Gnu Host review - speed, uptime, security, stability

Gnu Host review

Updated: 27/08/2019.

In this post I’ll share my experience with Gnu Host (affiliate link) hosting company. I tested this hosting for only about one month, before migrating a client’s website (at client’s insisting) for about a month. So this review is more of a “first impression” – it takes at least several months to get a clear, objective picture of shared hosting environment quality. But the info I have is shared here – for my own reference and in case it helps anyone else. All the information provided here is “to the best of my knowledge“. Gnu Host company didn’t request, nor endorse (nor discourage) the writing of this text.

Contents:

  1. Gnu Host company
  2. How I came to Gnu Host
  3. Website migration to Gnu Host
  4. Available resources and server locations
  5. Metrics – tests
  6. Technical support
  7. Uptime
  8. Average page load time (speed)
  9. Personal impression – subjective
  10. Prices
  11. IP blacklist stats
  12. Problems
  13. Conclusion


1. Gnu Host company

Gnu Host is a company from Manchester (United Kingdom). They’ve been in business since 2017 and are registered under the name “Alpha Internet Limited”, with the owner Mr Ross Gillies.

Servers and bandwidth they use are provided by the French company OVH – a reputable dedicated server renting company.

Their business philosophy boils down to: “excellent quality at a reasonable price”.


2. How I came to Gnu Host

I was looking for a “custom” reseller hosting – with more available resources per account than usual, but I didn’t have any needs that would justify renting a VPS and paying for all the software and licenses.

So I enquired with some hosting providers I have used in the past, as well as with some new ones, but none would offer any custom plans. After Googling and enquiring, I decided to ask for help (and potential offers) on WebHostingTalk and LowEndTalk forums. The latter one resulted with several offers by some hosting providers.

One of the offers came from (the owner of) Gnu Host. Didn’t hear of this hosting provider before that. Previous experience says one should avoid companies that aren’t at least five years in the business. However, the communication was open and straight forward. No marketing jargon and “catches”. And not trying to sound “too technical” (if you know what I mean). The man said what he can offer (the resources I required) and at which price. I thought: “OK, everyone has to start somewhere and from something, all I’ve heard so far sounds good, it doesn’t cost much to give it a try”.

Also, living in Serbia (where everyone tries to scre… trick everyone) I learned to run immediately if anything smells remotely fishy – long before I can put my finger on what it is that is off. With Mr Ross from Gnu Host it was the complete opposite of that – all looked 100% legit and straight forward, from the very first contact. No unrealistic promises (from a shared hosting environment), but professional and client oriented attitude.


3. Website migration to Gnu Host

I decided to move my website that gets most visitors – cycling bikegremlin.com, to make the test as realistic and as “tough” as possible. I also chose to try it with Gnu Host regular reseller (shared) hosting resources of their “Seedling” plan.

Migration went relatively smoothly, with a few notes:

Installation of TLS/SSL certificates (by Let’s Encrypt) is done using cPanel’s interface, not a Let’s Encrypt plugin (which is more beginner friendly).

cPanel's certificate installation tool, used with Gnu Host
cPanel’s certificate installation tool, used with Gnu Host
Picture 1
Let's Encrypt plugin for SSL/TLS certificate installation
Let’s Encrypt plugin for SSL/TLS certificate installation
Picture 2

This is primarily for my own reminder, but generally both ways work fine.

The other difference is setting up PHP version. Gnu Host uses cPanel’s “MultiPHP Manager” for choosing the PHP version and “MultiPHP INI Editor” for editing basic environment values.

MultiPHP Manager options
MultiPHP Manager options
Picture 3
PHP Selector options
PHP Selector options
Picture 4

Some (cPanel) hosting providers use the tool from picture 3 (Gnu Host is among those), while others use the PHP Selector (picture 4). Both tools have their pros and cons.

The advantage of the first one (MultiPHP Manager) is that you can set PHP version for each addon domain, or subdomain within one cPanel account – while the other (PHP Selector) allows choosing only one PHP version for the whole cPanel account.

Another difference (not necessarily advantageous) is that PHP Selector allows choosing which PHP extensions you need installed for the chosen PHP version. This is good for advanced users, but not very useful for novices – in my opinion.

After asking nicely, I got JetBackup integration within the WHM control panel, but as far as I know this is not regularly offered (colour me paranoid when it comes to backups). Not that I ever needed it with Gnu Host – no backup needing problems, but I sleep better knowing that I’ve got backups in at least two locations.


4. Available resources and server locations

For now, the only available server location is the UK. Which is very good if the target audience is from Europe, while quite good for the USA. If you are a developer from Europe, having a server located there is faster and more convenient.

Here I’ll list resources for Seedling, as a decent starting reseller hosting package.

  • Storage space: 30 GB – NVMe storage
  • Bandwidth: unlimited.
  • CPU: 100 % of one core (virtual, of course)
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • I/O: 10 Mb/s
  • IOPS: 1,024
  • Entry Processes: 30
  • iNodes: no hard set limit – but be reasonable
  • SSL / TLS: yes, by Let’s Encrypt.
  • SPAM filtering: yes, using MailChannels.
  • FTP and E-mail accounts: unlimited.
  • Domain, subdomains and parked domains: unlimited.
  • Databases: unlimited.

Additional features:

  • Backups: yes, daily, using JetBackup, with database backups every 6 hours! Stored for 7 days.
  • Softaculous.
  • NVMe storage.
  • LiteSpeed server.
  • MariaDB database server.
  • CloudLinux is installed and resources per cPanel are limited/guaranteed using that “tool”.


