Rants Server Configuration

Plesk: Not Recommended

Lately I got a chance to work on lot of server. Working on 6-7 server in 15 days it not much for a full time server admin, but for a programmer who only manage server to fasten his development process is really long ask. During this process I have 2 encounter with Plesk and unfortunately both time Plesk proves to be a pain in neck.

First encounter was during setup a new Windows machine. My client purchase a Leased Term license of plesk and in return plesk send them 10 days temporary license which is expected to install on server and later plesk will auto update the license from online server. This is what I understand during our communication with plesk. However my client took 15 days to pass me the license and server access or you can say they hire me after 15 days of buying license. When I install plesk and try to upload license it naturally says, it is expired. Then we try to contact Plesk support, we call USA support, India Sales support, email to plesk, but no response and no guidance how we get corrected license. After 7 days of talking with plesk we drop the idea of having plesk on server.

Here comes the second problem with plesk. You just cannot run the “uninstaller” because they never build uninstaller for their PERFECT software. luckily my client get the computer formatted at no additional cost, otherwise I have to search and delete all file manually, which I don’t want for two reason. I hate deletion they always leave traces anyways and it is lot more work then expected.

We later use Microsoft’s Free WebsitePanel. An Awesome software with ease of use for our purpose. We can install any version of SQL Server, MySql, PHP, ASP.NET and configure that easily. Plus we pay nothing to get it.

My second encounter came with a Linux/CentOs Based VPS with Plesk, where I need to upgrade the PHP version from 5.1 to 5.3 on client demand. I search on internet and found that Plesk do not distribute PHP so they do no provide any upgrade method. But there is atomic shell script available to help update. I did that update. PHP was upgraded. We run it, but as you have expected Plesk is broken now. Been on VPS it frequently goes out of memory and create all problems. We ultimately decide to drop that server as it is just test server :).

I got saved both time and will never try a Plesk. Horrible software, powered by horrible support. Plesk is good for non experience, but nightmare for custom requirements. Never use it if you love to configure your server for speed or customization.

Article Blog: My thoughts Operating System

Why we don’t need VPS?

Late last year, I was pretty happy to have a budget to take a VPS for my company. This was first server that we own. What a great feeling to have it. But soon the great feeling becomes a nightmare. It was not that hosting company is not that good, it was just that the VPS are not good in general. I am talking about it after using atleast 10 VPS server from 3-4 different companies. Fortunately I invest only in one of them.

Coming back to topic, here are reasons why I hate VPS now:
1. VPS is said to be cheaper, But for whom? You or hosting companies? Companies with good reputation or resources gives a VPS starting at $60 per month for just a 1GB RAM, with 30GB HDD. IF you compare it with Dedicate server with low end they ends up with 160 GB HDD and 2 GB RAM. for about $100. But to get that configuration you need to spend over $100. So comparatively they are not cheap.

2. When I buy a VPS I read that my VPS will be hosted on Cloud network and hence if a VPS fails for some reason it get up again on next node in network and reduce the downtime. Unfortunately my VPS Hosting GRID failed and it dump my data for 48 hrs, before they can fix the node. I was not alone but all people having their VPS on that grid lost valuble 48hrs waiting for their server. Later it took 15 days to get my hosting to move my VPS to new GRID as even after 48 hrs they said they still need to do few maintenance and my VPS will do roller coaster during that time. If I have Dedicated server and if some hardware fails it took less than 2 hrs to get it up live. But if VPS grid’s hardware fails who grid gets overloaded from other VPS and reduce performance. Plus changinge their hardware wasn’t easy. This is what I had experience on my server and unfortunately on client’s hosting when their Hosting [different my mine] fails for them too.

3. VPS should not be confused with Cloud Hosting. VPS are virtual machine, and even if they are hosted on Cloud Network they are not Cloud hosting for your purpose, they are as good as dedicate machine. IF your VPS fails, or shutdown, your website will be down. You won’t get shifted or reboot, becuase machine is down not a network. It is like notepad crashing on your computer. It do not effect computer otherwise. Cloud hosting are like shared hosting, where multiple computers store data, and a data replication happens on fallback node. then your webserver runs on different hardware on same grid and other application as well. So if say one web server fails there are other webserver available to take load of your application. But this is note the case with VPS machines. IF you take VPS you take a 1990’s computer as server don’t expect too much.

4. VPS is a concept of running more than one Operating system on given hardware. Like running Parallel to run Widows on Mac. Though it is been said that they share resources, but actually if you have a computer with 4 GB RAM running 2 VM with 2 GB RAM. do you think you get full 2GB RAM performance? the answer is NO. because at 4GB RAM there are 3 OS running. and one is using 4GB, while other 2 are using 2GB each, so they need 8GB in total, but it is not possible because we have 4GB. So the host operating system scarifice some of his RAM, maybe 3GB but it still be a 5GB. Same happens with CPU processing, Same with HDD. A HDD writes a 1xX speed if it has to write it for 3 OS will it write faster? no it still write 1xX and each os get only 1/3xX of speed.

In nutshell, if you are trying to save money by using VPS, then you better reconsider using a Shared hosting or a Dedicated server. Hosting 10 site on VPS will cost you $6 per month with no performance, where as shared hosting from decently good host will cost your just about same, but much better performance. And if you have enough money why not a Dedicated server or a Cloud hosting like Microsoft Azure, or Amazon S3 like services ?