CoreNetworks 4 Month Review

CoreNetworks Screenshot

I used CoreNetworks service for about 4 months (February – May, 2010).

I started with their “Starter LE26” plan for $24.95/month and upgraded after a month to the “Starter LE16” plan for $29.95/month.

To be honest, my needs are pretty modest, but I always thought it would be neat to have my own dedicated server, and with such a low price, I thought it would make more sense than a VPS.

The “Starter LE26” plan for $24.95 a month had a $30 setup charge, so the cost for the first month was $54.95.

It came with a 10 mbps port, 1,000 GB of transfer, and 2 IP addresses.

It had a single 2.66 GHz Celeron CPU, 512 MB RAM, and an 80 GB SATA hard drive.  They installed CentOS for me as part of the setup.

I placed the order on a Saturday morning (East Coast time).  CoreNetworks is based in Lansing, Michigan and has their own data center.

Even though they don’t guarantee weekend installs, they had my server ready later that Saturday afternoon, after 7 hours 7 minutes.

I ran Unix Bench 5.1.2, which reported a score of 421.0.

========================================================================
   BYTE UNIX Benchmarks (Version 5.1.2)
 
   System: GNU/Linux
   OS: GNU/Linux -- 2.6.18-164.11.1.el5 -- #1 SMP Wed Jan 20 07:39:04 EST 2010
   Machine: i686 (i386)
   Language: en_US.utf8 (charmap="UTF-8", collate="UTF-8")
   CPU 0: Intel(R) Celeron(R) CPU 2.66GHz (5334.2 bogomips)
          Hyper-Threading, x86-64, MMX, Physical Address Ext
   06:09:59 up 2 days, 10:25,  2 users,  load average: 0.07, 0.02, 0.00; runlevel
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Benchmark Run: Fri Feb 05 2010 06:09:59 - 06:38:06
1 CPU in system; running 1 parallel copy of tests
 
Dhrystone 2 using register variables        4209962.7 lps   (10.0 s, 7 samples)
Double-Precision Whetstone                      944.2 MWIPS (10.6 s, 7 samples)
Execl Throughput                               1800.4 lps   (30.0 s, 2 samples)
File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks        185884.1 KBps  (30.0 s, 2 samples)
File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks           53783.0 KBps  (30.0 s, 2 samples)
File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks        561310.1 KBps  (30.0 s, 2 samples)
Pipe Throughput                              576675.4 lps   (10.0 s, 7 samples)
Pipe-based Context Switching                 119167.1 lps   (10.0 s, 7 samples)
Process Creation                               5758.8 lps   (30.0 s, 2 samples)
Shell Scripts (1 concurrent)                   2462.6 lpm   (60.0 s, 2 samples)
Shell Scripts (8 concurrent)                    339.4 lpm   (60.1 s, 2 samples)
System Call Overhead                         586443.4 lps   (10.0 s, 7 samples)
 
System Benchmarks Index Values               BASELINE       RESULT    INDEX
Dhrystone 2 using register variables         116700.0    4209962.7    360.8
Double-Precision Whetstone                       55.0        944.2    171.7
Execl Throughput                                 43.0       1800.4    418.7
File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks          3960.0     185884.1    469.4
File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks            1655.0      53783.0    325.0
File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks          5800.0     561310.1    967.8
Pipe Throughput                               12440.0     576675.4    463.6
Pipe-based Context Switching                   4000.0     119167.1    297.9
Process Creation                                126.0       5758.8    457.0
Shell Scripts (1 concurrent)                     42.4       2462.6    580.8
Shell Scripts (8 concurrent)                      6.0        339.4    565.6
System Call Overhead                          15000.0     586443.4    391.0
                                                                   ========
System Benchmarks Index Score                                         421.0

Here’s a hard drive test I ran on the single 80 GB SATA hard drive:

# hdparm -t /dev/sda
 
/dev/sda:
Timing buffered disk reads:  218 MB in  3.02 seconds =  72.13 MB/sec

Reverse DNS was setup within 4 minutes of my request.

Support was always friendly and quick to respond.  Critical items were resolved quickly.  Non-critical items were responded to quickly, but sometimes took several days to actually resolve.  This was fine, since they were non-critical, afterall.

