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Catalyst Host review
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Catalyst Host review

edited February 2013 in Reviews

I'm sure everyone remembers the infamous Chicago VPS downtime late last year. Well, about 2 or 3 days after that happened to me, I was looking for another affordable VPS provider, preferably one with unlimited/unmetered bandwidth as I was planning on launching a new service soon. I ended up discovering a post on LET from a company called Catalyst Host offering unlimited bandwidth in their (now discontinued) Denver, CO data center. I jumped on it and started getting everything set up again.

Before diving into my review, I want to say that I'm not an expert in LEB experience. I have a few VPSes from various companies, most just collecting dust for now, but this is from the point of view of a business owner running services.

Billing/sales Support
Ryan Arp seems to be the main guy who handles these. I've not had any issues from the beginning until now with billing.

In asking about various additions, as well as migrations for different reasons, he was always pretty helpful and willing to work with me without going overboard, which I admired. I've also never had an issue so far with any of my invoices and any questions I had about one was answered professionally and wasn't full of snide remarks or anything (not saying any other providers have done this, for the record).

Technical Support
In terms of support, I personally feel this is where Catalyst Host shines (mostly because I haven't had a lot of talk with billing/sales). Jarland is the technical guru of sorts of the team as he handles about 99% of the technical tickets I've submitted.

He's gone out of his way to help me with things that I'm grateful for, especially in trying to get IPv6 established using a broker tunnel. But not only that, when I had to migrate data from an old VPS in Denver to one in Texas (their newest DC), he worked with me to make sure everything was there. During the time of working with him (last November til now) I've also learned he is highly accepting of feedback and constructive criticism. Case in point getting a Python 2.7-ready OVZ template working properly (mostly did not have pip installed or something). I told him what was wrong, and how to fix it, and he worked with it.

VPS Performance
For my interests, everything is golden. I haven't had any hiccups or data loss since joining them, and I've had a VPS in all three of their data centers, with 1 or 2 still in their NC DC and 1 in the Dallas DC.

It doesn't seem like they overload the VPSes, but I'm not sure if that's mostly due to the fact once I moved over, I optimized everything I could. But, I haven't experienced any slow downs, or even any downtime at all for that matter. If they're going to be working on something, they send out notices about a week or two (or longer) in advance.

For comparison sakes, here are some metrics from my VPSes:
Dallas, TX (note: this is capped @ 10 Mb/s instead of using the whole Gigabit speed due to an arrangement me and CH made):
# wget freevps.us/downloads/bench.sh -O - -o /dev/null|bash CPU model : Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2620 0 @ 2.00GHz Number of cores : 2 CPU frequency : 2000.112 MHz Total amount of ram : 256 MB Total amount of swap : 256 MB System uptime : 26 days, 18:49, Download speed from CacheFly: 92.9MB/s Download speed from Linode, Atlanta GA: 14.8MB/s Download speed from Linode, Dallas, TX: 96.2MB/s Download speed from Linode, Tokyo, JP: 6.85MB/s Download speed from Linode, London, UK: 4.42MB/s Download speed from Leaseweb, Haarlem, NL: 9.11MB/s Download speed from Softlayer, Singapore: 5.77MB/s Download speed from Softlayer, Seattle, WA: 30.4MB/s Download speed from Softlayer, San Jose, CA: 30.9MB/s Download speed from Softlayer, Washington, DC: 35.4MB/s I/O speed : 235 MB/s

VPS #2 in NC (VPS #1 is similar but removed to meet size requirements):
# wget freevps.us/downloads/bench.sh -O - -o /dev/null|bash CPU model : Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU L5420 @ 2.50GHz Number of cores : 4 CPU frequency : 2003.000 MHz Total amount of ram : 1024 MB Total amount of swap : 1024 MB System uptime : 60 days, 20:47, Download speed from CacheFly: 38.0MB/s Download speed from Linode, Atlanta GA: 6.73MB/s Download speed from Linode, Dallas, TX: 14.1MB/s Download speed from Linode, Tokyo, JP: 4.05MB/s Download speed from Linode, London, UK: 723KB/s Download speed from Leaseweb, Haarlem, NL: 804KB/s Download speed from Softlayer, Singapore: 2.94MB/s Download speed from Softlayer, Seattle, WA: 990KB/s Download speed from Softlayer, San Jose, CA: 12.5MB/s Download speed from Softlayer, Washington, DC: 23.8MB/s I/O speed : 290 MB/s

Control Panel
CH moved away from the SolusVM control panel not too long ago (think last month), and moved to a new control panel called VirtPanel. At first, the migration was a bit weird...after getting so used to the SolusVM one, this one felt...weak? But, really, after a day or two of just looking at everything, it felt easier to use and manage. There's also a stronger sense of control with this control panel than with SolusVM's solution.

