In the process of self-hosting Nextcloud the first step was to choose a VPS provider. It wasn’t a straightforward choice and in the process I ended up experiencing, by this order, Hetzner, DigitalOcean and Vultr.

But, first of all, let me advise you that this isn’t intended to be a factual analysis, supported by quantifiable and specific data. It is rather a subjective assessment based on my use case. Therefore, I believe that your experience with these providers could be completely different. If you are into more technical and detailed analyses you can go here and here, for example.

So my first choice was Hetzner. A company with a high reputation and a very inviting features/price ratio. A VPS with 1vCPU, 2GB RAM, 20GB Disk and 20TB Traffic for €2.49 ($2.75) looks great. It seemed a logical choice. So I proceeded with the installation and configuration of Nextcloud and uploaded my files to the server. Everything was going well, until I started to browse through Nextcloud and tried to open some of my videos. The server crashed. I thought it was a one-time event, but I repeated the process always with the same outcome. According to Hetzner’s console the culprit seemed to be the CPU. On idle it remained arround 30% and very often reached 100%. So I upgraded the VPS to 2vCPU, 4GB RAM and 40GB Disk for €4.90 ($5.41) and it all started to work like a charm.

But then I kept wondering, does it take 2vCPU to run a personal Nextcloud? So I decided to give a try with the only provider I had ever worked with, DigitalOcean (DO). Of course I chose a droplet with 1vCPU, 1GB RAM and 25GB Disk ($5, €4.54). The user experience was very similar to Hetzner’s 2vCPU plan. Of course, CPU utilization was higher in DO (1vCPU vs 2vCPU), but with rare peaks and generally never exceeding 60%. One noticeable difference was the higher download/load speed in DO. Something I expected, because by the reviews I read they have a better network performance with higher download and upload speeds.

The same reviews pointed out that Vultr has a network performance on par with DO and a better overall performance. Besides that they have a datacenter in Paris (500km closer to me than Amsterdam) and free snapshots. So I decided to give it a spin. As in DO I deployed a server with 1vCPU, 1GB RAM and 25GB Disk ($5, €4.54). The user experience was slightly better than with DO. The response time was shorter. As a result the pages opened more quickly and the download/load of files was also faster. A better overall experience. This, combined with the ability to create and store snapshots for free, made it easier for me to choose Vultr.

For now I see no advantage in using DO over Vultr. Hetzner can be back in play if I find myself in need of a little more disk space, or of the extra performance the 2vCPUs and 4GB RAM can offer.

Wrapping up

  • Hetzner 1vCPU, 2GB RAM, 20GB Disk at €2.49 ($2.75): High CPU utilization and server crashed when loading videos, aparently because of CPU limitations.
  • Hetzner 2vCPU, 4GB RAM, 40GB Disk at €4.90 ($5.41): Worked like a charm.
  • DigitalOcean 1vCPU, 1GB RAM, 25GB Disk at $5 (€4.54): Similar experience as with Hetzner 2vCPU plan. Download/load of files was faster than Hetzner.
  • Vultr 1vCPU, 1GB RAM, 25GB Disk at $5 (€4.54): Slightly better exeprience than DO. Faster response time and download/load of files. Free snapshots.