After searching the web I still can't find the reason to use EC2. What's the point to scale EC2? If you expect a huge burst in traffic, they say.

OK, but what if you already have a couple of sites with good traffic, and for example medium reserved EC2 instance is not enough.

You are paying $36.60(medium reserved for 1year) in EU(Ireland) + traffic + optional expenses for databases and S3 if you use them.

Of course as some point when you are under $56.6-$66.1 you can optimize your hosting costs with Amazon EC2. But when you get at some point if purchase EX4 server from Hetzner, it will surpass your perfomance needs for a long time, before you get a massive traffic. (I am wrong?)

CPU: i7-2600 Quadcore (3.4-3.8 Ghz)

RAM: 16 GB

HDD: 2x3 TB SATA (6 Gbit/s) - I think that disc performance of a dedicated is better then of Amazon EBS

Traffic: 10 TiB in month included. This is what you get from Hetzner for $56(- 19% VAT) or $66 for EU residents.

Please, tell me what's the reason to use Amazon? Which load won't a server from Hetzner take, but Amazon Auto Scaling will?

The maintenance of dedicated vs EC2 is still the same? Or hardware failure at Amazon, won't ruin your EBS storage?

I'm still not at the level when I need expensive hosting, but want to know beforehand, just to be sure if Amazon infrastructure is better then pure performance of Hetzner's hardware.

  • Have you already read the Hacker News discussion? Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 10:20
  • I guess I've already read that or the other topic on Hacker News with comparsion. In the end I couldn't make a conclusion. Amazon is good when you really need to scale with dozens of instances if you need, and shut down them in a couple of hours. Plus all the other infrastructure.
    – C-Blu
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 13:00

4 Answers 4


I use both. You aren't going to get a better bang for a buck than Hetzner anywhere. They are solid as a rock. I'd still rely on a CDN for static content but aside from that, Hetzner is awesome.

EC2 is a different animal. Use it if you have a superbowl ad or something. It's more expensive. It's also a little faster if you need to spin up new nodes.

EC2 is also easier if you are lazy. With Hetzner you'll have to install something like ProxMox to get the same virtual machine benefits as EC2, as well as a little bit of customization.

My recommendation? Save some cash. Set up a load balancer vm and a few webhost machines using proxmox and hetzner. Have a program to spin up some additional VMs using EC2 that attach to the load balancer if you really need it (with an auto-cap in case of DDOS). Use a CDN for static content.

edit: Get two mid-sized machines instead of a big one so you can roll over in case of failure. Set up automatic backups to a service that isn't hetzner. DNS is your friend and you can switch to a different cloud using the worst case scenario, because you have the ProxMox vm.


To be honest it depends on the use, but cloud has many benefits over dedicated such as...


The Scalability Requirements varys from customer to customer, a lot of people may not even require it at all while some businesses will need it for certain releases that BURST is expected. The idea of Cloud Computing is you can increase the server spec when required, using API's you can increase these so even if the cost of a high spec instance on EC2 is expensive it may not be something you need every day of the year therefor saving costs on a dedicated server.

Though the costs of using a HIGH SPEC vs Dedicated every day will be more, ultimately yes they need to drive down the price to be more comparable to dedicated but they also got to think MARGINS.

Clouds have Redundant Fall Overs

Generally speaking good cloud providers will have multiple redundant fail over systems that allow your site to continue unaffected should a fault occur. While a failing piece of kit on a dedicated server cause a outrage in service. When dedicates servers break generally there is no fall-over system unless you have multiple dedicates. Furthermore if you only have one dedicated server it will take time to get that back online, this can vary from a few hours to even days depending on the provider you use and if considering a provider for a dedicated then ask what "happens if this happens".

Cloud Traffic

The traffic on the EC2 should be bare minimal if your using the AWS system to your full advantage since your SQL can be stored in the RDS instance and your static files should can be stored on a S3 container.

With a dedicated server yes they offer 2x3TB and 10TB traffic but again this is not a fail proof system and even if you was to operate the hard drives in mirror mode there's always the chance that both hard drives could fail at once, I know that's pretty slim but again its WHAT IF...

Additional on this topic I very much doubt a dedicated server will serve files faster than a Content Delivery Network purely because they mirror their SAN on multiple networks all over the world so while it may be fast to people in the same region of the server it'll be noticeably slower in other parts of the world. Also by using an CDN for serving your files your freeing up resources and allowing the main server to serve content even faster.

Dedicated Servers are Costy more to Maintain

A lot of Dedicated Server Providers have hidden charges such as Backups, Resets, Hardware Fixing - Including Expected Turn Around Time, and Some don't even offer a GOOD Uptime SLA!

