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Testing VPS solutions

I am trying to see if I should move from my own hardware sitting in a data center in Milpitas to a VPS. My main criteria is that I need at least 4 decently fast cores and at least 8G of memory. I also need about 500G of storage and low ping times from home in Silicon Valley. I was originally just trying to figure out how much faster DigitalOcean's optimized droplets were compared to the standard and posted that to Twitter. Scope creep happened and I ended up testing 10 different providers.

For the lazy, my verdict for all 10 is right here (with a couple of referral links). For the full details including CPU, disk and network tests along with more detailed observations and screenshots, read on.

DigitalOcean         referral - get $10 credit
$40/month 8 GB 4 core 160 GB SSD + $50/month 500GB Volume in SFO2
make 34m38s 2nd try 4m39s, disk write 350MB/s, read 1.8 GB/s(!), net 2 Gbits/s


The provisioning process is amazing. Fast and responsive. Support is quick and effective. I was a bit disappointed by the performance of the standard droplets, especially the first one I tested, but the $80 8GB/4 core/50GB SSD optimized droplets absolutely scream only being beat on PHP compile time by a bare metal Vultr box.


Vultr         referral - get $10 credit
$40/month 8GB 4 core 100GB SSD in Los Angeles
make 3m,16s, disk write 306MB/s, read 200MB/s, net 2.5 Gbits/s


A serious competitor to Digital Ocean. I would use this. Especially if they brought block storage to the west coast. Price and performance is great and the Web UI for provisioning and managing instances is clear and easy to use. Even without the block storage, the bare metal instance with the 2x240 GB SSDs has adequate space. Since it is bare-metal I assume I would need to mirror the two drives for redundancy so it is still not close enough to my 500GB target.


Linode          referral
$40/month 8GB 4 core 96GB SSD + $50/month 500GB volume in Fremont,CA
make 4m15s, disk write 634 MB/s, read 355 MB/s, net 1.1 Gbits/s


Everything just worked and performance was acceptable across the board with the only exception being block volume reads. I found those to be a bit too slow. The price/performance ratio is good. At the common $80/month price point you get 12 GB of ram, 6 cores and 192 GB SSD. If the block volume reads performance is improved, I could use this.


GCP (Google Cloud Platform)
$88/month 8GB 4 core 10GB SSD + $20/month 500GB HDD in Oregon
make 4m8s, disk write 159 MB/s, read 98 MB/s, net 1 Gbits/s


With the lower-cost HDD block volume storage, GCP is interesting. But I had some performance confusion testing HDD vs. SDD and for $88 it would be nice to get a larger SSD. On the wrong side of the price/performance ratio for me.


Upcloud         referral - get $25 credit
$80/month 8GB 4 core 70GB SSD + $110/month for 500GB in Chicago
make 2m22s, disk write 481 MB/s, read 420 MB/s, net 438 Mbits/s


Good price/performance ratio and if they would bring their cheaper class of block volume service to the U.S. this would be an option for me. As it is right now, I would have to pay $110/month for the extra 500GB of space I need on top of the $80/month for the VPS and that puts it out of my price range.


AWS Lightsail
$80/month 8GB 2 core 80GB SSD + $50/month for 500GB in Oregon
make 4m23s, disk write 249 MB/s, read 130 MB/s, net 140 Mbits/s


Decent performance for a 2-core VPS. I couldn't figure out how to provision a 4-core one. Probably user error on my part, but I did try for a while. I only have so much patience for large complex Web UIs. Lightsail also didn't have Debian 9 as an option at the time. Debian 8 only. $80/month for a 2 core VPS with average performance is on the expensive end of the spectrum, so not for me.


VMHaus
$28/month 8GB 4 core 100GB nvme SSD in Los Angeles
make 3m11s, disk write 286 MB/s, read 335 MB/s, net 830 Mbits/s


Excellent price/performance ratio and the provisioning process was fast and efficient. But I can't use it since there is no way to add extra storage.


OVH
$35/month 8GB, 4 cores, 100GB SSD + $42/month for 500GB Volume in Beauharnois, Canada
make 4m18s (2 core only), disk write 550 MB/s, read 260 MB/s, net 100 Mbits/s


Terrible provisioning process. The Web UI is atrocious and some things simply didn't work. When I finally did get my VPS, it worked well though, so that one-time hassle shouldn't discourage you. Since I didn't find a free trial, I tested a cheaper 2-core option with no block storage, but it performed well. If they had a west coast POP it could be an option, but without that it isn't viable for me.


Azure
$133/month 4 core 60GB SSD in West US 2 (Oregon?)
make 3m34s, disk write 23 MB/s, read 16 MB/s, net 1.23 Gbits/s


This one was painful. Yes, I have a bit of a Microsoft aversion, but I tried to keep an open mind. Read the full description of my Azure adventure. Expensive, apparently no IPv6, slow disk IO, and I couldn't figure out block storage options. Definitely not for me.


Contabo
$11/month 12GB 4 core 300GB SSD somewhere in Germany
make 3m47s, disk write 144 MB/s, read 308 MB/s, net 88 Mbits/s


I like Contabo. It took perhaps 20 minutes to get my VPS and there was packet loss on the network, but that was resolved. For $11/month this is an outstanding deal. Being in Europe with no N.American POP I can't use it as my primary VPS, but I will probably keep this one just to have a personal box in Europe to play with.


Full Observations and test numbers

My preferred OS is Debian 9.3 so that is what I chose for all of these. My steps after provisioning:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo reboot (if the above pulled in a new kernel or anything significant)

sudo apt-get install git gcc make autoconf automake bison flex libxml2-dev
git clone https://github.com/php/php-src.git
cd php-src
./buildconf -f
./configure
time make -j 4
For the disk tests, I cleared the cache with:
/sbin/sysctl -w vm.drop_caches=3
between the write and the read test.

Network tests are biased towards providers with a point of presence near Hurricane Electric in Fremont, CA. I am using their public iperf server at iperf.he.net to test ping and bandwidth.

There is, of course, much more to VPS hosting than how fast you can compile PHP on it, but for my heavy compile/valgrind/compile/valgrind workload along with various low-volume friends+family west-coast centric-hosting, and a few servers like irc, Minecraft and other random things running, I figure if it compiles PHP quickly, chances are it will do those others things pretty fast as well. Completely unscientific. Standard disclaimers apply here. Never trust other peoples' tests. Do your own tests for your typical workloads.

