September 24 2018

1&1 Dedicated Servers finally updated!

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted any updates and I apologize for that. Since May, I’ve left working for 1&1 and went into an entirely different industry of Energy rather than WebHosting, but I’m starting to put time back into updating my sites. One of the first things I wanted to point out, to my astonishment, is that 1&1 has brought to the table, new and improved Dedicated Servers! Let’s check them out!

New Dedicated Server Offerings!

When I was at 1&1, the pride and joy for me were always the Cloud Servers. For me, they are competitively priced, offer great performance, and are easily expandable with the API. Dedicated Servers, on the other hand, were a complete waste by offering cheap prices but for cheap out-dated hardware. While they still offer those old servers that I’m use to, here’s an archive for what was available when I left in May: https://web.archive.org/web/20180530052549/https://www.1and1.com/dedicated-server.

Now it seems that there’s an whole new push for updated hardware and the prices are still reasonably cheap and affordable. Just think, I remember when they were selling some dedicated (dedis) servers for close to 500$ a month! 1&1 is now offerings servers running Xeon Gold and Silvers for, at most, $240 a month. And you can’t deny that the price doesn’t give you a nice share of ram too!

Comparing hardware

X10i – Old Premium Server

To put a lot of this into perspective, let’s take a look at the two highest offerings 1&1 has for both time frames. Back in May, it was the X10i which was going for $300 a month promo, and then up to $600 a month regularly once the promo expired. The X10i was a 10core Xeon E5-2650 V3 with 6TB of HDD storage and 128GB of Ram. The storage, you could tack on 240GB of SSDs in Raid 1 for and additional $40/month….OUCH!

To put that into perspective of the cost, the SSDs alone would be paid off if bought personally after only 6months! And that price would only be seen to fall soon after that depending on the timeframe. Today 240GB is close to only $100 if not much lower as M.2 and NVMe are becoming much more common place.

For continuity, the price point today for this expensive offering has fallen drastically in 4 months to a more reasonable $220/month. Keep that in mind for what’s to follow.

3XL-192 – The new king

1&1 has really stepped up this offering by giving people a nice boost in performance and memory-intensive tasks, though limiting the drive capacity and redundancy. Here we have a Xeon Gold 6126 with 192GB of Ram and 4TB of Raid 1 HDD storage. The drives can be replaced (not complimented) by a 1TB NVMe drive in Raid 1. The price point here is $240/month.

Xeon E5-2650 V3 vs Xeon Gold

So what kind of upgrade is this new, cost-effective, king that costs less than half the price of the aging X10i at launch? Well the Xeon Gold shines in that it offers a faster clockspeed, much faster Turbo speed, and more threads making this a great system for being a hypervisor. As I always mentioned to customers previously, due to the fact that Webhosting isn’t allowed to be used for storage, the low-end Dedis are great for Backup/Storage purposes whereas the more expensive dedis should almost always be used for VirtualMachines. Outside of VMs, I wouldn’t know what anyone would need all the threads and RAM for since mosts WebServers are run faster on the Cloud at much cheaper prices. Plus there’s no videocards, so graphics rendering isn’t a usecase either. Might as well use these powerful servers to run your own dedicated cloud infrastructure to have extra security.

What do you think?

So what do you think about these new offerings and the price reductions that 1&1 seems to be doing? Are they still the most cost-effective in your opinion, should they continue to offer great additions? Still wondering where AMD Epyc’s are in their offerings? Let me know in the comments!

December 2 2017

BlockStorage is released for 1&1 Cloud

So for the past two years of the 1&1 Cloud, there’s been some exciting things. 1&1 has finally added CloudInit about 6months ago allowing your configuration of servers to be setup via a script (no more manually adding repos and installing software!), and about a month or so ago they released SSH Keys as a repo of sorts in the Cloud Panel to make adding your keys a breeze. One of the neatest ideas they had, but in my humble opinion was flawed in implementation, was the Shared Storage device. Shared Storage was, in simple terms, a Network-Attached Storage device (harddrive) that you could connect multiple servers to. The flaw was in the implementation of the NFS:

  • There’s only 1 Credential for all Shared Storage devices
  • Linux needed a cron to auth with it because of the scope of mounting/authenticating
  • Windows needed auth to map and then changes to the Application pool to give IIS permissions to read/write from it
  • File permissions were set by the account “nas2” domain that was running on this NAS auth server, so no NTFS permissions or your own AD permissions

So in my mind, the concept is great to have multiple servers be able to connect to a NAS device, but the implementation ruled out alot of use-cases that customers wanted.

