ServInt's "Essential VPS:" A Full Review
I subscribed to ServInt Essential VPS and compiled a complete review of the service: it includes as much "post-registration" information as possible, to give you the best insight into how worthwhile this service might be for your needs. Although this review was written for webmasters running multiple sites, it will apply to anyone looking at ServInt as a VPS provider.
The ServInt Essential VPS plan requires a budget of $49/mo (or $588/year), not counting the bonus for paying in advance. ServInt gave an across-the-board storage service boost in 2012, and doubled RAM in late 2013. This review reflects these service upgrades.
What This Review Provides
This ServInt review is a product of spending a good week or so researching five of today's best VPS hosts, which were compiled by taking detailed notes about the services that kept being mentioned in the message board posts on several popular web hosting forums.
Before subscribing to ServInt VPS, I previously had a reseller plan with HostGator, and then a dedicated plan with a private server host that was a friend-of-a-friend. My main reason for switching was due to the fact that dedicated hosting was simply too expensive and I was only using a small fraction of my server's resources, making a VPS the best 'middle point' of shared & dedicated.
Who Is ServInt?
Standard features with all ServInt VPS accounts
ServInt is a Virginia-based company founded in 1995 as one of the first public web hosting companies on the internet to offer dedicated web hosting. Today, they offer self-managed, VPS and dedicated hosting in 60 countries. ServInt offers standard services including CentOS with cPanel, unlimited domains & accounts, hardware RAID 10, free daily off-server backups and 24-hour support.
Check Your Requirements Before "Going VPS" - What my VPS research concluded with
Personally, I needed a VPS hosting provider that could handle sites ranging from high-bandwidth video sites to small-scale affiliate sites. These were the biggest qualities that ultimately led me to go with ServInt, as compared to their competitors:
- ServInt's lowest tier plan (Essential VPS) offers 1.5 GB RAM
- The standard 1 TB monthly transfer limit is a lot of bandwidth to play with
- ServInt's $49/mo plan (that's $588/year, or about $540/year if you factor in the instant discount for paying annually instead of monthly) was simply the most economical deal. It also included cPanel, which most VPS hosts seem to tag on a big monthly fee for, as well as free off-server daily backups.
- ServInt's customer service got sparkling reviews on every web hosting forum I've visited. The sentiment about ServInt's customer service and "emergency reliability" was literally mentioned on every forum I've visited.
- ServInt has been around since 1995. I always stick with services that are "secure" and not going out of business anytime soon (like GoDaddy with domains). I would be more inclined to trust a web host that *only* does web hosting, instead of some company offering it as a side-dish to some other service, like domain registration... and that's what ServInt has always been solely a web host.
My Server Usage
About The Sites I Host at ServInt
When shared hosting becomes impractical
Shared hosting was no longer an option for the sites I run, which include about a dozen affiliate-based and standard business websites and one video site that uses up to 30 GB of transfer per month. Just that one site practically roasted my shared account. I later moved it to dedicated, which became overkill -- and that's why VPS is such a good median. Below is a screenshot of my bandwidth usage, for example's sake:
...and my Service Status screen: notably with memory usage and server load stats:
ServInt's "Essential VPS" Plan
Regardless of what web host you go with, it's highly advisable to start off small and expand only when needed, simply for money-saving purposes. When I signed up with ServInt, I went with their lowest pricing tier - "ServInt Essential VPS": a $49/mo plan with 60 GB storage, 1 TB monthly transfer and 768 MB RAM.
Why Start Small?
It's all about cost. Before migrating to ServInt, I spent around $2,200/year on shared hosting and only used about a fifth of my server's resources...it simply made no sense to continue on that path. Even after migrating my sites over to a starter VPS account, I noticed that the VPS also had more resources than I'd ever need!
Think about this for your sites and needs. Unless you're hosting a gigantic site that gets a monumental amount of traffic (my largest site only gets about 1,200 unique visitors per day, and that's small by web standards), a VPS will have more than enough resources for you.
The disk space and bandwidth limitations offered by the Essential VPS are more than enough for the 17 sites I'm managing on the server. Currently, I'm using about 36% memory, 23% disk space and 55 GB transfer (out of 1 TB).
How to Estimate Your Usage
The way I estimated how much I'd need from a server is by simply adding up basic numbers and doing an average. For instance -- add up your bandwidth usage for all 12 months, divide it by 12, and you'll get a roundabout figure of usage. Compare it to service plans and see which one you'll have to fall under. If you ever need more resources, ServInt offers a simple upgrade to the next tier.
ServInt has always been reviewed for their excellent customer support. I got a glimpse of it after needing a few odds & ends resolved on my server. In fact, their customer service is probably amongst the fastest and best I've ever received for any service I've ever paid for in my life, and that's no exaggeration.
