Cloud Hosting FAQ

Getting Started


Trial

What does your Free 5-Day Trial include?

The free trial gives you full access to our system and includes 2000 core-MHz CPU, 1024 MB RAM, 30GB HDD, 5GB high performance SSD and 10GB data transfer, which is enough capacity to run a medium-sized server or several small servers.

Are there any restrictions on your Free 5-Day Trial?

  • The free trial is limited to 2000 core-MHz CPU, 1024 MB RAM, 30GB HDD, 5GB high-speed SSD and 10GB data transfer. It lasts for 5 days.
  • During the trial, we block outbound connections to smtp, ftp, ssh and telnet servers – ports FTP (tcp 21), SSH (tcp 22), telnet (tcp 23), SMTP (tcp 25), POP3 (tcp 110), IMAP (tcp 143), SIP (udp 5060), VNC (tcp 5900-2) and Runescape (tcp 43594-5) – to prevent abuse of our trials for sending spam or conducting dictionary attacks against other internet hosts.
  • We ask triallists not to run Minecraft or other game servers. Game servers may be powered off without warning.

Is it possible to have a trial for longer or with extra infrastructure capacity?

We are happy to consider requests for larger and/or longer trials on a case-by-case basis. Please email support@elastichosts.com if you would like extra time or resources.

How do I run Windows during my trial?

There are 3 options for setting up a server to run Windows during your trial:

  1. Use one of our pre-installed Windows images. However, please be aware that these require a licence from Microsoft, and you will have to purchase the correct Windows licence from us if you wish to continue using this after the trial has expired.
  2. Select ‘self-install from CD’, rather than ‘pre-installed images’, and then install from the appropriate trial CD (Windows Server 2008 R2 Trial CD, Windows Web Server 2008 CD or Windows Server 2012 R2 Trial CD) yourself.
  3. Upload your own install CD using our cloud hosting upload tool or SFTP to ftp.<zone>.elastichosts.com (e.g. ftp.lon-p.elastichosts.com) with your account UUID (as username) and Secret API key (as password) as shown on your account profile page.

When I sign up, can I continue to use the servers I created during the trial?

Yes. You can purchase monthly plans or add burst balance at any time from inside your account. If you sign up before the end of your trial, you will be able to continue running your servers uninterrupted.


Uploading CD/server images

How can I upload my own ISO CD images?

You are welcome to provide your own ISO CD images to use on your servers. You can upload these in one of three ways:

  1. using our API with the ElasticHosts-upload script;
  2. by SFTP (Secure FTP) protocol to ftp.<zone>.elastichosts.com (e.g. ftp.lon-p.elastichosts.com) with your account UUID and Secret API key as shown on your account profile page. We recommend use of the WinSCP application to do this – Filezilla is known not to work; or
  3. if the image is less than 1GB, using the upload web form found on an existing drive's ‘Configure drive’ page. Upload image on the control panel

How can I upload my own server images?

You can use any of the methods mentioned in the previous question to upload a server image to your account. Using our API upload tool is likely to be the best choice if the image is large, as this uploads in chunks and has the option of resuming an interrupted upload. We can also accept USB hard drives with drive images on, to copy across directly. Please submit a ticket on the control panel or email support@elastichosts.com if you would like further details.

What format server images do you support?

We accept only raw drive images that are the same as a physical drive, with block device, partition tables etc. However, we do accept converted VMware images – see the Converting OS images section below for details.

I have uploaded an ISO9660 image (.iso file). How do I boot a server from it?

On the server configuration page, set the drive media type for the drive containing the image to CD-ROM and ensure the boot radio button is activated next to it. If you are installing a server from the CD, remember you will also need another drive attached onto which to install your operating system.

How can I migrate Linux KVM or QEMU virtual machines into your cloud?

If your drive is already in the raw format supported by these hypervisors, it is ready to upload using our API upload tool unchanged, as described above.

If your drive is in qcow2 format, you will need to convert it to raw format before uploading. You can do this with the command:

qemu-img convert -f qcow2 -O raw drive.qcow2 drive.raw
where `drive.qcow2` is the qcow2 file you want to convert to the raw file drive.raw.

