Price War: Linode vs Amazon EC2 vs Rackspace Cloud Servers vs Windows Azure Virtual Machines

Updated: 

  • 18 September 2012. Slicehost is now Rackspace Cloud Servers and added Windows Azure.
  • 31 October 2012. New EC2 price.
  • 10 April 2013. Linode NextGen specs.

It’s time for a “cloud” war but on the pricing side. So what is the real price per month between the four most popular cloud/VPS hosting providers? Which one has the best value for money? Let’s find out with a simple resource/price comparison below.

Again, the contenders are:

I’m currently hosting a few blogs and websites on a Linode 1024 plan (1024MB RAM). The incoming and outgoing bandwidth are approx. 70GB and 140GB respectively/month. So I’ll use these data in the calculation for EC2, Cloud Servers and Azure Virtual Machines and assumes 730 hours of service/month.

The Numbers

For Linode, the price is fixed with preallocated storage and transfer with free incoming traffic.

Linode 1024 Plan

  • CPU: 8 Cores
  • RAM: 1024MB
  • Storage: 24GB
  • Transfer: In (Free), Out (2048GB/2TB)

Price/month: $20.00

Note: Linode has upgraded all of their plans with better hardware, network and double the RAM for the same price (actually it is $0.05 more for all plans). You can read more about their NextGen of Linode on their blog: NetworkHardwareRAM.

Amazon EC2 Micro Instance

Price varies between regions, we’ll use the cheapest one.

  • Instance/hour: $0.02
  • CPU: 1 Core
  • RAM: 613MB**
  • Storage: EBS storage only ($0.10/GB), say we use 20GB
  • Transfer: In (Free), Out (First 1GB is free, subsequent GB up to 10TB is $0.12/GB)

Note: EC2 Micro instance doesn’t come with instance storage, that is why we need to use Amazon EBS.

Instance/month: $14.60
Storage/month: $2.00
Transfer (In)/month: $0
Transfer (Out)/month: $16.68

Price/month: $33.28

Rackspace Cloud Servers

  • Instance/hour: $0.06
  • CPU: 1 Core
  • RAM: 1024MB
  • Storage: 40GB allocated
  • Transfer: In (Free), Out ($0.12/GB)

Instance/month: $43.80
Storage/month: $0
Transfer (In)/month: $0
Transfer (Out)/month: $16.80

Price/month: $60.60

Windows Azure Virtual Machine XS

  • Instance/hour: $0.013
  • CPU: Shared
  • RAM: 768MB**
  • Storage: Locally redundant storage ($0.095/GB), say we use 20GB
  • Transfer: In (Free), Out (First 5GB is free, subsequent GB up to 10TB is $0.12/GB)

Note: The free first 5GB outgoing transfer only valid until 30 June 2013. More here.

Instance/month: $9.49
Storage/month: $1.90
Transfer (In)/month: $0
Transfer (Out)/month: $12

Price/month: $23.39

So we have it: Linode ($20.00), EC2 ($33.28), Cloud Servers ($60.60) and Azure VMs ($23.39)

Here, the clear “winner” is Linode*. But again, this is not really an apple-to-apple comparison because the VM’s performance is not taken into consideration. But in terms of specs and resources, Linode came out top. Linode is more superior in terms of hardware with 8 cores of CPU and very generous with their outgoing bandwidth, 2TB. But please take not that having more cores doesn’t mean more processing power.

Conclusion

As noted here, go for cloud if you want to run your stuff for a short period of time (few hours or days. You can still use Linode and get credited for the unused time for the rest of the month), CPU intensive stuff or web apps that have unpredictable load and need to scale up and down easily and quickly. If you want to host a blog or website (long-term) go for VPS. I would recommend Linode* over the rest. It’s really hard to argue when comes to hardware and price/resources. It’s simply the best bang for the buck. I’ve been with them for many years now, great support (usually less than 3 mins response) and great performance.

*Note: My referral link. Sign-up using my link if you think this post is useful, I would appreciate the referral. Otherwise, just hit linode.com in your address bar.

**Closest available RAM option to 1GB.

26 thoughts on “Price War: Linode vs Amazon EC2 vs Rackspace Cloud Servers vs Windows Azure Virtual Machines

  1. I’m using Linode too. It’s a good deal. Jump on it. If you don’t know Linux, don’t let that stop you from using the service available.

  2. @mskenderianI can’t for Slicehost but for Linode overage for bandwidth is $0.15/GB and for disk space, you can add additional space to your current Linode plan at $2/GB/month.If you think your website will require a lot of disk space, I recommend you to use Amazon S3 to store files. The rates is pretty reasonable.Second option is to move to a next Linode plan, e.g. 512 to 768 plan you get more 256RAM, 8GB disk space and 100GB bandwidth.

  3. Just a question, but why exactly does EC2 require additional costs like storage or transfer in/out. Their page doesn’t mention these things.

  4. @Jon EC2 and other cloud hosting didn’t charge you in advance for storage and transfer (and also CPU usage). This is the cloud model (pay as you use). You pay/GB for the amount of storage and transfer you use.

  5. @matthew Thanks for clearing it up Matthew. Do you know what services I’d need if I just wanted to host a mysql backed instance web app?

  6. @JonThere are several questions you need to ask:1. How long the mysql server will run?If you plan to run it 24/7 and for months, I would suggest you to go with Linode (VPS) because EC2 micro’s price for instance/month alone is almost the price of a whole Linode 152 plan ($15 vs $20).2. Will your mysql stores big blob data (images/files) or merely text?If you are storing blob images or files, you might want to estimate the transfer and storage. EC2 transfer is pretty expensive.3. Do you need to scale fast, up and down easily?If yes, you might need to consider cloud hosting. EC2 can scale up and down pretty easily (using their APIs) compared to Linode.For common use of mysql, I don’t suggest you to go with cloud hosting.

