Linode Review

Straightforward to set up, helpful support, and the Object Storage is useful for system backups


What is our primary use case?

I have a single 4GB model Linode and I use it as a personal server. I originally set it up to act as an email server, just for my own personal vanity domain. I don't use it for that anymore, but it's proved to be useful for many other things.

Right now, I run a Minecraft server on it and I also use it for a little bit of software development. I also use it as a jump host, if I need a stable place to SSH from my laptop to get to other online resources. It means that I only have a single point that I go through to get to the other stuff that I need.

How has it helped my organization?

I would say it's very important that Linode offers a relatively small, but well-focused set of cloud computing services because it differentiates them from AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud by being focused and by having a more personal touch. I could probably get the same compute power for a little bit less from other providers, but the value of the continuity and the high quality of support is worth it. It's rare that I need to reach out to support, but when I do, the support is great.

Even though I use it for personal use, some of the things that I use it for are in a software development capacity. For example, the ability to experiment with running my own Mercurial server, Git server, and source control servers on this machine have leveled up my own knowledge of those products in a way that I think a more managed solution wouldn't. Having the tools in-hand of just a Linux box that I can play with, and that I can wipe and reimage at will, is more useful than a physical machine by virtue of that virtual rewriting. It is also more useful than a more abstracted managed service, just in that I can get my hands dirty and do rapid experimentation.

Linode has helped me to accelerate innovation and even though I'm not using this in an enterprise way, it has improved the way I innovate with respect to personal stuff. For example, it has helped with the things that I'm trying to learn and the things that I'm trying to do. Setting up a Minecraft server is a good example of that. Being able to read some of the documentation that Linode has about setting up a Minecraft server on your VPS, and just learning and figuring stuff out, has been valuable.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the static IP address, which has been very helpful for being able to log into the same address over the course of more than a decade.

Another useful feature is being able to have multiple system images that I can play with. I mostly use Ubuntu Linux, but if I want to play with a new version of Ubuntu, I can pretty easily add that. It's been super useful to upgrade my system over the years.

I just recently started using the Object Storage and Backup features, as well. Having good backups for peace of mind and disaster recovery is very nice as well.

Object Storage has been key, for me. I don't have a strong notion of exactly when Linode introduced Object Storage, but it's been very useful for me, for instance, in backing up my Git server, in addition to the whole node backup. The fact that I can interact from the command line with the Linode Object service to back up specific datasets, is super cool. I know they didn't have it when I first started using Linode and I think it's been introduced fairly recently, within the last couple of years.

The Linode documentation is superb. 

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more seamless integration with backup, although it's pretty easy to do.

Having more on-demand features would be helpful. For example, if for a little while I wanted to have four Linodes instead of just a single one, it seems like it's a little bit more difficult than spinning up an EC2 instance in AWS. It isn't a lot harder, but it could be improved nonetheless.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Linode for more than a decade, since 2008 or 2009.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is excellent. It's very rare that there is an interruption in the service. I think that the reboot notices that I get, that aren't related to me doing stuff, are less than one a year. I think, in some cases, it's been four or five years between needing to have any kind of stability-related events on the machine. I can't think of any outages in the entire course of me using it, that anything with any kind of significant impact.

Part of the thing that I value about the single Linode that I have is that it is a very steady, stable known quantity. I don't have to worry about all the institutional weight that I do with interacting with AWS, which I do a lot from work.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Thinking about it from an operations point of view, I think that I would have a bit of a harder time scaling in Linode than I would in AWS, but not a whole lot harder. Given the Kubernetes support, I would imagine that that makes the process even easier. That said, I have not tried Kubernetes so I really have insufficient data to be sure.

It's not likely that I'm going to significantly increase my usage in the future. I might bump up to a higher size if I find that I need more CPU or RAM. Or, I might play around with having two to four Linode nodes. But beyond that, it's unlikely that I'm going to expand much.

I will definitely keep using Linode for as long as it is as stable and reasonably priced as it is, but at a steady one machine for my personal purposes.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support from Linode is great. All of the times that I've reached out, it's been through email or through the web portal. It's always felt good and it felt like the person responding understood what I was asking about and solved it very quickly.

In terms of flexibility and overall responsiveness, the support is very good to excellent. Certainly, everyone that I've interacted with, in the fairly rare occasions that I do need support, have been very knowledgeable about the product and very good at understanding what issues I'm having and how to solve them.

I would say compared to AWS, AWS support varies a lot in terms of responsiveness and whether you've got a paid support plan. Sometimes, it does take a fair bit of back-and-forth with AWS support to get to the crux of the problem. I've never felt that back-and-forth was as necessary, that we get to the crux of the problem and solve it much more quickly with Linode.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Prior to using Linode, all of the machines that I had managed were all physical. I had my own personal machines and machines that I built for work, but they were all physical PCs or other architectures that I had to actually open up a case, and if I needed more RAM, I had to put the sticks in myself.