How can I migrate physical servers into your cloud?

If you have physical servers that you would like to migrate into our cloud, you should boot your server from a live CD and then run the ElasticHosts-upload script to upload the hard disk block device.
However, please note that uploading a large drive this way can take a very long time depending on your internet connectivity. It may be quicker to install afresh in our cloud and copy your data across.

Can I send you data on a physical disk to copy into my account?

Yes.


Converting server images

I use Hyper-V. Is it possible to upload Hyper-V disk images and use them on the ElasticHosts system?

Yes, although they must be converted first: our system requires either DVD or CD images in .iso format, or raw disk images. Microsoft’s VHD file format can be converted to raw format using qemu-tools:

qemu-img convert -f vpc inputfilename.vhd -O raw outputfilename.raw
If they are installed, it’s important to remove Microsoft’s Virtual Machine Additions before converting, as these non-standard drivers can cause problems on our system.

I use VMWare. Is it possible to upload VMware disk images and use them on the ElasticHosts system?

Only indirectly. Our system requires either DVD or CD images in .iso format, or raw disk images – the equivalent of taking the stream of bytes off a physical disk and saving them in a file. A .vmdk file is a long way from raw format. However, qemu does have tools to convert these.

On a Linux system, you can use the following command to convert a .vmdk into a raw disk image that our system can use:

$ qemu-img convert inputfilename.vmdk -O raw outputfilename.raw
Be aware that a raw image is probably larger than the .vmdk, which is a compressed format.

Mac users can also perform this conversion using Oracle’s VirtualBox, by running the following commands in Terminal:

 cd /Applications/VirtualBox.app/Contents/MacOS/  
sudo ./VBoxManage clonehd drive.vmdk drive.raw –format RAW

With a converted VMware image, is there anything else I need to know?

Yes – you might still have issues getting it to work. Our recommendation is always to create a new system inside the ElasticHosts servers and install what you need, and send over data. Windows guests in particular dislike having their virtual hardware swapped around, so there are few guarantees that you’ll have a reliable system after conversion. That said, we recommend:

  1. Remove VMware Tools before you shut down for conversion. This is the most important step.
  2. Make sure when you run the converted file, you set the number of cores to at least two. This is in the advanced options for the server, and does seem to make Windows guests in particular more reliable.
  3. Some users have had more success with the older RealTek virtual network card than the Intel one. If you do have issues, it’s certainly worth swapping.

I don’t have a Unix/Linux system. Is there any other way to do this?

Yes – if you can boot the VM locally, you can upload a hard drive without needing to convert the image using the method described here.

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General questions


Cloud Hosting

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.


ElasticHosts

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.

See video.

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.


Support

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 sales@elastichosts.com 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.


Cloud Servers

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. Add server wizard in the control panel 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 reboot my container?

Rebooting a container from the control panel is simple and straightforward:

  1. Press Shutdown on the container: Elastic_Container_turned-on
  2. Press Start on the container: Elastic_Container_turned-off

Rebooting a container on command line:

  1. To use this feature, first you need to enable the Respawn feature in the advanced options on the server configuration page. Elastic_Container_respawn-feature
  2. 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:server plus 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:drive with 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.

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Networking


Basic Networking

How can I send email from my servers? Can you lift the SMTP (port 25) block?

We are happy to lift the SMTP block so you can send email from your servers. Please email support@elastichosts.com to request this, confirming that:

  • any mailing lists you run on the servers are strictly opt-in, and
  • all messages sent to those mailing lists contain instructions on how to unsubscribe.

How can I track my bandwidth use?

A report of received, transmitted and total bandwidth for your account is shown on your billing page, with links to display traffic graphs. You can edit the URL parameters on these graphs to adjust the timeframe and offset: window = graph time duration in seconds offset = graph end distance before now in seconds width and height in pixels Per-server traffic graphs are available from the control panel. There is a link next to the VNC IP address when the server is running.

