What are cloud servers?
The term ‘cloud’ is used to describe a number of very different products, but in our case, it refers to on-demand, scalable, virtualized servers accessible over the internet.
How do cloud servers differ from dedicated servers?
When buying a dedicated server, typically you have to pay an initial set-up fee and commit to a contract for a year or more at a higher minimum price point than a cloud server. There is usually a lead time on the hardware, and it is difficult to change the server specification as your needs evolve, forcing you to buy something large enough for your application to grow into. You pay for the server 24 hours a day, not just when you want it up and running.
Our cloud servers, on the other hand, can be deployed immediately from our easy-to-use web control panel and have no setup charge, a low minimum price point, and no commitment to a contract. As your requirements change, you can instantly scale up and down the resources you use, and can even pay-as-you-go for just the hours your servers are running.
How does cloud hosting differ from a CDN (Content Delivery Network)?
A CDN is used to distribute copies of static media content such as images and videos to the edge of the network, nearer to your customers. This enables them to download these files with lower latency and less chance of bandwidth contention. It only works for static media content, and cannot be used for dynamic content or more general compute applications in the same way as Cloud Servers.
How does cloud hosting differ from shared hosting?
Shared hosting solutions usually only give you access to your server through a web control panel, where you can manage a number of websites hosted on that server. With our cloud server, you get full adminstrator control over your server and the ability to install any software you like and configure it exactly how you wish.
How do ElasticHosts’ Cloud Servers differ from traditional Virtual Private Servers (VPS)?
Traditional VPS providers slice up large dedicated servers to share them between customers. Typically VPS providers use a container technology such as Virtuozzo to isolate multiple users on a single server from one another whilst running a single shared instance of the operating system.
By contrast, ElasticHosts offers two types of cloud server product – KVM-based virtual machines (VMs) and Elastic Containers. Our KVM technology provides full hardware virtualisation for VM customers, enabling every user to run the operating system of their choice and offering greater flexibility and configurability than a traditional container-based VPS.
What physical infrastructure is ElasticHosts based on?
The virtualisation hosts in lon-p and sat-p have dual quad-core Xeon E5420s at 2.5GHz with 32GB of RAM and 4-6x 0.75-2TB drives each. The virtualisation hosts in lon-b have dual quad-core Opteron 2352/2378s at 2.1/2.5GHz with 32GB of RAM and 2-3x 1-2TB drives each. They run our in-house cloud hosting platform, which is built on open source technologies including Linux, qemu-kvm, LVM and iSCSI. The disks are arranged into RAID 1 pairs, and virtual disks are allocated out of this pool of RAID 1 arrays.
What services does ElasticHosts offer?
We offer a self-managed cloud hosting service. As one of our customers you have full administrator access to your virtual servers and are responsible for the configuration and management of the operating system and applications that you wish to run. We also offer Managed Cloud Servers (for complete management of your Cloud Servers) and Cloud Storage.
Do you offer domain registration and DNS?
No, this is something you need to source from a third-party supplier. Many domain registrars will bundle a free DNS service when you purchase a domain. There are also third party DNS providers, some of them with free offerings such as http://freedns.afraid.org.
Do you provide control panels such as cPanel, Plesk or PHPMyAdmin?
We provide a pre-installed cPanel image and an accompanying license (see setup guide). You can install and run any other software yourself.
Do you offer managed hosting services?
No, we only offer a self-managed service. Our infrastructure is very easy-to-use and you can install and administer it just like physical hardware. However, we can recommend partners if you would prefer a fully-managed product.
Do you have reseller or referral schemes?
Yes, please see our Reseller and Referral Partner Program for details.
Can you provide consultancy on optimising my system for performance and scalability on your platform?
Most of our customers will be able to install and configure their systems themselves, but if you have particularly specialized requirements, we can offer consultancy and systems support for $225 per hour. We can also recommend partners who can help with more general server software installation and configuration.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What Service Level Agreement (SLA) do you offer?
Our Service Level Agreement (SLA) is highly competitive, offering 100x credits for any unscheduled downtime longer than 15 minutes, up to 1 month’s credit. See our Terms of Service for more details.
What support do you offer?
We offer live chat, telephone and email support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We support the virtualization infrastructure, but our customers self-manage their operating system configuration and applications.
See more on our Support page.
How do you schedule planned maintenance?
Whenever possible, any planned maintenance is scheduled outside of local business hours. We will notify you of this by email at least 24 hours in advance. We will never schedule maintenance simultaneously in more than one of our sites, ensuring that they offer full redundancy to each other.
How do I create a server?
On the top of the control panel in your account, you can follow the Add Server wizard to create a server. We offer KVM-based Virtual Machine and auto-sizing Elastic Containers with various options for installing an OS:
- Use a pre-installed system.
- Self-install from a CD. There are many install CDs to choose from, for different OSes.
- Upload your own CD and boot your server from that.
