Should you go with Ramnode for web hosting? If someone has a gun to your head and you’ve only got a minute to decide on whether or not to go with Ramnode, whether for Shared Hosting or a VPS, I would say: yes, do it.
If my initial recommendation means anything to you, go ahead and sign up with Ramnode. If it doesn’t, feel free to read on as I detail my experience with the performance, reliability and support Ramnode offers, primarily focusing on their newer Shared & Reseller Web Hosting plans.
I’ve been with Ramnode for just over 4 years now and the service has been fantastic. I bought my first Ramnode VPS, a pair of SSD and SSD-cached VPS’s in their Seattle location, in March of 2014. When Ramnode announced their Shared & Reseller hosting plans in September 2017 I didn’t think twice and signed up immediately.
I immediately picked the $8/mo Reseller option in their US location (Atlanta), which was priced slightly higher at launch but was adjusted down to $8 for everyone a couple weeks later. In what I’ve learned to be Ramnode’s typical operating procedure, they didn’t do what most hosts would and say ‘too bad’ to those who purchased at a higher price. Nope, they refunded the difference for everyone who purchased at the higher price point.
My Use Case
As a geek and SysAdmin I normally manage my own servers. I have VPS’s with dozens of providers, rented dedicated servers and a couple colocated servers, but I also heavily utilize good shared hosting providers. I’m gonna be honest: sometimes you just don’t want to be responsible for every part of keeping a server online, especially if you’re just hosting some fairly standard websites for yourself and friends/family or clients.
On my reseller plan I’m hosting a handful of WordPress blogs, like the one you’re reading right now, as well as a small development environment for my coworkers who are building and testing things for client WordPress sites. For my purposes, the Ramnode plan performs exactly as expected.
The Shared hosting plans are fairly standard cPanel plans with some slight extras included. The biggest difference over most hosts is the underlying hardware and some changes in the software stack that boost performance over most shared hosts.
As mentioned by Nick (the owner of Ramnode) on LowEndTalk, they’re using the same hardware stack for Shared/Reseller plans as they do for their Premium & VDS server lineups which use Xeon E3 servers and RAID 10 SSDs.
If you’re not that familiar with server hardware, that means that these are high single-core speed servers – great for PHP and web server performance – and pure SSD storage in a mirror + stripe format which gives you speed and redundancy over single drives. Using E3s also means that these servers aren’t as big as those most hosts use, which some might think is a negative, but in my experience it means that these servers won’t be as heavily loaded with customers like some other hosts. It seems like they would rather spin up multiple smaller servers than grouping thousands of customers onto 1 large server, which generally means better performance.
Per-Plan cPanel Resource Limits
One thing that directly impacts your performance on shared hosting is the per-account limits that the host puts in place to guarantee that no one over-utilizes server resources. When they put the plans up for sale I messaged the Ramnode sales department and asked for a breakdown on these limits, they responded in 5 minutes:
The (very generous) limits for each plan type are as follows:
- 1GB Physical Memory
- 30MB/s I/O
- 7680 IOPS
- 100 Total Processes
- 20 Entry Processes
- 1GB Physical Memory
- 40MB/s I/O
- 7680 IOPS
- 100 Total Processes
- 20 Entry Processes
If you’re wondering what your current host provides you can usually find this info in the side panel of your cPanel account. If it’s not publicly displayed you can check with support and they should be able to let you know your account limits.
These limits are very generous for Shared hosting. I’ve found most shared hosts will offer 512MB-1GB of physical memory usage, 1 to 5MB/s of I/O and 150-500 IOPS. For any standard shared hosting use case, such as hosting a WordPress blog or forum, these limits are more than enough for a fast loading low to medium-high trafficked site with proper caching setup. Which brings me to the next point.
LiteSpeed + LS Cache
Part of Ramnode’s shared hosting stack is the usage of LiteSpeed Enterprise Web Server with support for LS Cache. If you’re not technical this won’t mean much, but in summary: it makes your websites load a lot quicker. Utilizing the LS Cache plugin for WordPress, Magento, MediaWiki and other software can greatly increase your site load speeds. I utilize it heavy with WordPress sites, including this one, and the load speed increases are very noticeable over a standard cPanel Apache + PHP stack with other caching plugins.
Big thumbs up for LiteSpeed + LS Cache.
I’ve always equated the Ramnode brand with performance. Even if you have the smallest VPS plan, you’re going to get all of the resources promised with plenty to spare. Network, CPU, Disk I/O – it’s going to be there, and if you run into problems a quick ticket will sort it out.
Compared to most shared hosts, especially in this price range, you’re definitely getting some amazing performance for your money. This site you’re on right now is hosted on a Ramnode Reseller plan so feel free to click around and see how my WordPress site loads.
Ramnode publicly shares their uptime reports for all servers on their network. They utilize a 3rd party monitoring service called StatusCake to check server uptime and the results are published on their status site. If you do a ctrl+F search on their status page for “shared” you can see the uptime for all of their shared nodes in Atlanta and The Netherlands.