What internet bandwidth can I expect? Is this limited?

In each of our availability zones, your virtual machines are connected directly to a major ISP’s backbone network at 1Gbps speed. We do not cap or throttle the connection.

What is the difference between the virtual network cards you offer? Which do you recommend?

By default, your VM will use the Intel PRO/1000 emulated NIC, as it is the most modern and is widely supported in modern operating systems. However, wider support for the Realtek RTL8139 card means that we recommend using the Realtek emulation if you experience any problems with the Intel model: Windows XP/2003 users in particular may find that the older card is better supported on their OS.

What happens if I go over my subscribed bandwidth limit?

If you go over your subscribed bandwidth limit, then you will be charged the hourly burst rate for additional bandwidth and this will be deducted automatically from your prepay balance. When your prepay balance runs out there is a buffer of 10-20 GB which you can use. After that your servers will be automatically shut down. As your prepay balance is being used up, you will receive warning emails, letting you know you should top up (or increase your subscriptions).

Will I be charged for bandwidth between my servers?

Yes, we charge for all bandwidth usage that does not go over a private VLAN.

Do you block any network traffic?

We block outbound connections to SMTP, FTP, SSH and telnet servers to prevent abuse of our trials for sending spam or conducting dictionary attacks against other internet hosts. Port 5900 is used for running the VNC console.

My VM won’t connect to the internet – what can I do?

If you can’t connect to the internet, you can still connect to the VM using the provided VNC server. This allows you to ensure that everything is running normally, and fix any configuration issues which may be affecting the network connection. RHEL or CentOS users may find that they are affected by this known bug within their OS.


VLAN

What is a private VLAN and why would I use it?

A VLAN acts like a private gigabit ethernet switch connecting your servers together via a second virtual ethernet card in each server. This network is isolated from the internet and other customers. Bandwidth over a VLAN is not chargeable.

How can I configure a private VLAN?

First, purchase a private VLAN subscription. Then add it to your account in the control panel. Then, edit each server’s configuration to use your private VLAN. This is under the Advanced settings.

Do private VLANs work between your availability zones?

No. A private VLAN can only be set up within a single availability zone, so any traffic sent between our different availability zones will be charged at the standard rates.


IP address

How do I set reverse DNS for my static IP addresses?

You can set this on the control panel – simply add your desired reverse domain name into the box by the IP, and click the ‘Submit’ button.

How do I use multiple static IPs on the same server?

You will need to configure this inside your server. The networking option on the server configuration page just sets the IP address that the server is supplied by DHCP and uses for VNC. This should be the ‘primary’ IP of the server, but you can also use any other static IPs in your account if you configure these inside your server operating system.

How do I remove a static IP address from my account?

Since all the static IP addresses in your account are available to be used by all servers at any time, then you will need to stop your servers before you will be able to delete a static IP address from your account.

How do I get a static IP address?

Servers are configured with a dynamic IP by default, but you can purchase a subscription for as many static IP addresses as you need through the subscriptions page in your account. You then need to allocate the actual addresses by clicking ‘add static IP’ on the control panel, and configure the static IP in your server configuration.


Load balancing / Clustering

How do I set up load balancing between my servers? Which tools do you recommend?

We recommend that you set up a small server in your cluster, running a load balancer, such as HAProxy or Pound, and connect it to your backend web servers over a VLAN.

How can I configure my system to fail over between your two clusters?

The easiest way of configuring failover is to use a DNS-based failover method. Set a low TTL on the A record for your website to avoid excessively long caching, and alter this to point to the backup server when the production server is down. There are third-party DNS providers who offer this kind of service as part of their DNS hosting offering.


Security

How do I set up a firewall on my servers?

You can purchase a firewall for your server (for charges, see the Pricing page). To add a firewall to your server, from the ElasticHosts control panel, first shut down the server, then click Edit. On the Edit page, click “Enabled” next to Firewall: don’t forget to hover your mouse over the green tooltip for more information on the options available to you here.

What access do ElasticHosts staff have to my servers?

