Best Unmanaged VPS: BuyVM & Alternatives

Running a server has become available to anyone regardless of the budget and skills thanks to ever decreasing hardware costs and the rise of free server management tools that make it easy to self-host a variety of open source web apps such as WordPress for websites or OpenVPN for VPN.

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Thanks to virtualization technologies and cloud computing, you can get a KVM-based virtual server with dedicated scalable resources at the fraction of the cost of a physical dedicated server. Unmanaged virtual servers are known by a variety of names, from more established ones such as virtual private servers (VPS) and virtual machines (VM) to newer and quirkier ones such as compute instances, slices and droplets.

You can get a cheap cloud server with 1 GB of RAM starting from $5/month at such cloud compute providers as DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode and many others. But if you are looking for better value in your unmanaged VPS – with more resources, must-have features and ultimate reliability – at a much lower price, there are worthy alternatives.

Among many cheaper VPS providers, BuyVM* stands out as a brand that strives to exceed its users’ expectations. Besides the power that you get from a self-managed KVM VPS with root access and a dedicated IPv4 address, BuyVM ensures highest performance through the use of the latest hardware including 3.5+ GHz CPUs and NVMe storage. What makes it easily the best unmanaged VPS provider is that it also offers 1 Gbps ports, free control panels, optional backups, numerous latest OS versions and multiple data center locations in the US and beyond.

Your choice of a cheap unmanaged VPS will mainly depend on stock availability, locations and specific features or addons you may need such as snapshots, block storage and control panels. Below you will find a detailed review of BuyVM. You can also browse through a short list of alternative unmanaged VPS providers that offer extra value beyond that of BuyVM. Finally, you will find answers to common server-related questions as well as a VPS map with worldwide VPS data center locations.

Table of Contents

  1. BuyVM Reviewed
  2. Alternatives to BuyVM
  3. Bonus: Unmanaged VPS FAQs
  4. Conclusion: Best Unmanaged VPS for You

BuyVM Reviewed

BuyVM stands out in many ways ranging from having such basics as multiple operating systems and server locations to low pricing and Bitcoin payments. To understand if this VPS provider is a good fit for you, it is crucial to look into minor details and technicalities. Below you can delve into what BuyVM has to offer in terms of specific features, RAM-based plans and account billing as well as find a brief overview of the pros and cons.

BuyVM Features & Addons

First, BuyVM provides KVM servers with full root access and uses a custom VPS management panel which has such features as server backups and snapshots.

Latest Linux OSyes
Windows Serverfree
Custom ISOyes
VPS Admin CPStallion
Free DirectAdminyes
Backup Pricing10%/month
Block Storage$1.25/256 GB
SSH Key Setupno
DDoS Mitigation
DDoS Protected IP$3/month
Extra IPv4$2/month
Free IPv648
USA Locations3
Europe Locations1
APAC Locations

BuyVM Plans & Pricing

Second, BuyVM offers an affordable entry plan that is much cheaper than those of popular cloud providers. The table below gives an overview of its 2 GB RAM plan based on the annual payment and New York data center location.

Why 2 GB RAM? Because such popular control panels as DirectAdmin and VirtualMin may not function on servers with less RAM. Why annual payment? Because BuyVM offers many freebies that are available only if you prepay for a year. Why New York? Because resource limits such as bandwidth may differ based on the data center location.

Entry Plan512 MB RAM
Entry Plan Price$20/year
Comparable Plan2 GB RAM
2 GB Plan NameSlice 2048
3.5+ GHz CPU Cores1 (fair share)
NVMe Storage40 GB
Port Speed1 Gbit (shared)
Price Paid Monthly$7
Price Paid Annually$84

BuyVM Trust & Billing

Thirdly, the following table examines the credibility of BuyVM in terms of its jurisdiction, account security, uptime guarantees, tech support, refunds and billing cycles.

Year Founded2010
Uptime SLA99.9%
24/7 Supportno
VPS Provisioning>2 hours
Account 2FAyes
Card, PayPal, Cryptoyes
Hourly Billingno
Monthly & Yearlyyes
Money Back3 days
Always in Stockno

BuyVM Pros & Cons

A Frantech Solutions company, BuyVM has pioneered the frontiers of web hosting and VPS solutions on an ultra-low budget since 2010. Not only does BuyVM provide the cheapest KVM servers starting from $20 a year, it also includes a set of free perks such as Microsoft Windows Server and hosting software (DirectAdmin, Softaculous and Blesta). BuyVM furthermore has built its own Solus-compatible panel, Stallion, with numerous prebuilt templates, offers cheap block storage, includes 1 Gbit unmetered bandwidth and provides dedicated CPU cores starting from 4 GB RAM plans. The $30+/month plans include optional server management.

