you might appreciate a host that will provide you with instructions for installing your own (there’s that word again) paravirtualized operating system under their Linux Xen kernel.  If this sounds enticing, it will be even more so when you look at their prices.  Apply enough pre-pay discounts and coupons, and you can get their machine with 2GB RAM for roughly $20/month.

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Evorack

We’ll be generous and not think too badly of the fact that this is the first VPS host we’ve surveyed in a long time that doesn’t tell you how much CPU you buy with your account.  Instead we’ll focus on the fact that Evorack is one of the few hosts to offer both managed and unmanaged VPS.  Their managed plans come at two different levels on top of that, depending on the level of service you need.  None of their fees for any of these are bad, and the lower level Basic Managed accounts might be a good deal for someone who just needs a little help getting started.

All of Evorack’s plans offer 14 different Linux variants in either 32 or 64 bit versions, and come with a /64 Ipv6 subnet.  This means that your account comes with 18.4 quintillion IPv6 addresses, just in case you needed a few.   It’s refreshing as well to see a host that admits that “uptime guarantees” are often subtly empty promises.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  For right now, Xen appears to be the virtual private server platform of choice.  Customers who are looking for this have even more choice.

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