Customer Support Response Time
Each time, my problem was resolved within 10-15 minutes (no longer than a half hour)...and that goes to show the company's dedication to their customers, at least in my eyes. Below is a typical example of the response time of ServInt's customer support -- check out the time my question was asked (11:19 PM), and the time it took them to resolve everything (11:23 PM):
Customer support response is probably going to be your #1 most wanted attribute in whatever VPS host you go with. You're not going to rely on it often, but when you desperately need it, you'll be glad you went with the right place. This was actually my biggest "must have" when narrowing down my choice -- far beyond disk space, memory or anything else.
You'll tend to take good customer service for granted until something bad happens. In late November 2013, my Wordpress sites started getting hit by bad bot attacks to the point where my ServInt account couldn't even be accessed anymore. ServInt's customer service helped modify my .htaccess files and provide a few other links and pointers that wound up solving the issue.
ServInt Customer Portal Review
ServInt's customer portal is a back-end resource, aside from cPanel, where you can get advanced information about your server, change record information, add admin contacts, submit support tickets and read resources for server maintenance. Here's a run-down of several customer portal features:
- My Account: Lists all account contacts. This is where you would add your alternate server administrators (your business partners or whoever else has access to the server on an admin level).
- My Servers: Here, you can upgrade or downgrade your hosting plan, order add-ons, view server graphs and read tutorials on how to manage a server or read its graphs.
- Support: Submit a ticket if you have an issue or question about your server. This section will chronicle a list of all support tickets during your time as a customer, in case you need to re-read them.
Considerations for Registering Your First Server
If you decide to go with ServInt, it's worth your while to pay for an entire year of hosting rather than to pay by month, simply for the price break. For instance, ServInt gives a 5% discount for paying 6 months at a time, and 10% for a year at a time.
Control Panel & Operating System Choices
You're able to select between cPanel, Plesk or nothing at all. There's no reason to select no control panel, unless you're a hardcore Linux fan. Most of us go with cPanel for its ease of use. cPanel is updated automatically by ServInt, you'll never have to do it yourself (yet another benefit my previous webhost never gave me). Your operating system for cPanel will be the latest version of Centos.
Fantastico DeLuxe ($12/annual fee), RVSkin ($20/annual fee) and ClientExec ($2/monthly) are available options that you can choose from now or at any time after getting a ServInt VPS account. If you don't need them right now, don't waste your money on them.
Server Login Information
You'll be able to name your server (typically, vps.mydomain.com) which should preferably be named with your business's domain name (if you're an LLC owner) or a site that you consider to be your main site. All of the site accounts you create on your server from this point on will have the nameserver settings of the domain name you choose, here.
Last Year's New "SolidFire SSD VPS" Option
On January 14, 2014, ServInt announced a new hosting tier for their SolidFire SSD VPS plan. The details of this new plan are complicated; but in a nutshell, It's the first in the industry to offer 100% guaranteed resources that also includes "IOPS" (disk input & output options per second).
The inherent problem with VPS, in general, is that the actions of other VPS customers on the same box are affecting the performance of others on the same box. This is commonly known as the "noisy neighbor" issue. This new SolidFire hosting tier eliminates this issue by introducing a new solid-state drive that guarantees all resources.
SolidFire is only available in its own pricing tier -- it starts with the SolidFire Essential plan, guaranteeing 400 IOPS, 2GB RAM and 50 GB storage.
- Absolute best customer service in the industry. I'd dare anyone to say otherwise. ServInt's support ticket response time is practically instantaneous at all times of the day, and they will assist you with any facet of server management, no matter how obscure or advanced. If you're running a business, *you need this!*
- ServInt updates your server software regularly, you'll never have to do a thing to upgrade WHM nor any included components. They will assist you with installing any server-side add ons, if you should ever need it.
- Package offerings (disk space, memory & bandwidth) are on par with their competitors. In many cases, ServInt offers more memory and space than their counterparts. They upgrade their packages regularly, and all existing customers are given the free upgrade (this just happened on October 23, 2013 where everyone's RAM was doubled, for no extra cost!) It's hard to find a company that does real customer service, but this IS one.
- Offers a pricing discount that many other competitors do not: pay on a 6 month basis for a 5% overall reduction, or a 12 month basis for a 10% overall reduction.
- Not the 'cheapest' service, nor the most generous in terms of bandwidth. Note that ServInt's 1 TB bandwidth, however, is more than almost any small business would ever cap, anyway. If you need to save on bandwith, note that it's better to simply cloud host your 'heavier' files on a platform like Amazon S3 than on your actual server.
In conclusion: throughout all of the research I've done on VPS hosting, ServInt continued to show an edge over its competitors with their package offerings, pricing, up-time, customer support and overall integrity.
Look toward an "Essential VPS" account with ServInt for any portfolio of websites that can no longer handle being hosted on a shared account. It's low-cost and provides more resources than you'll need with support that's guaranteed to get back to you very quickly.
ServInt made my review of the top 5 VPS hosts for 2015...see who else made the list!