Cloud server showdown: Amazon AWS EC2 vs Linode vs DigitalOcean


Ronald van Woensel
Cloud server showdown: Amazon AWS EC2 vs...

I have experience with Amazon’s AWS cloudservices for years now, but still have problems with EBS (=amazon network storage) performance.  It is not very fast and if you just want to run a simple LAMP server it requires a lot of work and experience to set it up the right way. But how fast is it? How does it compare to the offerings from Linode and the new kid on the block: DigitalOcean?  Both have their own advantages: Linode has it’s standard 8 core architecture and RAID. DigitalOcean has fast SSD disks. But how do they stack up against Amazon?

(meer…)

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Comments

  • Doug

    Have you taken a look at VMware’s recent offering into this space? I looks pretty interesting to me and may be worth a shot.

  • Craig

    Your findings sort of confirm our own. We’re a hosting company as well but we recently wrote about how much AWS costs in comparison for bigger deployments.
    http://www.codero.com/blog/dont-believe-the-hype-dedicated-hosting-is-3x-cheaper-than-amazon-web-services-aws/

    • snookie

      Guess you didn’t pay much attention to the EBS bandwidth verbiage that is on the Amazon instance sizing pages. Anything less than a x4large is going to have seriously bad EBS performance. The only way to get less than embarrassing disk performance is to choose the “optimized” flavor. That and run your workload entirely from the ephemeral disk(s). But there is an SSD option too and AFAIK that’s in-chassis SSDs as the ephemeral storage layer. Trying to run SSD as the EBS store is pointless unless you’re using a 10Gb link. The ‘cluster’ flavors have this.

      The major problem with ‘cloud’ is that it’s eye-wateringly over-subscribed and nobody (making these kinds of blog posts) wants to pony up the money to get fast performance. I mean, getting your own colo-rack and stuffing it full of the best hardware you can afford is easily 30-50% cheaper than having the likes of Amazon, Terremark, or Rackspace do it for you. I have better and faster gear in my bedroom than Amazon has and it’s decidedly 2nd hand. But the massive win is that I’m not sharing the interconnects (GigE) with a few million other people.

      • Ledah

        Thy sins shall be purged…

        Lost Seraph!

  • Fawaz

    Have you tried Google’s Compute Engine or Microsoft’s Azure (they over linux now)?

  • mikemike

    What about Rackspace? Their cloud offering is comparable to the others (Cloud Files vs EBS, etc.). I’m getting 60 reqs/sec on a database-driven (3 queries) Django generated page with a 1GB app server (Nginx uWSGI) and a 1GB database server (Postgres, no connection pooling).

  • Marco

    Mind sharing the location, or ping latency, to each of the server’s you benchmarked? That’ll make a difference in how these numbers were derived.

    • Matth

      Marco is correct. “The tests were run from an independent server hosted by another company.”

      Latency plays a _huge_ factor when using the apache bench program. To get more accurate results, either run it from the machine itself or from another machine on the same local network.

      • PJ

        Yes, let’s see the traceroutes. But maybe it wasn’t an accident the Linode has better connectivity?

    • Gilles

      I’m also interested in that data. It would give us some insight.

  • Engineer

    I think these tests are pretty illuminating. The reason for running the tests from another server makes sense, as you want to check capabilities serving data onto the actual internet…. but the locations of the server relative to the hosts is a factor too.

    I’m also interested in knowing more details about the work the servers were doing. For instance, is Digital Oceans lower performance compared to Linode due to them oversubscribing their upstream network connection? Due to lower CPUs? Due to a relatively lower io requiremetn for this test compared to, say, serving static pages where the SSDs would have a bigger impact?

    Of course with any benchmark people are going to suggest a lot of scenarios and you can’t test everything, but this is great stuff for a rough comparison.

  • Raides

    The possible reason people who are smart choose Amazon over Linode is because the speed is in the design. Also probably for the major fact that Linode security and user database have been compromised twice with two major leaks in such a short life span.

