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A common question on the internet: I want to host a website. Which low cost VPS should I use? Linode ($20/month for the cheapest plan)? Slicehost (also $20/moth for the cheapest plan)? Something else?

A helpful, albeit misguided, answer would weight various pros and cons of many services, compare prices, do rigorous processor and I/O benchmarks etc.

A much better answer is: stop wasting your time (and money) trying to optimize inconsequential parts of your business.

Your time is worth a lot. For the purpose of this discussion let’s say it’s $50/hour (a not so great salary of a good software developer).

VPS hosting is a mature, competitive business. You can reject all plans that are too good to be true (e.g. unlimited bandwidth for $5/month) because they are scams. That leaves a number of roughly equivalent plans. Pick one and move on to more important things.

If a competitive plan costs $20/month, let’s be unrealistic and assume you’ll be able to find an equivalent service that is 25% ($5) cheaper. One hour spent trying to find such a plan would cost you 10 months of savings on such a hypothetical service.

Too many of us are obsessed with getting the best possible sticker price without considering the total cost, which includes additional time spent researching the options.

If you’re Google or Amazon, running thousands of servers, squeezing the best possible value out of each server is worth the time because a minor saving gets multiplied. If you’re choosing a single, low priced commodity among many similar options, you’ll be better of just picking one with minimal amount of research (the good stuff comes at the top anyway) than spending unbound amount of time comparing options in hopes of finding the best possible value.

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