1&1 always had a feature with the Cloud called Flex Servers, which means that instead of having predefined sizes (M/L/XL), you could decide if you wanted 500GB of SSD, 8GB of Ram, and only 2vCore. Why would you want that, who really knows, but you could have it. The trade off is that this is priced so much higher than what the predefined sizes allowed.

For example:

1 XXL Server with Linux has 4vCores, 8GB of Ram, and 160GB of SSD for only $49.99
If you needed 300GB of Ram (140GB more) then you’d need a Flex server:
4vCores, 8GB of Ram, and 300GB of SSD = $108.00/month!!!!
That’s $58.01 just for 140GB more disk space! Kinda sucks right? Well, welcome the newest addition to 1&1’s offerings: BlockStorage.

In simplest terms, BlockStorage is still a Network Attached Storage device like the Shared Storage offering, but instead of sharing with other servers, a BlockStorage instance is attached to only a single server. Because of this, there’s no need for authentication, so the storage device is simply just treated as an additional harddrive. Priced at the typical $7.20 per 100GB, this means that we can add that 140GB we want for only $10.08 more a month! Using our example above, we have an XXL server + 140GB of BlockStorage for $60.07 vs Flex Server for $108.00/month!

Now since we’re talking about a new storage device, obviously this brings up a new concern. If your application is hardcoded to check your C: volume or you have an LVM on linux (as the 1&1 Images do by default) then you can’t normally benefit from a second drive. However, a simple “Span Volume” in Windows or a reconfiguration of your LVM to span across multiple disks, will eliminate this all together! Pretty exciting news for a great price, don’t ya think?

Check it out and let me know in the comments how you like it!

May 31 2017

1and1 releases Cloud-Init support for NGCS

So it appears that 1&1 has silently released an update to their CloudPanel products to support the Cloud-Init functionality. This is the same functionality seen with AWS, Linode, and others where you can configure things to happen for your server upon creation. The ultimate goal, for those unfamiliar, is to try to allievate some of the hassles associated with creating servers where you need to do trivial tasks like install applications, create users, etc. For MailServer customers, this is great because by default 1&1 Images still install with the HOSTNAME set to localhost.localdomain which will get you blacklisted if you’re not speedy enough to resolve it before your first email is sent. (For more information on a MailServer checklist).

For information on what Cloud-Init can do, read up at https://cloudinit.readthedocs.io to get some great examples and perfect use cases. The net is also swimming in guides by other people. One that I ran today for a test run, as I’ve never had the pleasure of using the system before, was as follows:

#cloud-config 
users:  
 - name: tgarrity
  gecos: Tim Garrity  
  sudo: ['ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL']  
  groups: wheel  
  ssh-authorized-keys:  
    - ssh-rsa ABCDE...12345 vm-key
package_upgrade: true
fqdn: server1.diyserver.guide
hostname: server1
manage_etc_hosts: true
disable_root: true

Short and simple, create a new user for me outside of the root user, disabled root so it can only be used during KVM, and set the hostname.

May 13 2017

Reset Windows Password on 1&1 CloudServer

So a task that I’m given alot is to go ahead and reset a lost Windows Password on one of my customer’s servers. The customer is in a position where they only have a single user account, Administrator, they’re not connected to an Active Directory, and don’t have any other means to reset the password. It would typically be at this point that the customer either keep trying to remember their password, and risk being locked out, or backing up their information and reimaging their server.

The trick to all this, since these are Virtual Machines and 1&1 is in no way able to automatically reset the password like they could with the VZ-Containers, involves an old trick / “hack” involving changing out the “Ease of Access” button for a Admin-enabled Command Prompt. You can check out a tutorial on the trick by going to https://www.technibble.com/bypass-windows-logons-utilman/ . They are using Win7 with the DVD, we’re going to do the same thing with Windows Server and using Linux (since getting the Win DVD is difficult due to the timeout on boot).