    • Glenn Plas

      That is the reason I would take Linode. Also, as a Linode customer, you just can’t beat the speed of their support. it’s within minutes you get answers.

      Amazon, like any other company gets a security issue sooner or later. It’s the way this is being dealt with that is important . Try to google for amazon security issues and get some coffee ready to read them

      The linode offer has also expanded, you get 48Gb instead of 24Gb. I’ve gotten 2 free upgrades in the last year from linode. ALL customer got the chance to double their machine (I had a 8Gb, that became a 16Gb for free). Also you get a disk space pool you can assign to any machine you want. that pool was also met with a free upgrade. Now who does that these days in the cloud ?

      • markmitch

        I do enjoy the people that keep bringing up the 2 incidents that happened with Linode. A majority of the people already know this happened due to the fact Linode didn’t hide it. And like you said Amazon isn’t some miracle no breach company either ;)

        My last hoora is how insecure most OS and credit card charging companies are.. Yet you don’t see these same people saying anything about that. Actually they will usually say something like.. I have nothing to hide.

        Peace

  • Riskable

    I’d love to see a comparison with Rackspace as well. I’ve been using them for some time now and I’ve found their instances to be vastly superior to Amazon’s.

    I also use Codero but their lack of API means I can’t scale my use of their services. They’ve been promising an API since 2011 but it still hasn’t surfaced. Their services are only good for one-offs at this point.

    • Craig

      Riskable, Mind talking to me one on one? We got something big in the works and I’d like to see what you think of it :)

      • Lina

        Craig are you the author of this article? I’d love to see a comparison of Rackspace.

        • Craig Campbell

          No Lina, I am not I just commented earlier that where I work (Codero Hosting)we did a similar price comparison with dedicated equipment vs AWS.

          I actually used to work at Rackspace on their cloud product and I think if you’re using $$$ as a comparison it would be very similar to AWS sadly. The performance should be better at Rack than at AWS as well obviously the support.

  • LOL

    Yes, let’s ignore Azure, what a joke on a biased article

    • no spam

      what an idiotic response. typical ms fanboy. he tested 3 services. there are more. he wasn’t “ignoring” azure. the world does *not* turn around microsoft (surprise!).

  • Azure
  • Colin Mollenhour

    DigitalOcean is by far the least reliable of the three. My droplet becomes unavailable 2-3 times per day on average for about 3 minutes at a time according to Pingdom. Linode has been nearly rock-solid and I haven’t bothered with EC2 for the reasons you already mentioned. Thanks for the comparison! AWS definitely has it’s place but for the low-end VPS it is hard to beat Linode.

  • Karsten

    # Benchmark Problems
    * Is the MySQL server databases are on the same box?
    * Running the apachebench tests remotely makes this benchmark of no value
    * You need to capture disk and cpu stats (iostat -xd, vmstat) for result validation
    * Stock Apache configs might not work well for benchmarking single core versus multi-core
    * 64bit Centos? 64 bit packages?

    # Price Comparison Problems
    * Amazon’s usefulness is the value of the standard and high cpu extra large instances coupled with its enterprise level services
    * Amazon has an internal network where you don’t have bandwidth limits.
    * Digital Ocean’s network is all public, so all traffic counts toward your transfer total

  • Tongfa

    On Amazon, I thought one has a choice whether the root device (local storage) is ephemeral or not, depending on the OS image chosen. And of course it is destroyed upon server termination, that is telling Amazon you are giving the resource back to them. Ephemeral means the changes to the local device aren’t persisted between boots, and this would be useful for spawning many servers off the same image, for example.

  • Max

    You chose the worst possible AWS offering at the highest possible price point. Spot instances run far, far cheaper, and AWS have been giving a lot of love to their most heavily utilised sizes, and have released the m3 series of instances, which are generous in terms of CPU, particularly if you have the engineering skill to autoscale and autoheal, and use AWS’s services efficiently – you suddenly end up with a *lot* of bang for your buck.