My base reference is my own box. It is an 8GB 4 core box with a ton of disk from 2011. It is getting old and slow so the big decision is whether to buy a kick-ass new box with probably at least 8 cores and 32GB of memory and fast mirrored SSDs for around $3000 and continue paying $100/month to park that in the data center, or can one of these providers convince me that the price-performance-hassle dance has finally swung their way?

With hosting at $100 and spreading the $3000 cost of the server out over the 7-year lifespan, that gives a budget of around $135. Anything in the vicinity of $135/month will work out to about the same cost over the next 7 years. And I have to keep in mind that my own hardware won't get faster over those 7 years. Chances are I can upgrade my VPS during that time and stay at the same monthly cost.

My current ancient box builds PHP (with ccache and all other caches cleared) in 4m55s. Anything I move to has to beat that.





Digital Ocean

Standard Droplet $40/month extra 500G storage volume $50/month
8 GB 4 vCPUs 160 GB SSD in SFO2
Debian 9.3 x64

This was super disappointing. As far as I am concerned this VPS was unusable. It took over 34 minutes to compile PHP where no other VPS I tested took over 5 minutes. And in general everything I did on it felt sluggish. I even opened a support ticket on it because I didn't think this level of crap performance could be normal. And yes, I tried it a couple of times over 2 days, and the performance was bad the whole time. Also the disk write performance of only 36 MB/s didn't seem healthy. Perhaps I just got unlucky. Digital Ocean provides instances for the PHP project and I haven't seen an instance quite this slow, but that is the risk you take with a shared resource VPS. You could end up with a noisy neighbour and/or a provider that over provisions the host you are on.

$ make -j 4
real   34m38.738s
user   113m0.244s
sys     7m42.592s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                4
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-3
Thread(s) per core:    1
Core(s) per socket:    1
Socket(s):             4
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 79
Model name:            Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2650 v4 @ 2.20GHz
Stepping:              1
CPU MHz:               2199.998
BogoMIPS:              4399.99
Hypervisor vendor:     KVM
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              256K
L3 cache:              30720K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-3
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           799M   11M  789M   2% /run
/dev/vda1       158G   11G  141G   7% /
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
tmpfs           799M     0  799M   0% /run/user/1001
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 234.35 s, 36.7 MB/s
$ sudo /sbin/sysctl -w vm.drop_caches=3
vm.drop_caches = 3
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 44.3119 s, 194 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/vda1
/dev/vda1:
 Timing cached reads:   1680 MB in  2.00 seconds = 841.56 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 342 MB in  3.01 seconds = 113.76 MB/sec
Network
Ping 4ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.90 GBytes  1.63 Gbits/sec  1749             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.90 GBytes  1.63 Gbits/sec                  receiver

Standard Droplet $40/month 2nd try
8 GB 4 vCPUs 160 GB SSD in SFO2
Debian 9.3 x64

After receiving this response to my support ticket asking about the performance.

DigitalOcean Support response

I tore down that first attempt and tried creating a new identical Droplet also in SFO2. The response is reasonable if they actually checked and didn't find a hardware issue. Who knows what idiot customers do to slow down their VMs... In this case I hadn't done anything weird to my OS, of course, but they have no way of knowing that. This 2nd try gave:

$ make -j 4
real    4m39.342s
user    14m6.524s
sys 0m51.288s

That's a vast improvement over the 34 minutes and more in line with what I would expect.

Also, disk write performance magically jumped from 36 to 122 MB/s. And buffered disk reads from 194 to 695 MB/s. So if there was no hardware issue, then it was a very persistent noisy neighbour.

$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 70.6552 s, 122 MB/s
$ hdparm -Tt /dev/vda1
 Timing cached reads:   14878 MB in  1.99 seconds = 7458.18 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 2086 MB in  3.00 seconds = 694.72 MB/sec

Optimized Droplet $80/month extra 500G storage volume $50/month
8 GB 4 vCPUs 50 GB SSD in SFO2
Debian 9.3 x64

The experience here was the complete opposite of the standard droplet experience. This VPS felt healthy and responsive and was a joy to use.

Adding a 500G storage volume is dead-simple. And they hold your hand:

DigitalOcean Volume Documentation

But, as you can see from the disk perf test below, attached volumes aren't as fast as the blazingly fast natively attached storage. Plenty fast for random Web content though.

$ time make -j 4
real   1m57.448s
user   5m49.412s
sys    0m18.112s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                4
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-3
Thread(s) per core:    1
Core(s) per socket:    1
Socket(s):             4
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 85
Model name:            Intel(R) Xeon(R) Platinum 8168 CPU @ 2.70GHz
Stepping:              4
CPU MHz:               2693.682
BogoMIPS:              5387.36
Hypervisor vendor:     KVM
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              1024K
L3 cache:              33792K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-3
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           799M   11M  789M   2% /run
/dev/vda1        50G  2.2G   46G   5% /
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
tmpfs           799M     0  799M   0% /run/user/1001
/dev/sda        492G   73M  467G   1% /mnt/volume-sfo2-01
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 24.5217 s, 350 MB/s
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 4.77441 s, 1.8 GB/s

$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/volume-sfo2-01/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 38.1517 s, 225 MB/s
$ dd if=/mnt/volume-sfo2-01/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 45.3508 s, 189 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/vda1
/dev/vda1:
 Timing cached reads:   13046 MB in  2.00 seconds = 6534.63 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 5364 MB in  3.00 seconds = 1787.94 MB/sec

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda
/dev/sda:
 Timing cached reads:   13114 MB in  2.00 seconds = 6568.30 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 588 MB in  3.00 seconds = 195.85 MB/sec
Network
Ping 3ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  2.30 GBytes  1.98 Gbits/sec  3323             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  2.30 GBytes  1.98 Gbits/sec                  receiver




Vultr

The Vultr experience was good. The web UI is clear and easy to use. So easy that I ended up testing 4 different setups. My target was 8GB of ram and 4 cores, but since Vultr had an $80 option that gave 16/6, I had to test that too. New instances, even the bare metal one, come up quickly with my ssh key installed. IPv6 works, and the performance is great across the board. CPU, disk io and network are all at the top of what I tested. The only negative for me was that when I went to add my 500GB block storage to my Silicon Valley or Los Angeles instances, I found it wasn't possible. Block storage is only available to New Jersey hosted instances. For people on the east coast or people less sensitive to higher ping latency that probably doesn't matter. Just put your instances in New Jersey.