Continue reading

August 20 2016

Splashtop Free with 1and1 Cloud Server

So you can’t use TeamViewer Free with your Windows Cloudserver as it requires a paid license to do so, which is a shame since we’re more than capable of doing so with our Linux Cloudservers. So if you were in the market for a solution other than Remote Desktop, perhaps you should give Splashtop a try. Atleast at the time of this writing, Splashtop is a free service allowing you to remote connect to any computer that’s in your Network. Please note the emphasis there. Obviously this would throw a wrench into the plan of using Splashtop since your Cloudserver with 1and1 is in a remote network, but fortunately 1and1 provides a free workaround.

If you are able to do so, setup and configure one of the VPNs offered in your Cloud Panel at 1and1 by following the guides posted in the Cloud Panel help documents here. Once you’re setup and connect, you are now local on your CloudPanel’s network making all of your servers appear local to you! Now once you open up Splashtop, you’ll be able to connect to your Windows Cloudserver without an issue for free!

Another benefit of using this VPN: All of your traffic to and from your server is encrypted regardless of whether or not the traffic was encrypted to begin with. So if you use RDP, Splashtop, or just pull up your sites or other services hosted in your Cloud Panel, you’ll know that it’s tunneled and secured.

July 17 2016

Sending Email Checklist

Email is one of those pains that every server admin must go through. Between possibily being blacklisted, setting up DNS records, and trying to not go into a SPAM folder, it’s just a nightmare! Fortunately, it’s pretty simple to fix.

  • Make sure you have a hostname that’s not localhost.localdomain
    • By default all 1&1 CloudServers configure this way, though cPanel asks to set up a hostname during the creation process.
    • Name it something that’s going to actually resolve: cloudserver1.mydomain.com should have an A record that points back to your server. You don’t need anything listening like HTTP, just make sure the hostname resolves.
  • Make sure you’re not blacklisted.
    • It doesn’t matter if the IP was blacklisted before hand or not, check the ip and get information about why it’s blacklisted. Chances are, it’s because an email went out while you were still “localhost.localdomain”
    • Blacklist removals are almost too simple, instead of trying to find a “clean” ip, just get it removed and take ownership of your new address.
  • Create a PTR record for the IP and set it to your hostname.
    • cloudserver1.mydomain.com => 123.123.123.123 so 123.123.123.123 => cloudserver1.mydomain.com
  • Set up an SPF record on the domains that are sending mail or on the domain of the mailserver that’s going to be used
    • Remember to have ipv4 and/or ipv6 listed: “v=spf1 ipv4:123.123.123.123 -all”
    • Use both SPF records and TXT records with the SAME values
  • Ensure that you can communicate on port 25 from the server that’s sending email
    • Try telnetting to a remote server on port 25 from your server. If you can’t communicate outbound on 25, it’s likely blocked
      • 1&1 by default filters port 25 on CloudServers to limit spam. If you’re sure you have security setup (all email clients will come through via 587, you won’t operate an open relay, etc) then call and ask to have the port unfiltered.

 

If after doing all of this, 1 of 3 things should happen:

  • You email gets sent and hits the inbox without issue
    • Congrats, you’ve successfully set up your email server!
  • Your email gets sent and hits the spam folder
    • Check the email headers and look for why it was filtered and fix it
      • Received-SPF: softfail (google.com: domain of transitioning [email protected] does not designate 123.123.123.123 as permitted sender) <== This means that you don't have ipv4:123.123.123.123 in your SPF record (and you used ~all)!
      • Received-SPF: neutral (google.com: 123.123.123.123 is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of [email protected]) <== This means you don't have an SPF record at all!
  • Your email doesn’t get sent out at all
    • Check your MailLog or any bounceback you receive to try and fix it:
      • “Refused to talk to me” – chances are you’re blacklisted. Check for a postmaster link and recheck your domain/ip for blacklists
      • “550-5.7.1 [123.123.123.123] The IP address sending this message does not have a PTR record setup. As a policy, Gmail does not accept messages from IPs with missing PTR records.” <== This means that you don’t have a PTR record setup!

 

July 16 2016

Additional Storage space for 1and1 Cloud Servers

In the Cloud Server industry there’s a few things that are trending when dealing with the ever growing needs of services being in “the cloud.” One of those trends are “Block Storages” in which companies like AWS and Digital Ocean offer a means of having a storage container for use in your cloud architecture. Traditionally with Cloud Servers and Virtual Servers you had to increase your package’s overall resources to benefit from additional diskspace, which lead to a pollution of unneeded vCores or Ram just to get more space.

