With the news that the US government has bugged the open internet, anonymity on the Web suddenly became very important to millions of people.
Since our innocent and trusting world has been destroyed, we need to find ways to access information without worrying about surveillance. This is where the world of encryption comes in.
The Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a tunneling technology that enables you use the open internet inside a secure and encrypted two-way communications tunnel. Your information flows through the encrypted tunnel so it is extremely difficult for others to spy on you.
OpenVPN is one of the most prominent services that implements a virtual private network. Best of all, it is open-source so it is freely available. To use it as a client, all you need to do is register with them (free). It enables you to browse the internet using an encrypted connection.
This is all great for the client, but what about webmasters? As a webmaster, you can add OpenVPN to your site. In this way, anyone who connects to your site gets the benefit of a state-of-the-art VPN tunnel. Here is what OpenVPN has to say about the advantages that they offer:
While browsing using just HTTPS is relatively safe, there has been some recent research showing weaknesses in the HTTPS protocol, as described in this article in The Register.
We encrypt your traffic with a second layer of encryption that is not vulnerable to this BEAST attack (it is an attack targeted towards stealing your browser session cookie). While OpenVPN currently uses the same TLS protocol that HTTPS uses, it does not use session cookies or other browser features required by this attack.
The OpenVPN protocol also does not use the default SSL/TLS renegotiation process, rather, it always starts a new TLS session from scratch.
You can easily add OpenVPN to your site, but it requires a VPS (or better) and some work at the command line. A VPS that gives you root privileges is great.
The Best 5
- VPS.net: A world leader in managed and unmanaged cloud VPS Hosting with datacenters all over the world,
- Interserver : Excellent VPS hosting on a tight budget,
- Rose Hosting : A British VPS hosting provider that offers a great customer support and great prices,
- A2 Hosting : A cutting-edge unmanaged VPS with its own automated installer,
- Digital Ocean : A great developer-oriented cloud VPS at ordinary Shared hosting prices.
Read more about them after the break!
Winner – VPS.NET – From $20/month
As the name suggests, VPS.net offers only VPS hosting and they specialize in Cloud VPS hosting. Cloud VPS servers can re-size on demand without reboot while remaining online. This ability is often advertised as “auto-scaling”, “auto-healing”, “elastic service”, and so forth. Capacity expands to meet heavy demands and cloud servers can take over if your main server goes down. If 99.99% uptime just isn’t good enough, you need a Cloud VPS host.
A Cloud VPS from VPS.net is ideal if you need to maintain a 24/7 presence all over the world. You choose from their line of 18 datacenters to host your site and a choice of Linux or Windows. They promise 99.9% uptime. The architecture of a cloud-backed VPS is such that a promise like this is realistic.
This is a great environment into which you can install OpenVPN from any of their plans that give you root access. This is true of the basic plans that are summarized in the following table.
“Semi-Managed” Cloud VPS Plans
Here are their plans in the $100/mo and below range:
VPS.net describes these plans as “semi-managed”. That means:
We make sure we are here for you. We provide 24×7 support via live chat, email and phone. Should you have any problems with the software that comes with your server then we can help you out with the basic free of charge. More complex issues may require our paid for Fully Managed support.
It seems that “semi-managed” means that they are there to assist but you are the primary system administrator, not them. For many people, this is a good balance since a VPS customer is often an experienced webmaster and can handle all the routine tasks themselves. Unmanaged and semi-managed plans are cheaper than a fully-managed plan, so semi-managed or unmanaged is smart if you are ready for the responsibility.
The VPS.net plans are upgradable in units that they call “nodes”. You can add additional VPS nodes to scale up if you want. The additional system resources will be multiples of the basic node. You can scale up or down without any downtime.
Fully-Managed Cloud VPS Plans
For those who are looking for the fully-managed and supported flavor of VPS, VPS.net has another line of plans for you. Of course, the support is reflected in the price. Here are their three Managed Cloud VPS plans:
These plans include the cPanel control panel, 100% uptime guarantee (hey, its a Cloud VPS backed by 18 datacenters!), automatic backup, 24/7 technical support,and fully-managed service. This is for business class customers who need to be online every moment of every day.
