$25 Rackspace Cloud Coupon and Referral Code for Rackspace Cloud Sites Hosting

mosso cloud hostingCrucial Update: The promo code (Code ID=134) as well as the $25 discount promotion will be ended by March 18th, 2010 by Rackspace Cloud. If you are still making up the mind to sign up with them, now is the time.

Activate Promo Code (ID=134) at RackspaceCloud.com »

Mosso (now Rackspace cloud) is probably the only hosting business that’s completely on a monthly subscription model, no discount incentives or whatsoever to lure you into yearly contracts, enabling its customers to leave anytime they want.

After some talk with Rackspace cloud, Shanghai Web Hosting is delighted to present our readers with a special Rackspace Cloud coupon code or referral code for the Cloud Sites hosting plan:

(Claim Code) click to activate, ID=134

This permanent Rackspace referral coupon code will guarantee a $25 discount (rebate / refund after full payment) from the first month at Mosso, now the RackSpace Cloud hosting. Just enter the code in the Promo or Referral Code text box when supplying your credit card details.

You don’t need to worry about the refund policy as well, because you can still qualify for a full refund for the 1st month after using this coupon code for Rackspace Cloud Sites.

See RackspaceCloud.com Promo (ID=134) »

To know why Rackspace cloud is unique, read our article about Rackspace cloud and the coupon or read a few customer reviews.

How to know whether your host is overselling?

Take on a trial which DreamHost offers or ask a friend at some hosting company to do some tests on SSH:

  1. Check for the number of server processors or CPUs
  2. Check for the average load the server is experiencing

Get the 3 load average figures divided by the number of CPU they have on the server, add them up and further divide them by 3. With the final result:

  • result <= 1 ( definitely an honest and great host)
  • 1 < result <= 2 (good one, but questionable)
  • 2 < result <= 5 (overselling, overselling, overselling, …)
  • result > 5 (are you crazy?!)

Check for Hosting Server Load with Linux (SSH) Command ‘uptime’

Some of the hosting providers out there are infamous for overselling who try their best to stuff in as many users (websites) as possible into a single web hosting server. High server load is an indicator of how your server is performing and whether it is laboring too much thus jeopardizing the performance of your websites. You can get to know the average load in the last 15 minutes of your server by the simple Linux command below (via SSH):


Which will typically return a line of data similar to this:

21:39:33 up 10:45, 3 users, load average: 4.46, 3.92, 3.64

That says there are currently 3 users logged on and the load average of this server in the last minute, last 5 minutes and last 15 minutes are 4.46, 3.92 and 3.64. These figures represent the number of runnable processes at the same time on average for the CPUs (processor) to process. Combined with number of processors of the server, you may know how many processes are being processed by any single CPU.

Considering the fact that any CPU can only take on one process at any given time, there will possibly be processes waiting in the queue – meaning server is overloaded. Therefore, if the number of processors of your hosting server is 4, in the last minute, it is overloaded by ( 4.46 / 4 ) – 100% = 11.5%.

Simple SSH (Linux) Command to Display the Number of CPUs (Processors) of Your Hosting Server

One of the first things that may concern you is that whether your web hosting company has equipped enough CPUs or Processors on your server as they have allegedly done. Or you are on shared plans and are simply curious whether your web hosting provider is overselling by overloading your server a lot.

First make sure you have SSH access to your hosting server which majority of hosting businesses are now providing. Then create an SSH account and log it in to the server.

A rather simple linux bash command will help you determine how many CPUs your host has on your server:

cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep processor | wc -l

This combination of pipeline command extracts server processors information from /proc/cpuinfo that contains CPU details each per line, returning a plain number which will usually be 1, 2, 4 or even more.

There you go. Now find out whether your host is cheating on you with this tip in addition to checking your server load! 😉

Extra Tips

You can find plenty of other useful and interesting information about your hosting server and OS release at /proc. For example, for some RAM stats:

cat /proc/meminfo

For total seconds since the last reboot:

cat /proc/uptime

For Linux release and versions:

cat /proc/version

And much more. Just ‘ls /proc’ and try for yourself.

Use Your Web Hosting SSH Session as A Tunnel for Socks5 Proxy Server to Circumvent Firewalls

As SSH is inherently tunnel-enabled for setting up socks5 proxy servers, you can instantly turn your personal computer into a socks5 proxy server by the help of PuTTY through your web hosting server, breaking through firewalls. The idea is to direct all traffic from your local computer browser through PuTTY SSH session to the web hosting server and back from it.

