Kazila Xen VPS Review (1.5 years)

Kazila

Kazila must be one of the best kept secrets in the webhosting world. They’ve been around since 2007, and I’ve seen posts on webhostingtalk from them going back to 2008. I signed up for Xen VPS service with them at the end of March 2011, shortly after their first LowEndBox posting.

I signed up for one of their larger plans, though ($10.20/month — more than the $7/month LowEndBox limit). For that I got a 512MB RAM Xen-PV VPS with 10GB disk space, 750GB transfer, and 2 IP addresses. It was located in a Plano, TX data center (north of Dallas). Hey, I took a trip to Dallas/Ft. Worth once — nice place.

About 5 months later they began having difficulties with their data center or colocation provider (North Texas Connect), and had to move to a new data center (GIP Networks). Shortly after that they also launched locations in New York (Steadfast) and Los Angeles (Quadranet). I moved my VPS to their new New York location, and I’ve been there since.

All of my other servers are located in California, so it’s nice to have one good, reliable VPS on the East Coast.

The best part of Kazila is the support offered by Nate (the owner, or one of the owners). I’m always amazed how fast he responds to tickets. Kazila have proved that they’re able to quickly recover from difficulties and take care of their customers.

It’s not a pleasant feeling when a service you rely on goes down or has problems, and you’ve got no idea what’s going on and there’s no communication from the company. You’ve probably been there, too, and it’s not fun.

With Kazila I sleep easy knowing Nate is likely on top of any issues before I even notice them. And if I contact support, I know I’ll get a timely, helpful reply and won’t be left in the dark.

In reality, I’ve had very few issues with the service in the 1.5+ years I’ve been with Kazila, especially since being at their New York location. But how a service provider deals with issues when they arise says a lot about them, and they’ve proven themselves to me.

I don’t usually pay too much attention to uptime (seeing how long I can go without rebooting). I apply updates and reboot occasionally. That said, the last time I went to reboot my Kazila server I noticed it had over 100 days of uptime. And I only rebooted it so I could check some boot messages to compare them to another VPS, since the logs I kept on the server had been pruned already since the last boot.

The Kazila server in New York has been remarkably reliable.

Another Kazila trademark are their super-fast 15K RPM RAID-10 disks. Here’s a disk benchmark I ran when I first got my VPS with them in March 2011.

# hdparm -t /dev/sda1
/dev/sda1:
 Timing buffered disk reads:  1124 MB in  3.00 seconds = 374.35 MB/sec
 
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/test bs=64k count=16k conv=fdatasync
16384+0 records in
16384+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB) copied, 4.04608 seconds, 265 MB/s

And here’s another one I just took recently (October 2012).

# hdparm -t /dev/sda1
/dev/sda1:
 Timing buffered disk reads:  1484 MB in  3.00 seconds = 494.27 MB/sec
 
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/test bs=64k count=16k conv=fdatasync
16384+0 records in
16384+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB) copied, 4.37214 seconds, 246 MB/s

Disk speed is usually the bottleneck for a VPS. Even if there’s plenty of memory and CPU available, sometimes you’ll see an overloaded VPS slow to a crawl, and when you check “top” you’ll see IO Wait is the cause of the slow down. Then you’ll run a disk speed check, and get a result of like 2 MB/sec (or maybe even 500 KB/sec). That’s not something I worry about here.

These days, I try not to hammer a VPS running Unix Bench, and let real world performance speak for itself. That said, when I first got the VPS back in March 2011, I did run Unix Bench 5.1.2 and received a score of 502.6. And I ran it again in May 2011 and received a score of 663.8. The VPS I tested had access to 1 CPU.

This review is actually way over due. I’ve been meaning to write it for awhile. Right now I’m in the process of migrating all of my VPS’s from CentOS 5 to CentOS 6, and making some other changes that will let me upgrade from PHP 5.2 to the latest PHP 5.4. As part of that, I signed up for a second VPS at Kazila so I can do a fresh install.

The latest plan I signed up for is still available (posted on LowEndBox), and gives me 512MB RAM, 10GB disk space, 250GB transfer, and 1 IP address for $7/month. A bit less transfer (250GB vs. 750GB) and 1 IP address instead of 2 compared to my original plan, but it will save $3.20/month. I really only need 1 IP address, and the reality is that, while I wish I needed more than 250GB monthly transfer for my websites, it’s way more than I use in a month, anyway.

As a side note, I’ll mention that I use a 3 server system for webhosting, with a custom failover script. One server acts as a controller and the other two servers run in a master/slave configuration. The controller monitors the master and slave, and when it detects an outage on the master server it directs the slave to take over, and master/slave switch places. I use my Kazila VPS as one of the two master/slave servers.

Executive Summary: Kazila Xen VPS, A+, great support, reliable service, fast disks, good value

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