1and1 has a few methods to overcome these challenges: Flex packages and Shared Storage.

Flex Packages

As we mentioned, the traditional idea with Cloud Servers and Virtual Servers were that you chose a package of predefined limits, just like you would with all Servers, but you could increase these limits by moving up to a higher package. Traditional Bare-Metal Servers required you to upgrade to a whole new server to increase CPU, RAM, or Diskspace, whereas Virtual Servers and Cloud Servers allowed you to just choose the next level or package and your limits would just change to those. To ensure proper management of resources on nodes, most companies require you to stick with these packages and don’t allow for deviation. Their whole math is based off of how many “M”, “L”, “XXL” servers they can fit before needing to move the VMs/Containers to a new node.

Fortunately, 1and1 Cloud Servers offer the possibility for flexible configurations along side their pre-defined packages which they call “Flex” packages. At any time, a pre-defined server like an “M” with 1vCore, 1GB of Ram, and 40GB of SSD could become a Flex with the same configuration and then each individual resource could be expanded. So say you need 1vCore, 1GB of Ram, and 500GB of SSD for a backup repository server, then that’s simply a button push away. If you find that your Flex matches a pre-defined configuration, then you can flip the switch and change to that Package.

A common experience I’ve seen is people who after increasing their SSD to that of a package size, felt that they could benefit from the increase of RAM and vCores as well and simply changed back over and reaped the benefits of the price. Then when more SSD was required, they flipped back over to Flex, increased the SSD, and continued from there.

Price  Considerations

Flex Packages cost $7.20 per vCore, $7.20 per GB of Ram, and $7.20 per 100GB.

M Package (1vCore, 1GB Ram, 40GB SSD) = $9.99 ($17.28 for Flex)
L Package (2vCores, 2GB Ram, 80GB SSD) = $19.99 ($34.56 for Flex)
XXL Package (4vCores, 8GB Ram, 160GB SSD) = $49.99 ($97.92 for Flex)

Obviously if your requirements fit that of a Pre-defined package, the benefits are there to stay with it. But imagine if you’re an L package and needed 160GB of SSD. You can either choose XXL Package which benefits you with 2 more vCores and 6more GB of Ram or you can go with a Flex.

Flex 2vCores, 2GB Ram, 160GB SSD = $40.32.
As your project grows in needed SSDs but doesn’t grow in compute or memory, the Flex starts to shine. It’s a “pay what you need” plan.

 

Shared Storage

1and1 has also released the idea of having a Network-attached File System which can be attached to any number of servers. Here, just like from AWS and DigitalOcean, you’re paying for Diskspace and no other factors. DigitalOcean and AWS’s General Purpose SSD (“EBS”) costs $0.10 per GB. At 1and1, they sell the same functionality for $7.20 per 100GB or $0.072 per GB, and it can be attached to any and all cloud servers on your contract.

 

Use Cases of Flex Packages

So as we already know, you can change your current server to becoming a Flex and increase its drive space and you can even add additional SSD drives (up to 8) for a total of 4TB. I’ve found though that most of the time I want my frontend webservers to stay with the normal packages (typically L packages) and then create my database servers and backup servers as Flex packages.

Backup Server | SFTP / FTP storage

Flex Server with 1vCore, 500MB (0.5GB) of Ram, and 500GB of Storage.

Since it’s a normal server, I can deal with authentication as I see fit. The server remains on a private network with no outside network capabilities.

Cost: $46.8/month.

DigitalOcean or AWS cost: $50.0/month with no local OS (and limited to being connected to 1 droplet)

Database Server | Maria Cluster

Flex Server with 2vCores, 2GB Ram, and 200GB of Storage

A normal server with just private networking, configured for Master-Master Clustering.

Cost:  $43.20/month per DBServer (+ $4.99 for a HAProxy Server for loadbalancing additional DBServer)

1and1 Total: DBServer + HAProxy = $48.19

 

DigitalOcean and AWS: $20/month for the storage.
Then need to configure your DB Servers and HAProxy Node: $20/month for 1DB server (2vCores, 2GB Ram, and 40GB SSD) + $5 for the HAProxy Node (1vCore, 0.5GB ram, 20GB SSD)

DigitalOcean Total: DBServer + HAProxy + 200GB BlockStorage = $45
DigitalOcean Limitation: Each DBServer needs its own BlockStorage!

