After considering many options, I chose a Dedibox SC gen 2, a dedicated server solution from Online.net a French server manged hosting provider. The machine features a fairly low spec CPU, a 500GB hybrid SSD-HDD disk, 2GB of RAM and unlimited bandwidth with guaranteed throughput.
All that for €12 a month. It is much cheaper that all other hardware of VPS solutions I could find, and in fact about the same price as the Dreamhost hosting plan it replaced.
France seems to have two companies (Online with Dedibox and OVH with Kimsufi) dedicated to offer very low cost hosting solutions. The prices can be low thanks to custom dedicated hardware that is both small and power efficient. As you can see below, a Dedibox SC is barely larger than a 3.5 inch HDD. My gut feeling is that the emergence of these offers in France is linked to the three strike piracy law and the disappearance of Megaupload. A lot of these servers were used as seed boxes, at least in the beginning…
The hosting on Dedibox turned out to be very good and sufficient for my needs. A properly configured nginx server serving mostly static pages has no problem serving the 20,000 hits per month my sites require. I initially hesitated using Amazon S3 for some of the most popular pages, but dropped the plan entirely. I also have a few dynamic pages, but these are mostly for personal use. The PHP code of Exposition, my unfinished photo gallery software, works a lot faster than on Dreamhost.
The support on Dedibox is not great though. I had some billing issue at the beginning and it took forever for it to be resolved. I’m not sure I would trust them for something critical, like a business.
In the past few days, I made the switch to their competitor Kimsufi. I was running out of space on the 500GB disk of the Dedibox, because of my large photo collection. I opted for a KS-2, which is the exact same price price as the Dedibox SC Gen 2. It is normally fitted with a 1TB disk, but I got 2TB disk instead (surprise!). The KS-2 is also fitted with 4GB of RAM instead of the 2GB of the Dedibox.
The rest is worse though. On Dedibox the bandwidth is guaranteed, whereas on Kimsufi it’s best effort. In practice, I have not noticed any differences. The disk on the Dedibox is a hybrid SDD; Kimsufi uses a traditional slower spinning disk. Dedibox offers free monitoring services, like email notifications when the machine is turned on or off. Kimsufi offers nothing. OVH has a full featured iOS app that used to support Kimsufi users, but is now restricted to the pro tier of OVH hosting. Shame on you OVH! So I ended up configuring a free pingdom.com account for basic monitoring.
In the end, it’s a pretty good deal if you need the storage or the RAM. 2TB of “Cloud Storage” (it should be 1TB) for €12 month and similar fees with no limits in bandwidth is pretty good. It’s more than what you would get from Amazon S3 or Dropbox for the same price. But if you’re fine with 500GB or only 2GB of RAM, I would recommend the Dedibox offer instead.
Let’s hope the new hosting is as reliable as the previous one…