6
Jan

Dedicated vs Virtual Servers – Softlayer vs MediaTemple Review

Dedicated servers are amazing. I recently got one from softlayer.com. I have learned tons about Linux in the past few months (crash course basically, thanks Google)  and setting up servers for web, as well as making sure they are PCI Compliant. A dedicated server is amazingly fast for hosting WordPress sites and other database intensive apps.

I had a dedicated virtual server from MediaTemple, which after playing with SSH, suddenly rebooted itself at random one day when no one was using it and shut down. MediaTemple claims  “updates” that I installed had not processed until the reboot…of which I had also never scheduled or done…This is kinda bogus anyways since Linux doesn’t really need a reboot to install new software downloaded. Thank goodness I had already backed up all my databases and files, and was already in process of moving them to Softlayer because of MediaTemples difficulty in obtaining PCI Compliance without an “exception” letter for their forcibly opened PLESK port 8443 (you can block it on the server, but they still keep it open for you, even though it doesnt work. This is not PCI Compliant but OK if you send the PCI compliance company a letter.) PLESK is so Sluggish anyhow I am getting used to SSH commands and it is great!

So, lesson learned, PLESK, cPanel, etc. can bloat your server when your tryign to use SSH to admin your server. On to Softlayer! Dedicated Goodness.

Even there LOWEST price dedicated server (with 2 GB of RAM) was at LEAST 2x faster, both in terms of web page processing speed and PHP/mySQL Processing. MEdiaTemple’s Dedicated Servers, aren’t really even Dedicated they are “Nitro” and cost ~$740.00 a month! My new Softlayer dedicated is ~$159.00 a month and I can add more RAM, processing or HDD piece by piece, thats crazy!

In terms of support, both companies have been great. Mediatemple sometimes does fishy things in the background and the nromal wait time for support is 15 – 20 minutes on hold. Softlayer’s support is very good and exceptionally fast, they don’t really touch your server at all.

Everything on the new dedicated is snappy fast, but the catch is you install a OS and set it up from scratch. By doing that I learned about installing PHP, mySQL, connect the two and setup Apache and IP tables for security, not to mention learning how to use mySQL without PHPMyAdmin, tough, but doable. I had to make a decision between OS’s too: Fedora? CentOS? Ubuntu? All Good choices, but some updated more frequently to newest stable releases, some use beta software, some have a GUI. Fun stuff all around.

My recommendation: if you can afford the price bump, go for Dedicated, learn Linux, and get something from Softlayer. Stick with SSH. If you need GUI management at a decent price and not so much horsepower, but still need Access to SSH, Mediatemple is the way to go. Not only does their DV (Dedicated Virtual) server have SSH and PLESK, but their Grid Host has SSH access to your root directory as well as a simple user interface for basic management. Warning though, SQL Speed may be lacking on Gridhost(GS) more than DV, and its also prone to GridContainer mySQL Injections with common platforms like WordPress (Happened to this blog in fact, which runs on GS…for now. It got virus links automatically installed).

Happy Admining!

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Alexander Conroy is Chief Optimization Officer and Co-President of Esotech in Miami Florida
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