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How do you know if you're over/underpaying for hosting?
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How do you know if you're over/underpaying for hosting?

As the "tech guy" in my social circles, I have a handful of sites that I have setup for various friends and work colleagues. I'm not a server admin or website expert by any stretch of the imagination, almost certainly in the bottom 10 or 20% of knowledge out of people on this site, but in my friend group, that makes me the go-to helper. Most of the sites get barely any traffic and don't need hardly anything in terms of storage/databases/media bandwidth, so those all live on a fairly cheap shared hosting plan and work just fine.

But one of my colleague's sites gets a bit more traffic, as it is used to publish data from research in his (admittedly niche) field, and since it actually uses a few mysql tables, needs the occasional video or audio posted which gets streamed by visitors, and has a discussion forum with maybe 20-50 posts/day. Overall storage for the site is only 13GB right now, but slowly creeping up, and the datasets get accessed in bursts when new ones are published via rss feed, though average traffic is fairly low. So about a year ago, I moved his site to a separate "higher tier" shared hosting plan.

I recently discovered this site, and after browsing the regular deals and the Black Friday specials, I've kinda realized that I am probably overpaying for that "premium" shared plan, but I'm not sure how to go about figuring that out. The host I have used for years has been really great in terms of customer service, and I have a relatively decent promo price from a coupon for both the regular shared sites ($3/mo for those) and the one on the premium shared plan ($15/mo), but would it be better to move to a VPS if I would be paying less? The host is StableHost, if it matters, and they do have VPS deals, though I honestly don't know what I'm even looking for or how to tell how much ram or cores I need, or if I should consider all the other hosts out there instead for this one site? Storage is easy enough to figure out based on how much gets added per month on average, and bandwidth is roughly calculate-able, too, but the other specs? I'm a bit lost. But I could definitely get various VPS plans for less than I'm paying, would those perform better? I know I'd have to set certain things up again if I moved the site, but that part is not a concern as I'm patient and have time to learn.

Help or advice is appreciated! Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • You might not need a VPS at all. If you're hosting multiple sites I'd look at reseller accounts. If the databases aren't very large they can get away with shared hosting (reseller). You'll find you save a ton of money going reseller account instead of paying per account. You can literally get your costs to less than $1/month per site (even much lower than this) with better specs than you'd get on a VPS paying a lot more.

    You picked the right time of year to join, the Black Friday specials make prices much better.

  • Couple of things:

    • If it ain't broke, don't fix it. $15/mo on LET is a pretty high price to pay for shared hosting, but if $15/mo means a hassle free and decent web browsing experience then that's worth a lot.
    • Shared hosting vs VPS is not an obvious choice. Shared hosting is completely managed by the webhost and if you purchase a VPS from here, the responsibility of maintaining the state of your hosting setup is completely on you.
    • If you become webmaster for your friends, then you will be primarily the one to blame for any downtime, website errors, etc. Are you ok with that?
    • For simpler cost savings, if the main source of traffic bursts are people downloading the data, you should move that data off the shared webhost and somewhere else. For example, BackBlaze B2 and CloudFlare R2 offer 10GB of free storage and unlimited bandwidth (through CloudFlare). There are other services like this as well.
    • The exact VPS requirements you will need will really depend on the web stack, plugins, etc. It's hard to calculate, and specs will vary across providers. You can do some testing with load tools like loader.io.
    • One approach may be for you to start out with a big VPS, and scale down as you monitor usage.
  • @spun said:
    You might not need a VPS at all. If you're hosting multiple sites I'd look at reseller accounts. If the databases aren't very large they can get away with shared hosting (reseller). You'll find you save a ton of money going reseller account instead of paying per account. You can literally get your costs to less than $1/month per site (even much lower than this) with better specs than you'd get on a VPS paying a lot more.

    You picked the right time of year to join, the Black Friday specials make prices much better.

    Interesting, I had not considered the reseller plans. Would that be basically like having my own group of sites on a shared hosting but they are managed individually? The $3/mo for the shared now covers about 12 sites off the top of my head (stuff like a couple blogs, a WoW guild site, a "permanent bookmark page", a custom domain for a public iCal, etc.), but if I could get the "bigger" site on the same plan that would definitely save some money.

  • @CyberneticTitan said:
    Couple of things:

    • If it ain't broke, don't fix it. $15/mo on LET is a pretty high price to pay for shared hosting, but if $15/mo means a hassle free and decent web browsing experience then that's worth a lot.
    • Shared hosting vs VPS is not an obvious choice. Shared hosting is completely managed by the webhost and if you purchase a VPS from here, the responsibility of maintaining the state of your hosting setup is completely on you.
    • If you become webmaster for your friends, then you will be primarily the one to blame for any downtime, website errors, etc. Are you ok with that?
    • For simpler cost savings, if the main source of traffic bursts are people downloading the data, you should move that data off the shared webhost and somewhere else. For example, BackBlaze B2 and CloudFlare R2 offer 10GB of free storage and unlimited bandwidth (through CloudFlare). There are other services like this as well.
    • The exact VPS requirements you will need will really depend on the web stack, plugins, etc. It's hard to calculate, and specs will vary across providers. You can do some testing with load tools like loader.io.
    • One approach may be for you to start out with a big VPS, and scale down as you monitor usage.

