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My five month review of CatalystHost
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My five month review of CatalystHost

wdqwdq Member
edited March 2013 in Reviews

I typically jump from host, to host, very frequently. Usually I am only with a given host for a month or two. So after using CatalystHost for five months straight I'd like to write a review of them.

Before I get into my experience I'd like to outline the three VPS's that I have with them, their specifications, and their purpose.

VPS 1: 2.5GB of RAM, 50GB of disk space, 500GB of bandwidth for $7/month.

The main purpose of this VPS is for hosting my websites. It has a pretty standard LNMP stack plus a few extra things like Memcached to improve performance of the WordPress sites. I also have a TeamSpeak 3 server running on this VPS. I don't find myself using all of the memory that this VPS supports, but I like to have a little extra for growth, and additional applications.

VPS 2: 2.5GB of RAM, 70GB of disk space, 1TB of bandwidth for $7/month.

I use this VPS for a small Minecraft server. I gave McMyAdmin 2GB of my memory, and it works out very well. The extra 512MB is just for background services, and to prevent swapping.

VPS 3: 2GB of RAM, 70GB of disk space, 1TB of bandwidth for $7/month.

I use this VPS for a small Tekkit server. I gave McMyAdmin about 1.5GB of my memory. I also occasionally use this VPS to test out updates to that Minecraft server on my other VPS.

A small note about the game servers: You should know that CatalystHost doesn't allow you to run game servers without approval. I actually talked with them about it beforehand, and they were fine with it. That's also why the first two VPS's have 2.5GB of memory instead of 2GB of memory.

Performance

First off I'd like to talk about the performance of the CatalystHost VPS's. All of them are based in their Dallas location which is inside of the Incero datacenter. Instead of giving out benchmarks I'll just talk about my personal experiences with the VPS's. If you're looking for benchmarks ServerBear has you covered. I also like how CatalystHost publicly shares node load information.

Generally speaking the node performance in Dallas is quite amazing for the price. The nodes are based off of the usual speedy newer Xeon E5 processors which I don't have any complains about. Since the nodes don't seem oversold the E5 processors seem to get the job done, I'm not running into any issues with that.

As far as disk performance goes I am also really impressed. Going into this I knew that the servers were using HDD's and not SSD's. So I wasn't expecting the 1-2GB/s speeds that I was getting with RamNode which I had used before CatalystHost. A lot of the HDD based hosts I have used in the past have disk speed of around 100MB/s, but CatalystHost pushes that up to around 200MB/s. Those speeds are great for a server like this. They must take advantage of a lot of disks in a fast RAID array, along with maybe an SSD cache.

To me network performance is just as important as everything else. I want a low ping throughout North America, and having a low ping in Europe and Asia is also pretty important. I really like the Dallas location since it has good connectivity throughout both sides of the United States, and has pretty good performance in both Europe in Asia. I don't really have any complains here. Fast network, low pings, a very solid network.

Support and Uptime

I have had web hosts that seem to randomly run out of memory, and reboot my VPS at least once a day or more. I have also had hosting companies that take days and days to reply to support tickets. I am happy to say that CatalystHost doesn't have any problems with either one of those things.

I only remember having two instances of any sort of downtime with the VPS. Both of those times were very quickly resolved, and I very quickly got an email from CatalystHost explaining the issue. Around ten minutes of downtime in a five month period is pretty good.

Since these are unmanaged VPS's support isn't the most important thing, however there still needs to be support that can help if the VPS is down, or if there is some other server related issue. I have only contacted support a few times, but every time they have responded within an hour with a very helpful reply.

What makes them special

Users of websites like LowEndBox know that there are hundreds and hundreds of different hosts and a lot of them are nearly identical. CatalystHost isn't the most unique host out there. However there are some things that they have that a lot of other hosts don't have.

One of those things is a newer VPS control panel. When I got my first VPS from CalaystHost they still used SolusVM, however recently they switched over to something called VirtPanel. VirtPanel has its fair share of issues, most notably the fact that each VPS you have has a different login needed to get into the panel. But the panel also supports user generated backups along with the weekly backups that CatalystHost makes.

Recently CatalystHost also introduced prorated billing. This means that you are billed once a month, on the same day, for all your VPS's. Some hosts have the same sort of billing system setup, but they are certainly a minority. I find prorated billing really nice as far as paying bills goes. It is also really nice if you want to try out a host. You can simply buy the VPS within the last week of the month. You then pay a fraction of the monthly cost, and if you want to leave you just cancel it before the next billing cycle starts on the first of the next month.

Problems I have had

I only have a few pretty much random, very picky issues. One of those is again, how that control panel sets up once account per VPS you have. It's kind of a pain if you have more than one VPS.

Another issue is how CatalystHost still doesn't support IPv6. It's not the most critical thing, and I know that it's really up to the datacenter, but it would be a nice addition in the future.

And finally I kind of wish they had a KVM node. Right now I have to have another VPS at another host for my VPN needs since OpenVZ doesn't work very well for things like L2TP/IPSec.

Final thoughts

CatalystHost isn't perfect, but after using them for five months they have to be my favorite low end web hosting company. Keep up the good work @jarland, @HalfEatenPie, and @ryanarp.

Let me know if you have any questions you'd like me to answer.

