OVH versus TransIP: how VPSes can be worlds apartPublished: 2018-07-08
Like a lot of stuff on the internet, this website is running off a VPS. Back in the days, when VPS'es weren't as ubiquitous and cheap, I used to have one with Linode, untill I took it offline because I really wasn't using it. Then, a few years later, I had put up this little blog again and ended up with OVH, which also supported the Let's Encrypt early on, one of my reasons to pick them, in addition to their being a European company (and not a US one).
OVH's VPS offering had some kinks with its console mode (non-QWERTY layouts were not parsed correctly), but other than that, it was a polished product (and dirt cheap to boot). It offered good uptime, they have beautifully prepped images, so if you do lock yourself out and a reinstall is the only solution, you are quickly up and running again. TCP monitoring is included in the price, and snapshots can be had cheaply. Once I had fought off the DHCP/DNS monster - OVH presets
/etc/resolv.conf through the
dhclient configuration for your VPS - I could breathe easy.
Now we're at TransIP, because we wanted to consolidate our services (domain and VPS basically). TransIP has a totally different vibe: they throw Debian at you, and you're left to do all the heavy lifting yourself. Behold that dreaded curses installer (no kidding!) which has you walking through the installation steps manually, as if you were installing it onto a physical machine. Everything's virtualised, so why does TransIP not offer a clean, prepped image? Literally nothing has been preconfigured. This also means 'resetting' your VPS means you literally get to reinstall your OS and turn all the nuts and bolts again. OVH, in contrast, would prep a new image, and e-mail you the new temporary root password. Nothing like that with TransIP. It also turns out they block outgoing SMTP traffic (port 25), and some other related ports (465 and 587); that certainly thwarts the occasional spammer. You can enable those ports 17 days after you paid your first invoice.
TransIP also suffers from the same bug that plagued OVH's console - if you use anything else than a UK/US QWERTY layout, you're pretty much shafted when you try using it. I think OVH has fixed this (I haven't needed their console for a while), but TransIP is testing an update to their noVNC console and hasn't pushed the fix yet. So if you're using any special characters in your passwords, you're limited to the rescue mode, which boots a basic Linux environment where you can mount your root partition and manually change the password to something viable with a QWERTY layout. Very clumsy, unfortunately. It's a bit ironic these problems exist altogether, since OVH is a French company (and the French use AZERTY); TransIP is a Dutch company and the Netherlands mostly use a QWERTY layout very similar to the US/UK one.
All things considered, I was very happy with OVH, and you can't beat their price (less than 4 € per month). We are planning on moving back over from TransIP again. They recently announced they'd be closing their Stack offering, but would honour pending requests; we haven't received any word back however, and I don't see it happening anymore. Stack was the reason why we moved the VPS to TransIP and not our domains to OVH, but without Stack happening, there is no compelling reason to stick with TransIP. They're considerably more expensive, and their VPS solution is way less polished than OVH's one.
Table for comparison below. I've taken the cheapest plans (we have the X1 plan now, but with extra RAM; so the price discrepancy is even bigger). Prices are per month and include VAT - which in Europe comes down to ± 20%. TransIP includes VAT by default in their prices but OVH publishes them without.
|VPS SSD 1
|< 4 €
|100 Mbps unmetered