VULTR-Chicago is the best VPS location / SoftLayer is the best CDN?

I’ve used three VPS providers primarily and they are, by far, the three largest in the U.S.: Amazon EC2, Digitalocean, and VULTR. They are all on what I consider top networks with dozens of backbone peers and the best that anyone can do for a budget VPS (i.e., not paying up for a CDN like Fastly yet). I believe that each guarantees 100% uptime in their SLA.

Anyway, I found a great site for testing the network speeds of these hosts to various points in North America. I’d always assumed that of the major points of presence in the U.S., probably Chicago or Atlanta are the ideal places to locate web servers that are not on a CDN. Being at a major Internet crossroads more in the middle of the country (and Georgia may be the “east coast,” but Atlanta is geographically as far west as it is south of the Northeast) ensures that you’re never too far from any particular web surfer. Armed with these new statistics from CloudHarmony, I now see that I was right.

In short, here are the benchmarked average latencies to North American Internet users. Moral of the story: VULTR is the most bang for your buck, but location matters more than provider. Host in Chicago or Atlanta if you can; avoid hosting in the west (as the North American population still skews heavily toward the east), and especially avoid locations at the extreme tips of the country (such as Miami and Seattle).

I had already chosen VULTR/Chicago before seeing these benchmarks, and now I feel vindicated! It’s the only VPS location to come in at under 100 ms on average to typical North American Internet users.

VULTR (Chicago), 99 ms
VULTR (Atlanta), 101 ms
Amazon EC2 (Virginia/DC), 105 ms
VULTR (Dallas), 106 ms
VULTR (New York), 106 ms
DO (New York 1), 109 ms
DO (New York 2), 109 ms
DO (New York 3), 110 ms
VULTR (Los Angeles), 119 ms
VULTR (Miami), 121 ms
VULTR (Silicon Valley), 124 ms
Amazon EC2 (Silicon Valley), 125 ms
DO (San Francisco), 130 ms
VULTR (Seattle), 133 ms
Amazon EC2 (Portland), 144 ms

For those of you wondering how much of a difference a CDN could make, as a rule they obviously blow even VULTR/Chicago out of the water.

SoftLayer, 41 ms
Akamai, 48 ms
CloudFlare, 48 ms
Fastly, 59 ms
Amazon CloudFront, 75 ms

Although, as you can see, some more than others. Amazon CloudFront is more similar to VULTR’s single Chicago location than it is to SoftLayer, CloudFlare, or Akamai here.


Pricing seems good, but I am not sure it’s fair to say these guys are as big / well-known / reliable as Amazon or Digital Ocean…

Basically save $4 per month, or $8 per month, over Digital Ocean with a fair bit more disk? (45gb / 90gb vs 30gb / 40gb)

They were definitely third to the party after Amazon and DO among the big boys (of the U.S.), but they are very large as well. Vultr and its parent, Choopa, have between 166,000 IPs and 439,000 IPs under their control, depending on whom you ask.

And yeah, the Vultr pricing is based off a 20% discount to DO, across the board, despite having many more node options (e.g., Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, Miami) to choose from. For example, the 16 GB RAM and 8 CPU plan is $128 at Vultr and $160 at DO, for a savings of $32. After that point, of course, maybe you’re better off going with a dedicated server or even colocating.