BuyVM Pros:

  • NVMe storage & 3.5+ GHz CPUs
  • 1 Gbit unmetered bandwidth
  • 100+ prebuilt OS templates
  • Free DirectAdmin & Softaculous
  • Inexpensive 512 MB VPS
  • 4 data center locations
  • 5 free snapshots per location

BuyVM Cons:

  • Often out of stock
  • Manual order approval

Alternatives to BuyVM

While BuyVM offers unrivaled value with every VPS, it may not be the best fit if you need a specific data center location, an even lower price, an even tinier VPS or simply a different brand. Among a myriad of cheap unmanaged VPS providers, some of the best BuyVM alternatives include OVHcloud, HostHatch, VirMach and RackNerd.

OVHcloud: Established Feature-Rich Low-Cost Brand

Registered in Delaware as OVH US LLC, OVHcloud is a US subsidiary of OVH SAS, a France-based reputable green-tech company with a global reach that was founded back in 1999. To ensure data protection and to comply with legislation in the EU and US, VPS services based in the US can only be ordered through OVHcloud. OVH has two data centers in the US, in Virginia and Oregon, and it fully owns its infrastructure.

The cheapest KVM VPS costs $6/month and includes 2 GB of RAM. If you commit to a one- or two-year plan, OVHcloud VPS will cost about half the price of DO or Vultr. Besides memory, processors and NVMe storage, OVH plans differ also in terms of the network speed ranging from a 250 Mbps connection to a maximum of 2 Gbps. Regardless of the plan you choose, bandwidth is unmetered and DDoS protection is included at no cost. And in addition to an IPv4 address, you get a set of 128 IPv6 addresses.

When ordering with OVHcloud, you need to take into account that all services are nonrefundable. For most users this is not an issue because OVH delivers incredible value and has an SLA of 99.9%. Additionally, OVHcloud offers extra peace of mind with optional server snapshots and backups.

HostHatch: Large Global Network & Incredible Value

In business since 2011, HostHatch LLC is a Florida-based VPS provider with a truly global reach that includes 14+ locations. Besides three popular US locations, HostHatch offers data center locations in such less common cities as Milan, Madrid and Warsaw in Europe and Hong Kong and Sydney in APAC.

In addition to worldwide locations, HostHatch has very competitive pricing. Its 2 GB RAM KVM VPS costs $5/month. All servers are based on fast local NVMe disks and 4 GB RAM VPS and higher come with fully dedicated – not shared – CPU cores. Besides compute VMs, you can also deploy an affordable storage VPS with 250+ GB of HDD.

The company’s seven-day money back guarantee applies only if you have a valid reason. HostHatch has built its own proprietary control panel, Falcon, that has many pre-made templates and allows mounting custom ISOs. HostHatch provisions VPS automatically and offers 24/7 in-house customer support.

VirMach: Best for Affordable Tiny VPS & Special Offers

Registered in Oklahoma, Virtual Machine Solutions LLC has been one of the most popular VPS providers since 2014. Its promise of customer satisfaction comes with a seven-day money-back guarantee and 100% uptime SLA. While VirMach has a broad range of products, including web hosting and VPN, it specializes, as the name suggests, in virtual private servers, including storage VPS and 10 Gbps VPS.

VirMach is the best BuyVM alternative if you need a 512 MB RAM VPS or an even smaller one. VirMach’s tiniest KVM server has 256 MB of RAM and costs $1.25/month or less if paid annually. VirMach is also known for great special offers. It is currently upgrading its nodes to 3GHz+ CPU processors and NVMe storage and sells some of its SSD VPS at a discounted price. Check VirMach’s special offers page for current offers.

While not always in stock, VMs are available in 11 locations in the US and Europe, with free DDoS protection in New York. VirMach virtual machines come with SolusVM control panel, instant setup and optional weekly DR backups. Unlike many other unmanaged VPS providers, VirMach provides optional managed support ($25/month or $15/15 minutes).

RackNerd: Fastest Growing VPS Host with Best Promos

Registered and headquartered in California, RackNerd LLC was launched in 2019. Its focus on infrastructure stability and investment in the latest hardware such as AMD Ryzen processors and NVMe storage have catapulted RackNerd to one of the most sought-after server providers.

While its cheap 512 MB RAM servers offer good value and are always available, RackNerd is know for running mind-boggling promotions for larger VPS. For example, you can currently get a special 3 GB RAM VPS with 2 CPU cores, 45 GB of Pure SSD storage and 5 TB of bandwidth for $27.98/year*.

While RackNerd offers neither backups nor refunds, it is a perfect choice for those who wish to quickly deploy and run a VPS thanks to instant VPS provisioning and the familiar SolusVM control panel. Depending on the offer, RackNerd servers can be deployed in one of many data centers across North America and Europe.

Bonus: Unmanaged VPS FAQs

Is there a difference between a cloud server and a VPS?

On the level of the end product, in either case you typically get a KVM-based unmanaged virtual machine with isolated resources and its own operating system. On the level of technology, a true cloud server is based on a set of on-demand computing resources that can be scaled in real time and are billed on a pay-as-you-go basis, usually hourly.

