A comparative review on VPS servers: Linode, Vultr, Upcloud, Amazon lightsail, Lunanode, Digital Ocean, Hetzner


Applicable To: VPS mentioned
Updated: Friday, 29. May 2020 04:15 PM UTC


Trying to buy a VPS you would normally find yourself in a dilemma on which VPS provider to choose from. There are a plethora of choices on the internet for VPS providers. After seeing so many options around every corner, you suddenly find yourself visiting different best 15, top 10 pages to have a little more insight on this matter. You would probably find some good names like Bluehost, DreamHost, Hostgator, etc, but know that they are expensive and they are expensive for a reason; they provide extra services associated with the VPS. But if you are someone who wants a VPS to have absolute granular control over your possession, you actually can and should choose a less expensive solution.

You probably have heard of Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Oracle, and such. They are some big names for big projects with big promises. But today I will talk about some other names that you may or may not know about. By the way, amazon lightsail may sound a good choice but that is not the case at all. You will see what I mean.

Today's topic:

Configurations:

Server GHz Cores RAM Swap SSD Price
Vultr 3.792 1 1 GB - 32 GB $6
Linode 2.0 1 1 GB 511 MB 25 GB $5
UpCloud 3.0 1 1 GB - 25 GB $5
LunaNode 3.0 2 1 GB 511 MB 20 GB $7
Lightsail 2.4 1 1 GB - 40 GB $5
Digital Ocean 2.2 1 1 GB - 25 GB $5
Hetzner 2.1 2 4 GB - 40 GB EUR 4.9

Processing power

The processing power was measured by the time taken for a 500 MB sha256 hashing, bzip2 compression, and AES encryption.

Data size: 500MB

Time taken: n seconds

Y-axis: 500/n

sha256 hashing

Vultr is obviously the winner here.

bzip2 compression

Again the winner is Vultr for processing power.

AES encryption

SSD I/O ping

This is an input/output ping test.

Ping time: n microseconds

Y-axis: n

Lesser is better.

SSD read speed

Read speed is shown along Y-axis and measured in MB/s.

SSD write speed

Write speed is shown along Y-axis and measured in MB/s.

Network

The values presented are self-evaluated minimum values found in my tests.

Public IP ping test

Ping time: n microseconds

Y-axis: 1/n

Lesser is better.

Note

Amazon lightsail does not allow ICMP for ping. For ping test on Lightsail, you will have to allow ICMP in firewall.

Overall ranking

Amazon Lightsail gave the worst performance while Vultr and LunaNode seems to be competing with each other. Vultr loses to LunaNode in I/O ping while LunaNode loses to Vultr both in CPU performance and network speed, especially in network speed as the 2 core performance in LunaNode is bearable.

Linode's I/O ping came to be the worst. It's read/write speed is reasonably fast though. It especially loses in CPU power and I/O ping test.

UpCloud's performance is similar to Linode, but sometimes it outperforms Linode. We can say it's overall better than Linode.

LunaNode excels in I/O ping which is at 50 to 60 us (microseconds) and in SSD read speed (around 1.5 GB/s). It loses in public IP ping test, and the most important thing: the network speed, gaah... It would be the only viable choice if the network speed was good enough. And also the public IP ping test result is horrible, from my location it's around 410 ms while vultr is 276 ms (176 ms for London) and Linode is 262 ms (180 ms for London).

The overall performance is better with Vultr. It's also the most consistent in test results while others show quite different results at different times, but vultr manages to pull itself out from the crowd in most of the tests. Ah.. if only it's SSD I/O ping were as good as LunaNode!!!

It's time to announce the winner of this round. It's a tough choice between Vultr and LunaNode. But I guess, I will give Vultr the first position just because of its network. Also, it's performance seems more stable than the others.

Winner: Vultr

My Ranking:

  1. Vultr
  2. Hetzner (Better than Linode with a comprehensive solution for basic VPS requirements)
  3. Linode (Comprehensive solution)

The above are my choices and they are not completely based on performance. I also looked at the features they provide and how much they charge for those features. On that topic, Vultr does not provide DDoS protection for free (not yet as of 23 May, 2020). Also, it has a weird traffic calculation logic which makes inbound traffic conditionally free (not free). I do not use Vultr for its lack of features and because it is still growing (not as mature as Linode). Considering different aspects, I do not want to give Vultr the #1 position, but its performance and stability are that much impressive to make me feel coerced to crown it as the #1 VPS provider.

Note

All those VPS above runs on shared resources, which means the performance depends on loads from other users too. The more popular a VPS provider is, the more users they have. For example, LunaNode is not much popular as the others, thus it can provide you with low latency storage with high read speed. It may not be able to do that for you when they become more popular and gain a lot of customers.

As such, Linode is probably more popular than Vultr, thus it's I/O ping is lacking because the underlying resources are being shared by a lot of users.

Update

Months after doing the above tests, I looked through several VPS again and here's what I found:

  1. Vultr: It became overall better.
    1. (+) CPU performance has improved
    2. (+) SDD read/write has improved
    3. (-) SSD I/O ping increased.
    4. (+) Public IP ping is comparable to others.
  2. UpCloud: It has degraded; better than current Linode.
    1. (-) CPU performance has degraded
    2. (-) SSD read speed has decreased.
    3. (+) Public IP ping is comparable to others.
  3. Linode: It has degraded.
    1. (-) CPU performance has degraded
    2. (-) SSD read speed has decreased
    3. (-) SSD write speed has decreased
    4. (±) SSD I/O ping has improved but still way worse than others.
    5. (-) Network speed has decreased.
  4. Digital Ocean: It was added recently to my benchmark. It performs similarly to Linode with a better network speed comparable to Vultr.
  5. LunaNode: I am no longer interested. They charge for both inbound and outbound traffic.
  6. Lightsail: No improvement.
  7. Hetzner: Added recently; no prior test to compare. It's better than Linode. It also has the basic features needed for a complete VPS solution. (20 TB of outbound traffic :sunglasses:)

Which one do I use currently?

Still using Linode for its comprehensive features; and those features are just too valuable. I am waiting for Vultr to catch up to Linode in terms of basic features such as free DDoS protection, block storage support in the UK/London region, rescue mode, manual backup, etc.