Linode Review

Cost-effective, well managed, reliable, and helpful support


What is our primary use case?

I have my own social media system called bolixo.org, and I am hosting it using Linode.

How has it helped my organization?

For smaller companies, it is very important that they have a small but well-focused set of cloud computing services. They are very inexpensive and very reliable. I am a light user and do not use all of the services, but I'm a serious user. In the cloud business, there is another kind of entry-level service, where they provide you, for example, a web server and you only have to provide content. Linode is another side of the cloud business, where they're providing you a full solution. This is your server so you're managing whatever you want to host on it.

Using Linode helps me for a simple reason, which is that I do nothing with respect to the servers. I don't have servers and I do not want to have servers. I managed servers for four years and I know how it's done, but, I don't want to care, for example, about power. Where I am, we have a lot of power failures. This week alone, I have had 16 hours of power failures. Clearly, I don't have the technology in-house to support that long without power. I know that it exists, where I can put in a generator or come up with another solution, but I don't want to do that. Instead, I want to concentrate on what I'm doing. Linode delivers an inexpensive service and it's completely reliable.

What is most valuable?

I am a long-time believer in the Linux operating system and have been using it for approximately 28 years, and the fact that Linode provides me with Linux Nodes is something that I like. Linode got its name from "Linux Node".

They have a very nice web interface to allow you to manage and reorganize your server.

Having data centers in different regions is good for latency. They have a presence in Japan, Europe, the US, and Toronto, Canada. If I install a server in Europe and people from that area are using it then it will be faster for them. There is a visible difference between my servers, where one of them is in New York and another is in California. It's basically a continent away, but I see a difference. There is great value in the fact that I can have European users served by a European server.

They have a lot of features that I am not yet using, but I will have to use them at some point. For example, it's possible to create a server and keep that as a standard image. Later, when you create a server, instead of selecting one of their pre-configured images, you select your own.  This means that you can deploy more servers quickly. If at some point my project grows, and I expect to deploy many servers per week, I will need to use this feature.

Also, my understanding is that they have a full set of APIs, so I can interact with them by using programs. I've not used that, but I intend to check it at some point. With only three servers, this is a non-issue, but if I grow to 100 or 200 servers, at some point, I'll need some way to automate my interaction with Linode.

The network connectivity is very good. With the entry-level service that I am using, I am getting one terabyte of data transfer per month. This means that with three servers, I have three terabytes of aggregate, which leaves me a lot of room to grow.

What needs improvement?

It is important to me that Linode offers worldwide coverage via multiple data centers, although it is also an issue for me. In running my social media site, I am not spying on users or reselling their data. For many users, it is really important to know that their data will be handled according to the law in their country.

I am located on the East coast of Canada but have my node at a data center in California. You can decide where you want to create your note. For example, I know that they have a data center in Europe, so at some point, I will create a node there. Because it's a distributed system, when the user creates their account, they can choose to have it there if they want the data to be stored according to European regulations. The data will remain there forever.

The issue comes about because Linode is a US company, so my users have to wonder how shielded they are from US law. I know of a situation involving Microsoft, which is a very large company, and they were fighting the US government because they have a data center in Ireland. The US wanted to retrieve data from it and Microsoft declined because it was out of their jurisdiction. Some people are concerned with having their data shielded from US law and I spoke with Linode about this, and they don't have an answer. In fact, if the US government asked Linode for help spying on a customer in Europe, Linode would not even be allowed to tell anyone about it. It is clear that Linode has the technology to spy on usage, although that is not to say that they are doing it.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Linode since 2017.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Linode is a very reliable product. There have been issues over the years but they have always been solved by the support team. They have done maintenance on their side over the years. so there were some service outages. However, they were planned and very short. There have not been very many of them, with perhaps a frequency of once a year. It's very light. I would expect this from any type of company that hosts a web server or something similar.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I'm not their biggest customer, by far. They have an entry-level product called the Nanode, which is a minimal server that costs $5 per month. Linode was the first cloud service to offer such a low-priced, entry-level solution.

This is the only solution I'm using. I have three Nanodes and I started with one in 2017. By the end of 2018, I had moved to three. I hope I will grow because I'm working on a social media system that is not really well-known, called bolixo.org.

