Today, I would like to review linode.com. This is the hosting provider giving me the resources to run this excellent site and its associated servers. First, I'll explain the difference between three types of services that I know of that could potentially offer the same thing, then will explain why I chose Linode and have decided to stick with it.
The three types of services, in order of what I believe to be the least relevant to the most, are shared web hosting, virtual private servers, and dedicated servers. Explanations of the various services are detailed below.
Shared web hosting indicates that you are sharing the service with perhaps hundreds of other users. There are many flaws to this approach.
Some shared web hosts oversell their hardware, providing many with potentially slow websites and resources below what they may have garenteed. Some, in fact, offer free web hosting, but usually, such service does not come with your own domain, the space you can have is usually quite low, and ads are inserted into your pages. Other web hosts such as bluehost seem quite good, but they in their own right are limited. For example, I have little to no control over the configuration of their web server, cannot install my own packages or programs, and in many cases, would not have shell access. Web hosting that is shared does have the advantages of lower prices, some provide e-mail access with either a limited or unlimited number of accounts, and most provide at least one ftp account for uploading files. Also, in shared hosting, or any hosting for that matter, unlimited doesn't usually mean unlimited. Before signing up with any service, try and find the fine print and read it. You may find that some things aren't what they seem.
A virtual private server is similar to having your own server. However, virtualization software is used to give you your own environment on a computer system. Usually, you share this service with one other person, perhaps more.
Virtual private servers and dedicated servers are the same in many ways. You usually aren't prohibited in what software you can install, you have control and access to the kernel of the operating system and up, and some offer the installation of any operating system you want, usually with a fee for operating systems that aren't free. Now, hear are the differences.
With a dedicated server, your bandwidth limits are high or unlimited. Your disk space is usually more than what is provided from a virtual private server, and the resources you receive are your own to do with what you wish. A virtual private server usually has limits on the resources you can use, such as how many CPU cycles you use, how much network usage your server takes (usually limited on dedicated servers as well), and IO rates on your hard drive. Also, since you share resources with other users on a virtual private server, you may find that, if other users are using copious amounts of CPU cycles, that your server may operate slowly. If the virtual private server is any good, they should notify the affected users that the situation is being investigated or has been dealt with. That's my opinion, anyway.
All that having been said, dedicated servers prices are usually quite a bit higher than those provided by a virtual private server. This is likely due to their power requirements, which are usually higher than they need to be, and the expenses and labor required to build a dedicated server and install its operating system. The price is further increased if you want to purchase control panels such as DirectAdmin or CPanel for a gui interface to your server.
I chose to stick with a virtual private server because I can choose what operating system I want installed, can activate more virtual private servers if I wish, and the process is, at least on Linode, instant for most. On most providers, you can even reinstall your chosen operating system if you accidentally prevent the system from booting, for example. On many VPS providers, out of band access is also provided. Linode in particular has two options for such access. The one I prefer and is the most accessible for me is access over ssh. You could also get out of band access with some dedicated server providers, but it is usually rather expensive.
For those who don't know, out of band access gives you access to the server as if you were sitting in front of your own computer. You can monitor everything as it occurs in the boot and shutdown process, for instance. If, for example, you accidentally prevent yourself from accessing the server over its public IP, you can do so through out of band access as that gives you access to the main console on your virtual private server.
Linode provides versatile virtual private servers, hosted via Xen, which is open-source virtualization software. Linode is limited to Linux operating systems, though, but since that's all I want, I don't mind the limitation. In fact, I believe Linux or Unix-based operating systems are some of the most stable operating systems for servers.
With the exception of the graphs showing 24-hour CPU, IO, and network activity, the control panel Linode provides is fully accessible. I can add or remove Linodes under my account with ease. Linode even prorates billing. For example, if it's the fifteenth of the month and I decide to add a Linode to my account, I can do so, but will only be billed approximately half the linode's price. If I then want to take down the linode a day later, I can do that as well and Linode will credit the unused time back to my account. Amazon and Rackspace charge per hour (credit to AviMarcus in the #linode channel at irc.oftc.net), and OpenHosting charges for only used resources. It's one of the reasons why I'm sticking with Linode. I will explain Linode's billing system a little more extensively after I finish talking about the sign-up process.
Another reason I'm staying with Linode is their native IPV6 support, both for their virtual private servers and DNS servers. They can't reverse-dns to IPV6 yet, but that's coming in the future. I'll explain IPV6 in more detail in another article.