    Yeah I've definitely realized the $15/mo is way too much, at least from what is possible. I see what you mean about the peace of mind and not being the blame for downtime, but honestly I host this stuff for free for them (excuse to dabble) and have no issues telling them to pay for and run it themselves if they want it perfect, haha.

    As for the shared hosting vs VPS choice -- that seems to be my biggest sticking point. I bought one super cheap low-spec BF special from that megathread to play around with, but as far as seeing the advantage of the VPS over shared resources, I guess that partially depends on how much the other users on the shared site tax the system, so hard to tell.

    The B2/R2 stuff is interesting -- I've used CloudFlare to proxy services like photo sharing and whatnot that I host locally on an Unraid box, but never used any of those data services. (And originally tried to host the sites for some of my friends off that same box, but my upload speed at home is frankly, quite ass). Will definitely take a look at those in details!

    What would a "big" VPS to start with be, given that my goal is to be paying less than I am now? Most of the sites don't use a lot of backend resources, I know I'd need PHP and MySQL, WordPress, and some kind of backup service once/week or so.

  • @SocksAreComfortable said:
    Yeah I've definitely realized the $15/mo is way too much, at least from what is possible. I see what you mean about the peace of mind and not being the blame for downtime, but honestly I host this stuff for free for them (excuse to dabble) and have no issues telling them to pay for and run it themselves if they want it perfect, haha.

    As for the shared hosting vs VPS choice -- that seems to be my biggest sticking point. I bought one super cheap low-spec BF special from that megathread to play around with, but as far as seeing the advantage of the VPS over shared resources, I guess that partially depends on how much the other users on the shared site tax the system, so hard to tell.

    The B2/R2 stuff is interesting -- I've used CloudFlare to proxy services like photo sharing and whatnot that I host locally on an Unraid box, but never used any of those data services. (And originally tried to host the sites for some of my friends off that same box, but my upload speed at home is frankly, quite ass). Will definitely take a look at those in details!

    What would a "big" VPS to start with be, given that my goal is to be paying less than I am now? Most of the sites don't use a lot of backend resources, I know I'd need PHP and MySQL, WordPress, and some kind of backup service once/week or so.

    If they are just a couple of WordPress websites you will probably be able to host all of them on a single VPS provided there aren't any bloated plugins.

    For "big VPS" my stance is that at LET, you cannot advertise VPS for more than $10/mo, so that would be the upper-end of a "big" VPS that is considered "low-end" here. For that price you can get some really good performance. For example, my two most revered VPS hosts on LET are LiteServer for EU and BuyVM for USA. For around $7/mo you're looking at least 2 cores on newer platforms (i.e. Ryzen 3000+/Epyc) and 2GB of RAM when not using any of their specials.The main difference between them and cheaper hosts offering seemingly similar specs are that the platform is usually a lot newer, and not oversold so. I'm not telling you to buy theirs of course, but imo if you are paying $7/mo you will find it hard to get any better performance or support from them.

    But for WordPress websites even if you've gotten a $15/year VPS on an old Intel Haswell-era platform you should fare fairly well.

  • There are a couple of options when it comes to reseller accounts, CPanel or DirectAdmin. If you're not stuck on CPanel, DirectAdmin is much cheaper. I prefer to pay more for CPanel but only because I'm more comfortable with it and this may be temporary as CPanel ups the price every year.

    A reseller account will give you one master login where you can control all of the sites and also separate logins for each site if you decide to share that with your clients. The biggest advantages to a reseller account is you don't have to worry about managing the server, you just create accounts and upload your files, complain to the host when there are issues. The cons, not all reseller accounts are created equal some are skimpy on resources and some are great on resources where even a well priced VPS can't compete with it.

    If you're looking at absolute cheapest you'd go with anything besides CPanel on a reseller account, you'll find most CPanel accounts have account limits while DirectAdmin or other panels will have much higher account limits if any.

  • @SocksAreComfortable said:

    As for the shared hosting vs VPS choice -- that seems to be my biggest sticking point. I bought one super cheap low-spec BF special from that megathread to play around with, but as far as seeing the advantage of the VPS over shared resources, I guess that partially depends on how much the other users on the shared site tax the system, so hard to tell.