Elastic Containers are automatically created with auto-scaling SSD storage that will grow and shrink according to your server's storage needs. When you add a new VM server, make sure you create a sufficiently large drive with it to store your operating system, applications and data.
How can I update my container?
On Debian and Ubuntu, use the following commands:
Under no circumstances use apt-get dist-upgrade or its equivalent on other distributions. As our containers have very specific configurations to work correctly in the shared environment, dist-upgrade will not work, or partially work, and very likely break the container permanently.
apt-get update apt-get upgrade
How can I reboot my container?
Rebooting a container from the control panel is simple and straightforward:
- Press Shutdown on the container:
- Press Start on the container:
Rebooting a container on command line:
- To use this feature, first you need to enable the Respawn feature in the advanced options on the server configuration page.
- Once Respawn is enabled, typing the command for restart on the command line from inside the container will result in the containers shutting down and then rebooting.
Please note: initiating restart with the Respawn feature disabled will shut down the container without restarting it.
What are drives and servers and how do I use them?
Drives are just like physical hard disks or CDs. They store your operating system, applications and data, and are persistent across server reboots. Servers are virtual machine instances, and may have one or more drives attached to them. They are either running or powered off. When a server is running, the cloud provides VNC access. When a server is powered off, you can configure the CPU, memory, drives and IP addresses which it uses. Some of our competitors have less-flexible products in which every server has exactly one drive. Our approach is more general, allowing you to attach several drives to a single server, or building several alternative configurations which boot from the same drive. (However, only one running server can access a given drive at any one time).
How are the sizes of drives and servers measured?
Like a physical hard drive, drives are measured in gigabytes (GB). Servers have two adjustable sizes: the amount of memory (in MB) and the amount of CPU bandwidth (in core-MHz).
What is the minimum size of a single server or drive?
The smallest single server you can create is 500 core-MHz CPU, 256 MB RAM, with a 1 GB disk drive. This is typically sufficient for a Linux appliance such as a DNS server.
What is the maximum size of a single server or drive?
The largest single server you can create is 20000 core-MHz CPU, 16 GB RAM (or 8 GB in our sat-p zone), with one or more 2TB disk drives.
How many servers and drives can I have?
There is no limit to the number of servers and drives that you can have in your account.
How large a server and drive do I need?
This will depend entirely on what you plan to use your server for: everybody’s requirements vary. However, a good starting point is to configure with the same sizes as you would use if you were purchasing a physical server for your application.
This is even simpler with the Linux-based Elastic Containers: you can set the maximum value of CPU and memory for the server, and the server scales itself automatically to meet its load - and you pay only after the actual usage, not the maximum capacity!
How are my servers and drives distributed between physical hosts?
When you create a drive, it is allocated on a randomly chosen host with sufficient free space. When you start a server, our system prefers to place it on the same physical host as its drive(s). If this is possible, the server can directly access the underlying physical disk. Otherwise, if the host containing the drive is already too busy, the server will be started on a nearby host and it will access its storage by peer-to-peer iSCSI over gigabit ethernet.
One of my servers is a backup of another. Can I specify that the two servers should be allocated on different physical hosts for better resilience?
Yes, although again this is only possible through the API at present. When you create the second server, pass in
avoid:serverplus a space-separated list of the UUIDs of the servers you wish to avoid. As above, you can avoid particular drives too: pass in
avoid:drivewith a space-separated list of the drive UUIDs to avoid.
Accessing a cloud server
How do I access and control my server?
The cloud provides basic VNC access to servers, which works from the BIOS onwards, and allows you to install, configure and recover your operating system, even if nothing is running inside your server. In normal use, you should access your server by a native method (e.g. SSH, VNC installed inside your operating system on port 5901, Windows Remote Desktop/RDP), which will provide superior performance.
What VNC software do you recommend?
Perhaps the easiest way to access your server over VNC is to click ‘Show screen’ from the control panel. This will open a VNC window in your browser. We recommend using Google Chrome or Firefox for best results.
If you prefer a dedicated client program, you’ll find that our VNC service requires a reasonably recent client. TightVNC works well on Windows, and clients based on gtk-vnc such as Vinagre work well on Linux. The RealVNC Enterprise Edition Viewer is good on Linux, Windows and MacOS if you set the “Always use best available colour quality” (or set FullColour to Yes in the Expert panel on the MacOS version of RealVNC). The Linux and MacOS versions of this are available as a free download on the RealVNC web site.
Neither the Apple Remote Desktop VNC client, Chicken of the VNC, nor JollysFastVNC work correctly on MacOS as they don’t support some of the newer protocol features which we use.
Why does my password work in VNC but not in RDP/SSH?
Please check your local keyboard settings. VNC will always enter keystrokes as if from a US keyboard, which may cause problems with some special characters. By contrast, RDP and SSH will always maintain the settings from your local keyboard.