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Contabo VPS: Honest Review & Experience by 10-Year Client

If you’re here, then it’s likely that you’ve somehow found Contabo.com, seen their low price and high resource offers, and wondered what the catch is.

I was in the exact same situation ~10 years ago when looking for a cheap VPS (Virtual Private Server) with high RAM. The more RAM, the better.

It was shortly after they had rebranded from Giga-International to Contabo. I don’t recall exactly where I found them listed as a budget VPS hosting, but I started searching for reviews.

Most reviews I read were on webhostingtalk.com. There weren’t many, but overall, experiences were negative.

Still, their services were cheap, and I gave it a go, and I’ve been an ongoing client for the past 10 years.

image 90
Contabo’s VPS Prices (at the time of writing)

Contabo Review Key Takeaways

Contabo is a hosting provider based in Germany that offers VPS hosting, dedicated servers, web hosting, and a few more related services. Their main advantage is their low prices for very high resources.

Contabo’s prices are very competitive, offering some of the best value-for-money servers on the market.

I’ve been using Contabo servers continuously for 10 years for development and production. I’ve also recommended them to friends and colleagues, a few of which have confirmed very recently that they still use their Contabo VPS hosting after ~3 years.

I have had only one instance of downtime of 1 hour in the last few years, and that was announced maintenance, and luckily that server wasn’t hosting anything important.

My experience with Contabo’s VPS hosting plans has been great; the friends I’ve recommended to them also agree, as well as many others who’ve left great reviews, but I have seen many online reviews detailing negative experiences.

Given that, I highly recommend Contabo, but it would probably be best to test them yourself for a while to make sure the server is reliable and fits your needs. If you decide to host critical infrastructure, make sure you have offsite backups.

Also, do keep in mind that I haven’t used Contabo VPS for every use case out there, and I’m recommending them based on my experience and my particular requirements.

I recommend, at the very least, skimming through this review because you may find some specific things that decide whether Contabo is the right choice for you or not.

Overall, I think that Contabo is worth considering if you need an affordable, powerful, and great value VPS.


My Experience with Contabo VPS

So far, I’ve used VPS S, VPS M, and VPS L from Contabo. I’ve used Windows, Ubuntu, and CentOS VPS.

Current Contabo VPS

I’m currently using 2 VPS S and 1 VPS M.

2x Contabo Cloud VPS S ($8.49/mo)

The 2 VPS are located in Dusseldorf, and I’ve had them since late 2022. We had one from 2021, but there was a great offer from Contabo (Black Friday or Cyber Monday 2022) that offered more resources for the same price, so we bought the discounted one.

They’re both used in production, so they host critical services, and have had neither of them has had any downtime.

  • 1 VPS S (CentOS + cPanel) is for hosting multiple websites using cPanel. We host some of our websites and some of our client’s websites as well.
  • 1 VPS S (Ubuntu) is hosting a project for a single client.
image 33
Contabo Cloud VPS S

1x Contabo Cloud VPS M ($13.99/mo)

1 VPS M (Ubuntu) is located in Munich, I’ve had it since 2017, and I use it as a development environment and a remote desktop.

I’ve installed MATE desktop environment on it, and I use it as a remote desktop using X2Go.

Screenshot of Contabo VPS Remote Desktop
My Contabo VPS M that I use as a development environment

You’ll probably notice in the screenshot above that it has 12 GB RAM instead of 16 GB RAM, as all VPS M SSD currently have. This is because those were the specs in 2017, and I didn’t bother to cancel and or ask support what could be done. I wanted to avoid downtime and have never needed the extra RAM so far.

This is the current Cloud VPS M plan:

image 44
Contabo Cloud VPS M

Previous Contabo VPS

Previously I’ve had VPS S, VPS M, and VPS L with both Windows and Linux. Some were from years ago, and some VPS had different specs than they do today, and they also didn’t have SSD.

image 80
Contabo Server Information Emails

~7 VPS for Development/Personal Use

I’d estimate I had ~7 for personal use. Each I’ve had for more than a year. They had either Windows or Ubuntu installed on them.

I’ve used them for various purposes, like development, experimenting, storage, and probably others.

I have had downtime, but it wasn’t very notable since I didn’t have any important things running on these servers, and I couldn’t say how long they lasted.

This has been more in the first years of using Contabo. Lately, the only downtime I’ve had has been 1hr on one server, which was down for announced maintenance.