Elastichosts staff do not have access to your server passwords. The only access they have is the ability to see the VNC display, which they may use from time to time to check that your server is running.

How can I encrypt VNC connections to a server?

We do support TLS VNC using the VeNCrypt extensions, which some VNC clients support. You can enable this option through the advanced settings in the server configuration page. Note there are several different incompatible schemes for TLS on VNC. gtk-vnc/vinagre on Linux is a popular client that works with VeNCrypt.

How can I disable VNC on a server?

On the server configuration page, you can disable VNC access by leaving the VNC password field blank.

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Infrastructure


CPU

What is the minimum and maximum CPU value for a single server?

The minimum CPU value for a single server is 500 core-MHz and the maximum CPU value is 20000 core-MHz.

What do you mean by core-MHz?

The effective speed of modern CPUs is determined both by the clock speed of the processor (in MHz) and the number of independent execution units (cores). For a given processor design, the available CPU bandwidth is roughly proportional to the product of these two. Concretely, if you create a virtual server with 2100 core-MHz of CPU allocated, you should expect performance roughly equivalent to a single core of AMD Opteron 2352 clocked at 2.1GHz, and this performance varies linearly in proportion to the core-MHz number.

How do I set the number of CPU cores?

This is under the advanced settings on the server configuration page – simlpy click Edit when your server is powered off to view and edit these settings.


Memory

What is the minimum and maximum memory for a single server?

The minimum memory value for a single server is 256 MB RAM.

All our zones support servers running 32GB RAM, except our Sat-P zone, where the limit is 8GB.


Storage

What is the minimum and maximum size of a single drive?

The minimum size is 1GB and the maximum size is 2 TB for a single drive.

Can I attach one drive to more than one server?

No. However, you can run filesharing protocols such as NFS or Windows File Sharing from one server to another over a private network VLAN.

How do I attach more than one drive to a server?

You can set this in the server configuration page. (Click Edit when your server is powered off to find this page).

What storage performance can I expect?

You should be able to achieve around 30-40MB/s streaming read and write performance from your virtual drives. However, contention with other users accessing the same underlying RAID arrays can result in lower performance, especially at peak times. This affects writes more than reads as we cannot safely cache disk writes as aggressively.

What is the difference between IDE, SCSI and VirtIO drives? Which do you recommend?

If you’re not sure then you should stick with the IDE emulation, which offers good performance and compatibility. However, we believe that VirtIO drive types provide the best performance, and these are what our preinstalled images use by default.

Note that our virtio drives have writeback caching enabled, so you will need Linux 2.6.32 or later, which supports barriers over VirtIO, to be able to use these safely. If you’re not using one of our recent preinstalled images, VirtIO disk drivers must be installed specifically within Windows before you can use this disk type. See our guide for switching drives to Virtio block devices.

What is dedicated disk storage, and what are the advantages?

Our normal virtual drives are allocated from RAID1 disk pairs shared between customers. This means that when one customer is heavily accessing their disks, your accesses may be slower if they happen to be on the same disk pair. If you need uncontended access to your virtual drives, we can allocate a RAID1 disk pair specifically for your use, with no other customer drives on it. This means that performance on your drives cannot be degraded by the activity of other ElasticHosts users.

What happens to my data when my server shuts down?

Data stored on your virtual drives is persistent and will be available when you restart your server, just as it would be on a physical hard disk. This means that you can install software and save data exactly as you would on a physical server, unlike some other cloud solutions.


Scaling

How do I resize my server?

When your server is powered off, go into the server configuration page, then simply adjust the CPU and memory settings.

How do you recommend configuring server clusters appropriate for each stage in my website’s growth?

Whilst the exact answer will vary according to your web application’s architecture, we recommend the following cluster architectures to back a typical site as it grows, progressing in order:

  1. Single small server with standard disk, running entire LAMP stack
  2. Single large server with dedicated disk, running entire LAMP stack
  3. Multiple large servers in classic 3-tier web application architecture, interconnected over private network VLAN:
    1. Clustered database servers with dedicated disk
    2. Front-end application servers with standard disk
    3. Load balancer(s) running Pound, HA-proxy, etc.