Initially, I found my bandwidth transfer speed was only around 3 mbps.  Support was quick to respond, but it took 5 days to actually resolve to remove a stale filter on my IP address.  They gave me an extra 5 days of service for free as a result, without having to ask.

After having the “Starter LE26” server for a week, I changed my mind and decided to replace it with a “Starter LE16” server instead.  I kept the first server for the remainder of the billing period so I had both online for a time so I could move things over.

The “Starter LE16” plan has a newer 1.6 GHz dual core Celeron E1200 CPU.  It also comes with 512 MB RAM, an 80 GB SATA hard drive, a 10 mbps port, 1,000 GB of bandwidth transfer, and 2 IP addresses.  The main difference is the better CPU for an extra $5/month. It scored 959.7 with Unix Bench.

========================================================================
   BYTE UNIX Benchmarks (Version 5.1.2)
 
   System: GNU/Linux
   OS: GNU/Linux -- 2.6.18-164.11.1.el5 -- #1 SMP Wed Jan 20 07:32:21 EST 2010
   Machine: x86_64 (x86_64)
   Language: en_US.utf8 (charmap="UTF-8", collate="UTF-8")
   CPU 0: Intel(R) Celeron(R) CPU E1200 @ 1.60GHz (3199.9 bogomips)
          Hyper-Threading, x86-64, MMX, Physical Address Ext, SYSENTER/SYSEXIT, SYSCALL/SYSRET
   CPU 1: Intel(R) Celeron(R) CPU E1200 @ 1.60GHz (3199.9 bogomips)
          Hyper-Threading, x86-64, MMX, Physical Address Ext, SYSENTER/SYSEXIT, SYSCALL/SYSRET
   08:02:31 up  7:46,  2 users,  load average: 0.17, 0.23, 0.19; runlevel
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Benchmark Run: Sat Feb 06 2010 08:02:31 - 08:30:25
2 CPUs in system; running 1 parallel copy of tests
 
Dhrystone 2 using register variables        8670696.1 lps   (10.0 s, 7 samples)
Double-Precision Whetstone                     1784.0 MWIPS (9.8 s, 7 samples)
Execl Throughput                               2111.4 lps   (30.0 s, 2 samples)
File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks        327152.6 KBps  (30.0 s, 2 samples)
File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks          110430.8 KBps  (30.0 s, 2 samples)
File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks        644841.4 KBps  (30.0 s, 2 samples)
Pipe Throughput                              884142.7 lps   (10.0 s, 7 samples)
Pipe-based Context Switching                 193744.4 lps   (10.0 s, 7 samples)
Process Creation                               6126.0 lps   (30.0 s, 2 samples)
Shell Scripts (1 concurrent)                   3462.8 lpm   (60.0 s, 2 samples)
Shell Scripts (8 concurrent)                    719.0 lpm   (60.0 s, 2 samples)
System Call Overhead                        1117721.3 lps   (10.0 s, 7 samples)
 
System Benchmarks Index Values               BASELINE       RESULT    INDEX
Dhrystone 2 using register variables         116700.0    8670696.1    743.0
Double-Precision Whetstone                       55.0       1784.0    324.4
Execl Throughput                                 43.0       2111.4    491.0
File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks          3960.0     327152.6    826.1
File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks            1655.0     110430.8    667.3
File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks          5800.0     644841.4   1111.8
Pipe Throughput                               12440.0     884142.7    710.7
Pipe-based Context Switching                   4000.0     193744.4    484.4
Process Creation                                126.0       6126.0    486.2
Shell Scripts (1 concurrent)                     42.4       3462.8    816.7
Shell Scripts (8 concurrent)                      6.0        719.0   1198.4
System Call Overhead                          15000.0    1117721.3    745.1
                                                                   ========
System Benchmarks Index Score                                         674.4
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Benchmark Run: Sat Feb 06 2010 08:30:25 - 08:58:19
2 CPUs in system; running 2 parallel copies of tests
 
