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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 20:39   #1
ThePants999
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Default Windows VPS pre-sales questions

Hi folks,

I'm looking at Windows VPS hosting, and have a few questions.

First up, we're used to shared hosting, and all the benefits that brings in terms of not really having to worry about anything. We need a VPS partly because we've got a pretty intensive application to host and partly because we need to be able to install our own software, but we're really looking for as much of the hand-holding that comes with a shared server as possible. So I've come to SolidHost because you offer a fully managed service, and your pro-active support option sounds great. But one area that worries me is backups. With shared hosting, we're obviously used to automatic website & database backups "just happening" on a daily basis, and from what I gather, you don't offer any automatic backup processes. What do you offer here? If the answer isn't much, would you be interested in setting up automatic backup processes for us as a sort of (paid) "professional service"?

Second - the company that writes the software we're looking to install strongly recommends a separate database server. What could we do here? Do you have any shared database servers? What if we had a second VPS that just ran a database, and the website on the first talked to the database on the second - would that work, and does it make sense? Is SQL Server Express likely to be good enough?

Third, I'm confused about burstable RAM - your site claims that it just doesn't work on Windows, and yet in my search for a host, I've come across loads of Windows VPS offerings that do claim to have burstable RAM. I'm really worried about the idea of one random spike in usage bringing down the whole site.

Fourth, I think I read in another thread that you offer RAM upgrades for €10/mth/128Mb. Presumably with the pro-active support we could monitor RAM usage, and buy more if it turned out to be needed?

Finally (there is an end to this), Plesk vs Helm... any particular key differentiators? I think I read somewhere on here that Plesk has better support for SQL Server Express? Does Helm beat Plesk at anything that significant?

Thanks in advance!

- Chris
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 11:08   #2
SH-Andre
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Hi Chris,

Thank you for your inquiry.

For your managed hosting needs you have definitely come to the right place. We do actually provide automated backup services. We provide remote FTP backup space for only 5/mo per 10GB space. This FTP backup space can be used in combination with your control panel. For instance Plesk can be configured to automatically create backups on a daily basis. If desired, we can also fully configure this for you.

Instead of using a control panel, you could also look into alternative backup software. If you would like us to setup something like this, we would have to charge a one time fee for this. I would like to ask you to contact our sales department at sales@solidhost.com about this with your exact needs (as to what needs to be backuped), then we'll be able to provide you a quote for that.

We currently do not provide shared database servers, however we are looking into providing this within the next few months. I don't know the specifics yet though.

Setting up a second VPS for running the database is definitely a possibility. We could also put this VPS on a seperate physical server. This way you could also put your first nameserver on the first VPS, and your second nameserver on the second VPS, for instance, to create redundancy.

SQL Server Express should definitely be good enough for your application. If SQL Server Express can't handle your needs, then your application probably also wouldn't be suitable for a VPS (you would then probably need something bigger - but going by what you described that really wouldn't be necessary).

Burstable RAM doesn't exist on Windows VPS's. This has to do with the way Windows works. It's simply technically not possible. If a host advertises to sell burstable ram along with their windows VPS packages, they have probably just copy/pasted their linux VPS packages without bothering to look at that. That should probably say something about their knowledge of their own products

As for RAM spikes; with most modern applications you don't have to worry about that. When an application is started, it will usually allocate a certain amount of RAM that it needs to run properly. It won't always use that ram, it's basically just a reservation. So when an application suddenly needs a lot of ram, it'll simply use up its own reservation. The good part about reserving ram is that the application will not be able to start in the first place if there's not enough ram available for it. As such, you will be able to tell beforehand whether you need more RAM. Only when an application "outgrows" its reservation it'll need more ram, but that doesn't happen a lot. In all cases it is still smart to not use up more than about 80% of your RAM to keep some spare.