Vulr VPS list

And look further down at that performance on the bare metal instance. It makes me want to buy myself a new colo box instead of going with a VPS at all :)

It was also interesting that the shared instances in Los Angeles had a fatter pipe than the Silicon Valley ones. Perhaps more to do with the location than the type of instance? Not sure.

Shared instance $40/month
8GB 4 core 100GB SSD in Los Angeles
Debian 9.3 x64
$ time make -j 4
real    3m16.440s
user    10m10.296s
sys 0m27.888s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                4
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-3
Thread(s) per core:    1
Core(s) per socket:    4
Socket(s):             1
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 61
Model name:            Virtual CPU a7769a6388d5
Stepping:              2
CPU MHz:               2394.454
BogoMIPS:              4788.90
Hypervisor vendor:     KVM
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              4096K
L3 cache:              16384K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-3
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           799M  8.4M  791M   2% /run
/dev/vda1        99G  1.2G   93G   2% /
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
tmpfs           799M     0  799M   0% /run/user/0
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 28.1047 s, 306 MB/s
$ sudo /sbin/sysctl -w vm.drop_caches=3
vm.drop_caches = 3
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 43.4428 s, 198 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/vda1
 Timing cached reads:   14174 MB in  2.00 seconds = 7103.81 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 620 MB in  3.01 seconds = 206.17 MB/se
Network
Ping 9ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  2.92 GBytes  2.50 Gbits/sec    2             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  2.92 GBytes  2.50 Gbits/sec                  receiver

Shared instance $80/month
16GB 6 core 200GB SSD in Los Angeles
Debian 9.3 x64
$ time make -j 6
real    2m53.018s
user    11m22.284s
sys 0m42.356s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                6
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-5
Thread(s) per core:    1
Core(s) per socket:    6
Socket(s):             1
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 61
Model name:            Virtual CPU a7769a6388d5
Stepping:              2
CPU MHz:               2394.454
BogoMIPS:              4788.90
Hypervisor vendor:     KVM
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              4096K
L3 cache:              16384K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-5
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            7.9G     0  7.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           1.6G  8.5M  1.6G   1% /run
/dev/vda1       197G  2.3G  185G   2% /
tmpfs           7.9G     0  7.9G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           7.9G     0  7.9G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
tmpfs           1.6G     0  1.6G   0% /run/user/0
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 26.5059 s, 324 MB/s
$ sudo /sbin/sysctl -w vm.drop_caches=3
vm.drop_caches = 3
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 45.6597 s, 188 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/vda1
 Timing cached reads:   16254 MB in  1.99 seconds = 8169.12 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 612 MB in  3.01 seconds = 203.42 MB/sec
Network
Ping 9ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  3.50 GBytes  3.01 Gbits/sec  780             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  3.50 GBytes  3.01 Gbits/sec                  receiver

Vultr dedicated instance $120/month
16GB 4 core 2x120GB SSD in Silicon Valley
Debian 9.3 x64
$ time make -j 4
real    2m57.574s
user    9m27.568s
sys 0m23.828s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                4
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-3
Thread(s) per core:    1
Core(s) per socket:    4
Socket(s):             1
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 60
Model name:            Virtual CPU 714389bda930
Stepping:              1
CPU MHz:               3600.010
BogoMIPS:              7200.02
Hypervisor vendor:     KVM
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              4096K
L3 cache:              16384K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-3
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            7.9G     0  7.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           1.6G  8.5M  1.6G   1% /run
/dev/vda1       109G  1.2G  102G   2% /
tmpfs           7.9G     0  7.9G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           7.9G     0  7.9G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
tmpfs           1.6G     0  1.6G   0% /run/user/0
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 18.0482 s, 476 MB/s
$ sudo /sbin/sysctl -w vm.drop_caches=3
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 24.5393 s, 350 MB/s
$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/vda1
 Timing cached reads:   24706 MB in  1.99 seconds = 12385.75 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1144 MB in  3.00 seconds = 381.07 MB/sec
Network
Ping 1ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec   957 MBytes   803 Mbits/sec   59             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec   953 MBytes   800 Mbits/sec                  receiver

Vultr bare metal instance $120/month
32GB 8 core 2x240GB SSD in Silicon Valley
Debian 9.3 x64
$ time make -j 8
real    1m25.129s
user    8m4.512s
sys 0m14.576s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                8
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-7
Thread(s) per core:    2
Core(s) per socket:    4
Socket(s):             1
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 158
Model name:            Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E3-1270 v6 @ 3.80GHz
Stepping:              9
CPU MHz:               799.938
CPU max MHz:           4200.0000
CPU min MHz:           800.0000
BogoMIPS:              7584.00
Virtualization:        VT-x
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              256K
L3 cache:              8192K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-7
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev             16G     0   16G   0% /dev
tmpfs           3.2G  8.9M  3.2G   1% /run
/dev/sda1       221G  1.2G  208G   1% /
tmpfs            16G     0   16G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs            16G     0   16G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/sdb1       220G   61M  208G   1% /data
tmpfs           3.2G     0  3.2G   0% /run/user/0
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 11.2637 s, 763 MB/s
$ sudo /sbin/sysctl -w vm.drop_caches=3
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 43.6689 s, 197 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda1
 Timing cached reads:   35872 MB in  1.99 seconds = 17998.86 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 640 MB in  3.01 seconds = 212.75 MB/sec

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sdb1
 Timing cached reads:   35656 MB in  1.99 seconds = 17889.01 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1512 MB in  3.00 seconds = 503.51 MB/sec
Network
Ping 1ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.87 GBytes  1.60 Gbits/sec  2040             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.86 GBytes  1.60 Gbits/sec                  receiver




Linode

Linode has been around forever. The Web UI kind of feels outdated but it is functional and has everything you need. I also see they are working on a new UI. The UI is the last thing I care about as long as it lets me do what I need, and it did. It was also easy to add a 500G volume and attach it to my instance.


