6Sync 6 Month Review

  • Sun 01 May 2011

  • This has turned into a long post, so by all means: tldr;

    In early 2010, I decided to shut down my old server and stop hosting sites for myself and my customers. Little did I know how much I'd miss it.

    In November 2010, I went looking for a new host.

    I had a VPS for almost 4 years so I wasn't going back to shared hosting. The geek in me wants my root. It's frustrating opening a support ticket and getting a response similar to "it's not us, it's you". With shell/root access, I can look at the logs myself (when I'm certain it isn't me).

    So I threw out a Tweet looking for a VPS. I follow a bunch of fellow geeks, I was curious who was doing what, and where. Twitter has become a great resource for networking, sounding board and technical help/feedback when needed. Over a couple of days I received a number of replies from companies offering VPS services, and followers throwing out their suggestions/recommendations. Mario at 6Sync was someone who reached out to me offering a VPS on their KVM virtualization platform. This excited me. 6Sync was rolling out their new services in their New York data center, with something they called Biscuit. I was intrigued and at the time they were offering a month free for evaluation. How could I go wrong? I said why not!

    It was simple, in the short-term, I just wanted another WordPress blog to paste how I did something. Figure it a means of documentation. I do something, move on, revisit it an extended period of time later, and wonder how the hell I did it. I also figure if I'm doing it, someone else is also likely to be doing it and perhaps what I've done will help them. All about sharing information.

    Biscuit (their control panel) allowed me to log in, select an operating system (Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Gentoo, and ArchLinux, most in 32-bit and 64-bit). Do you know how giddy I got when I got to do a bare-metal install of Ubuntu? Like a fat kid in a candy store!

    Upon initial provisioning, I knew I needed to configure DNS. Biscuit can by default configure 'standard' DNS records, and for most users, is likely sufficient. Painless. One more thing that I REALLY loved about Biscuit's DNS settings, I could configure Google Apps with a couple clicks of a mouse. Now I don't need to install/configure an MX or SMTP server. Even better!

    I initially installed the traditional LAMP stack on 10.04 LTS following the Ubuntu Server Guide. I've done this before, pretty straight-forward, and no real gotchas. The geek in me was bored, and I noticed when doing a patch upgrade, there seemed to be a high RAM usage on the server. Seemed like Apache had a pretty fat foot print. It was at this point I did some research and decided to install Nginx. Having never installed it before, and not wanting to take down my site while I figured it out, I decided to bring up a new server.

    This is where 6Sync's Biscuit shines! I was able to log in, provision a new server in less than 60 seconds. I received an e-mail with log-in credentials for the newly provisioned server and I was on my way. So, I tried and tried to install LEMP stack, each time, I'm the type who'd rather just wipe the slate clean and start over. Biscuit makes it VERY easy to reprovision the server. And reprovision I did!

    I was soon able to get LEMP installed, transferred the contents of my site from the old LAMP server to the new LEMP server and updated DNS. Easy Peasy.

    So now I had my new LEMP server up and running, and I had this LAMP server I didn't need/want. What I wanted/needed was a copy of my now production server so that I could test update/security patches, application installs, and whatever else I might have wanted to do. I did not want to do a new install, that's simply too much work. So I submitted a request to support to clone my production server to my now dev server. Support responded quickly and shortly there after they had cloned my production server and I now had a dev instance.

    So I put in some time and effort, I wasn't about to lose it, I wanted backups. 6Sync offers backups from R1Soft. Signing up was simple through Biscuit. Once signed up, instructions were e-mailed on where to download the client and how to install the client. Once installed, you enable backups and select the interval of backups. 24-hour (daily) is free, you can do 12, 8, 4, and 2 hour intervals for a fee. How often does your data change, and how important is it to you?

    I personally have never had a problem with networking/physical host/virtual machine or anything of the likes. My first support ticket was a billing inquiry. Quick response, misunderstanding on my part, all is well in the world. Second support request was to clone my production server to a dev instance. Easy Peasy! Third support request was actually generated by the staff at 6Sync. They had noticed that my backups hadn't ran successfully the night before and they were contacting me to let me know and to offer assistance. This was a mistake on my part, as a security patch (kernel) update required me to reconfigure the R1Soft backup, but I didn't know that. Needless to say, it was an easy enough fix, and the PROACTIVE support from 6Sync saved me!

    In an attempt to sound like I'm not sucking 6Sync off, I'm in search of a VPS provider that isn't 6Sync. Why? Because I want to monitor my prod/dev instances and graph uptime/statistics, and I don't want all my eggs in one basket. I've received a number of recommendations for VPS.net, Linode and Slicehost. Even checking my G-Mail, I saw an adword for ChunkHost. VPS.net/Slicehost = Compared to 6Sync, they're more expensive based on what you get. I had heard that Slicehost based on XEN can reboot faster than 6Sync (this is appealing, me being impatient and all). ChunkHost was doing a free month's evaluation, but required a CC to sign up. Wasn't feeling it. That left me with Linode, and I signed up for a 512 in Fremont (essentially local to me). Their process to sign up is cumbersome, their control panel has 20lb of shit in a 5lb bag and not intuitive in the least bit. This is good and bad. Good, you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT with their VPS, they have an extensive API/offering, but because there is so much, you get lost, entirely way too easy. I did a few speed tests and dd copies to test bandwidth and write speed on the disks. I don't know what kind of hardware I was sitting on, nor what internet connection(s) existed in Linode's DC, but it was not comparable to 6Sync's amazing performance. Because of their extensive offering, I wouldn't be afraid of going back if the need existed, though I would try a different data center in an attempt to get better bandwidth and speeds on the disk. No ill feelings towards Linode, I guess my expectations are just higher now having gotten the quality I've gotten from 6Sync.

    tldr;

    • KVM Virtualization
    • Biscuit Control Panel
    • Console Access to Server
    • Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Gentoo, and ArchLinux, most in 32-bit and 64-bit
    • Easily provision new servers
    • Easily reprovision existing server(s)
    • Internal Network (Private) -- Private traffic, non-billable
    • R1Soft Scheduled Backups
    • Amazing Support
    • Better than Linode (in my limited experience/testing)
    • Couldn't be Happier!

    Also, FWIW, if you want to try them out, here is a referral link:

    https://biscuit.6sync.com/order/r/BLWH8DXTB As far as I know, there is no compensation to me for a referral, I believe this just helps 6Sync know where a customer might have found out about them. Don't feel obligated to use the above link. Going directly to their site http://www.6sync.com will work just as well.

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