I have used most of the major cloud hosting providers in the U.S. market (except for Kyup; overpriced) and some in the European markets. Every once in awhile, I like to try something new, particularly when people are talking about it. I decided to try Scaleway because… it’s extremely inexpensive. Reading reviews online, people either love them or hate them.
I, personally, like them (for the right purpose). Would I put my production sites with them? No. Is it a decent place for development, staging and trying out new gear? Yes.
- Unmetered transfer
- Insanely affordable
- The ability to purchase/attach extra storage volumes
- Floating and private IP addresses, reverse DNS, IPv6 support
- Their control panel is infinitely better than RamNode or OVH, the latter of which has given up on providing anything useful (worst interface and web site ever).
- It is far from the caliber of DigitalOcean, but if you wanted to pay DigitalOcean prices, you would use them.
- It is much more human-understandable than the Linode control panels (plural). It is also much easier to deploy instances than Google Cloud or Azure1.
- Note: I think that AWS has a decent control panel given their product mix and target audience, however, if you’re looking for simplicity, AWS is not it.
- As an option, they offer ARM64 processors. You can get better performance for your dollar/euro if your apps run on ARM64. If not, they still offer X86-64.
- They seem like they want to stick around for awhile (unliked most unmetered providers).
- They have security/firewall groups, which is nice, but see below.
- Their network speed isn’t bad considering that I’m pulling from the USA. It’s not as good as AWS, DigitalOcean or Linode, but it’s okay for Europe.
- They are compatible with ServerPilot and RunCloud (you must choose Ubuntu and X86-64), which is nice if you need/want that. CloudWays doesn’t support them, but I hate CloudWays.
- Since they use standard distribution kernels, they are compatible with KernelCare. This is always a huge nightmare on Linode – you can choose a standard kernel with Linode, but I have experienced interoperability issues.
- You can’t reload an instance without deleting it and creating a new one. This normally wouldn’t be a big deal, except:
- Always sold out when you need them – When you need an instance, there is a decent chance that they will be sold out of the type you want.
- No live snapshots – While it is good that they allow you to do snapshots, you have to take your instance offline to do so, which is a slow process.
- Only in Europe – Note that this isn’t bad per se – it is where they are located, however, it has greater implications due to the dreaded GDPR, so…
- No USA datacenter
- You can only assign one IP address per instance.
- You have to restart your instance (a timely process) to enforce new firewall rules.
- It is kind of irritating to upgrade an instance, but this is not surprising since you can’t reload one.
- Their customer service is on par with DreamHost or BlueHost (for those of you in Rio Linda, this is bad). I’m not even going to link to BlueHost because they need to die. DreamHost gets a +1 for unmetered transfer and S3-compatible storage (though I’d much rather used DigitalOcean Spaces for that).
- They are always hiring but won’t hire me.
- Their snapshot process leaves much and firewall leave some to be desired. However, unlike Linode and others, they allow multiple snapshots.
- Unlike Vultr, they don’t limit you on the number of throwaway instances. (Though a big shout out for Vultr: they allow you to import ISOs, but their network speed and IOPS could be improved. Vultr’s customer service is also on par with DreamHost.)
- No DNS hosting, but you can get DNS for free elsewhere (including CloudFlare).
- No S3-compatible storage option (though most providers don’t offer this – it doesn’t bother me, but I thought that I’d mention it).
- No load balancers (though I don’t fault them too much on this – it is expensive to implement and nobody wants to pay for it).
- If you’re really rolling ghetto (budget? Do you mean to tell me that there is money to spend?), you can set up several Scaleway, et al instances and balance the load with GSLB.me (€0.10/zone/month). Of course, you’ll still have to manage server backups manually, and time is money (but nobody gives a damn about the cost of labor, obviously).
- Their IOPS do not compare to AWS or UpCloud, but you get what you pay for.
As always, you have to use the right tool/provider for the job. Scaleway is great for development and testing but not recommended for non-trivial production. I mean, if you you need a DNS slave or an unmetered API host, they can be useful for production. YMMV.
Fortunately, they are cheap to try! (which is probably why they don’t offer affiliate links)
Since this article touched on a lot of other providers as well, here is my final answer:
- Production: Use DigitalOcean for everything, unless you need the amazing extra features of AWS (assuming that you don’t mind being charged by the hour).
- Development/Testing: Use Scaleway for throwaway instances, unless you have high turnover or desire non-irritating backups. In these cases, you would likely be happier with DigitalOcean, else maybe Vultr, Linode or Lightsail (depending on needs – Vultr supports ISOs, Linode sucks but is fast in the midwest, Lightsail is overpriced but is nice if you want the AWS ecosystem).
- Vultr offers $2.50/month 512MB instances, but you are limited to a total of two. Still, a very good deal (only available in New Jersey and Miami data centers, in case you’re confused). Vultr also has a better control panel than many.
- Unmetered Transfer: If you have an app that needs high transfer but low SLA/data reliability requirements, Scaleway is nice. Examples might include free/open source initiatives, slave DNS, proxies, maybe some API interface that isn’t mission critical but generates a lot of traffic, etc. Basically, the type of services that you set up and never touch.
- OVH was never that great, but they got much worse over the last year.
- If your app has significant data/SLA requirements, you should be using AWS anyway.
- Honorable Mentions: UpCloud has some impressive IOPS if your application needs that (MS SQL Server screams on it, which I didn’t think was possible). IO Zoom is lacking on most things, but they excel at customer service and have very cheap “managed hosting,” especially nice if you’re looking to host multiple sites with cPanel or Plesk.
- If you need a lot of storage and don’t mind it being slow as hell, Backblaze B2 is $0.005/GB/month with the first 10GB free. It is the poor man’s alternative to S3.