Dhrystone 2 using register variables       17440340.8 lps   (10.0 s, 7 samples)
Double-Precision Whetstone                     3565.9 MWIPS (9.8 s, 7 samples)
Execl Throughput                               3504.5 lps   (30.0 s, 2 samples)
File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks        255648.9 KBps  (30.0 s, 2 samples)
File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks           73393.8 KBps  (30.0 s, 2 samples)
File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks        626257.6 KBps  (30.0 s, 2 samples)
Pipe Throughput                             1769598.9 lps   (10.0 s, 7 samples)
Pipe-based Context Switching                 447917.3 lps   (10.0 s, 7 samples)
Process Creation                               8704.3 lps   (30.0 s, 2 samples)
Shell Scripts (1 concurrent)                   5468.6 lpm   (60.0 s, 2 samples)
Shell Scripts (8 concurrent)                    755.2 lpm   (60.1 s, 2 samples)
System Call Overhead                        2099438.8 lps   (10.0 s, 7 samples)
 
System Benchmarks Index Values               BASELINE       RESULT    INDEX
Dhrystone 2 using register variables         116700.0   17440340.8   1494.5
Double-Precision Whetstone                       55.0       3565.9    648.3
Execl Throughput                                 43.0       3504.5    815.0
File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks          3960.0     255648.9    645.6
File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks            1655.0      73393.8    443.5
File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks          5800.0     626257.6   1079.8
Pipe Throughput                               12440.0    1769598.9   1422.5
Pipe-based Context Switching                   4000.0     447917.3   1119.8
Process Creation                                126.0       8704.3    690.8
Shell Scripts (1 concurrent)                     42.4       5468.6   1289.8
Shell Scripts (8 concurrent)                      6.0        755.2   1258.7
System Call Overhead                          15000.0    2099438.8   1399.6
                                                                   ========
System Benchmarks Index Score                                         959.7

The older 2.66 GHz Celeron CPU was perfectly fine for my needs.  I thought at the time I’d be keeping the server for a long time, though, and for an extra $5/month I thought it would be nice to have something a little faster.

The “Starter LE16” plan had a $69 setup charge, so the first month was $98.95.

I also did a one-time upgrade to increase the RAM to 1GB and add a second 80GB hard drive.  I setup software RAID-1 myself.

CoreNetworks also includes free KVM access to the console on request, and I used this a few times.  It was hooked up promptly after emailing the request and I was able to do what I needed to do, and then let them know when I was finished with it.

There were a few network interuptions (probably DDOS attacks), but they were handled quickly.

So why did I leave?  After I began using OpenVPN on the server, I began to notice the network quality to my location (in the Philippines) was not the greatest.  While it seemed fine for web hosting, it was often not able to maintain consistent high transfer speeds, at least for the single connection that I needed for VPN use.

At one point towards the end, it became so bad that it was basically so slow as to be useless.  I contacted support, and as usual they responded very quickly, and after providing traceroutes, they said they’d have the networking team look into it.

In the meantime, I decided to sign up for a Linode at their Fremont, CA Hurricane Electric data center.  I was able to get the Linode setup very quickly, and had OpenVPN running the same day.  The Linode network quality to my location was so excellent, that I was really won over.  Since I didn’t really need all of the dedicated resources I had at CoreNetworks, the Linode Xen VPS did just fine (it was a Linode 360 at the time, which later became a Linode 512).  The network quality was most important to me.

After 3 days, I got an email from CoreNetworks support that said they’d identified an issue and made some adjustments to help with the network issues.  And when I checked again, it had indeed improved greatly.  But the network quality of the Linode was still better for me, and after 3 days with the Linode, I was spoiled and couldn’t go back.

So I moved everything over to the Linode and cancelled my CoreNetworks server.  After paying all the setup fees, it hurt a bit to switch, but it made sense.  If I had just been using CoreNetworks for web hosting, I might not have switched.  Since I was also using it for VPN, network quality to my location was important.

The server itself, and the friendly support staff were great.  If you need the resources that a dedicated server provides and you’re on a tight budget, I’d definately check them out.  If the network quality is sufficient for your needs, it’s a great bargain.  They provide test files on their website, so you can do some testing before you order.

Another thing to note, is that bandwidth overages could be pricey.  According to their TOS bandwidth overages are $0.50 per GB.  That would be $500 for an extra 1 TB. So if you do use CoreNetworks, you’ll probably want to keep a close eye on your bandwidth usage and make sure you don’t go over your quota.

  • Well if you need the resources that a dedicated server provides and you’re on a tight budget, I’d definately check them out, thanks for the post.

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