July 16 2016

Digital Ocean releases “Block Storage”

For those who have been using DigitalOcean droplets, you’ve probably found yourself in need of additional disk space outside of what your Droplet originally provides. Originally you had to either expand your Droplet, which meant unneeded increases in vCores and Ram along with the price they warrant, or use another provider like AWS and link that storage remotely. Obviously the price increase and resource pollution makes the former a nightmare and the latter means yet another company to deal with and latency possibilities.

Instead, the new solution, is to just add a NFS that you can pay for with the additional diskspace you need. You continue to pay for the droplet size of your choice, and then choose to pay an additional $0.10 per GB that you need every month. The current sizes range from 1GB all the way up to a whopping 16TB of disk space, $0.10/month and $160.00/month respectively.

You can read more about DigitalOcean’s new feature by visiting their official blog here:

https://www.digitalocean.com/company/blog/block-storage-more-space-to-scale/

May 13 2016

Cloud Beta | VM Controller – DIY CloudPanel Prototype update

As mentioned in the original release announcement of the Early Beta, https://diyserver.guide/cloud-panel-prototype-early-beta/ , I’ve updated the framework and functionality to have a better glimpse of what’s to come. Check out the new update and use the “Trial” function which only requires using your API Key to see the system in action:

http://cloud-beta.diyserver.guide/auth/trial

As you can see, I used the official 1&1 CloudPanel as my inspiration for design and functionality but will look to change things up as functionality becomes more complete. For now, it’s more to just limit the learning curve.

The endgoal will be to create a system that you can host on your own, sell servers to your clients, and the hope will be that your clients will never have to know or worry about whom your vendor is. Currently that vendor will be 1&1, but as time goes on, I’ll create a modular design to allow you to choose between the different companies like DigitalOcean, Linode, and AWS. Unfortunately, most providers don’t provide the same features that 1&1 provides like Firewalls and Load Balancers.

Business logic proposal

Currently 1&1 shows all servers to every API users, but allows ACL control to limit who can create/delete. For this reason, our users =/= API users, as we don’t want our users to be able to see other users’ servers.

In the future, you would assign our CloudController to have a number of API Keys for provisioning, each API key relates to a different 1&1 Cloud Contract which has a 99Server limit. We can then set up rules about how many users can be assign to each Provisioning server, and how many servers each user can have. From there, it’s simply like having Shared Hosting accounts, but each user owns their own server, and the “Host” is our Provisioning contract

Say we have 3 “Tiers” we sell:

  • Small: 5 server limit per user
  • Medium: 10 server limit
  • Large: 20 server limit

Small limitations

  • 18-9 users per Small Provisioning Contract
  • 5-10 servers reserved for shared MySQL DB servers, a DHCP server, exceptions

Medium limitations

  • 9 users per Small Provisioning Contract
  • <10 servers reserved for shared MySQL DB servers, a DHCP server, exceptions

Large limitations

  • 4 users per Small Provisioning Contract
  • <10 servers reserved for shared MySQL DB servers, a DHCP server, exceptions

Overall Limitations

  • Once they’re placed on a contract, they can’t be taken off. There’s no way to move a VM between contracts at the moment with 1&1
  • To overcome, you must price the tiers accordingly. Customers who know they won’t need more than 5 will choose Small Tier for the price, while others will get the Large because they know they’ll need it. (In Theory)
April 30 2016

1&1 Speed Test on Cloud Server | 1and1 NGCS

So I know a few customers have asked me for the speed of the 1and1 Cloud Servers, since it doesn’t appear to show up anywhere on the site, and the official answer we give is that the Cloud Server is limited to a maximum theortical speed of 400mbit/s. As always with this sort of thing, this is the maximum possible and not the guaranteed real world connection that you’ll get all the time. This is no different then your typical ISP when you get a “75/50” connection at home, but I figured it’d be worth posting what I get on my personal account. Please note that I receive the same package as any customer with no added perks (unfortunately 🙁 ).