Generally speaking and from what I've read and the servers I've rented; backing up files is extremely extensive and you need to pay for this service. Additional if you do your own backups what if the software fails, I know this is a slim chance with Linux but again its another WHAT IF.. You'd need someone to reset the software and then transfer the files across while on a cloud you have a recover image with a simple restore button.

Cloud Computing Adds Security Layers

Using Cloud Computing can improve your site security by using multiple layers, take the S3 for example, CDN's are extremely secure and add an additional layer. RDS for the Database is once again adding an additional layer.

Additionally most dedicated servers are not as strong as the components that AWS uses, what I mean by this is that AWS will restand better at DOS attacks than an Dedicated that may not be even behind a firewall. Please note I didn't say stop DOS attacks here :P

To Be Honest

To be honest there is no right answer to your question as a dedicated may be suitable for you, what you need to do is address all the flaws like the ones I've listed and weigh them out - Personally I won't go back to dedicated because I've had problems with failing hardware and its not good when it happens.

  • Thanks for a detailed comment here. Well, then I may consider using EC2 in this case. I already use micro instance, to do some cron jobs, and S3 to host static content and Route 53 as a DNS service. I guess when the time comes, If I'll get some experience with auto-scaling and Cloud Infrastructure, it will be better then just configuring one dedicated server.
    – C-Blu
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 5:33

Its been a while but thought our use case would be helpful...

First + point on AWS.

We have a Dedicated Server at a well known host. It a huge spec, and been trying to run Magento stores for ages. We have tweaked and played with configuration in a manner that wont bring down the sites. Our host had not installed APC (before I started) so they installed it even though we paid them to build a Magento Server, brought our sites down for 3 hours with a broken PHP version. We managed to get it going again with a disabled APC.

in AWS We have an exact replica of all our AMI's (NGINX, NGINX+Varnish, Control Server) sat waiting on AWS that we can fire up and play with at any time. We can clone the EBS volume that our Vhosts data is sat on map some IPs to our VPC internal IP addresses, latch them to the server and be up and running in no time at all. Do our TEST make sure all is ok and make change to the LIVE system and shut down the replica until its needed again. At this point the changes we made to config, we clone into a new version AMI.

Second + point for AWS. We hit an IP Address limit on our current Host. In AWS We have any number of Internal VPC IP addresses and have allocated to our account 20 elastic external IP's that we can map to internal IP addresses. The Network features in AWS VPC are absolutely amazing. Its just unreal how they have packaged this up for low level network admins. It took 3 days to get some New IP Addresses on our host and added to their firewall.

This is where I give AWS another +

Backups on our current dedicated server are just a clone of a folder held on a backup vault. Basically a mounted drive. A mounted drive only available to that server. So in the case of a massive outage, we would have to get a new server setup, mount the backup store, install and configure our new server exactly the same way (big task), then recreate the data. Our host boast 4 hour turn around for new Hardware but that means nothing at all to me. Its getting the configuration and sites set back up.

Our business offers solutions to businesses for the whole web life cycle. Consultancy, design, SEO, support and maintenance. If we had an outage on our dedicated we would go out of business, because it would be days before we got on our feet again. We cannot have this scenario even on our what if map. It just cannot happen.

In AWS currently we have our web content on AWS Instances mounted on EBS Volumes at 750IOPS and a second Instance (what we call a control server) that Rsyncs the Data into another Availability Zone on schedule and updates an Instance for the latest config in case we need to fire up an Instance from that AMI. It rsyncs all NGINX configs, PHP-FPM setup files for this.

So now we have two sets of data; an AMI that's a clone of the production NGINX web server, and a copy of the Vhosts directory content with config files and Vhosts in case we needed to fire up a new server.

This is where AWS gets another + Our Dedicated Server struggles at peak times. Yes we run Magento so it a little different from some apps. We have a Quad Core 32GB Raid Disk Setup and it struggles at times even has outages when a customer sends a email campaign or two do at the same time. We cant barely do anything. It has MySQL on it locally, its memory optimised for MYSQL but the disks are poor.

In AWS we run 3 High CPU instances. 2 NGINX/PHP-FPM Web Servers, plus an NGINX SSL + Varnish Cache Instance. We then have a smaller Magento Admin server that hosts all images and media that is then mapped via CNAMES through Cloudfront. This is all reserved instances to keep costs down.