Pricing
Not too long ago, CH did raise their prices for new orders (but not for current/existing ones). Which, in a way made me sad as I loved their low-cost, but at the same time it makes sense. You don't want to undersell yourself so much that you're not making money, but you don't want to oversell yourself so bad you're missing out on money. I'm not sure what the internal debate was there for them to do this, but the prices are pretty fair across the board still. There's just no more $3.50/month VPSes.

Response Times
One thing that set a flag off for me initially is their response time. When I first submitted a ticket to them back in November, it took an hour or two to get a response, with Jarland (I think it was) saying that he was out on lunch at the time. Which is fine, the website gave the idea it's a two-man operation.

Sometimes their responses still take a little longer than I'd like, but at the same time it might be a case of the F5-syndrome. So, I can't really fault them on that.

I'd say about 98-99% of the tickets I submit though get responded to within 10-15 minutes max.

Cons
From my stand point, I haven't had any issues with them. They don't have IPv6 natively available yet, but then again, IPv6 is not really used anywhere yet anywho.

I've referred a couple of friends to them, and as far as I know they've enjoyed the stay as well.

I would've liked a small tutorial on migrating from SolusVM's CP to VirtPanel, but it wasn't difficult to figure out.

I think if they used one of the more web 2.0 friendly solutions of a browser-based shell, instead of the Java-based one, it'd be better.

Server performance confuses me a little (I notice no issues, but looking at what it shows above, bandwidth speeds could be better).

Only real gripe I have is that I wish they operated their own DC instead of renting out of others, but from previous experience in web hosting and the company owning their own DC, the trade off isn't always worth it.

Note
Never really done a review of this magnitude before. If you want to know anything else feel free to ask me. I tried to include all the important details that I could think of, but I'm sure I missed something or whatnot.

Comments

  • Owning your own DC is a big leap from leasing.

    AboveClouds • UK Company • UK Datacentre • UK Customer Support

    High Performance Pure SSD Cloud Hosting with a personal touch

  • @Jacob said: Owning your own DC is a big leap from leasing.

    Not being harsh, but to be honest there not even collocated yet, So making their own data centers is massively out of the question, Even for people that have collocations, As move from a provider to a Data Center is a massive transaction.

    RaptorNode.com - DDoS Protected|VPS|Cloud|Dedicated Servers|Collocation - Los Angeles, CA
    SamuraiBit Security
  • ryanarpryanarp Member, Provider

    Thanks @secforus_ehansen for the kind words, we appreciate the feedback. We have big plans for Catalyst, and look forward to growing one step at a time. We are in this for the long term.

  • @ryanarp - No problem, glad it was helpful. :)

    @Jacob & @MonsteR - I understand that, don't get me wrong. Just personally it's something I'd rather they have. But, I know for a lot of people on LEB it seems to be a bigger selling point or "do I use them or not", so I made the statement.

  • @secforus_ehansen Very few data center's advertise on LEB/LET as they normally don't offer the LEB/LET price ranges.

    RaptorNode.com - DDoS Protected|VPS|Cloud|Dedicated Servers|Collocation - Los Angeles, CA
    SamuraiBit Security
  • jarjar Provider
    edited February 2013

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up brother! Looks like that 10mbit cap suddenly quit working and you're uncapped in Dallas, but it's ok, I trust you with it ;)

    The NC speeds are upsetting me a bit right now as well. The datacenter is actively working on it but somewhere along the way so many routes got screwed up that it looks like it's becoming quite a task for them to smooth out. I am watching closely though.

    @secforus_ehansen said: Only real gripe I have is that I wish they operated their own DC instead of renting out of others

    You and me both. If I win the lottery, I'll fly you down to our new DC we'll have a massive 10Gbit Halo party ;)

  • @jarland I think you might pull host :)

    RaptorNode.com - DDoS Protected|VPS|Cloud|Dedicated Servers|Collocation - Los Angeles, CA
    SamuraiBit Security
  • jarjar Provider

    @MonsteR said: I think you might pull host :)

    I don't know what that means but you'll be invited to the Halo party ;)

  • @jarland said: I don't know what that means but you'll be invited to the Halo party ;)

    You don't play xbox :s or Halo pc? Meaning who ever has host is the best connection and in general is the host of the game and has no lag :) lol

    RaptorNode.com - DDoS Protected|VPS|Cloud|Dedicated Servers|Collocation - Los Angeles, CA
    SamuraiBit Security
  • @jarland said: you'll be invited to the Halo party ;)

    an yay Halo party :D

    RaptorNode.com - DDoS Protected|VPS|Cloud|Dedicated Servers|Collocation - Los Angeles, CA
    SamuraiBit Security
  • jarjar Provider