5. Metrics – tests

Since testing time was limited, due to a client’s eagerness to move their website to a hosting with more resources, I didn’t rely primarily on Google Analytics, since that data takes at least 2 months for comparable results. So I used OctoPerf tool. It simulates 50 concurrent visitors and measures performance (speed, number of errors etc.). I’ll show comparable results of the same website’s performance, using three different hosting providers (testing was done from Europe – Stockholm, while HostMantis and Veerotech servers were in US East Coast, which added some 200 ms of latency on response times):

VeerotechHost
Mantis
Gnu
Host
Hits count437234999058789
Errors count000
Avg. response time0.78 s0.470.191
Latency standard deviation1.039 s0.6820.177
Received bytes rate3.7 MB/s44.9
Apdex on response time
(more is better)
0.905 apdex0.9860.995
OctoPerf performance test results graph for Gnu Host
OctoPerf performance test results graph for Gnu Host
Picture 5


6. Technical support

If I got a dollar each time I heard that the advantage of smaller hosting providers is they take more care of each individual client, by now I would have had over 9,000! 🙂

Seriously: my experience with Gnu Host, in terms of technical support, has created a completely new level of what I can imagine an exceptional tech. support to be like.

Phenomenal quality of communication. With fast response (even on weekends) and solving the problems. Along with explanation of the problem source, diagnostics – without giving away any information that might help me abuse their system (noting this because Gnu Host is a relatively new hosting provider, based on my knowledge and experience which is relatively limited).

My post on hosting provider technical support in general.


7. Uptime

For the two months of testing, there were a total of two service interruptions.

  • First one was about 10 minutes because of some server problems that required restarting it.
  • The other one was longer, some two hours, because of DNS problems. As far as I know it’s been resolved and shouldn’t re-occur.

Apart from this, the hosting was working stably. Due to circumstances, I wasn’t able to test it for longer.


8. Average page load time (speed)

With the above noted disclaimers for the data objectivity, these are Google Analytics results for client’s website on MDDhosting, Gnu Host and SiteGround (migrated the website there on client’s insisting).

MDDhosting stats from Google Analytics for roughly a month
MDDhosting stats from Google Analytics for roughly a month
Picture 6
Gnu Host - Google Analytics
Gnu Host – Google Analytics for a month
Picture 7
SiteGround - Google Analytics for 3 weeks
SiteGround – Google Analytics for 3 weeks
Picture 8

It is worth noting that the website in question is extremely poorly optimized, so don’t take the absolute values for granted – well optimized websites load in under 3 seconds with all the above noted hosting providers. OctoPerf results from the 5th chapter are more objective for comparison, in my opinion.


9. Personal impression – subjective

Gnu Host is a relatively new provider, striving to offer top quality service, with good customer support. OK, all the hosting providers ever claim this. But it is my impression that they are on the right path.

It should be noted that I “came” practically in the middle of the outrageous cPanel price rise. This is a shock for most, especially smaller hosting providers (even more so for the dirt-cheap ones). A vast majority of hosting providers these days are testing DirectAdmin – which requires for a lot of time for learning and testing, as well as expenses of renting new servers (at least until/if a majority of clients move to DirectAdmin).

By the time of writing this post, this hasn’t affected Gnu Host’s service, or tech. support quality, as far as i could notice and measure.

Gnu Host remains on my shortlist of hosting providers one can rely on, in a sea of swindlers.


10. Prices

Current prices and offers can be seen on Gnu Host website (affiliate link). This is a short overview of some offers:

Shared hosting packages£ monthly
Grazing Gnu: 1 CPU, 0.5 GB RAM, 2 GB storage3
Lively Gnu: 1 CPU, 1 GB RAM, 10 GB storage5
Hyperactive Gnu: 1 CPU, 2 GB RAM, 50 GB storage10

Reseller hosting packages

£ monthly
Seedling: 30 GB storage, 20 cPanel accounts10
Startup: 100 GB storage, 75 cPanel accounts25

VPS hosting packages

£ monthly
VPS-02: 1 CPU, 4 GB RAM, 40 GB NVMe SSD32
VPS-04: 2 CPU, 8 GB RAM, 80 GB NVMe SSD52


11. IP blacklist stats

During the entire testing period, hosting server’s IP address was not listed on any blacklist. Which is excellent.


12. Problems

I had only one problem worth noting. With the client’s website (mine worked fine). Emails have stopped being delivered to the inbox. Before it could be determined what the problem cause was, client was panicking, insisting on changing the hosting provider and using a paid email service (MXroute was the choice).

The problem was strange, never had something like that before. Emails were not delivered, but haven’t been stopped by any spam filter on the provider’s side. To make it more complicated, emails from Gmail would arrive fine. While those sent from my domain would not – at the same time arriving on all the other addresses I had sent emails to.

Before it was possible to determine and solve the problem cause (changing my domain mail server, for example, to 100% exclude that as a possible problem cause) several changes were made (at client’s insisting), which is bad when trying to diagnose a problem – makes diagnostic next to impossible: hosting provider was changed, mail service was changed and website was taken off Cloudflare.

Since I haven’t experienced anything similar ever, with any hosting provider, it is an interesting anecdote – unless it happens again, in which case I’ll do my best to determine the problem cause and how to resolve it. So not something I’d “hold against” Gnu Host (this, like most other posts on this website are for my personal reminder).


13. Conclusion

Gnu Host is a promising hosting provider. I would recommend it, especially for those looking for good quality EU based shared and reseller hosting. They are not cheap, but they are good. With repeated note from the beginning: I haven’t tested the hosting for long, but the first (two month) impression is good.

If you wish to try it, you could use my affiliate link (and support this website as well) for Gnu Host hosting.

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