Linode instance $40/month plus $50/month for a 500GB block storage volume
8GB 4 core 96GB disk in Fremont,CA
Debian 9.3 x64
$ time make -j 4
real    4m15.778s
user   13m50.316s
sys     0m43.592s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                4
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-3
Thread(s) per core:    1
Core(s) per socket:    1
Socket(s):             4
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 63
Model name:            Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2680 v3 @ 2.50GHz
Stepping:              2
CPU MHz:               2499.996
BogoMIPS:              5001.32
Hypervisor vendor:     KVM
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              4096K
L3 cache:              16384K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-3
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/root        95G  1.3G   89G   2% /
devtmpfs        3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           3.9G  9.5M  3.9G   1% /run
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
tmpfs           798M     0  798M   0% /run/user/0
/dev/sdc        492G   73M  467G   1% /mnt/data
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 13.5535 s, 634 MB/s
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 24.1752 s, 355 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda
 Timing cached reads:   14488 MB in  1.99 seconds = 7263.31 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 608 MB in  3.00 seconds = 202.50 MB/sec

$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/data/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 42.2463 s, 203 MB/s
$ dd if=/mnt/data/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 133.053 s, 64.6 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sdc
 Timing cached reads:   14206 MB in  1.99 seconds = 7121.47 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 164 MB in  3.02 seconds =  54.36 MB/sec
Network
Ping 2ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.28 GBytes  1.10 Gbits/sec  5731             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.28 GBytes  1.10 Gbits/sec                  receiver




GCP

I find the GCP UI annoying. But again, the target audience here isn't the enthusiast managing one instance. It is aimed at admins managing hundreds of servers. But again, it got the job done after a bit of fiddling so not an issue. I really liked the fact that there was a low-cost block volume option. $0.04/GB per month for standard and $0.170 for SSD. And no per-IO ops charges like Azure has. Attaching it to an instance via gcloud is a bit fiddly. Had to read the docs to get to:

gcloud compute instances attach-disk instance-1 --disk data --zone us-west1-a

but again, if I was managing hundreds or thousands of these I would definitely appreciate the cli approach. And I guessed my way to finding it with:

fdisk /dev/sdb

I am sure it is documented somewhere, but nobody holds your hand on GCP. It also wasn't until I played with the disks that I realized that I had created my instance with a "standard" boot disk. You can see in the disk perf numbers that they aren't great.


GCP custom instance $86.38/month, $20 for 500GB HDD or $85 for 500GB SDD
8GB 4 vCPUs 10GB SSD in us-west-1a
Debian 9.3 x64
$ time make -j 4
real    4m8.294s
user    13m37.076s
sys     0m32.440s

$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                4
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-3
Thread(s) per core:    2
Core(s) per socket:    2
Socket(s):             1
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 79
Model name:            Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU @ 2.20GHz
Stepping:              0
CPU MHz:               2200.000
BogoMIPS:              4400.00
Hypervisor vendor:     KVM
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              256K
L3 cache:              56320K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-3
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           799M   10M  789M   2% /run
/dev/sda1       9.8G  2.2G  7.1G  24% /
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/sdb1       492G   73M  467G   1% /mnt/data
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=4096; sync
4294967296 bytes (4.3 GB, 4.0 GiB) copied, 26.9569 s, 159 MB/s
$ sudo /sbin/sysctl -w vm.drop_caches=3
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=4096
4294967296 bytes (4.3 GB, 4.0 GiB) copied, 44.0671 s, 97.5 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda1
 Timing cached reads:   17362 MB in  1.99 seconds = 8703.42 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 256 MB in  3.04 seconds =  84.13 MB/sec

$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/data/tempfile bs=1M count=4096; sync
4294967296 bytes (4.3 GB, 4.0 GiB) copied, 24.469 s, 176 MB/s
$ dd if=/mnt/data/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=4096
4294967296 bytes (4.3 GB, 4.0 GiB) copied, 43.419 s, 98.9 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda1
 Timing cached reads:   17862 MB in  1.99 seconds = 8957.35 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 296 MB in  3.00 seconds =  98.59 MB/sec
Network
Ping 22ms
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.19 GBytes  1.02 Gbits/sec    0             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.19 GBytes  1.02 Gbits/sec                  receiver

GCP custom instance $87.68/month, $20 for 500GB HDD or $85 for 500GB SDD
8GB 4 vCPUs 10GB SSD in us-west-1a
Debian 9.3 x64

Let's try this again, but this time with an SSD for the OS. I don't think it should even be an option to not have an SSD boot disk, and it definitely shouldn't be the default. It also only made it about $1 more expensive per month to switch to an SSD for the OS disk. Of course, I do this, only to have disk performance decrease. No idea what that is about. Although, hdparm did show faster read times, so perhaps it was something about the huge 'dd' I was doing that didn't sit well with this disk type.

I also noticed they automatically run 3 daemons:

htop output

Compile time did improve though:

$ make -j 4
real    3m50.495s
user    12m29.808s
sys 0m30.684s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                4
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-3
Thread(s) per core:    2
Core(s) per socket:    2
Socket(s):             1
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 79
Model name:            Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU @ 2.20GHz
Stepping:              0
CPU MHz:               2200.000
BogoMIPS:              4400.00
Hypervisor vendor:     KVM
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              256K
L3 cache:              56320K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-3
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           799M   18M  781M   3% /run
/dev/sda1       9.8G  2.2G  7.1G  24% /
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/sdb1       492G   73M  467G   1% /mnt/data
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=4096; sync
4294967296 bytes (4.3 GB, 4.0 GiB) copied, 98.9939 s, 43.4 MB/s
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=4096
4294967296 bytes (4.3 GB, 4.0 GiB) copied, 128.055 s, 33.5 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda1
 Timing cached reads:   14770 MB in  2.00 seconds = 7402.96 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 740 MB in  3.00 seconds = 246.58 MB/sec
Network
Ping 22ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.18 GBytes  1.01 Gbits/sec    0             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.18 GBytes  1.01 Gbits/sec                  receiver




Upcloud

Upcloud, like GCP, lets you provision a cheaper class of block volume. Unfortunately not in the US. Only in London and Helsinki from what I could tell. So for an instance in Chicago it looks like it would cost me an extra $110/month to get a 500GB volume attached. The Web UI doesn't let you know that HDD volumes aren't available in your region until you are done filling everything out and try to deploy. An earlier hint would have been appreciated.

Other than that, performance was great across the board for my Upcloud instance. CPU and disk were fast. Network a bit on the slow side with high latency because they don't have a west coast POP.


