Dedicated Servers on a Budget

In my previous post, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of using a dedicated server as compared to a Virtual Private Server (VPS). Today, let me introduce you to a few dedicated server providers that offer dedicated servers at relatively affordable prices.

In general, when you rent a server, you would want the server to be as close to your target audience as possible. For instance, if your site/application targets an American audience, your server should ideally be situated in the US. Similarly, for a European audience, your server should be situated in Europe. This is especially so for applications where latency is particularly important, for example in game servers or voice/video calls. However, for other applications such as personal websites or web hosting, where latency is less crucial, it may be more cost-efficient to rent servers where they are cheaper.

Dedicated servers and consequently, VPS, in Asia are especially expensive due to the higher costs of bandwidth. This is made worse for direct routes into China. As such, if you are looking for a cheap dedicated server, do not consider Asia at all. The cheapest servers in Asia are available in Southeast Asia, i.e. Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, if you must use an Asian dedicated server.

Since this post will be mainly about budget pricing dedicated servers, I will focus on servers which are available at a low price, rather than optimizing their location. Do note that there are often compromises for cheaper servers, such as older hardware, poorer network peering, lack of Error-Correcting Code (ECC) in Random Access Memory (RAM), slower support, etc. However, for learning and personal website purposes, these dedicated servers are more than sufficient and certainly value for money.

Kimsufi/SoyouStart

These two brands are subsidiaries of the parent company, OVH. Kimsufi is the most budget-friendly brand, offering servers as low as USD 6-7. These servers have very minimal hardware specifications and hence not really recommended for anything but the most simple websites and applications. In addition, these servers are relatively difficult to get your hands on as they are often snapped up the moment they are available. Your best bet would be to register your email with a website that constantly checks when these servers become available. Higher-tiered models are occasionally available with special offers. For instance, I currently have an i5-3570s with a 2 TB Hard Disk Drive (HDD) at 9 euros a month.  Network speeds of Kimsufi servers are hard-capped at 100 Mbps.

SoyouStart is the mid-range brand with servers starting from about USD 35. Servers provided by SoyouStart are typically well-specced to host multiple websites, so there is no need to worry about poor hardware. Servers are also often snapped up quickly due to the affordable pricing, so do keep your eye out for any available servers you are interested in. Network speeds of SoyouStart servers are hard-capped at 250 Mbps.

In terms of support, complains are often made about the poor customer support provided by the two brands. It is said that SoyouStart has better support than Kimsufi since it is their mid-range brand. However, at the price level and value of servers provided by the two brands, the level of support is rather expected. As long as hardware are efficiently replaced when faulty, users of these brands should not look toward prompt replies in support tickets.

There is a choice of location for Kimsufi/SoyouStart servers, between Canada and France.

WholeSaleInternet

WholeSaleInternet is to the United States what Kimsufi/SoyouStart is to France. Basically, WholeSaleInternet offers similar or perhaps slightly higher pricing than Kimsufi/SoyouStart, but they are situated in the US.

Prices start from USD 10 a month. The servers are in general less in demand than the Kimsufi ones so it may be easier to obtain them. While the lower-specced servers have unlimited transfer at 100 Mbps, higher offerings do provide a Gigabit connection with limited transfer. However, network speed does heavily depend on peering and location, so the speeds may not be the same, depending on your location. If you do require a faster network speed than what Kimsufi/SoyouStart offers, you can check them out instead.

Hetzner

Last but definitely not the least, we have Hetzner. Hetzner servers are situated in Germany, and they have an interesting method of pricing their servers. For their servers with older processor models, they have a server auction, where the price of the servers slowly fall until someone rents it. This means that the prices of the servers heavily depend on the current demand for them. For instance, a server with an i7-3770 processor costs 25.21 euros a month (at post time, Value-Added Tax (VAT) excluded).

While the servers do come with desktop-grade hardware, they are definitely value for money at that price point. Certain variations of the i7-3770 line of servers come with 2 x 3 TB HDDs which is a great offering, considering that you can do a software Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID) 1, providing some redundancy in the event of drive failure. If software RAID is not your thing, some of the models do also come with hardware RAID cards, at a slightly higher price point.

Hetzner servers come with limited transfer at 1 Gbps. In addition, many reviews praise their support and network peering in comparison to the other two budget providers above.

Hetzner does provide a 14-day money-back guarantee for every server rental, so do feel free to try them out before you make your decision.

Conclusion

Well, dedicated servers may run a little more expensive as compared to VPS, but that is what you get for increased independence from the ill-effects of having other users on the same node. However, there are still several budget options you can consider if you have decided to go for a dedicated server instead of a VPS.

In my next post, I will introduce a few VPS providers you can look for if you wish to use a VPS instead.

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