What a ride it has been, trying to find a reliable provider to use as my cache nodes without breaking the bank. Thankfully, after much research and "stress testing", I have arrived at one provider I can finally give a positive review to, and that's BuyVM/Frantech.

When I first found BuyVM I was skeptical. The name does not inspire confidence. It'd be like walking into a grocery store named BuyFood. But, going into this review, I'd say I have a very good idea of what the BuyVM experience is like. I have 8 VMs of varying configurations and locations, had over a baker's dozen of support interactions, and spent well north of a thousand bucks there. If my experience with that size of deployment is good, then yours should be too. I'm very picky. 

For starters, my #1 requirement when it comes to finding a suitable host - Bandwidth. Everything eats bandwidth. I do over 200TB of outbound bandwidth a month these days, and if bandwidth is not free, I will go bankrupt. Ramnode wanted $4/TB on overages, and 200TB a month with a 10TB allocation means almost $800 in overage fees every month. Nope. Not happening. That's 4x the monthly budget for the ENTIRETY of Lain.la. After that priority, it's price, performance, support, reliability etc. All of which are important, but not as much as bandwidth.

For reference, this is one node's traffic. One! I have FIVE.

So, what can I boil my review down to? Let's try this:

  • Bandwidth is unlimited. You get a gigabit link. What more could you want?
  • Pricing is exceptionally good. So good that I actually upgraded my nodes because I felt bad because there is no way, at $6/mo per node, that Francisco (owner) is making money on 50TB of egress per node. I pay $18/mo per node these days. I'm not sure even that is profitable for him. But he offers it, and so I use it!
  • Performance is good. He uses Ryzen 9 3900s in all of the machines I have, and while I'm sure they're relatively overprovisioned, I've never seen it be a limiting factor, and you can always pop open a support ticket and get your VM moved somewhere else if it's too noisy. I can have 700 mbit outbound traffic and an inbound transfer (AES encryption is CPU intensive) going and not really break a sweat on each node.
  • Support is brilliant. Really. OVH support is shit. Ramnode support is slightly less shit. BuyVM support? Golden. Not only does the owner jump in the ticket queue, but he has made tweaks on my behalf to routing and other variables. Regarding abuse tickets, he does the right thing and open tickets with the customer rather than shut down machines without warning. This is incredibly critical for reliability and customer satisfaction. Take note other providers - Not all of us can run goody two shoes services that don't get abused by assholes without compromising their privacy with an "account" or something.
  • The billing interface is standard WHMCS fanfare, but the VM management console is custom, and quite useful. Good graphs, you have remote KVM if you need it, and they've got some cool features like BGP and Anycast. I don't use those for my systems, but hey. It's cool nonetheless. Also DDoS protection via PATH which I 100% utilize. You can also attach storage disks to nodes for a low price, another great feature (but performance can be shit - Miami got a whopping 2 MB/s writes for like a week straight).
  • Reliability is poor. This is the only ding I can make in BuyVM. Out of all of the providers I've had, BuyVM has had the most problems. (Edit: Literally as I was writing this article, the entire NYC datacenter for BuyVM went kaput. I'm not joking. See https://pomf2.lain.la/f/snl2hgei.PNG) My architecture is designed to withstand these, but I feel like I have incidents weekly that require a DNS intervention or sometimes even a ticket. Sometimes VMs force reboot. Sometimes entire datacenters drop. Sometimes there's 30% packet loss on an OpenVPN tunnel. I guess it's because this is a LowEndBox focused kind of business, so reliability engineering is not really in the budget, but still. At least this is an issue I can fix with technology.
  • Francisco has a strong leaning towards protection of freedom of speech. He's hosted KiwiFarms and the Daily Stormer, and while these two are not really my cup of tea, I have to be sympathetic towards the protection of these ideals because I also have the same problem - I host a LOT of data I don't like. However, It's not my job to pick through the files and delete things I don't agree with. My job is to remain neutral and compliant with the law - that's how the internet should be. If I start plucking files out because I don't like them, it not only undermines my services' legitimacy but also can make me liable for everything I DON'T remove. (See this AUP for how simple BuyVM's terms are: https://buyvm.net/acceptable-use-policy/)

Oh yeah, and I got this on my account. Really nice of them.

So yeah. BuyVM gets a big thumbs up from me, and Lain.la will continue to exclusively use their services. I know I mentioned in a post somewhere that having more than one provider is recommended to prevent single points of failure, but I can't really do that without vetting another provider that matches all my requirements above. So BuyVM it is!

(If you are interested in using BuyVM, I have an affiliate link now.)

(If this link somehow doxes me please inform me and I will yell at Francisco.)