MTJ Hax

In praise of Slicehost

Posted in web hosting by mtjhax on October 30, 2009

I’ve been using Slicehost for some personal projects and prototype sites for about a year and, at the risk of sounding like I’m getting paid to pimp their service–which I absolutely am not, I gotta say I just love ’em! I just moved a major web site from a 2GB dedicated server to a 512MB virtual slice (and it’s handling requests even faster than before after porting from Apache to Nginx + Phusion Passenger).

What’s so good about Slicehost?

  • Sign up for a server, put in a credit card, you can be logging in with SSH and setting things up literally within a few minutes. Server provisioning is completely automatic, fast, and you can choose from a wide variety of Linux distros.
  • $20/month for an entry-level slice with 256MB memory, suitable for running most small web sites. Not the cheapest, but for what you get it’s quite a bargain.
  • Their servers have generally been rock-solid for me, and the one time they weren’t (I believe the server my slice was on had a drive controller meltdown) I was only down a few hours, was kept up-to-date on their progress via email, and was given a free month to make up for it. The only other downtime has been for short overnight maintenance periods and I’ve given notice far in advance via email.
  • Slicehost management tools are a delight to use. Simple, logical, functional. I upgraded a slice from their 256MB entry-level to a 512MB setup: it was completely automatic, my server was only down for about 2 minutes, and it worked like a charm. I wanted my site’s reverse DNS to reflect my domain name instead of Slicehost’s–it was just a few clicks away.
  • Slicehost’s community site has some of the best articles available on setting up Ruby on Rails & Django servers. I’ve actually used their articles when setting things up on other people’s servers. Sometimes the articles on a software package are even better than the help from the package’s own help pages.
  • Active community and great attitudes. These folks really mean it when they say built by developers, for developers, despite being bought out by hosting heavyweight Rackspace. I love their SLA:

Most hosting SLA agreements are just plain silly. They promise things like 99.9% uptime, but downtime excludes: scheduled maintenance, network outages, hardware failures and software trouble. Well what exactly is left to cause downtime? Here’s our SLA: we’ll do our best to keep your machines running smoothly for as long as possible and get them up ASAP should something go wrong.

  • Need more? Private IPs for slice-to-slice networking, referral bonuses, API access to management tools, free DNS hosting, and bandwidth pooling across slices.

One minor con is that they don’t have configurable hardware firewalls or custom hardware options. My $100 dedicated server at Hostway came with a hardware firewall that gave me an extra level of comfort. With everyone moving to cloud services these days, I guess only old-timers like me still think a hardware firewall or load-balancer might be useful.

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One Response

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  1. PickledOnion said, on October 30, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Lovely review – thanks for taking the time to write it!

    If you even need help, just pop into our chatroom at http://chat.slicehost.com and we’ll be happy to help.

    Paul


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