Yet another reason I'm staying with Linode is their increase in resources. This was demonstrated on Friday, June 17, 2011. Linode celebrated their eighth year of being a successful company by increasing disk space twenty-five percent of what it had been previously. Now, I have 20GB of disk space on my plan, rather than 16. About one year ago, Linode increased their ram about 42 percent on their Linode 360 plans, moving my plan up from 360MB of ram to 512MB. I can't wait to see what they'll do next year.
Another great point Linode has going for them is their customer support staff. All of my support tickets have been promptly responded to, and when I myself received a ticket from them, I responded to it as promptly as I could. Their staff always seems very willing to assist me with any questions I might have. After the first few questions of mine, I've never felt uncomfortable asking Linode any type of question. Though I've had very few, the questions I have asked have been responded to in a very helpful manor. I would most definitely recommend Linode to anyone looking for a Linux server.
Linode also provides community support as well as documentation relating to various tasks. This documentation has been very helpful to me and I've been quite glad to have it. Their website was and still is very informative as well as being accessible. By far, Linode is one of the best companies I have had the pleasure of working with.
I'm not going to go into all the features Linode has, but I've listed what I believe to be the most important. For more information, look at their features and faq pages. Both supply quite a lot of information that is useful for new subscribers and even existing customers.
Signing up with Linode is a fairly easy process. Click here to go to linode.com. That link will show that you have visited linode.com with my referral which will, if you are an active Linode customer for ninety days and you sign up with the referral code, credit my account twenty dollars which helps to keep my server up and running. Being an active customer means having a Linode up for that period of time.
From the home page, tab to or place your mouse pointer over the sign up link, then click it or press enter. You are then taken to the sign up form, which is explained below.
First, if my information is accurate, you will be presented with a form with various options. You must enter your desired linode.com username, password, E-Mail address, and how you heard about Linode. You can also optionally enter your company name.
Below those form fields are those relating to your billing information. At the time of this writing, Linode accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover cards.
Below that is a table which allows you to select the type of plan you wish to have. Linode won't let you create an account without selecting a linode plan, which makes perfect sense.
You can then enter a referral code which is filled in already, provided you clicked the above link. If not, you can enter the following:
You can also enter a promotional code, though I don't have any of those.
All of this information with the exception of how you heard about Linode, your username, the referral code, and promotional code can be updated in your profile later.
Once you have completed filling out the form, click or press enter on the continue button. Provided everything is filled out correctly, you are then taken to the linode manager, I believe. From there, you can select a location for your linode and rebuild it by selecting an operating system, root password, and setting the size for your appropriate disk profiles. Once your linode has been built, you may start it up by clicking or pressing enter on the boot button for the selected profile in the dashboard.
Once your linode is booted, you can then ssh into it using your favorite ssh client. Alternatively, you can use the out of band access shell in the web browser, which uses Ajax. Information on the various options for remotely accessing your linode can be found on the remote access tab by clicking or pressing enter on it. This is also where your linode's IP is listed.
Linode bills you on the first of every month. Your credit card will be charged automatically at that time unless you have money in your Linode account that covers the cost of the payment Linode needs to receive. For example, if Linode is charging you $19.95 for your Linode and you have $20.00 in your Linode account, your credit card will be charged nothing. If you then leave the $00.05 in your account, you will be charged $19.90 next month, $00.05 less than the price Linode is charging. If Linode doesn't received a payment charged on your credit card that is due within ten days, your Linode will be deactivated.
Optionally, you can make payments in advance. For example, if I wanted to pay sixty dollars, I could do so by making a payment. My credit card will be charged and I will have sixty dollars in my Linode account.
Also, when you sign up for or add a Linode to your account, you can select the billing period. Linode offers annual billing at a ten percent discount, and two-year billing at a fifteen percent discount. This means that if you were paying for the lowest Linode plan at 19.95 sense a month and decided to pay annually, instead of paying a total of $239.40 monthly for one year, you would be paying $215.46 immediately, which would cover the full use of that Linode for one year. Alternatively, if you paid for your Linode for two years, which would be $478.80 if you paid monthly, you could pay $406.98 up front and have your Linode covered for two years. Though it may not seem to be the case, paying for the Linode for one or two years of service up front is cheaper than paying for it monthly.
From this point, it's a good idea to read the getting started guide which reiterates much of what I've said (though has accompanying graphics that might make it easier to follow), and the beginners guide, both of which should give you plenty of good information on starting out with your linode. There are plenty of other useful guides in the linode library that can help you get more out of your linode.
I've enjoyed Linode, both because of what I can do on my linode and because of what a wonderful company and VPS provider they've been. If anything, I'll stay with Linode because they've been so very kind to me, even if I do end up finding a better deal down the road.
I hope you've found this article informative, and if you've signed up with linode, I hope you enjoy your linode. I certainly enjoy mine!
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