In practice, the differences between cloud servers and virtual private servers can be quite subtle as many VPS providers offer virtual machines built on top of the highly available infrastructure including redundant networks and disks. Whether providers describe their KVM product as cloud or just VPS, they all remove the complexity of handling low-level configurations and make it easy to deploy a server with scalable resources. KVM virtual machines are targeted at developers, tech startups, webmasters and small businesses rather than sysadmins, IT operations teams and large enterprises.

Why use a KVM VPS and what are good KVM alternatives?

Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) has become the most popular open source virtualization technology to create cloud servers of any size. The kernel component of KVM is included in Linux and acts as a hypervisor. In contrast to OS-level virtualization, KVM works on the level of hardware. It means that virtual machines do not share a single kernel and instead have private virtualized hardware with complete freedom to run any kernel and OS independent of the host machine.

Two main KVM alternatives that also provide full hardware virtualization include Xen (open source) and VMware ESXi (proprietary). Both Xen and VMware ESXi tend to have a more specialized scope of application: Xen is typically used in multi-hypervisor orchestration systems while VMware ESXi is used mainly in enterprise settings that require low computational overhead.

The main OS-level virtualization alternative to KVM remains OpenVZ. It is used to create VPS containers or virtual environments that run the same kernel version as the host. OpenVZ can utilize unused RAM and CPU on the carrier hardware as burst resources. Because OpenVZ is less resource-intensive and more resource-efficient than KVM, OpenVZ-based servers are often more affordable than KVM servers. For example, an OpenVZ VPS with 1 GB of RAM and 2 IPv4 addresses costs from $2.96/month at Ethernet Servers*.

Besides specific applications and cost of usage, you may want to choose a non-KVM VPS because KVM is not always compatible with every app or control panel. For example, InterWorx does not support KVM but works with Xen, VMware and OpenVZ. Conversely, the majority of server management platforms such as ServerPilot and Cloudron work best on KVM servers.

How much RAM is OK and why use a 512 MB RAM VPS?

The amount of resources you will need on your VPS such as RAM, CPU and storage will depend on the apps you wish to install and whether you will use a control panel. The majority of web hosting control panels require a minimum of 1 GB of RAM but will not function properly unless you have 2+ GB of RAM: this is the case with major proprietary (cPanel and DirectAdmin) and open source (Virtualmin and ISPConfig) control panels alike.

There are also many lightweight control panels and other tools that will run on 512 MB of RAM or even less. A 512 MB RAM VPS can be a perfect budget-friendly solution if you use, for example, one of the following:

  • Open source control panel (e.g. Vesta CP & Hestia CP)
  • Server management tool (e.g. ServerPilot & RunCloud)
  • WordPress script stack (e.g. Webinoly & WordOps)
  • DIY VPN or DNS server (e.g. WireGuard & Pi-hole)

That said, newer OS versions e.g. Ubuntu usually require at least 1 GB of RAM. And besides RAM, some server management tools require a relatively high amount of storage. For example, Cloudron requires only 1 GB of RAM but at least 20 GB of disk space.

What are the benefits of an unmanaged vs managed VPS?

Using an unmanaged or self-managed VPS is a cost-effective, flexible and powerful way to host websites and apps. In addition to a dedicated IP address, root access and the choice of operating systems and server locations, unmanaged VPS providers offer extremely affordable services that are often cheaper than using shared hosting or one-size-fits-all products.

You can manage a VPS either directly through a command line interface or with a variety of free and paid control panels and other server management tools. When using an unmanaged VPS, you are ultimately responsible for OS updates, server security, software upgrades, custom configurations and troubleshooting web server and database errors.

The benefits of using managed virtual private servers often outweigh the cost for those who wish to delegate server administration to the host. A managed VPS is often a better option if you have neither technical skills at the developer level nor time to do your research on any server issues you may encounter. Despite what you may have heard, you can get a managed VPS at a reasonable price and you can still have full root access. There are two types of managed VPS hosting in terms of the scope of support.

The first type is reactive partially managed VPS service. You pay a fixed monthly fee to be able to open a ticket and have an expert do OS and control panel updates or help you solve a specific issue. A good example of such managed VPS support is Hostwinds*.

The second type is proactive fully managed VPS service. Not only does fully managed VPS hosting cover migration assistance, initial server hardening and control panel installation, it typically includes proactive monitoring, patching, backup configuration and best-effort third-party script support. An affordable example of fully managed VPS support is IO Zoom*.

If you need a managed VPS to host WordPress and do not need root access, your best choice is either Cloudways or similar solutions.

Conclusion: Best Unmanaged VPS for You

Choosing a VPS provider that offers cheap cloud servers that are also reliable and secure is not easy. Because VPS providers differ significantly in terms of many features and server locations, it is impossible to pinpoint one best unmanaged VPS service that will meet everyone’s needs.

To further understand which VPS host offers the right solution tailored to your needs, you can take a short VPS advisor quiz above. Alternatively, if your main criterion for settling on a VPS provider is a specific world region or city, you will love the VPS map with a selection of global data center locations. To find your provider’s data center on the world map, click a dot – ideally on a larger screen – closest to where you would like your VPS to be hosted.

VPS World Map

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