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  5. InterServer VPS Review 2021: It’s Cheap, but Is It Any Good?

InterServer VPS Review 2021: It’s Cheap, but Is It Any Good?

Ezequiel BruniEzequiel Bruni

InterServer has a long-standing reputation for hosting that’s cheap, fast, and good. In theory, it’s the holy trifecta of service.

When we tested InterServer’s shared hosting, my teammates and I were pretty impressed. I wanted to see if the company’s VPS service was just as good. I went undercover as a real, paying customer and signed up for one of InterServer’s VPS plans. I then uploaded a test site to see just how well the service would perform.

InterServer may not be the best VPS service, it’s the best cheap VPS service. And sometimes, that’s exactly what you need.

If you don’t mind dealing with a reasonably helpful support team and the occasional hiccup, InterServer’s VPS hosting is a fantastic deal for the price, with reliable servers and a great deal of control. It’s not for beginners, but otherwise it’s the best cheap VPS I’ve used so far.

Features

InterServer Pretty Much Lets You Do What You Want

Many VPS hosting companies will talk endlessly about all the extra features that come with the VPS plans and all the features you can get for only a small extra cost. InterServer is a bit different. The entire focus of its feature set is control.

That is, you’re in control. You decide what kind of resources you want in your virtual server, what kind of software you want to run on it, and what you want to do with it, with only a few limitations. Hardware resources are sold off to you in slices, and you take it from there.

A “slice” on InterServer is 1 CPU core, 2GB of RAM, 30GB of SSD space, and 1TB of bandwidth. For the purposes of this test, I got two of them (you probably want at least 2 CPU cores if you’re going to run a CMS like WordPress, especially on a high-traffic site).

You can install any of several different versions of Linux, including Ubuntu, VzLinux, CentOS (my favorite!), Fedora, Debian, CloudLinux, and OpenSuse. Then, of course, there’s a separate bunch of VPS plans for Windows, but that’s a bit more expensive.

Every plan comes with a dedicated IP address, 24/7 basic tech support, and…not a whole lot else, if I’m honest. And that’s kind of the idea. Still, there are a few things to note:

You Can Get Managed Support

In general, the support team will help you with any actual server problems. If your server goes down, they will find out why and fix it. If you need to know how to do something, you can ask, and they’ll get you the information you need.

But if you buy four slices or more, you get the upgraded “managed” support. This means that the support team will actually dive into your server to help you fix your site if things go wrong. They won’t upload new product shots for you, but they will help with things like database issues, file permissions issues, and other non-server things.

That sort of extra help is always good to have.

Self-Healing Hardware Is Good, but It’s Not What It Sounds Like

You’d think “self-healing” means that InterServer has magic computers that fix themselves. Well, that doesn’t happen, at least not without turning them off and on again. Instead, there’s an AI trained to detect hardware failures on InterServer’s systems and fix problems as they arise.

This is actually accomplished by redirecting users to a copy of your virtual server elsewhere. It’s a simple but effective and fast-working trick that gives the InterServer team time to fix any broken hardware. This is one of the benefits of InterServer’s VPS tech being run on cloud infrastructure (lots of machines working together to host the same sites).

Cheap Remote Backups & Free Manual Backups

You can create your own server backups at any time, and these will stick around for 60 days before expiring. If you want to keep backups for longer, you can download them to your own computer.

The backup UI
Admittedly, InterServer’s backup UI is not particularly good-looking

If you want automatic remote backups, that’s going to cost you a little more per month. It’s not expensive, though, and the peace of mind may well be worth it.

Ease of Use

InterServer Is for People with Previous Knowledge of VPS Hosting and Tight Wallets

I can’t honestly recommend InterServer to VPS newbies. The whole experience was, for me, an exercise in repeatedly saying, “Whaaaa …? Oh that’s how it works.”

I mean, the problems begin with signup. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, the VPS order screen is going to be confusing. And dated.

And ugly.

InterServer's order screen
Well, it certainly looks like ’90s design

So you’d think that, given the options available in the form, I’d be able to install CentOS 8 and cPanel. A little pricey, but convenient, right?

Nope. Turns out that’s not an acceptable combination.