I can't comment greatly about scalability because I'm not using it to a great extent. However, I can say that in more than three years that I have been using it, I've never noticed that I wasn't alone. I certainly know that on a physical server, there may be perhaps 60 customers running on it at the same time. This is a guess, as it could just as easily be 30 or 100 users, but the point is that I've never noticed that there was a slow down I could not explain. Essentially, it means that it's well managed.

I know at some point, when I had this problem where I was using it for 12 hours, my server was running 100% of the time. Their first proposition was to move me to a different server, which was less busy. But the problem was me, and we fixed that. At the same time, I think they do a nice job at making sure that they don't put all of the users on the same machine. They balance the load, which is the best I can say about them in terms of scalability. From my perspective, it always looks fast and reliable.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support has been great, even though I am not their biggest user. I have asked for service two or three times, and it was immediate.

At one point, when I had just rolled out a new version, they called me to say that for the past 12 hours, my system was using 100% of the CPU. According to the terms of service, you are not supposed to do that. I did not expect it because my server should be using very little in terms of CPU resources. As a result of this call, I checked my server.

I knew that the timeline fit because it was 12 hours earlier when I had upgraded, but I checked my server, and it was not busy. During this interaction with support, it was great because they provided me with many key points. Finally, we found that on my side, the tool I was using meant that my server was not busy. However, on their side, it was busy all the time. In the end, we both learned something new about virtualization and cloud computing. So this was my biggest interaction with them and it was nice because we both learned something and I fixed my problem.

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

In my previous job, I worked with similar solutions from Microsoft and Google. We had a problem where one of our servers at Microsoft stopped working. We couldn't connect and called support to find out what was going on, only to find out that they had deleted it because they thought it was no longer in use.

I find the problem with Microsoft and Google is that they are too big. They are so big that it's like the smaller customers like me don't exist. You're a paying customer but you can't talk to anyone. In our case, we were dealing with Microsoft resellers and I don't know whose mistake it was, where they believed that we were no longer using it, but this would not happen with Linode.

One thing that I learned recently about Linode is that if my account goes unpaid, for whatever reason, then they will not immediately delete my server. Instead, my server will continue to run up to three months, with the balance in the negative. If after that time they hear nothing from me then it will be deleted. They are professional and this is something that makes sense, yet it seems lost on the bigger companies.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very simple, although I am a techie, so it is expected.

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

This is a very inexpensive product. I pay $5 per month for each of three servers, for a total of $15 per month, and I normally prepay a few months in advance.

What other advice do I have?

I recommend Linode for any company that wants to host a web server or other similar things.

Linode provides a lot of services that I don't use. For example, they provide backup functionality, load-balancing, monitoring, and other features that I do myself. In this regard, I am not a heavy user of their service. That said, I consider myself a very serious Linode user, but I'm using their product very lightly.

I'm glad that they do offer more services because as I grow, I may want to use them. For example, when it comes to something as simple as a backup, it can be a nightmare. I was an IT manager and I found that performing backups was very simple, but it was a nightmare at times. Ultimately, as I get larger, I may rely on them for this instead.

The backup feature is something that they will do professionally. I had an issue when I was working many years ago, where the person in charge of backup was supposed to do it every morning. However, there was an error in the backup system and he was not reporting it to anyone. This went on for months and when they needed the backup, it was not available. This is why it has to be done reliably.

The suitability of this product depends on your use case. If a very small company wants nothing other than to have a web presence, they might want to use GoDaddy, for example, where they're providing that kind of solution. They give you a web page, they run it for you and they do everything. But if you go to some custom solution, you need to provide your own web application and so on, then you have to go to the other side of the cloud, like Microsoft, Amazon with AWS, or Linode.

I don't know how all of their services work, but my understanding is that they're not offering the entry-level machine for someone who just wants to own their own web page. This is a situation where somebody might be using GoDaddy. But if you know how to manage a server, then they have a reliable solution for you that can scale internal offerings. If for example, you want a load-balancing then they have it, although I haven't tried it.

My recommendation is that if you are comfortable managing a server, you want a reliable solution with battery backup and features like that, as well as good network connectivity, then you should try Linode. This is a good product for techies and it allows you to offload many of the core aspects of managing a physical server.

Overall, I can say that what I am using works great. At this point, I am very happy with Linode.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

**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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