In comparison to a physical server, Linode has definitely saved me money. I never want to build a server again. Basically, if you build a physical machine and it is obsolete within two to five years, you've got to buy and recreate the whole thing again. Generally, the hardware is going to get cheaper over time, but I think that unless I were really putting a microscope on getting the cheapest components for building, Linode will cost less.

In some contexts, albeit not mine with just one or a few machines, it would make sense to build them. However, not having to worry about it and just letting Linode take care of the hardware upgrades is probably saving me money. I don't know if it would save a very tightly tuned hardware IT team money, but that's a completely different scale than what I'm looking at.

Linode was my first experience with virtual cloud servers and virtual machines, in general. Not too long after I started using Linode, I did start doing more with VMware, with an on-premises, physical server hosting multiple virtual machines. It was not too long after that when I got into AWS for work.

How was the initial setup?

I found the initial setup to be fairly straightforward. It's so long ago that the details are fuzzy but I recall that I set up the account, chose names for things, picked which size I wanted, and then launched it. Within, what at that time, was an astonishingly short amount of time, I was able to log into it. It's just gotten better from there.

I didn't require an implementation strategy, although I think that's peculiar to using it as a single thing for personal use. I had the notion that I wanted a persistent Linux machine that was always on, and that I could get to from anywhere, and Linode seemed to fit the bill.

Over the years, I've used it for a lot of different purposes and it's adapted well to that. So I would say in this case, I didn't need a whole lot of planning. If I were to use Linode for a more complex deployment, I would want to plan it out, figure out what the costs are, figure out the network topology, and the other relevant details.

What about the implementation team?

Linode offers worldwide coverage via multiple data centers, although I don't personally need that. It's a very attractive feature for sure, but since I just have the one virtual private server and it's just for me and for my friends connecting to it, I want it to be geographically close to me to have a low ping. I think it's located in New Jersey, and that's good for me, being in New England. While global coverage is not super important to me, in so far as it contributes to the health of Linode in general, I'm all for it.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing model is simple, and that's one of the reasons that I've stuck with Linode for so long. When I was on the $20 Linode, I knew for a fact that on the first of every month, my credit card would get charged $20. That meant my Linode was available constantly.

At this point, I'm paying more like $35 per month for a slightly bigger machine, and the backup, and the object service. But again, I know that it's exactly $35 every month and I can budget for it. The simplicity and the consistency of that billing and pricing are quite valuable to me. Whereas with AWS, it's a crapshoot. The on-demand pricing means it's flexible and I only pay for what I use, but it's also much less predictable.

It is tough to determine whether using Linode has saved me money compared to what I would pay with other cloud providers. I don't think it has on a pure numbers basis, but in opportunity cost and higher-level budget planning, I think that the consistency probably has saved me money. I would have spent more time trying things, allocating things that I might not need, and so on. Ultimately, it saved me capital in the long run but it is not necessarily something that I can put a dollar figure on.

In comparison to everything else, predictability is the key aspect of the pricing model. With it being a known quantity that I can budget for every month, it frees up brain cycles to do everything else.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In my personal capacity, at this point, I have my Linode and I have a personal AWS account, and I use them for different purposes, but to similar degrees, or similar magnitudes. I find that just looking at it from a strict CPU and RAM horsepower perspective, EC2 is just marginally cheaper, but there are different features that I value in different places.

I took a brief look at some other things like Azure, Google Cloud Engine, and DigitalOcean, and I found that when I was looking, and this was probably about five or six years ago, that a lot of things that I wanted were pretty comparable in terms of capabilities and pricing. A lot of it came down to what I valued, in terms of the positioning, and support, and documentation, where I very much like Linode's documentation, especially, and support.

Of the others that I evaluated, DigitalOcean seemed the friendliest. And then, AWS and Azure were the behemoths, the 800-pound gorillas in the room.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson that I have learned from using Linode is the oldest lesson, which is just that a virtual cloud server has the availability and the flexibility that I couldn't get from physical at the time, or even now, for that matter. It's a key component in having something that's useful, having a machine that you can log into and do things on, in a consistent way, regardless of where I am or even what machine I'm connecting to it from.

My key advice for anybody who is looking into Linode would be just to dive right in. Pick it up and play around with it and if you find that it's not for you, try something else. But if you find that you love it, keep going.

In summary, Linode is a good product and I've been extremely satisfied with it for exactly the purposes I use it for. I have been pleased with it since I started using it.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Other

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

4GB
**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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