After some weeks of developing a project of one of our clients, we finally decided to launch the production version. Everything was planned to use one of our VPS in Vultr, however, our client wanted to be the one on charge of the bill using its own VPS provider, Contabo. After reading about this provider and checking the incredible prices they offered, I was surprised that I didn't get to hear more about this provider before. The star product that I saw on their website, in my case was this Cloud VPS S:
Considering the resources assigned to this VPS, the offer was too good to be true (and after testing it, it still kinda too good to be true, but it is real):
- 4 vCPU Cores
- 8GB RAM
- 50GB NVMe or 200GB SSD for storage
- 32TB Traffic Data Transfer.
After buying the VPS and installing aapanel and htop, the resources seem pretty genuine and the performance of the VPS is exceptional considering the price of 6.99/Month, therefore I was really surprised. So, what's the trick? Check this honest review about my experience using one of Contabo's cheapest VPS.
About the resources, is this service a scam?
Well, it's not a scam, you will get your VPS up and running ... someday and it will always work ... at least most of the time. After a quick review of the resources of the VPS using htop, you can easily determine that the resources of the VPS are genuine:
lshw provides good results about the hardware as well:
The internet connection isn't that bad neither:
So, it's not a dream, the resources they promise are real! Unfortunately, since I rented this VPS there were a lot of problems on the uptime and reliability of the service.
The admin interface looks a little bit outdated
The first thing that you're going to notice after renting a VPS at Contabo, is that the user interface it is not up to par with the interfaces of other providers such as linode, vultr or Digital Ocean:
Personally, this is not an impediment as the interface is still pretty usable and accomplishes its job, you will find everything you need to interact with your VPS on the menu as soon as it's deployed. But I'm aware that some people will definitely find this horrible.
What about the support?
The support is kinda catastrophic if you have a support background from another provider such as Linode or Vultr, you will get an answer that's for sure and it will be probably what you need, however it takes way too long. This may be due to the number of people working in support and the amount of people that gets a VPS of this price and looks for help.
I had a problem during the VPS setup (that by the way, it took almost 24 hours to be delivered), i couldn't reach it because there was a problem in the Dusseldorf Datacenter. I only knew about this problem because the support contacted me again 24 hours later, so it took about 50 hours to get my VPS working properly after I bought it. The story doesn't end here. After 3 weeks with the VPS, I've had already +5 downtimes of not only minutes, but hours, due to problems with the same data center in dusseldorf (Germany).
It's worth saying, that they're very professional and they always tell you what's going on, for example I received this email after the outage in those days:
In this incident, I was unable to reach my VPS for hours, even after the problem was solved, I had to manually restart my VPS to be able to reach it through SSH. So, to get myself in a good mood once again, I had to re-check the resources of my VPS to feel that is worth doing all this.
The problem right now is, that I've been trying to access the VM up for a couple of days now, however it keeps being inaccessible, i always write to the support team, however they always answer with the same thing "after restarting the VPS is now fully accessible":
So the problem now it's not that the server has been unavailable for a couple of days, since I rented the VPS it's been failing and their solution is restarting the VPS and that's it. Considering the price and the resources that you get for that money, it may be worth giving them a try if you have 7 dollars to spend (no one that knows about DevOps can say otherwise), however as I mentioned, you need to know that you can't expect the same support that you get with other VPS providers such as Linode, Vultr or Digital Ocean. You need to know that:
- VPS provisioning takes almost a day depending on the demand.
- Don't expect immediate support, it takes time to get help.
- For my first personal experience, the VPS was always down and unreachable, I had to contact support constantly to get help and as mentioned before, the immediate help doesn't exist in Contabo.
Days after the maintenance I received the following email, where they basically explain that they're optimizing the infrastructure, an appreciable action from their executives. Till the date (14th August 2022), the VPS is now reachable and operates normally.
Use Contabo for the development environment
Personally, as I said in the beginning of the article, the resources you get for that money are extremely generous, they really are. I will keep this VPS for a couple of months and use it for testing new software, runnings experiments for articles on the blog and so on, considering that it will be used only for testing, the uptime is not critical for me in this case. If it remains in constant downtime, be sure I will let you know in this article.
Don't use Contabo for the production environment ... at least not until you test it and check the reliability by yourself
I am not saying directly that you shouldn't use these servers for a production environment, of course, you can if you want to, at the end of all, is your project. I'm not recommending it to you if your business requires critical uptime and support from Contabo's team. For example health records systems or something really important like that, where there shouldn't be downtime at all. 8 hours downtime is terrible, and it feels worst considering that you have some kind of distributed load architecture to offer zero-downtime but all the servers of your data center are down.
Contabo services are really good for the price, I can't deny that and I believe no one can. Their support is not that good unfortunately, and maybe that's one of the reasons behind all the resources they assign to your VPS, you can't complain a lot about an offer that provides something that's not so normal in this market.
That would be the only reason I wouldn't choose Contabo as my main server provider, their reliability for a critical product isn't that good. Don't take my word for it, just in case you weren't just looking for someone that constantly works with servers, check out most of their recents reviews at Trustpilot:
There are customers that complain about the same factors, uptime and reliability of the service. Some of them of course have been using Contabo for years, not for a single month just like I did.
However there's an interesting situation, some people I know use Contabo products for production projects and they seem to be very happy with the service (of course they report downtime a couple of times a month but the times aren't that long as the ones mentioned in this article), so at the end, I may have had some bad luck when buying my first VPS at Contabo (and a lot of people had the bad luck of renting a defective VPS as well). I certainly believe that in this case and depending on the seriousness of the project that you're trying to deploy, you may want to reconsider all the options of VPS providers out there. I say this because, you know, you can't say to the client that his website has been down for about 5 days in this month and try to keep them calm considering that it is a service for which they are paying (in Colombia and USA people doesn't stay calm, does that happen in your country? I'm eager to know that!). It's cool that the software runs smoothly with a lot of resources for not so much money, but if the software is down for at least 5 days a month (specially within working days), then the client will have the right to complain about it.
Personally, I recommend you to use an enterprise grade provider such as the mentioned as Linode, Digital Ocean or Vultr instead of using Contabo. If I keep using their products, I will for sure let you know if they have the same problem I mentioned in this article. Now it's your turn! Let us know if you have used any of Contabo's products and what do you think of their services regarding the price.