~2 VPS for Critical Services

And perhaps ~2 for critical services (not including the 2 VPS S we currently have), like hosting websites for clients or four ourselves. Uptime was very important for both.

1x VPS S with cPanel (Websites, Ticketing System)

It used to host the website and ticket system for a SaaS, which had been going on for a few years, and some other websites. I don’t remember any downtime, and I don’t have any records to show this since we no longer have the server.

1x VPS S with cPanel (Websites)

The other was a St. Louis VPS S that we had from May 2021 until Nov 2022. Mentioning this again – there was a great Black Friday or Cyber Monday offer with more resources for the same price, and we got it and migrated everything. I don’t remember any downtime, and I don’t have any records of this since we no longer have the server.

Experience with Contabo Uptime

In the last year, I’ve had one hour of downtime for 1 VPS, which was announced because of maintenance.

Other than that, in recent years, I have had a few downtimes, which is a red flag for someone who is looking for servers to host production environments, but I don’t have the records anymore to show it.

Currently, we’re hosting multiple production websites and services on Contabo.com VPS S servers, and there haven’t been issues.

We’ve done so for the past ~4 years and have no complaints.

Contabo VPS M Uptime (Dev Environment, Noncritical)

For example, here’s the output of the last -x shutdown command on my VPS M server. I’ve had it since 2017, but I had Windows installed at first, and I set up Ubuntu on it in June 2022, so that’s where the shutdowns start from.

last -x shutdown
shutdown system down  5.15.0-39-generi Wed Dec  7 21:56 - 21:56  (00:00)
shutdown system down  5.15.0-39-generi Mon Nov 21 14:35 - 15:35  (01:00)
shutdown system down  5.15.0-25-generi Thu Jun  9 12:04 - 12:04  (00:00)

June 9 2022 – (expected downtime) This was when I canceled my Windows license and support installed Ubuntu on the server.

November 21 2022 (scheduled downtime) This was scheduled maintenance. Contabo had sent an email about it.

image 46

December 7 2022 – (expected downtime) I rebooted the server here. I mistakenly thought that a testing website was not working and couldn’t find the reason, so I rebooted the server as a last resort. Turns out I had mistaken the domain extension.

Contabo VPS S (cPanel) Uptime (Production Environment, Critical)

This VPS holds multiple important websites.

It never had any unexpected downtime. We were the ones who rebooted it a few times.

last -x shutdown (edited a little to fit the website’s content area)
shutdown system down  Sat Dec  3 09:35 2022 - Sat Dec  3 09:36 2022  (00:00)
shutdown system down  Wed Oct 19 14:44 2022 - Wed Oct 19 14:44 2022  (00:00)
shutdown system down  Fri Oct 14 08:55 2022 - Fri Oct 14 08:56 2022  (00:00)

Contabo VPS S (Ubuntu) Uptime (Production Environment, Critical)

This VPS hosts a project for one of our clients.

It hasn’t had any downtime since it was created in late 2022.

uptime
up 84 days,  2:03,  2 users,  load average: 0.04, 0.03, 0.00

Experience with Contabo Support

I’ve had a few conversations with support. They include the following situations.

Unsuspend VPS Due to Payment Delay

For some reason, I hadn’t subscribed and was always paying manually. On two occasions (in 2017 and 2020), I had forgotten or wasn’t able to, and if your service is suspended, there’s a pretty hefty reactivation fee.

I contacted Contabo support, and they agreed to waive the fee both times. I’m assuming this because I’ve been a customer for some time.

image 81

Extend That Month’s Payment Date Due to a Lack of Funds

For a while, I had only paid for Contabo via Paypal, and I didn’t have the funds at the time.

I asked support if they could extend my due date, and they agreed. Thanks, support team!

image 82

VPS Downtime

I’ve had about 3 exchanges with support about my VPS being down. Two times it worked out by itself, and the last time, they rebooted it because I couldn’t.

The last time was in 2019, and my VPS M (Development, Noncritical) was down, and the control panel boot function wasn’t responding. So I contacted support, and they solved it.

They answered in 55 minutes.

image 83

Removing Windows License from my Contabo VPS M

Initially, I bought my VPS M, the one I have for development, with Windows on it. This added an extra ~$6/mo at the time if I recall correctly.

I decided I wanted to switch to Ubuntu with a desktop environment installed, so I installed Ubuntu.

I requested for the Windows license to be removed, so I wouldn’t have to pay the extra $6 while I was using just Ubuntu, and the process took about 1-2 days.

image 84

Contabo Server Management & Control Panel Features

Good Server Management & Outdated Looking Interface

As others have also pointed out, the server management panel has an outdated interface.