  • Leonid

    Hey there,

    we have a big linode cluster, like 80 virtual machines. And what is bad about it is that they have unexpected CPU performance. For example we have like 50 application servers with same software installed and with even load distributed by nginx frontend, and all of them show different performance. The reason for that is not guarantied CPU resource in linode, if you have a greedy CPU neighbor on same host, you can really suffer from it. I dunno what would a guy with a single instance do in this case, because one day you can simply find your node working really slow. The only real way out of it is migration to another host. But with single node it can cause downtime.

    We had to develop a complex monitoring system based on Zabbix that generates upstream for nginx with different weights based on nodes performance.

    That’s just a huge kick off, in the rest Linode is great :)

    Leonid

    • PJ

      I don’t have a big cluster but this is what I’ve observed too, pretty much. That said, I use Linodes all day, every day. I haven’t tried Digital Ocean yet, mostly because my Linodes keep me busy! Amazon is a dead end, from what I can tell. Linode support is the best I’ve encountered since 1999 when I first started paying for hosting. They have a huge, friendly support team awake all night (24/7) responding to tickets, how many hosts can say that? Also the community is helpful, all your forum posts are broadcast to the Linode IRC channel where the hardcore nerds hang out.

      Thanks Ronald van Woensel for the benchmark test! I have wanted to do my own benchmarks but there’s never enough time ;-)

      • Leonid

        Hey, PJ.

        i wonder how do you deal with this floating CPU performance?

        Thanks,
        Leonid

        • PJ

          @Leonid At the moment, I don’t have any sites that need a cluster. So it’s not an issue for me yet. (Send me some traffic! Haha.) The biggest database I deal with fits on one 4G Linode and has room to expand. If I see the database getting hammered I’ll tinker with the code to see if I can find something else to cache, optimize, delete, tweak. Mostly I just check Linode’s dashboard graphs, PHP microtime() and Hyperspin.

  • marty

    Don’t forget to test atlantic.net

    • PJ

      +1
      I was an atlantic.net DSL customer many years ago, great company ;-) If I’m not mistaken, they were one of the first ISPs in Florida to offer Internet access. Nice to see them in the VPS space.

  • Nathan

    Security is not a concern ?

    Linode is a giant MESS given they have been hacked twice. Covered it up both times, no security audits, no getting rid of the buggy Coldfusion management app, no idea if credit cards were compromised.

    Linode is a joke. Sad pathetic joke.

  • Marcond

    I’ve used many services, from many companies. I can tell from experience that Linode is not a joke, it is actually the standard everyone try to beat. The only real flaw Linode have is their delay to adress a service oriented solution, with a proper API. Today, they still stick within the VM paradigm. Which by the way is not that bad a all. It is that simple.

    • Raides

      And the fact that Linode was hack twice in a short time via application exploits doesn’t make them at all the standard. They marketed well, and the gave good deals. However they bit off more than they could chew and got owned for it.

      To the Rackspace comment, I think liquidweb should be mentioned because they are a standard and way more reliable than Rackspace.

  • Blake

    What region were you running these VMs out of?

  • Kris

    Forgot HostVirtual (aka vr)

  • KRD Entertainment

    I’ve been surfing online more than 3 hours as of late, but I by no means discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours. It is pretty value sufficient for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the web will probably be a lot more useful than ever before.

  • rane

    Thanks a ton for the comparison.
    I use Amazon for all web projects which have major consumer base in India, because they are the only ones who have servers in APAC region. All other projects are hosted on Linode.
    The latency for APAC Amazon servers from India is pretty awesome and the same configuration on Linode performs poorly only because of latency issues.