Upcloud instance $80/month + $110 for a 500GB disk
8GB 4 core 70GB SSD in Chicago#1
Debian 9.3 x64
$ time make -j 4
real    2m22.411s
user    7m14.228s
sys     0m21.164s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                4
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-3
Thread(s) per core:    1
Core(s) per socket:    1
Socket(s):             4
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 79
Model name:            Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2687W v4 @ 3.00GHz
Stepping:              1
CPU MHz:               2999.996
BogoMIPS:              5999.99
Hypervisor vendor:     KVM
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              4096K
L3 cache:              16384K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-3
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           799M   11M  789M   2% /run
/dev/vda1        69G  887M   68G   2% /
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
tmpfs           799M     0  799M   0% /run/user/0
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 17.8492 s, 481 MB/s
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 20.4395 s, 420 MB/s
$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/vda1
 Timing cached reads:   20812 MB in  1.99 seconds = 10435.19 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 728 MB in  3.00 seconds = 242.55 MB/sec
Network
Ping 49ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec   522 MBytes   438 Mbits/sec    0             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec   522 MBytes   438 Mbits/sec                  receiver




AWS Lightsail

The main issue I had with AWS Lightsail is that I couldn't get a 4 core instance. The result is a somewhat sluggish 4m23s PHP compile time. It was also a minor annoyance that only Debian 8 was available. But manually uprading to Debian 9.3 takes less than 5 minutes, so I can't gripe too much about that. Other than that performance was ok for a small VSP. Disk performance was ok, not great, and network was a bit on the slow side. Creating and attaching a 500GB volume was simple.

Lightsail VPS options

AWS Lightsail instance $80/month plus $50/month for 500GB Volume
8GB 2 core 80GB SSD in Oregon-1
Manually upgrade to Debian 9.3 x64
$ time make -j 4
real    4m23.368s
user    7m51.100s
sys     0m20.968s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                2
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-1
Thread(s) per core:    1
Core(s) per socket:    2
Socket(s):             1
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 63
Model name:            Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2676 v3 @ 2.40GHz
Stepping:              2
CPU MHz:               2400.186
BogoMIPS:              4800.08
Hypervisor vendor:     Xen
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              256K
L3 cache:              30720K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0,1
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           799M  8.4M  791M   2% /run
/dev/xvda2       79G  1.6G   74G   3% /
tmpfs           3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
tmpfs           799M     0  799M   0% /run/user/1000
/dev/xvdf1      492G   73M  467G   1% /mnt/data
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 34.4451 s, 249 MB/s
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 66.0235 s, 130 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/xvda2
 Timing cached reads:   18310 MB in  1.99 seconds = 9182.22 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 316 MB in  3.01 seconds = 104.84 MB/sec

$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/data/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 28.1742 s, 305 MB/s
$ dd if=/mnt/data/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 66.0153 s, 130 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/xvdf1
 Timing cached reads:   17318 MB in  1.99 seconds = 8683.93 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 490 MB in  3.01 seconds = 162.94 MB/sec
Network
Ping 21ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec   171 MBytes   144 Mbits/sec  280             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec   162 MBytes   136 Mbits/sec                  receiver




VMHaus

VMHaus has a nice clean Web UI and and simple VPS offerings. I had a slight problem booting one of my test instances and support got back to me in under 4 minutes which was impressive. Apparently there was a problem on a dhcp server. Performance was excellent across the board. Not the absolute fastest I saw, but definitely the best price/performance ratio of all the solutions I tested. At $28/month this is a great deal. There are no bells and whistles, including no option for attaching any sort of block storage. If you don't host a zillion baby photos for friends and family you are probably fine with the generous 100GB provided.

VMHaus instance $28/month
8GB 4 core 100GB nvme in Los Angeles
Debian 9.3 x64
$ time make -j 4
real    3m11.901s
user    9m37.644s
sys 0m37.420s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                4
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-3
Thread(s) per core:    1
Core(s) per socket:    1
Socket(s):             4
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 45
Model name:            Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2670 0 @ 2.60GHz
Stepping:              7
CPU MHz:               2599.998
BogoMIPS:              5199.99
Hypervisor vendor:     KVM
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              256K
L3 cache:              20480K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-3
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           799M   11M  789M   2% /run
/dev/vda1        99G  1.3G   94G   2% /
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           4.0G     0  4.0G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
tmpfs           799M     0  799M   0% /run/user/0
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 30.0619 s, 286 MB/s
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 5.88135 s, 1.5 GB/s
$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/vda1
 Timing cached reads:   16404 MB in  1.99 seconds = 8223.77 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1006 MB in  3.00 seconds = 335.16 MB/sec
Network
Ping 9ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec   990 MBytes   830 Mbits/sec   54             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec   987 MBytes   828 Mbits/sec                  receiver




OVH

Since I couldn't find a free trial, I tested the cheaper 8GB/2core/40GBSDD version for $14.55 to stay under my $20 testing budget. Their only North American POP is near Montreal, so ping times to the west coast aren't great.

The actual provisioning was pretty painful. Their signup page asks for a birthday, and no matter what you enter it determines you are under 18 and you can't continue. So you have to leave that field blank. And sometimes things don't load. Overall the Web UI is terrible and getting to the point where you have a working VPS was terrible compared to the other providers I tested. After payment it took about 10 minutes for the VPS to be ready, but when it came up it was a fully updated Debian 9.3 install, which was nice.

For a 2-core VPS, the 4m18s PHP build time was good. It should be close to twice as fast on a 4 core, so in line with the fastest competitors. Disk IO wasn't blazingly fast, but not bad, and I saw a steady 100 Mbit/sec connection to the west coast.


$35/month, additional 500GB of disk $42/month
8GB, 4 cores, 100GB SSD in Beauharnois, Canada
Debian 9.3
$ make -j 2
real    4m18.397s
user    7m40.360s
sys 0m21.828s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                2
On-line CPU(s) list:   0,1
Thread(s) per core:    1
Core(s) per socket:    1
Socket(s):             2
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 60
Model name:            Intel Core Processor (Haswell, no TSX)
Stepping:              1
CPU MHz:               2394.452
BogoMIPS:              4788.90
Virtualization:        VT-x
Hypervisor vendor:     KVM
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              4096K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0,1
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            3.8G     0  3.8G   0% /dev
tmpfs           780M  8.4M  772M   2% /run
/dev/sda1        40G  1.5G   37G   4% /
tmpfs           3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 15.6188 s, 550 MB/s
$ sudo /sbin/sysctl -w vm.drop_caches=3
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 32.7707 s, 262 MB/s
$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda1
 Timing cached reads:   17580 MB in  1.99 seconds = 8813.83 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 774 MB in  3.00 seconds = 257.59 MB/sec
Network
Ping 67ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec   118 MBytes  98.7 Mbits/sec   79             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec   115 MBytes  96.5 Mbits/sec                  receiver




