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Catalyst Host review
I'm sure everyone remembers the infamous Chicago VPS downtime late last year. Well, about 2 or 3 days after that happened to me, I was looking for another affordable VPS provider, preferably one with unlimited/unmetered bandwidth as I was planning on launching a new service soon. I ended up discovering a post on LET from a company called Catalyst Host offering unlimited bandwidth in their (now discontinued) Denver, CO data center. I jumped on it and started getting everything set up again.
Before diving into my review, I want to say that I'm not an expert in LEB experience. I have a few VPSes from various companies, most just collecting dust for now, but this is from the point of view of a business owner running services.
Ryan Arp seems to be the main guy who handles these. I've not had any issues from the beginning until now with billing.
In asking about various additions, as well as migrations for different reasons, he was always pretty helpful and willing to work with me without going overboard, which I admired. I've also never had an issue so far with any of my invoices and any questions I had about one was answered professionally and wasn't full of snide remarks or anything (not saying any other providers have done this, for the record).
In terms of support, I personally feel this is where Catalyst Host shines (mostly because I haven't had a lot of talk with billing/sales). Jarland is the technical guru of sorts of the team as he handles about 99% of the technical tickets I've submitted.
He's gone out of his way to help me with things that I'm grateful for, especially in trying to get IPv6 established using a broker tunnel. But not only that, when I had to migrate data from an old VPS in Denver to one in Texas (their newest DC), he worked with me to make sure everything was there. During the time of working with him (last November til now) I've also learned he is highly accepting of feedback and constructive criticism. Case in point getting a Python 2.7-ready OVZ template working properly (mostly did not have pip installed or something). I told him what was wrong, and how to fix it, and he worked with it.
For my interests, everything is golden. I haven't had any hiccups or data loss since joining them, and I've had a VPS in all three of their data centers, with 1 or 2 still in their NC DC and 1 in the Dallas DC.
It doesn't seem like they overload the VPSes, but I'm not sure if that's mostly due to the fact once I moved over, I optimized everything I could. But, I haven't experienced any slow downs, or even any downtime at all for that matter. If they're going to be working on something, they send out notices about a week or two (or longer) in advance.
For comparison sakes, here are some metrics from my VPSes:
Dallas, TX (note: this is capped @ 10 Mb/s instead of using the whole Gigabit speed due to an arrangement me and CH made):
# wget freevps.us/downloads/bench.sh -O - -o /dev/null|bash CPU model : Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2620 0 @ 2.00GHz Number of cores : 2 CPU frequency : 2000.112 MHz Total amount of ram : 256 MB Total amount of swap : 256 MB System uptime : 26 days, 18:49, Download speed from CacheFly: 92.9MB/s Download speed from Linode, Atlanta GA: 14.8MB/s Download speed from Linode, Dallas, TX: 96.2MB/s Download speed from Linode, Tokyo, JP: 6.85MB/s Download speed from Linode, London, UK: 4.42MB/s Download speed from Leaseweb, Haarlem, NL: 9.11MB/s Download speed from Softlayer, Singapore: 5.77MB/s Download speed from Softlayer, Seattle, WA: 30.4MB/s Download speed from Softlayer, San Jose, CA: 30.9MB/s Download speed from Softlayer, Washington, DC: 35.4MB/s I/O speed : 235 MB/s
VPS #2 in NC (VPS #1 is similar but removed to meet size requirements):
# wget freevps.us/downloads/bench.sh -O - -o /dev/null|bash CPU model : Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU L5420 @ 2.50GHz Number of cores : 4 CPU frequency : 2003.000 MHz Total amount of ram : 1024 MB Total amount of swap : 1024 MB System uptime : 60 days, 20:47, Download speed from CacheFly: 38.0MB/s Download speed from Linode, Atlanta GA: 6.73MB/s Download speed from Linode, Dallas, TX: 14.1MB/s Download speed from Linode, Tokyo, JP: 4.05MB/s Download speed from Linode, London, UK: 723KB/s Download speed from Leaseweb, Haarlem, NL: 804KB/s Download speed from Softlayer, Singapore: 2.94MB/s Download speed from Softlayer, Seattle, WA: 990KB/s Download speed from Softlayer, San Jose, CA: 12.5MB/s Download speed from Softlayer, Washington, DC: 23.8MB/s I/O speed : 290 MB/s
CH moved away from the SolusVM control panel not too long ago (think last month), and moved to a new control panel called VirtPanel. At first, the migration was a bit weird...after getting so used to the SolusVM one, this one felt...weak? But, really, after a day or two of just looking at everything, it felt easier to use and manage. There's also a stronger sense of control with this control panel than with SolusVM's solution.
Not too long ago, CH did raise their prices for new orders (but not for current/existing ones). Which, in a way made me sad as I loved their low-cost, but at the same time it makes sense. You don't want to undersell yourself so much that you're not making money, but you don't want to oversell yourself so bad you're missing out on money. I'm not sure what the internal debate was there for them to do this, but the prices are pretty fair across the board still. There's just no more $3.50/month VPSes.
One thing that set a flag off for me initially is their response time. When I first submitted a ticket to them back in November, it took an hour or two to get a response, with Jarland (I think it was) saying that he was out on lunch at the time. Which is fine, the website gave the idea it's a two-man operation.
Sometimes their responses still take a little longer than I'd like, but at the same time it might be a case of the F5-syndrome. So, I can't really fault them on that.
I'd say about 98-99% of the tickets I submit though get responded to within 10-15 minutes max.
From my stand point, I haven't had any issues with them. They don't have IPv6 natively available yet, but then again, IPv6 is not really used anywhere yet anywho.
I've referred a couple of friends to them, and as far as I know they've enjoyed the stay as well.
I would've liked a small tutorial on migrating from SolusVM's CP to VirtPanel, but it wasn't difficult to figure out.
I think if they used one of the more web 2.0 friendly solutions of a browser-based shell, instead of the Java-based one, it'd be better.
Server performance confuses me a little (I notice no issues, but looking at what it shows above, bandwidth speeds could be better).
Only real gripe I have is that I wish they operated their own DC instead of renting out of others, but from previous experience in web hosting and the company owning their own DC, the trade off isn't always worth it.
Never really done a review of this magnitude before. If you want to know anything else feel free to ask me. I tried to include all the important details that I could think of, but I'm sure I missed something or whatnot.