  7. @talldaveNope. But looking at the pricing, 500MB of RAM will cost you $25 with unlimited bandwidth + storage. Be warned of the “unlimited” marketing gimmick. Google “hosting unlimited bandwidth truth” for more info. That said, if you have tried DreamHost VPS, feel free to leave your feedback.

  8. What about a 256MB VPS? Does anyone have any thoughts on what is best? I’m using Slicehost, but I’m not impressed with the price. And Linode doesn’t go below 512MB, as far as I can tell.

  9. This calculation may not work. I don’t see Rackspace is costlier.With Rackspace, we can go and create a server for 11$/mth, which is not possible with any other provider. CloudFiles is cheaper and for 10GB transfer it’s just costs you just 1.8$. On top of all these, Rackspace now provides CDN from AKAMAI at free of cost. They dont’ also charge transfer bandwidth bet. our CloudFile container to Nodes for CDN. Incomming bandwidth is Free if it’s not CDN.Important thing compared to AWS, you can have multiple IPs.Considering all these, I think Rackspace scores well with all the features & price.EOD, Amazon fights with Google & Microsoft Azure. Rackspace, GOGRID fights with Amazon. All other hosting co’s fight with Rackspace.

  10. Thanks for the info it a nice round-up. I’m evaluating this right now.

    It might be useful that using EC2’s reserved instance for 3 years will bring down your instance cost to 7.39$/month (2.28$ fixed and 730 hours x .007$). This, in turn, will bring your monthly cost to 21.39$.

  11. Last year we switched some of our Linode VPS’s to Anchor in Australia.
    In general, Australian providers cant compete with the US on price, but for us, their performance, support and reliability made it worthwhile.
    We haven’t even had a single outage yet – touch wood!
    If you’re in the market for aussie hosting, check em out.
    http://www.anchor.com.au
    A $19usd Linode costs around $80aud in Australia and a $80usd Linode costs around $195aud.

  12. Hi Matthew I just signed up the Linode using your link.

    Your post saved me money and time. I was about to launch an EC2 instant, but I created a Linode instead. This will replace a dedicated server that I’m paying 59USD a mo.

    Gerry

  13. I have used all four of the services compared. There is only one that provides uber service: Linode. None of the others can compete with Linode’s amazing service and unltimate willingness to make sure you get 10x what you pay for. I have yet to have a better experience with any other service [IT or otherwise]. IMO

  14. Hello, I am now hosting at Dreamhost VPS and everything is always down, can you tell me if things would be better with a cloud at Linode, Rackspace or any other ? What is the cheapest and best service for you ? Also I would like a server that is managed, as I am not an expert…

    Thank you so much for your help.

  15. If you plan on having your site up 24/7/365 then you would want to use the EC2 pricing for reserved instances not on demand instances. This month they lowered the pricing for the reserved instances again. There is a 1yr or 3yr up front cost for the reserved instances but you get much cheaper per/hour rate. In the example above the EC2 Micro Heavy Utilization Reserved Instance would cost 365 days * 24hours * $0.005/hour = $43.80 per year + $62 upfront cost for a total of $105.80/year or $8.82/month instead of the $14.60/month listed in the post.

    Linode would still be slightly cheaper for total monthly cost in the case mentioned above ($18/month for 1 year contract) compared to $22.82/month for the Amazon EC2 micro instance.

    This is not a completely fair comparison though because the Amazon EC2 instance does give you 613MB memory instead of 512MB for the Linode 512 plan.

    The BIG cost savings with EC2 comes when you start needing more memory or hard disk space. The Heavy Utilization Small Standard Reserved instance will cost you only $45.93/month for an instance with 1.7GB of memory compared to the $54/month for the Linode 1536 plan using the case requirements in the post above. More hard disk space on Amazon is only $0.10/GB/month compared to Linode’s $1.00/GB/month for any extra above what the plan you have gives you.

    The BIG cost savings with Linode however is if you start using anywhere near the amount of GB’s traffic out the Linode plans give. The Linode 512 plan gives you 200GB transfer out which would cost $0.12 * 200 = $24/month with Amazon. That’s just for the traffic out! Linode must be taking advantage of the fact that most of their customers are coming nowhere near the transfer limits their plans offer whereas Amazon is charging the cost for every GB. If you only use a small fraction of the traffic Linode gives you though the EC2 instance will most likely be cheaper.

  16. Thanks for the great write up in comparing these companies. I would like to add that I have ran on Dreamhost for about 10 years and while they are good, when you start to try customization on a VPS, you are left out in the cold. Just today my VPS encountered a RAID hardware error and is undergoing repairs. Currently my sites are all down and I cannot log into the box. When I asked a Dreamhost support tech contact of what my options are the responses were along the lines of “because you are not a managed box, you assume the risks”. Thats okay but not okay when I cannot login to the box to fix the error! So, I’m moving to linode.com.

    But again, thanks for the writeup.

  17. Very good this comparison , but I tried to see what is the most simple and easy service found a great service to the digital ocean , with fast SSD because they use and access the price ? you can test servers for $ 5 per month and only pay for what you use , be tested for 1 hr will pay cents , I have a good credit here for $ 10 if you want to test just register https://www.digitalocean.com/

    with $ 10 you get two months to do their tests and if you like just insert credits by paypal , or use your credit card you choose , so if you want $ 10 to use at no cost just register here : https://www.digitalocean.com/

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