Azure VPS

Oh Azure! This one is going to get a bit ranty. I Spent a good 20 minutes clicking around the provisioning Web UI. To be fair, it is more geared to people needing to provision a lot of servers. Doing a single one like this is not the target audience as far as I can tell. But still, instead of presenting a couple of standard options and a way to build your own custom config, Azure gives you 92 options (depending on which region you select):

A0: 1 Cores(s), 0.75 GB RAM, 20 GB Temporary storage, $0.020/hour
A1: 1 Cores(s), 1.75 GB RAM, 70 GB Temporary storage, $0.060/hour
A2: 2 Cores(s), 3.5 GB RAM, 135 GB Temporary storage, $0.120/hour
A3: 4 Cores(s), 7 GB RAM, 285 GB Temporary storage, $0.240/hour
A4: 8 Cores(s), 14 GB RAM, 605 GB Temporary storage, $0.480/hour
A5: 2 Cores(s), 14 GB RAM, 135 GB Temporary storage, $0.250/hour
A6: 4 Cores(s), 28 GB RAM, 285 GB Temporary storage, $0.500/hour
A7: 8 Cores(s), 56 GB RAM, 605 GB Temporary storage, $1.000/hour
A8: 8 Cores(s), 56 GB RAM, 382 GB Temporary storage, $0.975/hour
A9: 16 Cores(s), 112 GB RAM, 382 GB Temporary storage, $1.950/hour
A10: 8 Cores(s), 56 GB RAM, 382 GB Temporary storage, $0.780/hour
A11: 16 Cores(s), 112 GB RAM, 382 GB Temporary storage, $1.560/hour
B1S: 1 Cores(s), 1 GB RAM, 2 GB Temporary storage, $0.014/hour
B2S: 2 Cores(s), 4 GB RAM, 8 GB Temporary storage, $0.055/hour
B1MS: 1 Cores(s), 2 GB RAM, 4 GB Temporary storage, $0.028/hour
B2MS: 2 Cores(s), 8 GB RAM, 16 GB Temporary storage, $0.110/hour
B4MS: 4 Cores(s), 16 GB RAM, 32 GB Temporary storage, $0.220/hour
B8MS: 8 Cores(s), 32 GB RAM, 64 GB Temporary storage, $0.439/hour
A1 v2: 1 Cores(s), 2 GB RAM, 10 GB Temporary storage, $0.043/hour
A2 v2: 2 Cores(s), 4 GB RAM, 20 GB Temporary storage, $0.091/hour
A4 v2: 4 Cores(s), 8 GB RAM, 40 GB Temporary storage, $0.191/hour
A8 v2: 8 Cores(s), 16 GB RAM, 80 GB Temporary storage, $0.400/hour
A2m v2: 2 Cores(s), 16 GB RAM, 20 GB Temporary storage, $0.149/hour
A4m v2: 4 Cores(s), 32 GB RAM, 40 GB Temporary storage, $0.297/hour
A8m v2: 8 Cores(s), 64 GB RAM, 80 GB Temporary storage, $0.594/hour
D1: 1 Cores(s), 3.5 GB RAM, 50 GB Temporary storage, $0.077/hour
D2: 2 Cores(s), 7 GB RAM, 100 GB Temporary storage, $0.154/hour
D3: 4 Cores(s), 14 GB RAM, 200 GB Temporary storage, $0.308/hour
D4: 8 Cores(s), 28 GB RAM, 400 GB Temporary storage, $0.616/hour
D11: 2 Cores(s), 14 GB RAM, 100 GB Temporary storage, $0.195/hour
D12: 4 Cores(s), 28 GB RAM, 200 GB Temporary storage, $0.390/hour
D13: 8 Cores(s), 56 GB RAM, 400 GB Temporary storage, $0.780/hour
D14: 16 Cores(s), 112 GB RAM, 800 GB Temporary storage, $1.542/hour
D1 v2: 1 Cores(s), 3.5 GB RAM, 50 GB Temporary storage, $0.070/hour
D2 v2: 2 Cores(s), 7 GB RAM, 100 GB Temporary storage, $0.140/hour
D3 v2: 4 Cores(s), 14 GB RAM, 200 GB Temporary storage, $0.279/hour
D4 v2: 8 Cores(s), 28 GB RAM, 400 GB Temporary storage, $0.559/hour
D5 v2: 16 Cores(s), 56 GB RAM, 800 GB Temporary storage, $1.117/hour
D11 v2: 2 Cores(s), 14 GB RAM, 100 GB Temporary storage, $0.185/hour
D12 v2: 4 Cores(s), 28 GB RAM, 200 GB Temporary storage, $0.371/hour
D13 v2: 8 Cores(s), 56 GB RAM, 400 GB Temporary storage, $0.741/hour   
DS14 v2: 16 Cores(s), 112 GB RAM, 224 GB Temporary storage, $1.482/hour
DS15 v2: 20 Cores(s), 140 GB RAM, 280 GB Temporary storage, $1.853/hour
D2 v3: 2 vCPU(s), 8 GB RAM, 50 GB Temporary storage, $0.117/hour
D4 v3: 4 vCPU(s), 16 GB RAM, 100 GB Temporary storage, $0.234/hour
D8 v3: 8 vCPU(s), 32 GB RAM, 200 GB Temporary storage, $0.468/hour
D16 v3: 16 vCPU(s), 64 GB RAM, 400 GB Temporary storage, $0.936/hour
D32 v3: 32 vCPU(s), 128 GB RAM, 800 GB Temporary storage, $1.872/hour
D64 v3: 64 vCPU(s), 256 GB RAM, 1600 GB Temporary storage, $3.744/hour
D2 v2 Promo: 2 Cores(s), 7 GB RAM, 100 GB Temporary storage, $0.117/hour
D3 v2 Promo: 4 Cores(s), 14 GB RAM, 200 GB Temporary storage, $0.234/hour
D4 v2 Promo: 8 Cores(s), 28 GB RAM, 400 GB Temporary storage, $0.468/hour
D5 v2 Promo: 16 Cores(s), 56 GB RAM, 800 GB Temporary storage, $0.936/hour
D11 v2 Promo: 2 Cores(s), 14 GB RAM, 100 GB Temporary storage, $0.148/hour
D12 v2 Promo: 4 Cores(s), 28 GB RAM, 200 GB Temporary storage, $0.296/hour
D13 v2 Promo: 8 Cores(s), 56 GB RAM, 400 GB Temporary storage, $0.593/hour
D14 v2 Promo: 16 Cores(s), 112 GB RAM, 800 GB Temporary storage, $1.186/hour
E2 v3: 2 vCPU(s), 16 GB RAM, 32 GB Temporary storage, $0.148/hour
E4 v3: 4 vCPU(s), 32 GB RAM, 64 GB Temporary storage, $0.296/hour
E8 v3: 8 vCPU(s), 64 GB RAM, 128 GB Temporary storage, $0.593/hour
E16 v3: 16 vCPU(s), 128 GB RAM, 256 GB Temporary storage, $1.186/hour
E32 v3: 32 vCPU(s), 256 GB RAM, 512 GB Temporary storage, $2.371/hour
E64 v3: 64 vCPU(s), 432 GB RAM, 864 GB Temporary storage, $4.469/hour
F1: 1 Cores(s), 2 GB RAM, 16 GB Temporary storage, $0.062/hour
F2: 2 Cores(s), 4 GB RAM, 32 GB Temporary storage, $0.124/hour
F4: 4 Cores(s), 8 GB RAM, 64 GB Temporary storage, $0.249/hour
F8: 8 Cores(s), 16 GB RAM, 128 GB Temporary storage, $0.498/hour
F16: 16 Cores(s), 32 GB RAM, 256 GB Temporary storage, $0.997/hour
G1: 2 Cores(s), 28 GB RAM, 384 GB Temporary storage, $0.610/hour
G2: 4 Cores(s), 56 GB RAM, 768 GB Temporary storage, $1.220/hour
G3: 8 Cores(s), 112 GB RAM, 1536 GB Temporary storage, $2.440/hour
G4: 16 Cores(s), 224 GB RAM, 3072 GB Temporary storage, $4.880/hour
G5: 32 Cores(s), 448 GB RAM, 6144 GB Temporary storage, $8.690/hour
H8: 8 Cores(s), 56 GB RAM, 1000 GB Temporary storage, $0.971/hour
H16: 16 Cores(s), 112 GB RAM, 2000 GB Temporary storage, $1.941/hour
H8m: 8 Cores(s), 112 GB RAM, 1000 GB Temporary storage, $1.301/hour
H16m: 16 Cores(s), 224 GB RAM, 2000 GB Temporary storage, $2.601/hour
H16mr: 16 Cores(s), 224 GB RAM, 2000 GB Temporary storage, $2.861/hour
H16r: 16 Cores(s), 112 GB RAM, 2000 GB Temporary storage, $2.136/hour
L4: 4 Cores(s), 32 GB RAM, 678 GB Temporary storage, $0.344/hour
L8: 8 Cores(s), 64 GB RAM, 1388 GB Temporary storage, $0.688/hour  
L16: 16 Cores(s), 128 GB RAM, 2807 GB Temporary storage, $1.376/hour
L32: 32 Cores(s), 256 GB RAM, 5630 GB Temporary storage, $2.752/hour