We then have our databases in RDS on a 2000IOPS Large Instance that both the Web Servers connect to it that takes snapshots each night. With a little down time (we have maintenance pages for our stores) we can resize the IOPS and instance size. The best thing about RDS is we can take a latest snapshot and create a new DB for testing and development. Then shut down. Its just fantastic.

We use Elastic Cache + and now testing Redis for management of cache for the front end web servers. Again we can resize up and down.

We can add new Servers High CPU On Demand Instances (by cloning our NGINX frontend) into the mix with some manual work to help out at Xmas and if we need to when a customer tells us they will be sending a 100,000 strong email campaign selling of products with 75% discount.

We are now TESTING our auto scaling in Amazon and how we get servers to fire, add ip addresses, update NGINX configs etc and start working without issues but then to also take the server out and shut down during quiet times (nigh time).

AWS + + Moving data on our dedicated is service disrupting. Copying, Rsync MV etc will hit the disks IO which in turn slows sites.

Using volumes and snapshots in AWS is just so easy. Don't really need to say anything here.

AWS +++++++ General Server management and control. There is actually no really visibility into our Dedicated Server. Its just SSH in and some really bad server report that our Host sends monthly.

AWS we can see stats that although are not fully accurate in my eyes on the applications performance, they do give you a good idea on how the actual Instance is working. We have alarms setup to detect issue.

Conclusion *AWS vs Dedicated - Pure Power.* For all the AWS Trolls I'm not saying or even going to try and say AWS will out perform a dedicated with two Quads, SSD loads of memory etc. Even AWS wont try and tell you this. There are things you can do to up performance, EBS Optimised, IOPS provisioning and resize instances but I know that a pure bare bones dedicated will outperform.

AWS vs Dedicated - Architecture for a Proper Solution Dedicated Servers sat in a lonely rack somewhere just wont cut it for me. This is not a real world situation or suitable as a solution in my eyes when providing businesses with a solution to run their stores or sites.

We have our whole server network in AWS VPC, we can expand, contract, see where all our resources are in one place. As a solution I would never want to move back to a Dedicated Server.

If I was running a site that could deal with a massive outage and we could wait to rebuild a new server with the host, or was willing to use two hosts or AWS as backup and move a site if a dedicated went down then this is the only way I would do this. This in itself is a time consuming issue.

Costs The reason why Dedicated Servers are now so cheap is because AWS is offering cheap ways to manage your own mini data centre which is what many data centres used to add premium for. There is a shift in pricing and data centres now have to use slagging techniques against AWS to sell their services or shout about Raw Server power and lack of in some AWS instance types.

People who compare a dedicated Server to an AWS instance should really take into account all the extra services that AWS offer around that Server Instance and map that into a dedicated price. Let me expand. When leaving and giving notice on the contract to our current host they said AWS this, bad performance EBS costs etc etc. So we sent a solution map of what we wanted.

  • Private LAN with security/routing policies and firewalls
  • 20 External Ip addresses, with the ability to remap across servers on the fly or through control panel
  • 4 servers with 8 Cores each with 16 threads
  • 32 GB Ram
  • Database Server with the ability to provide up to 10000 IOPS but generally about 2000IOP
  • Point and Click Backups
  • No Contract or just 12 months

Not only could they not do all this, they said if they could provide the software stack to do it our setup costs would have been around £10,000 plus monthly fees.

Dedicated Servers will outperform Clouds but this is a thing of the past now. You can see it in the marketing against cloud computing. Cloud computing is the full solution that bridges small business to having their own data centre. In my eyes and after setting many AWS solutions AWS is the business solution at the moment

I know when I buy an AWS Instance its not just the Instance, but all the kit attached to it. I know when I buy a Dedicated Server it really is just a server dumped in a rack with a cable attached.

I know £ for £ a dedicated server will be better than AWS, but for my customers and ACTUAL business needs AWS outweighs dedicated solutions massively

  • Thank you, this detailed use case was the kind of answer I needed back then but even now it′s useful to read that. Well now I get the idea about the pricing of cloud vs. dedicated. The ability to build an infrastructure like this, is perfect for use cases like yours. Maybe small projects, don′t need cloud hosting, but for small business, it′s a good setup indeed.
    – C-Blu
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 15:38

After last AWS outage, i found this solution of GSLB on AWS marketplace but you have also Route53 or Neustar for this task.

I use this with EC2 and one dedicated server with opsource Varnish (hosted by cheap hosting provider Leaseweb in Europe). If i detect AWS failure or if my budget for delivery my content with EC2 is out, i direct the trafic on my cheap cache server.

It's the best solution for me without high cost and ensure fault tolerance.

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