Their managed Cloud VPS plans offer:
- Fully-managed support
- Optimized for Joomla and WordPress
- SSL certificate
- Remote daily backups
- Two dedicated IPs
- Hosting in the cloud
2. InterServer – Managed VPS – From $6/month
VPS.NET is all about scalability and amazing system resources, and it also comes with a proper price tag. Maybe you don’t need that level of scalability, and maybe you just want a VPS at an affordable price tag. If that sounds like you, InterServer will please you.
The company has been in the hosting industry for 14 years and has seen a lot of ups and downs within the industry. And they have pretty good VPS server plans along with other services like shared hosting, dedicated servers and cloud hosting. They have datacenters in Los Angeles and Secaucus, NJ. European and Asian datacenters are planned but not yet online.
Usually, VPS plans cost more than shared hosting plans and managed VPS costs even more. Its because you get more computer resources to yourself with VPS and a managed service gives the staff more to manage.
InterServer’s prices are unusually low. The company set out to provide affordable VPS solutions and you can easily get a VPS at just $6 a month.
Unmanaged Cloud VPS Plans
Interserver uses the arbitrary unit of the “slice” to price their plans. As of this writing, each slice gets you 25GB storage, 1GB memory, and 1TB bandwidth. One slice is only $6/mo for a VPS technology based on OpenVZ. It’s $8/slice for VPS technology based on KVM. We recommend the latter. Even so, these are great prices for a generous amount of computer resources.
This great price doesn’t include some features that Shared hosting customers are used to having. For this price and amount of resources, there’s no panel and no installer. Neither are needed to implement VPN, though. If you want them, you can buy them a la carte. The cPanel is $10/mo and Softaculous is an extra $2/mo. Still, their prices are great.
Since you get root access with the base price, you can implement OpenVPN at a great price.
3. Rose Hosting – Managed VPS – From $19.95/month
Rose Hosting was established in 2001 and is based in St. Louis, MO. This is where their datacenter is. They take pride in their 24/7 customer support, 100% guaranteed uptime, and 30-day money-back guarantee.
When we choose evaluate a provider, we place high priority on customer service. It’s a necessary but not sufficient condition. Why? When a hosting company has bad customer service, it’s useless whatever else they are doing. It doesn’t matter if they are using the best hardware or provide 100% uptime. Rose Hosting nails it. In fact, they deliver nothing less than pure awesomeness when it comes to customer support.
The company offers a wide range of hosting services. For VPN, the VPS and dedicated hosting plans are relevant. They offer fully managed VPS hosting at great prices and you get root access as well!!
With root access, it is straightforward to install OpenVPN.
Managed VPS Plans
Here are their Linux VPS features:
- Fully managed
- Root access
- 100% uptime guarantee
- Unlimited web sites
- Weekly backups
- DirectAdmin control panel (free), or
- cPanel/WHM ($14.95 extra)
- Free server monitoring
- 24/7 “EPIC” support
Here is their price sheet for Linux VPS plans.
These excellent prices are for spinning disk storage. Rose Hosting has another plan for SSD VPS hosting that builds in the fee for SSD, but it offers less storage per dollar. There is not a one-to-one correspondence between the mechanical disk and SSD plans, as you can see from the price tables. With the SSD VPS plans, you get less storage per dollar but it is a lot faster!
SSD VPS Plans
These prices are very impressive since every VPS solution is fully managed and you get full root access! Normally, you can have either full management or root access, but not both. This is the best of both worlds.
4. A2 Hosting – Unmanaged VPS – From $15/month
A2 Hosting, based in Ann Arbor, MI (“A2”), has a lot to offer the VPS hosting customer. They position themselves as a cutting-edge provider. They are consistently among the first to offer the latest versions of the core components of the LAMP stack.
A2 Hosting, of course, supports OpenVPN in their lines of unmanaged and managed VPS plans. What’s unusual is that they have a semi-automated way of installing it. They call it their QuickInstaller™. You invoke the QuickInstaller from the command line and navigate to the desired option. The process is not as brain-dead simple as working with a GUI panel, but it is certainly simpler than a bare-to-the-metal command line install.