I literally had to inspect the HTML select box element and copy the contents out to a text file to sort it to find my options for my target 4 core, 8 GB VPS. There were only two:

A4 v2: 4 Cores(s), 8 GB RAM, 40 GB Temporary storage, $0.191/hour
F4: 4 Cores(s), 8 GB RAM, 64 GB Temporary storage, $0.249/hour

I also got super lost trying to figure out what it would cost to bring the VPS up to 500 GB of persistent storage. And then to make things even more confusing, when I started the virtual machine creation process and came to the "Choose your virtual machine size" step, I got a bunch of different options not included in the above list with most of them listed as "Not Available" including both the A4 v2 and F4 options I had so carefully located.

Azure VPS options Azure VPS Options

But after clicking around a bit and fiddling with the filter sliders, I got this view.

Azure VPS options

which is where I got that $133/month number from.

Once provisioned, which took longer than most, this was the Debian 9.3 VPS came up completely current. As in `apt-get update && apt-get upgrade` had nothing to do. That might explain why it took slightly longer to provision.

The Azure VPS also had the heaviest provisioning agent of all the ones I tested. It looks like it is doing a heartbeat once per second and doing a (non-ssl) GET request to an IIS server upstream asking it for a "GoalState". I listened and checked what the IIS server responded with. The response from the management server is in the GoalState addendum below. It is mostly self-explanatory, I think.

As far as I can tell I have no IPv6 connectivity on this VPS. The Azure documentation talks about IPv6 so I am not sure what I missed during provisioning. I went back over the steps to see if I ever had an IPv6 option and I didn't see it and the management dashboard has no mention of IPv6 anywhere. This was the only VPS I tested that didn't come with easy IPv6 support.

Azure Dashboard Azure Dashboard

$133/month
8GB 4 vCPU 60GB SSD West US 2
Debian 9.3
$ time make -j 4
real    3m34.782s
user    11m9.464s
sys 0m30.872s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                4
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-3
Thread(s) per core:    2
Core(s) per socket:    2
Socket(s):             1
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 85
Model name:            Intel(R) Xeon(R) Platinum 8168 CPU @ 2.70GHz
Stepping:              4
CPU MHz:               2693.682
BogoMIPS:              5387.36
Virtualization:        VT-x
Hypervisor vendor:     Microsoft
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              1024K
L3 cache:              33792K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-3

The disk layout got a bit interesting:

$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           797M  8.9M  789M   2% /run
/dev/sda1        30G  1.1G   27G   4% /
tmpfs           3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           3.9G     0  3.9G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/sdb1        32G   49M   30G   1% /mnt/resource
tmpfs           797M     0  797M   0% /run/user/1000

And they have this disclaimer in /mnt/resource/DATALOSS_WARNING_README.txt:

  WARNING: THIS IS A TEMPORARY DISK.

  Any data stored on this drive is SUBJECT TO LOSS and THERE IS NO WAY TO RECOVER IT.

  Please do not use this disk for storing any personal or application data.