Comments

  • +1 for @Jarland. Humblest pie you will see in town.

  • @wdq said: VirtPanel has its fair share of issues, most notably the fact that each VPS you have has a different login needed to get into the panel.

    This can be addressed; you can request that they make you a "reseller account" where a single login shows you all VPS. Any time you buy a new VPS, just open a support ticket to link your account.

  • wdqwdq Member

    @Damian Thanks for the info. I'll be sure to open a ticket about that.

  • jarjar Provider

    Thanks for the kind words! Also important to know where we need to improve. As for the drives, we have 4 SATA drives in Dallas1, and 8 in Dallas2. Still debating SSD cache for the future, really impressed with 8 SATA on RAID10. Combined with the dual E5 it really seems to keep a buffer there to protect others from the random abuser, so that I can deal with it without having to send out apology letters.

    As for Minecraft, it's definitely more tame than it used to be, but I keep it 1-3 max per node and everyone wins :)

  • ryanarpryanarp Member, Provider

    @wdq said: Thanks for the info. I'll be sure to open a ticket about that.

    Thanks for the kind words! I tried to resolve this before you put in a ticket, but you beat me to clicking send. Hope this helps you keep track of them. :)

  • wdqwdq Member

    @ryanarp Thanks for setting it up. It'll be a whole lot easier to manage now.

  • hyaohyao Member

    Nice work!

    Why the change to VirtPanel? Does it have some advantages over SolusVM? Thanks

  • InfinityInfinity Member, Provider
    edited March 2013

    @hyao said: Why the change to VirtPanel? Does it have some advantages over SolusVM? Thanks

    It pretty much does the same things, possibly a bit better but the main reason I believe was to be unique and different from the competition and support a smaller project like VirtPanel. Obviously, I can't speak for @jarland and @ryanarp though.

    Cablestreet - London based ISP - Managed Solutions, Carrier Services, Colocation, Dedicated Servers, VMs, and more..

  • jarjar Provider
    edited March 2013

    @hyao said: Why the change to VirtPanel? Does it have some advantages over SolusVM? Thanks

    It was mostly two points. Some others but these are the big ones.

    1. SolusVM holds the hand of a host. This is good, this means it's designed well. However, new VPS hosts pop up constantly that have no idea how OpenVZ works unless there's a button in SolusVM for it. As a newer host I wanted to take off the training wheels to communicate that we're not dependent on a panel.

    2. I wanted users to have a unique experience that broke out of the standard workflow that they get everywhere else.

  • hyaohyao Member
    edited March 2013

    @Infinity @jarland: Thanks.

    I took a look at VirtPanel: it supports OpenVZ and virtualbox with HA (SolusVM doesn't support virtualbox), and it also provides an "owned" licensing at $170 setup + $30 per year, which could be cheaper if used in the long run. Is one license enough to manage all your VPS needs?

    SolusVM, on the other hand, supports OpenVZ, KVM and Xen, but is a bit more expensive? I read its pricing page, but don't quite understand its licensing terms. Does one need to buy one license for each host?

    Thanks

  • I can remember that @jarland told me that I could do anything with my VPS, but he appreciates if I didn't have in mind hosting minecraft hahahaha :D

    Welll +1 for catalyst. the month(s?) I had with them was awesome and I enjoyed that Unlimited bandwith.

  • jarjar Provider
    edited March 2013

    @hyao said: Does one need to buy one license for each host?

    For SolusVM you need a slave license for each node. Basically the same with VirtPanel. VirtPanel is a hint less expensive. It was never intended to be our permanent home though. We still haven't settled on a final decision for what angle we're going after, but we are replacing our control panel this summer. It'll either be a 100% smooth transition or what I just said will be a lie.

    @DestroyeRCo said: but he appreciates if I didn't have in mind hosting minecraft

    If only people knew that the pickaxe was actually designed for beating SATA drives to death :P

  • Thanks for the awesome review! And yeah anyway we can improve totally let us know!

    Catalyst Host - Pie Approved!
  • Very nice review @wdq

    For LET support, please visit the support desk.

  • Mahfuz_SS_EHLMahfuz_SS_EHL Member, Provider

    Awesome Review :)

    AlphaSSL Revocation Issue is being investigated.

  • Nick_ANick_A Top Provider

    This review is obviously fake! D:

    No, but seriously - I sent my old shared hosting clients to Catalyst for a reason.

    RamNode: High Performance Cloud VPS
    NYC - LA - ATL - SEA - NL - DDoS Protection
  • jarjar Provider

    Just wait until everyone figures out that I'm really @Nick_A.

  • jarjar Provider

    Oops thought this was skype.

  • laaevlaaev Member

    Awesome and detailed review, really comes as no surprise to me as both of their owners are very committed, kudos to @Jarland and @ryanarp

  • jarjar Provider
    edited March 2013

    @CVPS_Kevin Thanks brother! Now I just need to purchase the recipe for winning from Chris ;)

  • Is that $7 VPS plan still around somewhere @jarland? I might just pick one up if it is :).

    I'm a software developer :). If you need any help with anything, feel free to ask!

  • jarjar Provider

    Looks like we're out of stock. Finished restocking the unpaid orders and sold out of those. Worry not, I'm sure we'll do that promo again ;)

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