A2 has a nice technical note on installing OpenVPN using the A2 QuickInstaller, so you can’t go wrong.
Unmanaged Cloud VPS Hosting Plans
A2 Hosting offers a full line of unmanaged VPS plans. As is the case with many companies, you can vary the values of several features to create a customized VPS for yourself. This table represents only some of the possibilities. This table is only for the lowest processor speed and mechanical drives. See the notes at the end of the table.
1. Bandwidth is $0.12 per GB after you reach 2TB.
2. These prices are for their slow processor, 600MHz. For a 1.2GHz processor, add $5/mo; for a 2GZHz processor, add 13.64/mo.
3. These prices are for mechanical disks; for SSD storage, add $5.00/mo.
Managed VPS Hosting Plans
A2 has a second line of plans for Managed VPS hosting. A managed VPS takes care of security updates and maintenance of the stack you are using. Of course, installation of OpenVPN via their QuickInstaller™ is also available in this line of plans. You can choose to go with a managed VPS if you don’t want to be bothered with the sysadmin chores.
These monthly prices range from $32.99 to 65.99, not including SSD.
1. The cPanel and a basic version of Softaculous are included; a version of Softaculous that includes WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal is $3/mo.
3. These prices are for mechanical disks; for SSD storage, add $10.00/mo.
A2 Hosting is an excellent hosting company that is widely known for excellent customer service and technical support. Their support of OpenVPN via their QuickInstaller™ is a nice touch.
5. Digital Ocean – Unmanaged – From $5/mo + $0.02/GB
Digital Ocean is a relatively young hosting company. It is unabashedly “by developers and for developers”. It offers only self-managed Cloud VPS and nothing else. They don’t even offer any shared hosting plans and they don’t have a Managed VPS option either. They use only SSD storage and emphasize speed and performance in other ways as well. For example, they can provision a new VPS in under a minute! It’s a simple “bare-to-the-metal” brand of VPS.
They boast 99.99% uptime — and that should be true since it is a cloud VPS hosting company. If your site goes down somehow, they will credit your account for the amount of time that it was not available.
They are based in New York and have servers in New York, San Francisco, Singapore, and Amsterdam. You choose the location of your server when you set up your VPS.
Since they are very developer-oriented, you have full control over what is installed on your VPS. By default, nothing at all is installed until you do it!!
Your first step, then, is to install the stack of your choice and populate it with the tools and apps that you want to run. In the process, you can customize every detail of your VPS.
OpenVPN is one service that you can add. They have a typically well-written tutorial on how to how to install and configure OpenVPN from the command line. Their tutorials are among the most complete and well-written that we’ve seen. They follow a consistent structure, writing style, and level of discourse.
Their library of tech notes and tutorials covers both common and not-so-common apps and Digital Oceans’s own idiosyncrasies.
Speaking of idiosyncrasies, they offer none of the familiar installers or panels. They do have a panel of their own that you use to create a new VPS and do some configuration. In their lingo, a VPS is called a “droplet”. You begin by creating a droplet that installs the core components of your site.
Then you hit the command line!
Digital Ocean Cloud VPS Plans
Since Digital Ocean does not need to bear the costs of managed hosting, they run mean and lean. The excellent support is in the form of email to the staff, the library of tech notes and tutorials, and the community of developer/users.
Notice that their cheapest plans give you more storage and bandwidth for the money than many shared hosting plans.
If you exceed the bandwidth of your plan, you are charged $0.02 per GB.
If you want the chance to be the sysadmin yourself, you will love it. But if you don’t want to be down there where the rubber meets the road, check out a fully-managed VPS.
We applaud you for taking a crucial step to ensure the privacy of your information and what you do online. While OpenVPN is not entirely hack-proof, it will give you access to the world of non-filtered information. All VPS companies in this list have money-back guarantees, so you can try them out easily. If you want to find out other companies, then use hosting services comparison tool to find them and evaluate them yourself.