A Detailed Linode Review

It's been just over 2 months since I have been using Linode's VPS (Virtual Private Server) services. I decided to give them a try to see what the hype was all about. The closest I've ever gotten to use Linode was reading the many tutorials they have in the Linode Library. Before them, I was using BurstNET for hosting my blog (a review here). Burst and Linode offer similar services but for different markets. Firstly, price wise, Burst is budget at $5.95 vs Linode's $19.95 for similar specs in disk (20GB) and memory (512MB). Linode however, use Xen and not OpenVZ like Burst, therefore you get only guaranteed memory while Burst allows you to burst (too many "bursts" now :-S) to 1GB. Bandwidth is also much less between them (Linode 200GB vs BurstNET 1000GB). Summing up: Linode is more of a premium, unmanaged VPS provider.

So, where does the money to your premium VPS go in Linode?

The VPS panel is simply amazing! They use their own in house panel where you can customize the VPS as much as you want before setup. You can, for example, not use the whole disk allocation, setup different swap sizes, change kernels, the list goes on!

You can use something called "StackScripts" to deploy your VPS with the OS, software installed, configured etc… in one click. There are many (added up to 210) StackScripts, by Linode and users' contributions.

Your bandwidth is pooled, rather than offered as an individual allotment to each VPS. Let's say you have 5 of the lowest VPS which offers 200GB each. The total bandwidth you can use across all your VPSes is 1000GB, so you can have 1 using 900GB and the rest the remaining 100GB or any combination within your limit.

Then you have locations. You can deploy your VPS in any of the six locations they offer. Since it is a one-click operation, you pay for a slot in any location. During the VPS setup you select the deployment location and voila, you have a VPS in that location. As a result, they offer a page that shows in (real time?) the availability of each data center. Oh and they have Japan as a location as well ;-). More goodies here!

Customer support is simply superb. Whenever I had problems I would wait maximum 5 minutes to get a reply. I wouldn't be surprised that is where most of the fee you pay goes to. Granted the issues I had were checking up on the status of a certain location, I'm not sure how long it would take if the problem I faced was much more serious.

Service wise, the first month was really bad :-(. The problems were mostly network issues in the DC I deployed my Linode in. Even worst, it was isolated to only the section where the node was hosted. I had problems from the 24th of November until the 7th of December (that was the last reply I sent them acknowledging problem solved). They associated the problem I faced to bad luck, and it seems they were right. My VPS is now at 65 days of uptime :-D!

What is the network speed like?

From my London based Linode, here are wgets from downloading Linode's test files (100MB each):

London Linode –> London (within the same network): 34.3 MB/s

London Linode –> New Jersey: 1.63 MB/s

London Linode –> California: 1.13 MB/s

London Linode –> Tokyo: 721 KB/s

Now for network tests from one of my many VPSes to my London Linode (100MB test file):

New Jersey –> London Linode: 501 KB/s

France –> London Linode: 5.08 MB/s

Illinois –> London Linode: 2.55 MB/s

Florida –> London Linode: 3.60 MB/s

California –> London Linode: 2.24 MB/s

For some reason network performance isn't the best amongst other providers I have used, however I have nothing that requires serving files in high speed.

What about disk performance and processor?

hdparm -tT /dev/xvda
Timing cached reads:   9396 MB in  1.99 seconds = 4714.37 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 376 MB in  3.00 seconds = 125.13 MB/sec


dd if=/dev/zero of=test bs=64k count=16k conv=fdatasync
16384+0 records in
16384+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB) copied, 13.0345 s, 82.4 MB/s
cat /proc/cpuinfo
Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU  L5520  @ 2.27GHz
The verdict?
Overall performance great, customer service excellent, customization abilities excellent but network a bit on the poor side.


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