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  • Mark Lewis

    Well, it depends if we’re considering on a level of sound-byte publicity, or at a scientific level.. . From the publicist’s perspective, yes,
    this is damaging. If you spread the idea that
    abused tend to become abusers (that is, that there
    is a ‘cycle’ to be broken in the first place),
    people can easily turn that around to cast suspicion over anyone who was abused as a child and has children of their own.
    To the person who has broken such a cycle (as a personal aside,
    my own father being a dramatic example of one, being horrifically abused
    as a child and being an exemplary and completely
    non-abusive parent in his adulthood), this is of course deeply insulting and
    troubling, as it piles suspicion and stigma on people who have already suffered
    more than others.. . But from the scientist’s perspective, this is a problem with how the public digests the information and not the information itself. It’s
    demonstrably true that people tend to mimic their parents’ behaviors in many ways, abuse unfortunately being chief among them if it’s a factor.
    If people can’t understand that there are dramatic exceptions to the rule and that generalizations are harmful, that’s their problem – there’s nothing in the data that inherently requires us to cast abused people under suspicion and stigma. From that perspective, you shouldn’t
    twist or hide the facts simply because they might get misused or
    misrepresented.

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  • roger

    now compare it against load balancing against 4 $5 DO’s simultaneous muhaha.

  • digitalocean review

    Nice comparison, can you show us some info-graphics.

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  • Reza

    Hello,
    Thanks for the article it was a good read and comparison. I wanted to know if I could get a copy of the code you used to bench these platforms. I have a platform of my own and I’d like to use the same exact code to profile my platform against these three heavy weights.
    Thank you

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  • Greg R

    I just stumbled across this article. I guess I am lucky to have an even faster machine. I’ve been with rosehosting.com for the past few years and my numbers are better than linode’s. I mean the numbers in the article are nothing to be ashamed of but the ones I get on my machine are at least 40% better than that. Of course I am talking about rosehosting’s SSD VPS offering, the regular ones will probably not be as fast. I can’t tell for sure as I don’t have one of those.

    My point is that these comparisons really don’t mean much as there are many other gems out there that are not as widely advertised but may be better than the well known names.

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  • Colin

    No surprises here, Linode’s $20/mo offering is simply amazing. However, above their 4GB plan it makes sense to just go dedicated (from cost standpoint). DO is nice for non-mission-critical ONLY. Was using a droplet as a reverse proxy and in less than a month the disk suddenly became mounted read-only and upon rebooting it was corrupt and their support team made no effort to recover. Had read-only issue multiple times with VPS.net too but no disk corruption. Both have pretty poor networks (monitored with Pingdom). Only use I have found for droplets is dirt-cheap MySQL async slaves.

  • dr

    Hey!

    Take a look at iwStack. Prometeus launched it’s own cloud and it really cheap. Prometeus is an Italian provider which has been here since 1997. I’ve been using iwStack for a while now, and seems pretty cool.

    I’d like you to compare it to these.

    http://iwstack.com/

  • Chope

    I have used Amazon and I can confirm they are very fast. I’ve not used Digital Ocean and Linode but anything that is 6times faster than Amazon is a best let alone 15 times. Thanks for the review, maybe I should sign up for the $5 Digital Ocean for testing sake.

  • Captain Obvious

    I think any developer or admin worth their pay-grade should know this without the need for benchmarks. It’s common sense – virtualization is not about performance over physical hardware, it’s about flexibility! I am amazed that people don’t realize that having an operating system installed directly on your hardware is faster than having sometimes multiple layers of virtualization (hardware abstraction software).

  • Matthew Fedak

    Thanks I have been looking at Amazon EC2 for years now but Linode service is great and its good to know I have not been missing out on anything.

  • rogerdpack

    At the $5 price point DO wins however, for us cheap skates :)

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  • joe

    I’ve been using Amazon EC2 a couple years and after reading this article, i was all gung-ho, signed up for Linode and found that (apparently?) the amount of storage is not flexible. I don’t need a fast or powerful server & not very much data transfer, but the contents I need to serve are over 200GB. With Amazon I can add a flexible amount of storage as I need it, but with Linode I’m looking at min $160/mo just to host my contents… am i missing something, is there a better way?

