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.