Note that in the second stage a single larger server with dedicated disk will typically give better performance than splitting immediately into multiple small servers, since disk I/O is improved and there are no extra latencies from cross-network communication.

How do I scale automatically with load?

You can use our API to start and stop servers when your application detects that it needs extra computing power. Building an application which scales across multiple machines like this is done in the same way as it would be on physical hardware which you could programmatically turn on and off, but is beyond the scope of this FAQ.

How do I shrink my disk safely?

It is very important to shrink the size of your filesystem and any partitions using your operating system BEFORE trying to shrink the drive itself! If you don’t do this, you will chop the end off the filesystem when you shrink the drive leading to serious corruption.

If in doubt, we strongly advise against attempting a drive shrink because of this risk: this functionality is disabled in the web control panel to prevent accidental loss of data.

However, once you are sure it is safe to do so, you can shrink the virtual drive by shutting down the attached server and either decreasing the drive size via the API, or contacting the support team to shrink the drive as required.

How do I grow my disk?

To increase the size of your drive, shut down the server it is attached to, choose Edit for that drive in your control panel and increase the size in the dialog. After resizing the disk, you can restart your server attached to it but will then need to grow any partitions and filesystems on it to make use of the extra space. (Our pre-installed Linux images do not have partitions but just a single filesystem filling the entire drive, so it is sufficient to run resize2fs directly on the hard disk block device node to grow this filesystem).

Can I change the size of my server whilst it is running?

No. Operating systems are not able to recognise changes of this sort and would crash if we enabled them.

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Advanced


API

How do I use your API?

Please refer to the dedicated documentation for our cloud hosting API.

What can I do with your API?

Our API allows you to do everything you can do on our web control panel: the web control panel is actually implemented on top of the API.

When attempting to use the API, I see a ‘Bad operation’ error message – why?

If you see this error message while attempting to access the API, you are sending arguments which the API server does not accept. One possibility is that you are using a VNC password longer than eight characters. The API only accepts passwords with eight characters or fewer.


Backup/redundancy

How do I create a backup copy of a drive whilst it's mounted on a running Virtual Machine?

Please read our guide for creating live backups.

What solutions do you recommend for backups?

You can easily create backups yourself, either via the Copy button on the control panel or an rsync cron job.

If you run your backup server in the same availability zone as the main server, you can transfer data between the two for free over a VLAN, but both would be affected by a catastrophic failure of the entire availability zone. On the other hand, you can survive such failures if you provision your backup server in another availability zone, but bandwidth between the two sites will be billable.

Can I make a backup copy of a drive?

We provide a drive copy function which duplicates a drive. You have to power down a server while this takes place, and it may take some time if the drive is large. We aim to introduce instant snapshots in the medium term, which will be possible while a server is running.

What redundancy does your infrastructure provide?

Our virtual drives are allocated on RAID1 disk arrays. These provide a similar level of reliability to RAID1 on a traditional dedicated server, and ensures that any failure on one virtualization host will not affect others. By contrast, many of our competitors use centralised disk servers (SAN/NAS) which act as a single point of failure.

What is your uptime guarantee?

Our Service Level Agreement (SLA) offers compensation whenever we fail to meet our 100% uptime guarantee. Please see our Terms of Service for more details.


Dedicated/Hybrid solutions

Do you offer dedicated servers and hybrid cloud/dedicated clusters?

In conjunction with our partners Peer 1, we can offer hybrid solutions in London Portsmouth and sat-p availability zones, with Peer 1/ServerBeach dedicated servers and our cloud servers connected together on a high-speed local network.

When would you recommend using dedicated disk storage?

If you have heavy IO requirements, or have a particulaly IO-latency sensitive application, we recommend considering Solid State Drives (SSD) for your server. These provide much faster throughput than traditional magnetic hard disks (HDD) and can be purchased with a server of any size.