  • newtricksandtipsad

    As a medium level internet marketer, I always love the service providing by digitalocean.They are really great provides quality service at affordable price

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    As a newbie you may struggle at digitalocean as they are not providing managed VPS hosting,though you can make by using the knowledge articles avaiable

  • Dan

    DigitalOcean is a great service. Heres a link for a discount off your first VPS. http://goo.gl/4U1DX0

  • Kristian

    A lot happens in this space within a year. It would be interesting to compare the results if you run the exact same test again.

  • Tisten

    So according to this article Linode had a 8 core server for $20/month? Now they offer 2 cores for that price… better run your tests again!

  • Phil Vpsbenchmarks

    Lost of things have changed in the past year, Linode has new cheaper plans with more memory and fewer but more powerful cpu cores and SSD disks. EC2 has a new and cheaper plan very well suited for small web servers called t2.small. And there are lots of new entrants like Ramnode, Vultr and Vpsdime.
    We perform continous real world tests for all of them at vpsbenchmarks.com and it turns out the new providers are the fastest, Linode is doing better than last year, Azure is the most expensive and the slowest.
    These charts show the response time and cpu utilization of each provider and are updated every week: https://admin.vpsbenchmarks.com/compare?utf8=%E2%9C%93&plans%5B3%5D=true&plans%5B2%5D=true&plans%5B8%5D=true&plans%5B9%5D=true&plans%5B4%5D=true&plans%5B10%5D=true&plans%5B11%5D=true&plans%5B12%5D=true&metrics%5B13%5D=true&metrics%5B19%5D=true&metrics%5B0%5D=true&metrics%5B10%5D=true

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  • Ray

    Rosehosting is a great alternative to DO and Linode.

  • Vincent

    I have used both of them and I can’t say anything bad about the 2. I use it for a NGINX webserver (7 websites with 100.000 pageviews/month together), a teamspeak server, and some hoby scripts (python,…).
    Digitalocean has a great GUI to manage your Droplet (this is how they call your VPS), linode has a depreciated GUI, but they have an android/iOS app.
    If you are a student you can get 100 dollar for free via the github student bundle. If you are not a student you can use this link where you get 10 dollar for free:
    https://www.digitalocean.com/?refcode=25058944bd77

  • Benjamin Fredrick Knigge

    Have you had a chance to check out Vultr? It’s pretty much a knockoff of DigitalOcean but with faster CPUs and a lower latencey network. I put together a screen shot walk-through on my own blog. Here’s a link to it if you’re interested in checking it out. https://odinsql.com/2015/04/walk-through-review-vultr-vps-hosting/ I also did a direct comparison between DigitalOcean and Vultr in this post https://odinsql.com/2015/01/digitalocean-vs-vultr-vultr-vs-dgitalocean/

  • michael

    +1 DigitalOcean. easy to use, servers run on SSDs, bills on an hourly basis.
    No issues so far.

    • Divya

      Even i have checked their plans. now, if i will choose $5 plan will they bill me fixed $5 only ? or based on anything else ?? also can i use it for multiple domains and how we will transfer files using ftp? like normal hosting ?

  • digital ocean review • Coupon & Review

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  • Hayden James

    AWS is indeed overpriced. Especially for small to medium businesses/setups. As you have listed there are much better options. Like AWS, DigitalOcean has a on IP limit per instance. Where are Linode does not. Overall Linode is a strong choice, a good discussion in comments here: https://blog.linode.com/2013/03/18/linode-nextgen-the-hardware/

    Of course, if you need better support you should go with other options like LiquidWeb. Its a bit more costly but even faster than Linode and also offer incredible full management support (or not) for clients who desire this.

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  • Azaz Qadir

    In my experience AWS and DO were much better than Linode. I have hosted my PHP app on DO through Cloudways platform (https://www.cloudways.com/en/php-cloud-hosting.php ) and the server response time was under a second. My entire website loaded in 1.2 seconds, which quite fast. I had caching and CDN enabled.

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