If you click a server from the list on their status site you can see the up/down notifications for each to see how many outages they’ve had. I signed up when the service first launched so my main account is located on the ATLSHARED1 server which shows the following under ‘Uptime History’:
Since singing up in September there have been approximately 3 periods of downtime. The first 2 that were 5-15 minutes in length occurred in December and January – these were reboots due to the Spectre and Meltdown Intel CPU vulnerabilities. These reboots were required to patch the security holes caused by the publicized vulnerabilities, not much a host can do in this scenario.
The only real downtime event occurred in this past March and it was just over a 1 hour outage caused by some networking issues on the shared hosting node. Obviously any downtime sucks but after 10 months of service if a shared hosting server only spends about 90 minutes offline for maintenance and a network outage – I’m not too concerned. I have accounts with other large shared hosts that cost more and go down more often, but even I’m not too offended by those outages because it’s to be somewhat expected in shared hosting with many users sharing a server environment.
Features & Pricing
Ramnode offers a Shared and Reseller plan in both the US (Atlanta) and EU (The Netherlands), priced at $4/mo and $8/mo respectively. The resources provided are pretty generous and more than enough for most web/email hosting uses.
Each plan includes a good allocation of SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, unlimited add-on domains or reseller accounts, MySQL databases and email accounts. Free SSL certificates are also provided with cPanel AutoSSL (domain-validation Comodo certs, similar to Let’s Encrypt).
All the shared servers offer DDoS protection, which is provided through Psychz for the ATL & NL shared locations. I don’t tend to get my services attacked but it’s nice knowing there is 100Gbps of protection sitting in front of my sites. More importantly, it’s nice to know that there’s DDoS protection in place if someone else on the same server as me gets attacked.
If you have a site that gets attacked periodically or even regularly, I would suggest speaking with Ramnode first to see if they can help you out. If you’re getting attacked daily then you might be a bit high risk for a cheap plan and need to look elsewhere for more permanent mitigation. If you’re just running a normal site and someone attacks you out of the blue, then Ramnode offers you some nice additional protection to help keep your website online.
Ramnode utilizes JetBackup for nightly off-site backups of your full account. JetBackup also allows you to login through cPanel and download or roll-back to previous backups of your sites. So if you accidentally delete a file on the server you can go back a few days to restore a working copy.
Where Ramnode stands out a bit compared to others is with the inclusion of MailChannels. If you’re not familiar, MailChannels is an outbound spam filtering service for hosts to use that dramatically increases your email deliverability.
I had pretty much given up on using the provided email with Shared Hosting and almost always opt for a 3rd party email service like G Suite, but MailChannels definitely changes that for me in some scenarios. If you’ve ever dealt with emails sent on your shared hosting account, or auto-generated emails from software like WordPress or a Forum, automatically going to spam – you won’t have that issue anymore with MailChannels.
All outbound email is filtered and re-sent through MailChannels IP ranges which dramatically increase your deliverability rates. I’ve personally implemented MailChannels at work for our various software that sends emails to clients because of high how the inbox rates are. If the email gets sent via MailChannels it’s pretty much guaranteed to end up in their inbox – even with email providers that have tough inbound spam filtering like Gmail and Outlook.com.
Note For Resellers
Ramnode does not offer white label plans, so if you’re reselling the service to others they will know where you are hosting the service. The server hostname is <servername>.ramnode.com and the default name servers are <something>.ns.ramnode.com.
You might be able to obfuscate the name servers and use the cpanel.domain URL – but if someone adds /cpanel to a domain it will redirect to the Ramnode hostname. So if you’re looking at a full white label service you probably want to look elsewhere.
I’ve been really happy with Ramnode support over the last 4 years. I posted a screenshot of a sales ticket above and you can see the sent & received timestamps for the first part of that. The full ticket looked something like this:
First update sent by me: 19:31
Ramnode response: 19:36 (+5 mins)
Second update by me: 19:39
Ramnode response: 19:48 (+9 mins)
I rarely send support tickets in (why ticket if something works), but when I do I can typically expect a response back for something technical within an hour. My last actual support ticket was sent in the middle of the night in November2014 and I got a response back about an hour later, and then the ticket moved to a slower back & forth as both myself and Ramnode collected data to resolve an issue with network routing.
Each ticket update garnered a response somewhere between 15 mins and 1hr15 mins after being sent, with Nick, the owner of Ramnode, jumping in multiple times between staff replies.
If you run into any issues you can be sure that they will do their best to respond quickly. I’m probably not the best person to comment on support ticket speed though because between their Twitter updates (@NodeStatus) and the service just seeming to work without issue 99.99% of the time – I rarely am the type to ticket. Periodically there will be a network event or system upgrade that takes place but for those I’ve either already received a 24-48+ hour email notice or I can just check their support Twitter account to get updates and don’t need to overload their support staff.
Ramnode Shared Hosting Summary
After 10 months of service and being on their first ever launched Shared hosting plan, I can say that I’ve been extremely happy with the service. If you’re looking for an affordable host that offers more performance than your standard cheap shared plan with some extra features and protections: I would highly recommend Ramnode.
If you’ve got any specific questions that I might be able to answer, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll do my best. If you’ve got a specific question you can also just reach out directly to Ramnode via their support form and you should get an answer back quite quickly.