If you have a requirement for high throughput and a particularly large amount of storage (usually more than 2TB) you could contact us to ask about a dedicated disk pair, either HDD or SSD. This is a custom arrangement and there is normally some lead time as we may need to purchase dedicated hardware for you.

When would you recommend a hybrid solution?

Hybrid solutions are particularly useful where you need a high-spec database server with high IO performance requirements which is better run on dedicated hardware, but want the flexibility of our cloud platform for your front-end web servers and load-balancing. A combination including dedicated machines is also worth considering if you need particularly low latency for compute-heavy jobs or are specifying servers with more than 16GB of RAM.


OS-specific questions

BSD - I am using a BSD system and it fails to boot normally. How can I fix this?

Some BSDs include a feature called ‘Machine Check Architecture’, which is intended to report hardware errors to the operating system. This is not suitable for use on a VM, as the machine does not see real hardware – only the virtual abstraction presented to it by the hypervisor – and may cause problems during boot.

We recommend you disable this in your VM’s boot options if you are experiencing problems. For example, you can do this on FreeBSD systems by adding “hw.mca.enabled=0″ to the file /boot/loader.conf.local. If you continue to see problems, some reports also indicate that it may be beneficial to disable TCP Segment Offload (TSO) by adding “hw.bce.tso_enable=0″ to the same file.

CentOS - I am running RHEL or CentOS Linux, and I have lost network connection. What’s going on?

There is a known bug within Red Hat Enterprise Linux and variants such as CentOS which may cause the primary network device eth0 to be renamed between reboots. To resolve this problem, users of affected systems should delete the following two files, if they exist, and then reboot:

/etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules
/lib/udev/rules.d/75-persistent-net-generator.rules

Linux - I am running a pre-installed Linux image. How do I update the kernel?

Our pre-installed systems use the extlinux bootloader instead of the more common GRUB. If you have just installed a new kernel but find that you are still booting into the old version, it may be because your distribution has attempted to update GRUB instead of extlinux. To fix this, simply update the ‘vmlinuz’ and ‘initrd.img’ symlinks extlinux uses to find the kernel. Depending on your distribution, these will either be in the root (/) or /boot directory. For example, if they are in the /boot directory you can update them by running:

ln -s /boot/[new kernel image] /boot/vmlinuz
ln -s /boot/[new initrd] /boot/initrd.img

When this is done, simply reboot to start using your new kernel.

Windows - I set a system time check at 5 minute intervals, but my system time is not correcting itself. Why not?

Your Windows system time may not be running. Ensure you have set the Windows time service to start automatically, or you will not be reaching an NTP server.

Windows - My Windows Server 2003 is very slow, with slow disk i/o and extremely high CPU use. What can I do?

This may be because your server has started using PIO transfer for disk, not DMA, which we have seen happen to Windows 2003 servers. To change this back you will need to uninstall the IDE driver and reboot the server. In Device Manager, uninstall the IDE channel from the IDE controller, then restart.

Windows - Why can’t I connect to my server using RDP?

If you’ve never used the server before, try logging in over VNC, as our pre-installed images require some setup (such as the initial password creation) to be performed before RDP can be activated. If you can login over VNC but cannot connect over RDP, you may need to disable Microsoft’s ‘Network Level Authentication’ (NLA). This offers an additional layer of security on top of normal RDP authentication, but is not compatible with older clients such as those included in XP or older versions of Windows.

See How to change the RDP authentication settings (Microsoft article).

Windows - How do I extend drives on Windows Server 2003?

Here is the procedure to extend drives on Window Server 2003:

  1. Install server (this will create single System partition, which you cannot extend)
  2. Switch off server and increase disk size on EH control panel
  3. Start server again

Create new partition:

  1. Open up the disk management window (Administrative Tools -> Computer Management -> Storage)
  2. Right click on the unallocated space and create a new partition
  3. Follow the wizard to create basic primary partition formatted with NTFS – this will create a second partition that you will be able to extend

Extend new partition:

  1. Switch off server and increase disk size again
  2. Start server again
  3. Open up disk management as in stage 4 to see unallocated space
  4. Open command prompt
  5. diskpart.exe
  6. List volume
  7. Select volume
  8. Extend – this will extend the selected volume to fill the available unallocated space
  9. check disk management window to see extended partition

See Microsoft Support for further instructions.  We also recommend setting the virtual NIC in the advanced server configuration settings to Realtek RTL8139, rather than the default Intel PRO/1000.