CPanel error message
Would have been good to know this five whole seconds ago

So I went back and chose DirectAdmin as my control panel. I’d never tried it before, but I thought, “Hey, can’t be that bad.” And it wasn’t… once I could get into it. See, the control panel didn’t actually get installed when the server was set up. I had to contact support, who then installed it for me, and then everything was okay.

DirectAdmin control panel
See? DirectAdmin looks good.

But InterServer’s server management UI still looks terrible. At least it all works as intended. I’d just like to know exactly what the designers intended.

Server management UI
At least the ’90s had the Spice Girls. That was a good thing.

That one hiccup aside, and after I got used to the interface, things went well enough.

You Can Deploy Hundreds of Apps Easily

So this depends on the control panel you choose. CPanel, Plesk, and Webuzo all have some sort of app installer. DirectAdmin, it must be said, does not. I had to install WordPress the old-fashioned way.

But if you pick any of those previous options, you can install WordPress, Magento, or just about anything else you can imagine in a few clicks.

Add More Slices at Any Time

Feel your server isn’t beefy enough? Just add some more slices. You can’t customize the server resources individually, more’s the pity, but upgrading is still simple and easy. And heck, at InterServer’s prices, it’s cheap.

The server slice UI
A couple of clicks and you’re spending more money!

There Are Easy OS Reinstalls

Tired of your current OS and control panel combo? Just switch them out! This will erase all data on your server of course, but it’s great if you want to try out a few different technology stacks before you settle down, propose, and make an online business together.

Man, I stretched that metaphor to its breaking point. Sorry.

The OS switcher UI
You can install a 32-bit OS. Not sure why you would, but you can.

Performance

The Servers Provide Very Stable Performance

With two data centers in Secaucus, NJ, and one in Los Angeles, InterServer is definitely focused on the North American crowd. Seeing as I’m in Mexico, that’s close enough for me.

But if I based these reviews on my feelings and personal experience alone, all this writing would be a lot easier you wouldn’t be getting the full picture. So I uploaded a WordPress-based test website with a new-ish but fairly standard business theme. It’s got superfluous big images, extraneous JavaScript, and other things that are standard but that I personally wouldn’t do.

InterServer held up rather well in testing. The average complete page loading time was 1.24 seconds and the site maintained 100% uptime. I’ll admit that my testing time frame was short, but those results are still promising.

I’ll give you more performance details and screenshots below, or you can jump ahead to see if InterServer’s support team’s performance was as good as its servers.

GTmetrix

You generally want to keep complete page load times below 2 seconds, so InterServer’s average of 1.24 seconds is perfectly acceptable, but not amazing. What surprised me was the incredible consistency of the results. The fastest load time was 1.2 seconds. The slowest was 1.3.

That’s like… Robert Downey Jr. levels of consistently good performance.

InterServer GTmetrix test results
Stability can sometimes be even better than pure speed

UptimeRobot

100% uptime. I mean, enough said. Well, have a look at the graph below if you want to get an idea of the variations in ping time over several hours. It mostly fluctuates between 400 and 600 milliseconds for UptimeRobot’s servers.

InterServer UptimeRobot test results
Yeah. Not bad.

Support

The Support Team Was Helpful, but Not Always Prompt

Don’t pay any attention to the “estimated wait time” when you use the live chat support. The notification said I’d have to wait an hour, but it was actually around five minutes before the sales rep responded.

And the pre-sales chat went mostly smoothly. I asked which VPS plan I should use for WordPress (turns out there are no actual WordPress-specific plans, even if the marketing would lead you to believe otherwise) and if WordPress would be installed automatically.

The rep answered my newbie questions patiently, but not always honestly. He led me to believe that there would definitely be a WordPress installer when I got my VPS.

InterServer live chat UI
I didn’t actually have an installer for WordPress

The truth is that depending on the options you choose during the ordering process, you could end up with a server that has no control panel at all, much less a WordPress installer. The control panel I ended up using, DirectAdmin, required me to install WordPress manually.

Okay, but we all know we shouldn’t listen too closely to salespeople, right? (I can say that. I used to do sales.) What about the support team?

Well, when I had that problem where the control panel I had paid for hadn’t actually, you know, been installed for me, I opened a ticket. I got my initial response almost an hour later, and the problem was taken care of in a total of 2 hours and 20 minutes.

An InterServer ticket
It’s just a shame someone forgot the control panel in the first place

That kind of response time isn’t exactly ideal, especially if you’re running a business, but I’ve also seen and paid more for worse results.