The 10/mo upgrades per 128mb RAM only apply to Linux packages. Usually we also apply this pricing to Windows packages, although it really depends on the ram availability on the server on which your VPS would be located. As such, for ram upgrades (at this time) we ask our clients to contact our sales department for a customized price. If the RAM availability on the node in question is sufficient, we can apply the 10/mo per 128mb pricing.

When it comes to Plesk vs Helm, from our experience most customers prefer Plesk. Helm for instance doesn't support MSDE, and the support for SQL express appears to be quite poor. Other than that, the differences really come down to a personal preferrence. In this case I would recommend going with Plesk, because of your SQL needs.

If you have any further questions, please let us know.

Thank you!

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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 11:33   #3
ThePants999
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Thanks Andre, very helpful!

Okay, so the backup stuff sounds reassuring. Just so we're clear, I would want to back up all our website files, and also our database, to a separate server - and ideally, an image of the whole VPS node if possible - and keep at least father-son backup images, if not grandfather-father-son. How much of this is Plesk capable of?

Cheers,

- Chris
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 12:58   #4
ThePants999
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Oh, and another thing - what's the PowerPack that comes up as an option when you choose Plesk?
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 13:03   #5
SH-John
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Hello,

That adds several packages to your VPS that isn't normally included. You will also need it to use MS SQL databases. It also adds the ability to use Spam Assassin, Tomcat JSP, Cold Fusion and also offers a help desk system.

Of course, you need this for your MS SQL databases but Spam Assassin is also a really useful application to have.

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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 13:07   #6
ThePants999
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No kidding Thanks! What about the backup stuff?
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 13:16   #7
SH-Andre
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePants999 View Post
Thanks Andre, very helpful!

Okay, so the backup stuff sounds reassuring. Just so we're clear, I would want to back up all our website files, and also our database, to a separate server - and ideally, an image of the whole VPS node if possible - and keep at least father-son backup images, if not grandfather-father-son. How much of this is Plesk capable of?

Cheers,

- Chris
Plesk will be able to create backups of all websites and database (although to create a backup of the databases, the database would temporary need to be stopped I believe). As for keeping multiple levels of backups; that should be possible too although I believe this may need to be custom-coded.

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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 13:45   #8
ThePants999
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Whoa - stopping the database isn't an option, and I've never heard of a database that needs to be stopped to be backed up. Okay, I'll look into backup options a bit more myself.

I think we're ready to sign up. One concern my boss has is about telephone support: he's worried about raising a ticket in emergencies. For example, in our previous venture, hosted on another company's VPS, we sent out a mailshot to tens of thousands of people advertising the site - and as soon as they all came onto the site, it crashed due to lack of RAM. Telephone support was invaluable at that point in getting the situation resolved as quickly as possible, since downtime at a time like that is devastating to the business. Is there really zero chance of telephone support? Even if we promise only to use it in absolute emergencies?
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 13:49   #9
ThePants999
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Random question. Could I run an application on the backup FTP server? It would just automatically delete old backups.
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 14:16   #10
SH-Andre
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePants999 View Post
Whoa - stopping the database isn't an option, and I've never heard of a database that needs to be stopped to be backed up. Okay, I'll look into backup options a bit more myself.

I think we're ready to sign up. One concern my boss has is about telephone support: he's worried about raising a ticket in emergencies. For example, in our previous venture, hosted on another company's VPS, we sent out a mailshot to tens of thousands of people advertising the site - and as soon as they all came onto the site, it crashed due to lack of RAM. Telephone support was invaluable at that point in getting the situation resolved as quickly as possible, since downtime at a time like that is devastating to the business. Is there really zero chance of telephone support? Even if we promise only to use it in absolute emergencies?
Our email support is blazing fast. I'd even dare to say it's faster than phone support. Our technicians look at support tickets immediately when they come in, and it's faster since it's easier (and less prone to errors) to exchange login details and IP addresses through a ticket. In terms of speed there really wouldn't be a difference, the only difference is that the message is transferred by text instead of voice.

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