Windows - Why is the system time consistently off by a number of hours?

The issue here is the emulation of the hardware clock by the virtualization system. On Linux and other Unixes, the convention is that the hardware clock is permanently set to UTC (i.e. GMT without DST), and the operating system adjusts this for display. On DOS and Windows, the convention is that the hardware clock stores local time, and that the operating system adjusts this when DST starts and ends.

We cannot support both of these behaviours, since our virtualization layer does not know what operating system it will boot when it sets up the virtual hardware to start a server. We have chosen the UTC behaviour.

To fix this on Windows 2008 and above, we recommend that you tell Windows to use the Unix method as follows:

  • Open an administrative command prompt. In Windows 2008, this can be found in the ‘Accessories’ section of the start menu – you’ll need to right click and select ‘Run as Administrator’.
  • Set the boot manager to use the platform clock: C:\Windows\system32>bcdedit /set {default} USEPLATFORMCLOCK on.

This should instruct Windows to use the PM timer for the primary clock source. The system UUID ({default} in the example below) should be changed if the system UUID is different than the default boot device.

Older versions of Windows (2003 and below) handle this differently: one recommended solution involves a registry setting of:RealTimeIsUniversal=1, which you can apply to make Windows adopt the Unix behaviour.

Windows - I am having networking problems – what should I do?

We have known some customers have problems with the default Intel network cards if using Windows 2003 or below. As a first line of attack against networking problems, we recommend trying the Realtek network card, which is an older model.

Windows - What should I do if my Windows Server hangs on a restart?

Shut down your server and click the Edit button to go to the configuration page. Then click Expand on the Advanced section. Set the number of CPU cores simulated to 2 (or 4 or 8 if your total core-MHz is greater than 5000).

Windows - I purchased my Windows licence from ElasticHosts – how do I activate my server?

Go through the normal activation process and leave the product key blank. The product key is already built into the system and will be picked up automatically.

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Billing and Payment


Payment methods and options

Should I choose a monthly plan or hourly burst?

You can pay for your ElasticHosts cloud servers and cloud storage in three different ways:

  • purchasing a plan
  • making a deposit
  • combining the two methods

We recommend you always purchase a monthly plan to cover your use of disk, SSD, IPs, VLANs, firewalls, data transfer and licenses. These are charged the same regardless of your load. If you expect to run your servers at least 50% of the time, we recommend to purchase a plan for CPU and memory. If you expect to run your servers less frequently, paying by the hour could save money for you.

Tip: You can mix and match both schemes. Even if you purchase a plan, we recommend that you always keep a small amount of prepay credit in your account, in case you exceed the amounts committed in your plan (e.g. data transfer, or CPU, memory and SSD if you are running a container, as your container will automatically scale up to the maximum level that you have set on the control panel).

What's the difference between the monthly plan and hourly burst paying methods?

Monthly plan:

This scheme offers a 50% discount over the hourly rates if you commit to a minimum level of resources for a minimum of one month, (rather like a phone contract). We recommend you always purchase a monthly plan to cover your use of disk, SSD, IPs, VLANs, firewalls, data transfer and licenses. In addition, we recommend you purchase a plan for CPU and memory if you expect to run your servers continuously.

If you commit for a whole year in advance then you will benefit from an additional "12 months for the price of 10" discount. This offer does not apply to Microsoft licenses.

Hourly burst using:

This scheme offers most flexibility if you do not expect to run your servers all the time. You deposit a prepay balance with us, from which credit is deducted automatically as you make use of the service, (rather like a pay-as-you-go phone). When your servers are off, you are not billed for CPU or RAM usage but you are billed for storage and other items in your account, e.g. static IPs.

How am I being billed?

