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!

  • http://www.mediatemple.net (mt) Matt

    Thanks for the recommendation in your article. We always enjoy hearing different experiences customers have, in order to get ideas to help improve our services. I just wanted to touch on a couple things/ help clarify some of the issues you were having.

    To start, I wanted to mention that a comparison between Softlayer’s dedicated virtual and Media Temple’s (dv) is like comparing lemons and limes. They are similar, but vastly different at the same time. A better comparison, would be between Softlayer’s dedicated virtual and our (ve), since they are much more similar. Also, if we were to compare the two in pricing, at least for what you are using, I believe our prices are a little lower.

    Since you are using our (ve), we wanted to know what major differences you see between Softlayer’s dedicated virtual and our (ve). We’d love to get some insight from you on what you like and don’t like, so we can look at making improvements.

    In regards to the problems with “updates” causing reboots, I believe we found the problem had to due with the YUM update. We always tell customers to throw caution to the wind when installing software that may not get along with your (dv). You can check it out here: http://wiki.mediatemple.net/w/DV:Install_YUM & http://wiki.mediatemple.net/w/DV:Upgrade_software_with_YUM.

    On the other hand, I do agree with your issues with PLESK because it does cause things to run slowly. Also, no argument to the issues with PCI compliance.

    In the end, we just wanted to clarify things. We truly do appreciate your arguments, recommendations, and support of our company. We understand that we are in no way close to perfection, but are always striving to get close to it. The only way we can do that is through learning what is vexing our customers, and how we can fix it. Let us know if we can help out with anything in the future, and good luck at Softlayer.

    • http://www.geilt.com geilt

      I have been ultra busy so never had time to respond to this properly so here it is!

      For one, I was comparing Softlayers Dedicated Server, not Dedicated Virtual, and it is nothing like the MediaTemple VE in reality, as it shares no resources. The VE is just similar in setup, as it has nothing pre installed. Prices for the VE Would be lower, but the power is nothing like a dedicated, even if stats are matched. I had a terrible experience with the VE out of the box: I was at 100 %+ memory/ CPU usage all the time and all I was running was a simple WordPress site, and only 1 at that! I was using the VE as a development environment and it was just constantly slow and laggy.

      In regards to the YUM update, that was attributed to a server reboot, my big question was “why” was my server rebooted all the sudden without notifying me? Linux servers shouldn’t reboot randomly, nor do I feel comfortable with random tech’s pushing buttons on boxes or sending commands without consent or notification, if that is indeed the case. This is possibly another downside to a Dedicated Virtual, someone else’s instance needing a full server reboot and my instance suffering from the decision.

      Even with all the issues, I commend the service MediaTemple has given me in the past. Their support line on both Twitter and Phone has been excellent. My only complaint being long wait times on the phone; (Twitter responses are faster!) However they spend tons of time with you on the phone helping you figure out your issue, for that I am VERY much in their debt. I learned a lot with their tech support!

      If it wasn’t for my intense requirements now, I would probably still be using their DV. I am soon closing my Grid Host (where this blog is located, going to move it over to the dedicated) because I just find cloud hosting and grid hosting too vulnerable to SQL injection attacks cross “containers” not to mention slow since you are required to use an external address to reference your mySQL Database. Other services such as Rackspace are no better in this regard, I had to convince some people to go dedicated once they saw the same issues I was talking about, hacks and slowness with mySQL in cloud / grid hosting environments on Rackspace.

      Soooo, my advice is still, if you can afford it, Go Dedicated!!! =)

  • http://topdocumentaryfilms.com Vlatko

    However, this article is written almost two months ago and you’re still at MT.

    • http://www.geilt.com geilt

      Hey Vlatko,

      I haven’t had time to write a detailed reply to the MediaTemple comment, but yes you are right, I am still with Mediatemple. The only thing I have left is this site, my personal blog and a few friends blogs that I have kept on their Grid Host. I have cancelled all but 1 of my DV’s and am in the process of moving over the last DV to Softlayer. My main Softlayer Dedicated is now 100 % PCI Compliant and running exceptionally fast. Their support has been superb as well. The cost of a beefed up DV on MediaTemple is the same as a Dedicated on Softlayer, so I have been happy with it so far.

      Thanks for posting!!!

    • http://www.geilt.com geilt

      Had time to move to dedicated finally, tonight! Website is Zippy fast now even with a more robust theme ;)

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