James Crisp

Software dev, tech, mind hacks and the occasional personal bit

VPS Performance Comparison and Benchmarking

What VPS / cloud instance provider gives you the best bang for buck for a small linux server? I’ve been focusing on evaluating providers at the low cost end, and reasonable latency to Australia – Linode Tokyo, Octopus Australia, RailsPlayground USA and Amazon Singapore. From the tech specs on a VPS, most providers look similar. However, when you have an instance, you often find huge variation in performance due to contention for CPU and disk on the node. For a simple test, I ran a small ruby script on each server every 20 minutes on cron, and logged the results to a CSV file over the same 5 days.

Here is the script:

start = Time.now

`man ls`
`ls /`

disk_time = Time.now - start

start = Time.now

(1..200000).each { |i| i*i/3.52345*i*i*i%34 }

cpu_time = Time.now - start

total = disk_time + cpu_time
puts "#{total},#{disk_time},#{cpu_time},#{start.strftime('%Y-%m-%d')},#{start.strftime('%H:%M:%S')}"

It uses ls and man to test wait for disk and then some made up maths to test the CPU. It’s not perfect but gives a good indication of performance.

Results
All times are in seconds, and you can download the full data to get a better picture. I’ve provided a summary and notes for each provider below.

Linde 512mb Tokyo (Zen)

  Average Max
Total time 0.81 1.74
Disk 0.03 0.13
CPU 0.78 1.63

Full Results

This is my second Linode VPS. I asked to be moved to a different node as the first one started fast when I got it but performance degraded (due to contention on the node?) within a few days. Nothing else is running on the VPS besides the script. Overall this is consistent, good performance in both CPU and disk. Latency to this VPS is around ~130ms from my ADSL in Sydney.

Octopus 650mb Australia (VMWare)

  Average Max
Total time 0.74 3.40
Disk 0.19 2.88
CPU 0.54 1.08

Full Results

Octopus is running a site for me with a significant cron job on the hour. I’ve therefore removed results collected on the hour. Despite running my live site, Octopus has the fastest average performance of all VPS tested. The higher max time could have been caused by load on my site. Octopus costs a bit more but is hosted in Australia so has very low latency of around 20ms from my ADSL in Sydney.

Amazon Small Instance 1.7gb Singapore (Zen)

  Average Max
Total time 1.25 2.42
Disk 0.20 0.40
CPU 1.04 2.03

Full Results

Amazon EC2 Small instances are now in the same ballpark cost as small VPS instances, when you go for high usage reserved. Many people think that EC2 disk is poor. However, from my tests (and experience) it is not super fast, but it is consistent and reliable. Amazon is also very generous with memory and provides other benefits like free transfer to S3. Where it falls down is processor speed, which, although fairly consistent, is about 50% slower than Linode and Octopus. Latency from Sydney ADSL is around 120ms.

Rails Playground 640mb USA (Virtuozzo)

  Average Max
Total time 3.53 24.12
Disk 2.44 23.42
CPU 1.09 2.66

Full Results

My RailsPlayground VPS is running various services and sites for me but none of them are high load. As you can see, the CPU performance is similar to Amazon and doesn’t vary too much. The problem is disk which varies hugely and can sometimes lead to unresponsive sites and services while waiting for IO. Latency from Sydney ADSL is around 200ms.

Conclusion
If you want a fast VPS with low latency in Australia and are willing to pay a bit more than the other providers listed, Octopus VPS will serve you well.

For lots of memory but slower CPU, Amazon small instance will be good.

For faster CPU but less memory, Linode is your best choice.

It’s worth testing out any new VPS and keeping an eye on performance over time. Contention on your node could change dramatically without you being aware of it, dramatically impacting performance of your VPS.

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3 Comments

  1. Suman

    Thanks for the article – I was about to go with Linode (used them before, love their service) but am curious about Octopus. Do you have a follow up on your experience with Octopus?

  2. Hi Suman, actually I’ve now upgraded my linode to the 768 and getting disappointing results. I’m going to ask them to move me to a new node.

    Running a small suite of ruby tests takes about 19s reliably on Octopus but anything between 30s to 1:30s on Linode. Both have minor outside load at the moment.

    I’ve been using Octopus for 4 years and very happy. The VPS performance is top notch and does not seem to suffer from the variable performance I get on other VPS providers. The Octopus web console is not as advanced as Linode, but the Octopus VPS is far out performing the Linode one, even with the linode one having another 100meg memory.

    James

  3. Suman

    Hi James,

    I’ve gone with Octopus. It’s pretty good value and, like you’ve mentioned, the performance is very satisfactory for the price.

    Thanks again,
    Suman

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