Here we go:

  1. First, make sure your web hosting provider provides SSH access to your hosting server. DreamHost (use coupon CASH60 for $60 discount) as well as a lot of other hosting companies do.
  2. Second, download PuTTY, run it, and set up the SSH account by entering your hosting server address in Host Name (or IP address).
  3. Add SSH tunnels by:
    Connection -> SSH -> Tunnels ->  give it a random Source port (in this example, ‘8844’), enter Desctination as ‘localhost’ and select Dynamic and Auto, and click Add. Now there should be an item of ‘D8844’ in the Forwarded ports list.
    putty tunnels proxy to set up socks 5 proxy server through web hosting server
  4. You may want to switch back to Session to save the session for easy access so that a simple double click would trigger the connection based on all the configurations you have done so far.
  5. Double click the saved session and log into your SSH account. Now you are in your web hosting server.

Leave the SSH session open and your personal computer has now become a socks5 proxy server. Open your favorite browser, for example, FF3:

  1. Tools -> Options -> Advanced -> Network -> Settings -> Manual proxy configuration -> SOCKS Host: localhost, Port: 8844 -> OK
  2. You are now set. Fire up a tab and surf through the socks5 proxy on your local computer.

Remember though, that all traffic you use by browsing the web pages and downloading whatever stuff by the local proxy goes through your web hosting server and will be counted on the hosting bills.

Exciting! Now you’ve got your very own proxy server (socks5 server is the most versatile among all types of proxy servers including HTTP proxy and FTP proxy) that’s local, stable and in your perfect control for getting around all kinds of firewalls. Screw all those obsolete online proxy server lists with unusable proxy servers!

Recommended Steps and Tips in Choosing a Web Host

Web hosting can be very lucrative considering the marginal cost of each additional customer and the big chance of locking them up – most clients are reluctant to switch if the current host is good enough.

As a buyer, you want your money worth the deal. Here is a general list of things you should do at choosing a web hosting provider:

  1. Is their sales site design good and unique?
    Not necessarily has to be beautiful and gorgeous but uniqueness and aesthetics integrity should account for the seriousness they take in their business. A bad design or a copied design would just hint their inability to start decently, let alone their competence in serving you well.
  2. Is their sales site PageRank high enough? Does it have good amount of back links? Is it old enough?
    Senior sites are undoubtedly more trustworthy. And a senior site often bears high pagerank (check any site’s pagerank here) and a fair amount of backlinks (check for number of backlinks of a site by link:site.com in Google). You can also check for the age of a web hosting site by querying its whois infomation.
  3. Do others / paying customers review for them or against them?
    There’s plenty of places where you can find reviews and ratings of hosting companies. One of the biggest unbiased community is Web Hosting Talk. Just go search the name of the provider for what others are saying about them.
    You can also search for ‘xxx hosting reviews’ in Google for ratings and reviews. But be warned that some of the reviewing sites are financially affiliated with the web hosting providers and therefore the reviews should be taken as rather biased ones.

There’s actually much more to consider when choosing a web hosting company. Remember that there’s no perfect hosting provider except what’s perfect for you and that there’s no web hosting without a single negative reviews. So instead of obsessively seeking the most reliable hosting service, comparing for the most cost-effective one would be a better idea.

Update: A good approach is to try to detect and find out what famous websites are using as host by tracing the IP address and where the domain is hosted.

How is the web hosting industry different in China?

How Internet marketing and web businesses work in mainland China is substantially different from how things are in the English speaking world. It’s no exception with the web hosting industry that comes in as a fundamental part of all Internet businesses.

As a result of the lack of necessary legal accountability (it can be hard, with bureaucracy and a population of 1.4 billion), web plagiarism is pervading and generally deemed acceptable if the copying website leaves the credits intact, even with materials that are published with full rights reserved.

Understandably, there comes the subsequent abundance of web page scrapers, programmed automatic harvesting demons and intruding robots running all over the web and stealing things from each other. The last thing any web hosting providers in China want to do, is to provide a lot of bandwidth or monthly transfer to website owners. Currently as the most expensive resource, it’ll definitely be fully exploited and used up, causing substantial trouble to hosting providers and data centers.

Therefore, the major difference between web hosting in China and that in western countries is that the monthly transfer or bandwidth quota and server disk storage are incredibly much much smaller.

For instance, a $8 / month shared plan would now offer like dozens of TBs of monthly transfer and several TB storage from major cheap hosting providers. Some are even hyping with unlimited resources for the entry level shared plans costing no more than $15. However in China, with $8 / month which is roughly 650 RMB Yuan per year will only secure a monthly transfer of a few GBs or less and a disk storage of merely hundreds of MBs. That’s thousands times less competitive gauging from the same price level.

A hosting company so stingy in offerings will simply vanish in the western web hosting market, but in China, it just has to be this way.