I’m writing this because I am annoyed at VPS.net. I wanted a server in the UK so I could use things like Spotify and BBC iPlayer. Cloudkick supports Linode and VPS.net. Both are closer to normal virtual private server providers than “true” cloud providers. Linode billed monthly and VPS.net offered daily billing, so I went with the latter. The signup process was typical, except that I was asked to fill out four security questions. I entered stupid nonsensical answers, since while many people know my mother’s maiden name, nobody knows my current passwords and I am unlikely to forget them. Not long after signing up, I received a confirmation e-mail… containing my password in plaintext.
E-mailing me my password tells me several things about your company. It tells me that you store passwords in plaintext instead of hashing them. If anyone gets ahold of a DB dump, they’ll have passwords and e-mail addresses. Lots of people use the same password everywhere, making their e-mail vulnerable. E-mailing my password also tells me that you don’t either don’t know or don’t care about the dangers of sending secrets via e-mail. E-mail isn’t always encrypted and messages are often relayed through many servers. Anyone with access to one of those servers could see my password.
The password thing was a big red flag, but I didn’t want to give up so easily. I booted a server and started screwing around with it. I renamed my server in the VPS.net dashboard. Suddenly, my ssh session died. It turns out that renaming a server reboots it without warning. Frustrated, I gave up and decided to try again when I had more patience.
I woke up and saw my inbox contained an invoice for $1.00. Yes, VPS.net sends an invoice every day. Worse, after a week, VPS.net started warning me that my invoices were overdue. I tried to log in and pay the measly $10. I was confronted with a login page asking me to enter my username, password, and answer some security questions. They noticed I was trying to log in from a different IP address and threw some security questions at me. I finally managed to get enough answers correct to log in.
That “Pay Now” button is actually a “try to pay $1 and show a big failure message, but mark the invoice as paid if there have been no payment attempts in the past few hours” button. I had to click it once for each invoice, waiting 3-4 hours between tries if I wanted them to work. Later I noticed the charges actually showed up on my card.
There were other things I noticed, such as sequential instance IDs. Did you know VPS.net has only booted a total of 33,000 instances? Anyway, after the invoice thing I wrote VPS.net off as amateurs and tried out Linode. I’ve had no problems with Linode. Their stuff works without annoying the hell out of me. If you want a server in the UK, go with them.
- The litmus test I use is, “Can I make an API call and get a booted server in under 5 minutes?” If not, then it’s not really cloud computing. It’s more of a reasonably fast VPS provider.