    @MonsteR said: You don't play xbox :s or Halo pc? Meaning who ever has host is the best connection and in general is the host of the game and has no lag :) lol

    That's how that works? No freaking wonder the games keep pausing in the middle. Honestly I put on my stupid hat when I grab the xbox controller. Usually time to stop thinking and start button mashing :D

  • @jarland got xbox live? we should do some Hardcore Team Swat on Halo. ;-)

    AboveClouds • UK Company • UK Datacentre • UK Customer Support

    High Performance Pure SSD Cloud Hosting with a personal touch

  • jarjar Provider

    @Jacob said: got xbox live? we should do some Hardcore Team Swat on Halo. ;-)

    I'm all about the swat/slayer. I wanna say my current active name is jarland01. I kept forgetting my login info when I'd let my subscription expire.

  • Problem in NC is Dacentec (the datacenter). They know they have this bandwidth issue. Sadly the issue isn't new. I think I saw issues with them and their upstream provider circa 2010.

    The Dallas numbers look fantastic on the bandwidth. Lenoir, not so good. But we all know that. More than sufficient though for vast majority of uses and customers.

    Catalysthost is one of the most honest and forthcoming providers here or anywhere else. Even posting their system monitoring numbers -- let's see the bargain giver-it-away VPS companies try that.

    Impressed @jarland spends so much hands on time with customers. Don't get that treatment in places that cost 10x more.

    @secforus_ehansen thanks for taking the time to write up a comprehensive review.

  • Problem in NC is Dacentec (the datacenter). They know they have this bandwidth issue. Sadly the issue isn't new. I think I saw issues with them and their upstream provider circa 2010.

    The Dallas numbers look fantastic on the bandwidth. Lenoir, not so good. But we all know that. More than sufficient though for vast majority of uses and customers.

    Catalysthost is one of the most honest and forthcoming providers here or anywhere else. Even posting their system monitoring numbers -- let's see the bargain giver-it-away VPS companies try that.

    Impressed @jarland spends so much hands on time with customers. Don't get that treatment in places that cost 10x more.

    @secforus_ehansen thanks for taking the time to write up a comprehensive review.

  • Nick_ANick_A Top Provider

    @secforus_ehansen said: Only real gripe I have is that I wish they operated their own DC instead of renting out of others, but from previous experience in web hosting and the company owning their own DC, the trade off isn't always worth it.

    Other than BurstNET, does any LEB provider here own their own data center? Some of us have our own networks, etc., but I can't think of anyone not at least leasing space in someone else's data center.

    I'm a Catalyst fan because I'm a fan of the two people behind it. I have referred my old shared web hosting clients to them because I know they're dedicated and solid.

    RamNode: High Performance Cloud VPS
    NYC - LA - ATL - SEA - NL - DDoS Protection
  • @jarland said: Looks like that 10mbit cap suddenly quit working and you're uncapped in Dallas

    I was about to say those speeds are not really below 10 Mb/s :P

    Extremist conservative user, I wish to preserve human and civil rights, free speech, freedom of the press and worship, rule of law, democracy, peace and prosperity, social mobility, etc. Now you can draw your guns.

  • @secforus_ehansen I agree with most of what you said, except I really LOVE the panel.



    Speeds have been good for me. I have had good up time too, which I simply value more and that's just a preference.



    CH has quickly become a favorite provider. Top notch..TOP NOTCH!

  • jarjar Provider

    @natestamm said: CH has quickly become a favorite provider. Top notch..TOP NOTCH!

    Check your e-mail for your payment.

    I kid :P

  • BurstNet is a seriously goofy company. I don't see much of them around here. Their plans at last check were somewhat pricey for LEB market.

    Having been a customer in their UK location can state their VPS offer then were underperforming rubbish.

  • In short I'm glad everyone is enjoying my review thus far. :)

    @natestamm - It's definitely growing on me, but I just felt the move was a little rushed in that nothing was given in terms of "this is how you did it, this is how you do it". So it took a bit of navigating on my own to figure out what everything did.

    It's more of me being lazy than anything, though, I suppose...lol.

    @pubcrawler - Thank you. :) Also, the info about the DC in NC is nice to know. I know they're pretty top-notch overall, but I'm not really into the hosting biz so I don't know what's what so to speak.

    @jarland - "Thanks for taking the time to write this up brother! Looks like that 10mbit cap suddenly quit working and you're uncapped in Dallas, but it's ok, I trust you with it ;)" - No problem, and thanks for being cool with that, lol.

