Within the vast hosting landscape, there are thousands of offers waiting for you. But with so many offers and things to look out for, things often get overwhelming. Should I get a server with 1 GB of RAM and 2 CPU cores? Maybe one with twice the amount of RAM would be better?
Before you even start to look for offers, you should have a solid understanding of what the CPU, RAM, disk speed and internet connection means and effects when it comes to servers. Using that knowledge, you should then have a solid idea in mind what hardware your server requires.
In case of a game server, you will probably want to have a fast CPU, while you may need a fast internet connection if you plan on hosting large files on a web server.
What hosting companies don't tell you
Truth be told, it is not as easy as to just look at the raw numbers hosting providers put on their websites. And I had to learn this first-hand.
Even if two different providers might offer you a VPS with the same hardware specs, this still doesn't mean they will both perform the same. You don't know the hardware's age and in the case of CPUs this makes a big difference, even if they both run at 3GHz and have 4 cores, for example. What is also often emitted is the disk read and write speed, and in some cases even the speed of the internet connection.
The only way to objectively compare two machines is to run benchmarks. Benchmarks are tests that measure a computer's performance in certain scenarios. They are designed in a way that makes the results comparable with those from other computers.
Benchmarking with yabs
Yabs.sh is a collection of benchmarking tools meant to run in a Linux environment. It includes CPU, RAM, disk and network performance benchmarks. The program is extremely easy to use, as you need to do is to run one simple command:
curl -sL yabs.sh | bash
After the program finishes, you are presented with a nice overview of the performance of your server. All that's left to do is to compare the results of different servers.
In my case this lead to me discovering that while my new server was pretty much the same on paper, it was actually 10x faster when it came to disk operations and network performance while the CPU was also around 30 % faster.
You now know what to look out for when renting a server. By running benchmarks, you are able to objectively compare them and find the one that offers the most performance for your money. I hope this helps you avoid common pitfalls you can encounter when it comes to hosting offers.