Monthly subscriptions are the most cost-effective option for customers intending to run their servers continuously. You pay a fixed price for that month, regardless of how long your servers are running during that period.

For any other use, we bill in 15 minute periods which are per-account and measured by the clock. This means that 15 minutes bought at 09:05 expires at 09:20 even if you stop the server earlier, but also that if you stop the server at 09:10 and start a new, replacement server at 09:15 then it is still covered until 09:20.
The rates are twice the subscription rates, but when your servers are off you are only charged for storage space. Please see our Pricing Information for more details.

What payment methods do you accept?

We accept payment by Visa, MasterCard or PayPal in all locations.

We accept American Express in our UK locations (lon-b and lon-p). In all other locations, you can use PayPal guest checkout to using an AmEx card.

We bill in GBP (£) in the UK (lon-b and lon-p)
We bill in EUR (€) in Europe (ams-e)
We bill in USD ($) in all other locations (dal-a, mmi-a, sjc-c, lax-p, sat-p, tor-p, hkg-e and syd-v)

If you wish to pay by bank transfer, this is possible for sums of £300 / €350 / $400 or more. Please contact us [link to email sales@ or contact page] for details.

When you pay, you will be emailed a copy of your invoice. This will also be available in your account, on the “History” tab of your Billing page.

Why did my credit card payment fail?

Online transactions for services delivered over the internet are particularly vulnerable to fraud, so our payment processors perform stringent security checks on them.

The most common problem is a failure in 3D-Secure checking.

If you experience this, you should contact your card issuer to ask them to enable Verified By Visa or MasterCard SecureCode on your account. If your bank does not support this, please contact us as we may be able to help – alternatively, you may be able to pay using PayPal.

How can I update my credit card details?

If you pay by credit card then the system will store a reference to your card details, enabling us to take repeat payments automatically from the last used card.

The stored card details are displayed on the Card Information tab of the Billing page in your account.

To change your stored card, simply make a payment with the new card (using the “Pay with new Credit Card” option, and this card will replace the original stored card.
To remove your stored card, please go to the Card Information page and press the “Remove” button.


Tax

Can you bill me without local sales tax (e.g. VAT)?

Where possible, this is managed automatically based on your company address.

The exception to this is in our EU locations (Amsterdam, London Portsmouth and London Maidenhead): non-UK businesses in these zones must contact us in order to have the tax requirements lifted from their accounts.

If you are based in the EU, please send us your EU VAT registration number. If you are based outside the EU, please send us proof of local company registration – such as a company number and copy of your registration certificate, and a link to your local Companies House. We will then update your account so that VAT is not charged.

Please remember to do this before making payment, as we regret that we are unable to refund tax once paid.


Other

What is the minimal requirements?

We have a few restrictions, listed below, on how you can use the system, but these should not be a concern for normal use. Please contact us if you have special requirements and would like us to adjust these settings for you.

Minimum pre-paid balance requirements
If you are paying by the hour for usage costing more than £0.20/hour or $0.30/hour or €0.25/hour, you must have enough balance to cover 14 days ahead, otherwise you will not be able to add new disk space or start a server.

Minimum hourly rates
There are no minimum hourly rates for VMs. For Containers, we have a minimum charge for RAM. The overall minimum is 256 MB RAM. If the maximum RAM setting on your container is more than 1024 MB, then we will bill you a minimum of 1/4 of this maximum. For example, if you have a container with a maximum memory limit of 2048 MB, then you will be billed for a minimum of 512 MB whenever the container is running.

Minimum payment plan requirements
If you purchase a monthly plan you will be subject to the following minimum subscriptions:

  • For Virtual Machines: 500 core-MHz CPU and 256 MB RAM
  • For Containers: 0 core-MHz CPU and 256 MB RAM

Do I get billed if I shut down all my cloud servers?

When your servers are off, you are not billed for CPU or RAM usage but you are billed for storage and other items in your account, e.g. static IPs.

If you want to stop using ElasticHosts altogether, please empty your account completely to make sure you don't get billed in the future.

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