    Side note: the cap was removed before writing this review...that of which I didn't even notice, lol.

    Also, cool on the Halo liking. I don't play it, but I find game plays of it more entertaining than CoD right now. If you play StarCraft or something feel free to PM me or something your info...always looking for other people to play with/against (skill level doesn't matter, I play to have fun).

  • @pubcrawler said: BurstNet is a seriously goofy company.

    Been getting spammed the hell out of by |Burstnet for some reason as well.

    RaptorNode.com - DDoS Protected|VPS|Cloud|Dedicated Servers|Collocation - Los Angeles, CA
    SamuraiBit Security
  • @MonsteR - BURSTNet, "spammed the hell out of"...coincidence? I don't think so. ;)

  • +1 @MonserR agree. They send me that crap all the time. Even though I left their company in a fit over multiple issues with their service.

  • @pubcrawler said: I left their company

    I havent gotten far enough to join them :P They didnt accept romania at those times, I am glad they didnt.

    Extremist conservative user, I wish to preserve human and civil rights, free speech, freedom of the press and worship, rule of law, democracy, peace and prosperity, social mobility, etc. Now you can draw your guns.

  • jarjar Provider

    @secforus_ehansen said: It's more of me being lazy than anything, though, I suppose...lol.

    No it was probably me being lazy ;)

    Me and Ryan were up all night configuring every VPS with VirtPanel by hand. By the end of it I think I was just like "Here's your login, I'm going to bed." lol

  • ryanarpryanarp Member, Provider

    @Nick_A said: I'm a Catalyst fan because I'm a fan of the two people behind it. I have referred my old shared web hosting clients to them because I know they're dedicated and solid.

    Thanks Nick! We appreciate your support and vote of confidence :) We as well are fans of RamNode and the quality services that you provide :)

  • @jarland said: Me and Ryan were up all night configuring every VPS with VirtPanel by hand. By the end of it I think I was just like "Here's your login, I'm going to bed." lol

    Haha, fair enough. Thanks regardless man.

    On a personal level/note, thanks for always being cool with me in chats, just shooting the bull for a bit. That level of personalization can carry things very far.

  • @Jarland you will have to win the lottery before me. Cause we will be opening the dc and downloading every last kb of the internet we can find!

  • jarjar Provider

    @24khost said: you will have to win the lottery before me

    DC vs DC tournament? I need a 24 pack of Red Bull and I'm down!

  • @24khost @jarland If that were to ever happen, it would be better than having G4 going back to TechTV or whatever it was before it got corrupted.

  • @secforus_ehansen TechTV, g4 was the basterdization of all that was good.

  • jarjar Provider

    Dude I miss ZDTV. Leo Laporte is still my idol.

  • edited February 2013

    @24khost That's what I thought, just couldn't remember the greatness that was pre-G4 as it has been too long for me (never got to watch the channel much).

    @jarland Isn't he doing other gigs now? I know he was like the god father of TechTV but I find it hard to believe that he didn't carry his show over elsewhere.

  • ryanarpryanarp Member, Provider

    @secforus_ehansen I have seen him on a good number of podcasts such as Macbreak Weekly, and other tech podcasts on iTunes.

  • @ryanarp Do those cost $? I know some do and some don't.

  • jarjar Provider

    @secforus_ehansen said: Isn't he doing other gigs now? I know he was like the god father of TechTV but I find it hard to believe that he didn't carry his show over elsewhere.

    Yeah he's all over the place. Nothing quite like what he had with The Screensavers on ZDTV in it's day. It was the first time us nerds got a daily, hour long television show broadcast over satellite to the country/world. Dare I say it was legen....wait for it......dary.

  • ryanarpryanarp Member, Provider

    @secforus_ehansen I think he created this network of podcasts. All of them are free to my knowledge. Which includes Macbreak weekly as I mentioned. http://twit.tv/people/leo-laporte

  • @jarland - http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m334077xT01qh3wo6o1_500.jpg :)

    @ryanarp - Thanks! :) I'll have to catch up on them. I liked him a lot on his shows on ZDTV and TechTV when I could watch. Which was mostly during my time in robotics to kill time, lol.

  • jarjar Provider

    I miss the thanks button.

  • Thanks button?

    I don't venture onto LET/LEB much so don't know much of the UX history of these sites.

  • jarjar Provider

    @secforus_ehansen said: I don't venture onto LET/LEB much so don't know much of the UX history of these sites.

    Twas the perfect little button to say "heck yeah" ;)

  • Ah, so it's the same as the upvote on Reddit, just that people used it like it should've been used more often than not? Gotcha. :)

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