Reasons for a new provider
The web application we are working on – Camping.Info – needed new server power. The site visits grow by about 70% each year, and there is much traffic especially in the summer months.
Our three “old” servers are at Hetzner. So, the easiest thing would be to rent another one there. But we had some not so good experiences with Hetzner. Yes, they are cheap and their service is ok. But we wanted better reliabality. One of our servers at Hetzner is restarting without any apparent reason (about twice a week).
Finding the right provider
So I took on the task of finding a new server hoster. Not quite easy, since the market is filled with many providers. We defined some requirements:
- data center must be in Germany, since our main traffic comes from Germany
- should have Intel processors, because they usually perform better
- should have at least 8 processors
- should not have setup costs, because we may not need the server after the summer
- should come with Windows Web Server 2008 R2
- should have sufficient bandwidth and high enough traffic limit
First I made a list of potential hosters: I looked in the iX magazine, and searched online. I also looked for websites which compare providers, but they were sparse, had limited information and few search options. After that I just brute force went to all the websites of (nearly) all the hosters and aggregated the information in this Google Spreadsheet.
We then ended up renting a server at webtropia. I know, a slightly strange name for a serious business. All in all we are satisfied with our choice. The price is low, the server was shortly available, and we always have a separate connection to our servers (without RDP). A few drawbacks are worth to mention, though: The image of the Windows Web Server 2008 R2 had not the SP1 upfront, so we had to go through a lengthy update process. When we wanted to rent a second server, their purchase process failed to recognize us as a existing customer, so they had to put our servers together afterwards.
I think, after the summer we will probably rather discontinue one or two of the Hetzner servers, since they are older, have worse performance, and are not as reliable as the new ones from webtropia.