Now that I've got this site moved over to a VPS, I can start actually keeping a blog here. I compared a few different hosting providers and settled on Linode.com, and it's been a good experience so far.

Before I moved this site to a VPS, it was being hosted on DreamHost, but their recent ongoing problems with the "blingy" cluster forced me to move due to the fact that my sites had been inaccessible or slow to the point of being unusable for weeks. Even after the problem had supposedly been resolved, the load on the server I was on was consistently over 30 and at times would spike to over 100. I'd had good luck hosting with DreamHost in the past, but this time it really just didn't work out. Though I've canceled my account, I still think they are decent people; they respond quickly to emails, they add new features for existing customers, they have a good control panel, and their blog and newsletters are interesting to read. To be fair, not everyone has been affected by the recent problems, but the service wasn't meeting my own needs this time.

When I started looking for alternatives, I decided to go for a VPS solution. I had hosted this site on a dedicated server (through The Planet) for a while, but that was really overkill for my needs. So to save money on hosting and to reduce time spent maintaining a server, I went back to shared hosting. That was a mistake; even without the problems DreamHost was having, Drupal just didn't run very well with their database setup. On top of that, I was frustrated by my sites being affected by the traffic and database usage of other users. I suppose my time on a dedicated server spoiled me. A VPS seemed like the best option: though it would mean managing the OS and software myself, the cost would be less than with a dedicated server and the performance would be higher than on shared hosting (due to having guaranteed CPU and RAM access).

I narrowed my choices down to three options: RimuHosting, Linode, and Slicehost. All three use Xen, which has proven itself to be a stable, high-performance virtual machine monitor, and all three have good features and high-quality support at decent prices. I have experience working with a VPS hosted at RimuHosting running RHEL ("RimuHosting Enterprise Linux", RHEL4-based) and have had good luck with them. Their support is top-notch; a search on Google will verify this. They are willing to help setup and configure your system and even perform minor system administration tasks, and rates for extended sysadmin work are very reasonable. In addition, weekly system backups are included, along with free FTP space for custom backups.

I was interested in giving one of the other services a try, and to be honest it was difficult to choose between them. They both have very positive customer reviews and offer a similar set of core functionality. I ended up choosing Linode because they offered slightly more memory and bandwidth for the same price, and their control panel functionality is quite extensive. Slicehost offers an inexpensive add-on snapshot backup service that I would like to have tried out, however; I may sign up with them at some point in the future to do a full comparison.

Ultimately I think it would be difficult to go wrong with any of these VPS hosting providers. Here are direct links to their service plans if you'd like to compare for yourself: RimuHosting, Linode, and Slicehost.

Update Linode experience

It has been a year since you chose Linode. What is your latest assessment?

Linode: one year later

Hi John,

I'm very happy with my Linode experience and would highly recommend them. The service and support are both reliable, they've continually increased the value of the service (for example, by adding more disk space, even to existing accounts), and the Linode manager is solid and useful. In addition, they are working on a backup service (currently in beta) that promises to be painless and affordable.

I haven't actively researched any competitor offerings since I chose Linode, so there might be other comparable services available now. But the fact that I haven't needed to research other hosting services is perhaps the best proof that I'm happy with my choice of Linode, even one year later.

Thanks for the question!