  For additional details to please refer to the MSDN documentation at :
  http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/jj672979.aspx
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/home/rasmus/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 372.933 s, 23.0 MB/s
$ sudo /sbin/sysctl -w vm.drop_caches=3
vm.drop_caches = 3
$ dd if=/home/rasmus/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 128.466 s, 66.9 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda1
/dev/sda1:
 Timing cached reads:   15618 MB in  1.99 seconds = 7849.35 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads:  50 MB in  3.07 seconds =  16.26 MB/sec

$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/resource/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 105.762 s, 81.2 MB/s
$ sudo /sbin/sysctl -w vm.drop_caches=3
vm.drop_caches = 3
$ dd if=/mnt/resource/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 125.382 s, 68.5 MB/s

$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sdb1
/dev/sdb1:
 Timing cached reads:   13242 MB in  1.99 seconds = 6649.23 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 108 MB in  3.01 seconds =  35.89 MB/sec
Network
Ping 23ms
Bandwidth:
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.43 GBytes  1.23 Gbits/sec    0             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.43 GBytes  1.23 Gbits/sec                  receiver

GoalState Addendum

<GoalState xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:noNamespaceSchemaLocation="goalstate10.xsd">                                      
  <Version>2012-11-30</Version>
  <Incarnation>1</Incarnation>
  <Machine>
    <ExpectedState>Started</ExpectedState>
    <StopRolesDeadlineHint>300000</StopRolesDeadlineHint>
    <LBProbePorts>
      <Port>16001</Port>
    </LBProbePorts>
    <ExpectHealthReport>FALSE</ExpectHealthReport>
  </Machine>
  <Container>
    <ContainerId>c17254d8-f744-4181-b569-8e19a15a49f9</ContainerId>
    <RoleInstanceList>
      <RoleInstance>
        <InstanceId>1e05ec1a-a437-4b96-ae4e-e97deaf7a219._test</InstanceId>
        <State>Started</State>
        <Configuration>
          <HostingEnvironmentConfig>http://168.63.129.16:80/machine/c17254d8-f744-4181-b569-8e19a15a49f9/1e05ec1a%2Da437%2D4b96%2Dae4e%2De97deaf7a219.%5Ftest?comp=config&amp;type=hostingEnvironmentConfig&amp;incarnation=1</HostingEnvironmentConfig>
          <SharedConfig>http://168.63.129.16:80/machine/c17254d8-f744-4181-b569-8e19a15a49f9/1e05ec1a%2Da437%2D4b96%2Dae4e%2De97deaf7a219.%5Ftest?comp=config&amp;type=sharedConfig&amp;incarnation=1</SharedConfig>
          <ExtensionsConfig>http://168.63.129.16:80/machine/c17254d8-f744-4181-b569-8e19a15a49f9/1e05ec1a%2Da437%2D4b96%2Dae4e%2De97deaf7a219.%5Ftest?comp=config&amp;type=extensionsConfig&amp;incarnation=1</ExtensionsConfig>
          <FullConfig>http://168.63.129.16:80/machine/c17254d8-f744-4181-b569-8e19a15a49f9/1e05ec1a%2Da437%2D4b96%2Dae4e%2De97deaf7a219.%5Ftest?comp=config&amp;type=fullConfig&amp;incarnation=1</FullConfig>
          <Certificates>http://168.63.129.16:80/machine/c17254d8-f744-4181-b569-8e19a15a49f9/1e05ec1a%2Da437%2D4b96%2Dae4e%2De97deaf7a219.%5Ftest?comp=certificates&amp;incarnation=1</Certificates>
          <ConfigName>1e05ec1a-a437-4b96-ae4e-e97deaf7a219.0.1e05ec1a-a437-4b96-ae4e-e97deaf7a219.0._test.1.xml</ConfigName>
        </Configuration>
      </RoleInstance>
    </RoleInstanceList>
  </Container>
</GoalState>




Contabo

Contabo is interesting. Extremely low-cost and the VPS didn't provision right away. You can pay extra to have it provision "within a few hours". It actually only took 20 minutes to get my VPS without paying the extra. Their dedicated servers look interesting as well, but above my $20 testing budget. Ugliest web site you could imagine, but who cares. They were also the only provider offering VNC access to the console. I tried it. It works well. A bit slow, but VNC from California to Germany is not going to be fast, and it is only needed when you mess up your boot image somehow. But, wait, there is more... Your $11 also buys you a /64 IPv6 subnet :)

When I first created my VPS I was getting about 40% packet loss. But it looks like I got unlucky. I contacted support and they got back to me in about an hour apologizing for some technical issues that are all cleared up now.

Contiuing the trend, the slightly longer provisioning resulted in a fully up to date Debian 9.3 install.

Performance is ok across the board. Obviously ping times to California aren't going to be great.

One interesting tidbit I noticed was that my VPS kept getting DNS queries from an IP in India for "www.bollywoodbackless.com". I don't even want to look up what that might be. Perhaps I got a recycled IP and this used to be a DNS server.

Wireshark screenshot

$11/month
12GB, 4 cores, 300 GB SSD
Debian 9.3
$ make -j 4
real    3m47.022s
user    11m39.176s
sys 0m42.684s
$ lscpu
Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                4
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-3
Thread(s) per core:    1
Core(s) per socket:    4
Socket(s):             1
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 85
Model name:            Intel(R) Xeon(R) Silver 4114 CPU @ 2.20GHz
Stepping:              4
CPU MHz:               2200.000
BogoMIPS:              4400.00
Hypervisor vendor:     KVM
Virtualization type:   full
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              4096K
L3 cache:              16384K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-3
$ df -kh
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            5.9G     0  5.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           1.2G   11M  1.2G   1% /run
/dev/sda2       294G  2.1G  277G   1% /
tmpfs           5.9G     0  5.9G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs           5.9G     0  5.9G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/sda1       922M   61M  799M   7% /boot
tmpfs           1.2G     0  1.2G   0% /run/user/0
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/tempfile bs=1M count=8192; sync
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 59.6787 s, 144 MB/s
$ sudo /sbin/sysctl -w vm.drop_caches=3
$ dd if=/root/tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=8192
8589934592 bytes (8.6 GB, 8.0 GiB) copied, 11.3284 s, 758 MB/s
$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda2
 Timing cached reads:   10770 MB in  2.00 seconds = 5395.17 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 926 MB in  3.00 seconds = 308.41 MB/sec
Network
Ping 152ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  54.2 MBytes  45.4 Mbits/sec  1411             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec  50.9 MBytes  42.7 Mbits/sec                  receiver

Since this server is in Germany, testing network against speedtest.serverius.net in the Netherlands as well:

Ping 21ms
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth       Retr
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec   105 MBytes  88.2 Mbits/sec  2418             sender
[  4]   0.00-10.00  sec   101 MBytes  85.1 Mbits/sec                  receiver
Last modified on 2018-01-23 16:09

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