Servebyte reviews

Review by: dandv (2008-11-27)

I have another VPS with Slicehost, which is a standard of reliability and excellence. On 2008-11-24 I signed up with Servebyte.

The first impression with Servebyte was very good: I could pay using Moneybookers in a minute, my VPS host was setup in a few minutes, and RAM was doubled thanks to a promotion, again in a few minutes after I put in a ticket. $10/month for 512RAM is the best deal I could have found among ~30 or so VPS providers that I had investigated.

Then, things started going somewhat downhill. I'm going to list below what went wrong.

Professionalism

  • Servebyte appears to be mostly a one-man show. Their Company page states: "Servebyte, a family company was established in 2005". Indeed, the only people who answered my tickets were Josh (9 tickets) and Anthony (1 ticket) Jameson, Josh being the CEO. They don't coordinate much either. Josh upgraded my account with a "double-my-RAM" promotion, after I put in a ticket for that. Later when Servebyte botched and recreated my VPS but the RAM upgrade was forgotten, Anthony asked about the promo code when I reminded them about the upgrade.

  • Professionalism lacks. They don't have a wiki and their Knowledge base is laughable for a VPS provider in business for 3 years: 5 (five) articles, each a few lines long. Compare that to http://wiki.slicehost.com/ or http://www.linode.com/wiki.

  • Right after I signed up, I couldn't find my IP information anywhere but in the welcome e-mail. Same for the DNS servers. It turned out that I could find those in HyperVM, which I couldn't use because of a bug. That made me wonder two things: if they really test the VPSes after creation; and how come that nobody else noticed that before me, i.e. how many knowledgeable customers do they have.

  • The resolution chosen to that bug was not to patch HyperVM, but to recreate my VPS, with different IP addresses (!). All my data was lost (luckily, I had been using the VPS for only about a day).

  • the Clients Area displays your customer password in clear, and the protocol is not HTTPS.

  • The (small) forums (established 2008-Oct-05) are accessible only to users who are logged in, but if you're not logged in, you are blessed with an ugly PHP error.

  • There are various other signs that tell amateurs from professionals. E.g. on the Client Area page, the selected text style is dark blue on white. Just like the normal text style. That means you don't see what text is selected.

  • In December 2007, Servebyte's owner, Josh Jameson, had a VPS with dediwebspaces. That, while Servebyte is boasting about having been around since 2005. How about eating your own dog food?

Reliability

  • out of the blue, a few hours after my VPS got created, it rebooted, without notification. After inquiring about that, I was told that "This was a live migration to put you onto a faster server."

  • Servebyte has miscellaneous routing/connectivity issues: from the VPS, hypervm.servebyte.com and clients.servebyte.com were inaccessible. That means SSH tunneling through the VPS to {clients,hyperVM} won't work.

  • Their upstream provider is Limestone, which Wikipedia blocks. If you surf through an SSH tunnel on your VPS, Limestone being blocked may be a problem.

  • service is 16/7 at best, as the two family members who manage ServeByte are located in Ireland. Indeed, my tickets were not answered during Ireland's nighttime hours.

  • My terminal's SSH connection was "closed by foreign host" on 2008-11-26 14:49:41 PST. This has never happened with Slicehost.

  • As of 2008-12-18, forums have been offline since 2008-11-29, 15:42 PST. That's three weeks.

  • On 2008-12-15, Servebyte.com (not just my host) has been offline for 8+ hours.

Servebyte downtime

Other opinions

Positive stuff

Let's finish on a positive note. After the initial hiccups with my VPS, things seem to have settled well:

  • I have setup a cron job to fetch a URL from my Slicehost server every minute. Since it started (32 hours ago), until now, there has not been one miss. Good uptime there.

  • Download speed is double that of Slicehost on a test done on this ISO file: Slicehost: 2.38 MB/s; Servebyte: 4.60 MB/s (average of 2 tries, 1 simultaneous from both hosts, 1 sequential)

  • The support staff (John Jameson) is knowledgeable, unlike random outsourced people with no experience from other companies. They also respond fast to inquiries (depending of the time of the day, as Servebyte is based in Ireland).

Conclusion

Even without the "double-my-RAM" promo, Servebyte's $20 for 512MB RAM VPS is the best offer I've found so far. However, the lack of professionalism made me cancel my contract after one month.

Epilogue

As of today, 2010-Jan-08, I still receive Servebyte notifications about their services, despite the fact that I closed my account more than a year ago, and despite my repeatedly asking them to erase my contact details.

[Cross-posted at forum.servebyte.com, WebHostingTalk]

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