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What is the best hosting option?

The questions was extracted from:

For startup like Markus, what is the best hosting option (and grow more later)? host your own server or use ISP co-location option?
He still has to pay huge money on the bandwidth with that payload, right?

Reader Comments (5)

"It depends" is the sucky, but true answer. The folks at">YouTube talked about this issue and decided having your own servers is best.

And I agree, depending on who you are and your situation. I put this site on a VPS because it's a small little site that will probably stay small. So I didn't want to sink $4K to buy a machine. But frustratingly the VPS fees are about the same as colocation fees, so buying a machine and being able to manage it myself is always tempting.

Markus started small and grew and can manage the servers himself. He doesn't have that many servers, so the burden isn't that great. With his approach he definitely needs the power and flexibility of colocation. He can install exactly what software he wants, where he wants, when he wants. He can buy the disks he wants, use the RAID scheme he wants, buy the memory he wants. He can do what he wants. He isn't limited by a lot of restrictions. And after living under restrictions for a while this can be a breath of fresh air.

If you can't or don't want to manage the servers then you can go the managed server route. Even if you can manage the servers you may decide this isn't where you want to spend your time and it's cheaper over the long run to let someone else manage the server so you can focus on your core competencies. This is perfectly reasonable.

You can choose different bandwidth packages from your provider that are often pretty reasonable. Just pick a data center that connects to a few different networks so you have some choice. And remember he uses a CDN for the high bandwidth items. is a great place learn about this kind off stuff.

November 29, 1990 | Unregistered CommenterTodd Hoff

I found this nice summary of the advantages of using dedicated servers, if you can afford the cost and you have the admin skills:

# You pick the software version you want (PHP5, MySQL6...)
# Your choice of software compilation options (use those fancy features not enabled by default)
# You don't need to trust the host to keep the server secure
# There are no other users on the server (other users on a shared server are one of the biggest security risks going)
# Nobody can do a software upgrade without your knowledge
# If the server is stumbling, you have the power to fix it
# Freedom to use hundreds of Gb of caching which wouldn't be cost-effective with shared hosting
# You can install custom software (Amongst my favourites are mencoder for vid/audio conversion, command-line abiword for document conversions and LaTeX for PDF generation)
# No restrictions on what you can and can't run
# Facilities such as rsync for effective backup server maintainance
# Whatever email spam filtering software you want (just license/install it)

The original post at

November 29, 1990 | Unregistered CommenterTodd Hoff

Here are a few options with some plusses and minuses noted:


+ the cheapest solution to start with
+ most allow you to install almost any software
- many vps solutions don't offer true root access
- doesn't scale

Specialized hosting service like Media Temple grid or Engine Yard

+ affordable
+ offer some scalability, usually through load balanced web servers
- typically you can't install any software
- they get to define scalability, meaning if you really grow you'll need to move

Dedicated server

+ affordable
+ available through numerous providers
+ you have complete control of the software
- hardware failures can take you down, but you don't control the hardware
- scaling beyond a few is difficult unless your service is just replicated instances


+ the proven path to scale
+ you can use any hardware or software you feel solves the problem
- the costs are not for the faint of heart; servers, network, space, power . . .
- requires dedicated staff
- your choice of providers will be limited to where your staff can travel
- it's all up to you, which will really sink in at 3am when a server dies

Managed service provider

+ competent technical staff handles routine sys-admin functions
+ flexible configurations
+ you can use almost any software you want
- a lot of restrictions in what hardware you can use and a few on software
- this is a very expensive option, tailored to large established companies

Utility computing services like 3tera or EC2

+ affordable solutions with no upfront cost
+ you can run almost any software you want
+ proven to scale (Amazon has SmugMug, 3tera has BT)
+ 3tera offering includes most common infrastructure
+ hardware failures become non-issues
+ new operations become possible, like data center migration, etc
- you've never run this way before, so it'll take some getting used to
- EC2 has some limitations with some software like databases

November 29, 1990 | Unregistered CommenterBert Armijo


I choose to host my own server. Not much to worry about!

Submited by :">Caballos

November 29, 1990 | Unregistered Commentercaballosweb

I just went through this evaluation and came to the conclusion that colocation is the best option for me.

I thought about services like or but each of those has restrictions that don't work for me. Media Temple's MySQL grid container is still stuck on MySQL 4 (for cryin' out loud) and Mosso will not even tell you how many servers are in their clusters, so I take that as not too many. With both of their "grid" approaches, instead of being a single website stuck on a server with 200 others, you will be a single website stuck on a grid with thousands of others. Sounds like the same mess to me.

I'm not against these companies, I just feel that my needs will grow quickly and I can do it much, much cheaper and get exactly what I want.

Media Temple's Nitro service is $750 a month, which is expensive to me. I will be colo'ing a dual quad-core w/ 16 gb of RAM and 1 TB of disk space (cost less than 4k from colo'ed for $24.95 a month at so it is obvious which is the better deal. I could have gone with their dedicated virtual, but again, they are stuck on MySQL 4.1. I can't rely on people that don't know how to upgrade software. If they can't or won't upgrade MySQL, what about their OSes, security patches, etc.?
MySQL 5 has been out for two years now.

Also, if and when I need to scale up I can triple the RAM on my current box or easily add two more servers just like it for another $50.00 a month.

Here's a SWAG at what you need:

> 50,000 page views / day - any good shared web hosting can handle this.
50k-500k page views /day - a good dedicated virtual server up to 2gb RAM
>500k page views/day - colo

...Or if, like me, you want absolute full control and minimal cost, then colo is your best option. I'm colo'ing a server for $24.95/ month. Media Temple is charging $750/month for a server with lesser specs. If my site doesn't work out, I have a server I can use for other purposes or sell on eBay. What would you have at the end of a year @ $750 / month? Nothing. Colo.

November 29, 1990 | Unregistered CommenterEnzo

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