    I did a reverse ip check of my shared hosting ip, and it showed 136 domains hosted on that ip. How accurate the check is I don't know.
    https://dnslytics.com/reverse-ip

  • @kidrock said: I did a reverse ip check of my shared hosting ip, and it showed 136 domains hosted on that ip. How accurate the check is I don't know.

    https://dnslytics.com/reverse-ip

    Just did the same thing:
    Account 1: 669
    Account 2: 293
    Account 3: 139

    Not sure what the specs on each server are but they're all working great for me. Higher spec servers of course hold more accounts and that also depends on the types of sites hosted.

    Thanked by 1kidrock
  • @spun said:
    There are a couple of options when it comes to reseller accounts, CPanel or DirectAdmin. If you're not stuck on CPanel, DirectAdmin is much cheaper. I prefer to pay more for CPanel but only because I'm more comfortable with it and this may be temporary as CPanel ups the price every year.

    A reseller account will give you one master login where you can control all of the sites and also separate logins for each site if you decide to share that with your clients. The biggest advantages to a reseller account is you don't have to worry about managing the server, you just create accounts and upload your files, complain to the host when there are issues. The cons, not all reseller accounts are created equal some are skimpy on resources and some are great on resources where even a well priced VPS can't compete with it.

    If you're looking at absolute cheapest you'd go with anything besides CPanel on a reseller account, you'll find most CPanel accounts have account limits while DirectAdmin or other panels will have much higher account limits if any.

    I've been using cpanel on my sites but happy to try other things, especially if directadmin would help keep the price down. Will definitely be looking into the reseller accounts, it would be a lot easier I think to have separate management portals for each site as opposed to doing them all through one cpanel installation like I do for the time being (except that one site which has its own).

  • @CyberneticTitan said:

    If they are just a couple of WordPress websites you will probably be able to host all of them on a single VPS provided there aren't any bloated plugins.

    For "big VPS" my stance is that at LET, you cannot advertise VPS for more than $10/mo, so that would be the upper-end of a "big" VPS that is considered "low-end" here. For that price you can get some really good performance. For example, my two most revered VPS hosts on LET are LiteServer for EU and BuyVM for USA. For around $7/mo you're looking at least 2 cores on newer platforms (i.e. Ryzen 3000+/Epyc) and 2GB of RAM when not using any of their specials.The main difference between them and cheaper hosts offering seemingly similar specs are that the platform is usually a lot newer, and not oversold so. I'm not telling you to buy theirs of course, but imo if you are paying $7/mo you will find it hard to get any better performance or support from them.

    But for WordPress websites even if you've gotten a $15/year VPS on an old Intel Haswell-era platform you should fare fairly well.

    The lower tier sites are all WordPress or similarly basic stuff (like a picture of the day site, static "professional contact info" site, etc. Sounds like those could probably work on the lowest of the low tier VPS then, or I may try the reseller thing like spun suggested.

    For the one bigger site, I think I may try the VPS and see about putting the datasets on the B2 system you mentioned before. I looked over the two you suggested (in the US but for the bigger site some of the usual visitors are EU so either place for hosting not an issue), appreciate the suggestions! I would rather have a known reliable host and pay a tiny bit more than a super-cheap-but-unknown host -- I'll already be saving a decent bit monthly even moving to the non-BF special prices I've seen on those, so if I can find the right special I think I can get a great price.

  • @kidrock said:

    I did a reverse ip check of my shared hosting ip, and it showed 136 domains hosted on that ip. How accurate the check is I don't know.
    https://dnslytics.com/reverse-ip

    Oh that site is great. I don't know the accuracy of it but it says 45 sites are sharing the same IP, 2 of which are mine so 43 others. Seems not bad at all!

    Thanked by 1kidrock
  • @spun said:
    Just did the same thing:
    Account 1: 669
    Account 2: 293
    Account 3: 139

    Not sure what the specs on each server are but they're all working great for me. Higher spec servers of course hold more accounts and that also depends on the types of sites hosted.

    Is the Account1 and Account 3 on the same webhost? If yes, is there a difference in performance as the number of websites vary on those 2 accounts?

  • NeoonNeoon Member, Community Contributor

    You look around, what other people charge you for that service you have.
    Check your resource usage, if you way below what you pay for, can save some money.

  • @kidrock said:

    @spun said:
    Just did the same thing:
    Account 1: 669
    Account 2: 293
    Account 3: 139

    Not sure what the specs on each server are but they're all working great for me. Higher spec servers of course hold more accounts and that also depends on the types of sites hosted.

    Is the Account1 and Account 3 on the same webhost? If yes, is there a difference in performance as the number of websites vary on those 2 accounts?

    For now I notice differences but one of the main differences between 1 and 3 is that the servers are on the other side of the US, so it's unfair to do a straight comparison. I'm fine with the current performance of both.

    Thanked by 1kidrock
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