When I had another problem, I tried the live chat again. Basically, I’d tried to log in to a freshly made user account on DirectAdmin with the wrong password a few too many times, and my IP address got blocked. To me, it just looked like my server was timing out whenever I tried to connect to it.

The live chat support went much faster, with a rep responding to me in minutes. They helped me figure out my problem, and I was on my way, if a little embarrassed. (That’s my own fault, the support team didn’t make me feel bad.)

Pricing

It’s Certainly Affordable

InterServer’s VPS plans are simple; you pay $6.00 per slice, every month. That’s it. Oh, you might have to pay extra for a control panel license (depending on the control panel you choose) and a domain name, if you don’t have one already.

There are no upsells and no hidden fees. InterServer assumes you know what you want and how to get it. That doesn’t make for the most beginner-friendly experience, but it’s an up-front and honest sales process.

I can’t ask for more than that.

You can pay using Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, or PayPal. My advice? Always go with PayPal if you can. I know that PayPal has some issues, but paying by credit card can sometimes get you flagged as a fraudster. Yeah, it’s weird.

Cancellation and NO REFUNDS

Here’s a slight downside: There’s no trial period or money-back guarantee. You spend the money, they keep the money. However, you pay monthly, so there’s nothing locking you into the service.

If you buy two slices and decide you’re done with InterServer in a month, you can hit one button to cancel your service, and you’re only out a little bit of money, plus whatever you paid for a control panel.

Cancel VPS button
At least InterServer’s cancellation button is easy to find

Bottom Line

If you don’t mind dealing with a reasonably helpful support team and the occasional hiccup, InterServer’s VPS hosting is a fantastic deal for the price, with reliable servers and a lot of control. It’s not for beginners, but otherwise it’s the best cheap VPS I’ve used so far.

Again, it’s not the best VPS service, it’s the best cheap VPS service. And sometimes, that’s exactly what you need.

If you’re looking for something more beginner-friendly and WordPress-focused (and don’t mind paying more), you might try Kinsta. If you’re looking for a budget friendly option, see our list of the best web hosting services for 2021.

FAQ:

Which VPS is better, Hostinger or InterServer?
Hostinger’s VPS plans are a little cheaper to start with (but they get more expensive when you renew), and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee. The servers can be faster… or slower. I found Hostinger’s performance to be somewhat inconsistent.

It does, however, have a greater selection of operating systems and a number of free control panels to choose from.

But for sheer performance for the price, I’d have to say that InterServer’s VPS plans are just a bit better. Neither service is particularly beginner-friendly, though. If you’re interested in seeing what other hosts have to offer, see our list of the best VPS hosting services.

Does InterServer charge high renewal fees?
Many hosting companies are happy to provide you with a discount for the first billing period, but they will jack up the price, whether it’s in a month or three years. It’s so common that we usually just think of it as “the cost of doing business.”

Well, InterServer won’t do that to you. It has a price-lock guarantee, which means that the initial price you sign up for is the price you’ll always pay… and I like that.

If you want to get an even better price for your hosting, be sure to check our web hosting coupon page for all the latest deals.

How is VPS hosting better than shared hosting?
VPS hosting comes with two major advantages. First, when you sign up for a VPS plan, you get dedicated, guaranteed hardware resources. If someone else’s VPS site is on the same server as yours and it has a sudden traffic spike, it won’t affect your site’s performance in any way. This means VPS hosting is generally more stable and reliable.

Second, your site will have its own security, separate from other sites on the same server. If one of those other sites gets hacked or infected by malware, you can be sure it won’t spread to your site. As long as your VPS is kept up-to-date and generally secure, what happens to another site on the same server doesn’t affect you.

Do I need tech experience to set up a VPS?
I’ve tested quite a few VPS hosts and I still haven’t found a service that’s both beginner-friendly and good. The simplest VPS solutions usually come with cPanel, which is expensive, and also rather slow. Some of these VPS packages use the Apache web server, and outdated technology.

Quality VPS hosting is generally more complex. To set it up, you need to know exactly what you want, and that does require some experience.

The one VPS host that is simple to use is Kinsta, but it’s pretty expensive. It makes things simple by providing the same technology to everyone: WordPress on good server technology.

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