Linode vs Slicehost – a comparison

Initial Experiences

Over the last few months I found myself needing a VPS (Virtual Private Server). 

For one thing, I was running a server at home off my fiber optic line, but my ISP cost for a plan with fixed IP addresses was expensive. Moving to a VPS and switching providers ended up saving me over $50/month. Plus I no longer have to maintain my 8 year old eMachine. 

For another thing, I will need more servers in the future and (1) definitely don’t want to run them from home and (2) know from experience how overloaded super-cheap regular shared servers can be.

Co-workers first recommended Slicehost, and that’s where I initially set up my account. Setup was fine and easy, and I was impressed by how simple using a VPS was if you have any kind of Linux background. 

But about 3 hours into a long data transfer from home (initially moving my server data over) their accounting system decided they needed more ID verification and summarily stopped my slice, without notice! 

Frankly that upset me and I decided to cancel my account, take a refund and went off comparative shopping for another VPS. I was sold on the VPS concept, but wanted something better. Also Slicehost seemed a bit expensive on the RAM side, and my server’s performance depends heavily on RAM.

After doing a few hours online research, Linode seemed to stand out favorably in comparison to Slicehost in reviews and user forums. Typical comments were that Linode is making an effort to stay ahead of the competitive curve with RAM and other resources while Slicehost seems to be happy staying as they are.

So I signed up with Linode, and have been so satisfied with them that I’ve written their support department to complement their service. And I felt I wanted to share a competitive analysis I’ve done this past week for some other work I’m doing.

(By the way, a 2nd account I recently created with Linode caused their system to ask me for additional ID verification too. The huge difference between Linode and Slicehost is Linode didn’t suddenly cut me off and, instead, asked me to respond within 48 hours. If you have critical servers up, you don’t want them summarily cut-off like Slicehost did. I appreciate that “Linode difference.”)

First let’s take a look at the entry level Packages offered by both companies:

Linode1-entrylevel

As you can see, both entry level packages cost the same. Linode provides twice the RAM and more HD storage and a higher monthly transfer quota. The backup cost is also the same, but Linode provides 4 backup images (nightly, weekly, monthly and a snapshot) while Slicehost only provides 3 (daily, weekly and snapshot).

One comment people sometimes make is, “Yes, but Slicehost offers more storage and data transfer for their higher end packages.” However, if you actually take the time to compare by RAM or by Storage or by Data Transfer, Linode still comes out ahead with substantial savings in every category. 

I think the mistaken impression that Slicehost offers more HD and transfer has to do with the way the packages are presented on both company’s sites. But Linode offers “extras” (extra HD, extra transfer, etc.) and Slicehost doesn’t. If you do a real apples-to-apples comparison in each category, Linode still comes out ahead.

This table compares by RAM

RAM is extremely important for our use because the server we use consumes a lot of memory and site performance depends on sufficient RAM allocation. In this table, only linodes/slices with equivalent RAM are compared.

Linode2-comparebyram

As you can see, the Linode plans offer considerable cost savings when RAM is your main concern. But what about if Storage or Transfer quotas are you main issue?

Say you had a site which uses between 500 and 600 GB of transfer/month (a pretty busy site). In this case you could go for the $75 Linode package or the $85 Slicehost package (with backups). If you go for the Slicehost package though you only get 1 GB of RAM while Linode gives you 1.5 GB of RAM (50% more). A busy site like that will appreciate the extra RAM. To get the same amount of RAM from Slicehost you must upgrade to the next package, for a total cost of $122.50. That’s 63% more expensive than Linode.

But some people might be interested mainly in storage or mainly in transfer, and not as much interested in RAM. Let’s see how those compare.

This table compares by Storage

Direct storage comparisons are difficult because Linode calculates storage in powers of 2 and Slicehost does not. To compare apples-to-apples I’ve added the optional “extra storage” plan to each linode to match the closest Slicehost plan. Note that Linode allows you to add more storage to a package but Slicehost does not let you do that.

Linode3-comparebystorage

As you can see, even if you “even up” the storage, Linode still comes out with substantial savings at every level.

What about total data transfer then? I think most people will be surprised at how little transfer they really use. But let’s compare.

This table compares by Transfer

Linode and Slicehost again don’t have a one-to-one comparison in transfer amounts. But Linode lets you add extra transfer at the rate of $10 per 100 GB/month. Slicehost does not have this option. This table adds extra transfer charges to linodes to match slice transfer levels. Also note Linode overages are $0.15/GB and Slicehost overages are $0.30/GB. Both companies do consider these “soft caps” and will discuss it with you before billing.

Linode4-comparebytransfer

Note: The last two rows are correct. Slicehost caps out at 2500 GB/month so less was needed to add to Linode’s package in the last row to match the same transfer quota.

Other stuff

Linode also offers a greater choice of data center locations – 5 altogether:  Newark, Atlanta, Dallas, London and Fremont California. They will provide you with links to each colocation center so you can check them out. 

By comparison, Slicehost offers 3 data center locations: St. Louis (2 centers), Dallas and Chicago.

So there you have it. I’m quite happy with my Linode service. As of this posting my server is in its 37th consecutive day of uptime. You can find other reviews on the Internet comparing performance, and Linode always seems to come out ahead of Slicehost.

Whenever I need support, I just dash off an email and have always gotten a quick response. 

In short, I’m a satisfied customer and recommend their service.

I told Linode I had these comparisons, if they were interested in seeing them, and they wrote back and said why don’t I post them and include my referral link. I am speaking 100% honestly here when I say I didn’t even know there was a referral system when I wrote this. I was just happy with the system and wanted to let others know about it. But since they pointed me to a referral URL here it is:

Please click on it and check it out if you like. I was not expecting referrals when I wrote this so no problem either way. 

Please do comment if you see a point of error which needs correction.

Thanks,

doug