However, since I’ve used Contabo for a long time and haven’t needed anything else, this has never bothered me.

I do understand how it can give the wrong impression to a new customer who is used to slick user interfaces like Digital Ocean or Vultr, however.

I haven’t tried all of Contabo’s features, like API, Custom Images, Object Storage, Private Networking, and others, so I can’t comment on them.

image 89
Contabo’s Control Panel

No One-Click Webapp Installs

Additionally, Contabo doesn’t have one-click installs for open-source software like WordPress, and other CMS.

When I was starting out with servers, these were invaluable to me for saving time and making the transition from shared hosting to VPS hosting less intimidating.

I don’t use one-click installs now. However, I’m sure that customers just starting out using VPS hosting would benefit a great deal from them.

Contabo Pricing

As you’ve probably seen yourself, Contabo has some of the best prices available for the resources they offer.

I won’t elaborate on the pricing unnecessarily here, since you’ve most likely seen them yourself and you’re here to find out what the catch is.

Setup Fee

The setup fee is something new when compared to many other popular server/web hosting providers.

The reason they charge this is most likely to discourage abuse, like spam or some other form of abusive activity.

The setup fee makes it less worthwhile for someone to abuse the server for a month or less and then discard it.

This can be a deal breaker for some customers.

However, Contabo has promotional offers a few times per year, and often they waive the setup fee. So it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for them if you’re not rushing to get a server right now.

Reactivation Fee (If Your Service is Suspended)

The reactivation fee is a fee you’d have to pay to get your server reactivated if it’s suspended for overdue payment or probably other reasons.

From the content on Contabo’s website, I can’t tell for sure if you always have to pay a reactivation fee if your service gets suspended for overdue payment or for any other reason.

Right now, it says here:

image 85

I’m not sure what the reactivation fee is currently, but a few years ago (2020), it was something around EUR 15, so about $15 for a VPS and $30 for a dedicated server.

image 87

I’m assuming this is a measure mainly to keep payments on time and to prevent some customers from abusing servers and then claiming innocence.

This may be another deal breaker for some users, and the reactivation prices are very high.

I actually did pay the reactivation fee once in my first year with Contabo.

This is because I wasn’t expecting a reactivation fee since other server providers don’t have such a thing.

Additionally, even if Contabo mentions this reactivation fee in their emails, I’m not really accustomed to reading every part of a transactional email from a server provider, since they’re usually generic.

I understand this is a good measure to prevent abusive behavior, and to make sure they don’t lose money, and it makes sense to ensure your customers pay for the service you offer on time.

But I think they should be clearer about the reactivation fee, and they should let customers know about if before they buy their servers.

Contabo Promos & Sales

Contabo has promos a few times a year, like Black Friday, Christmas, New Year, some random ones, or when they launch new products.

Most of the time, these sales include removing the setup fee, if I remember correctly.

Additionally, some sales, like on Black Friday, may cut prices by 50% and remove the setup fee.

image 88
Contabo Black Friday 2022 Promo

If you’re not in a particular rush to get a VPS from them, it may be worth it to sign up for their newsletter. Maybe you’ll see a good deal, and you’ll have a great opportunity to test them out for an even lower price than they already offer.

Contabo VPS Setup Times

Contabo’s VPS setup times should take a few minutes. The last two orders from October 2022 took 6 and 8 minutes.

Another order from 2021 took about an hour to set up. I’m not sure if times will still vary this much or if their provisioning system has improved recently.

Contabo VPS Performance & Benchmarks

I’m very happy with Contabo’s VPS performance, but I also don’t have any special requirements and don’t run any resource-intensive tasks.

I’ll leave a benchmark result by using YABS (Yet Another Bench Script), should you find this useful.

This is for a VPS S bought a few months ago.

# ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## #
#              Yet-Another-Bench-Script              #
#                     v2022-12-29                    #
# https://github.com/masonr/yet-another-bench-script #
# ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## #

Thu Jan 19 18:00:39 CET 2023

Basic System Information:
---------------------------------
Uptime     : 47 days, 8 hours, 25 minutes
Processor  : AMD EPYC 7282 16-Core Processor
CPU cores  : 4 @ 2794.748 MHz
AES-NI     : ✔ Enabled
VM-x/AMD-V : ❌ Disabled
RAM        : 7.6 GiB
Swap       : 0.0 KiB
Disk       : 394.5 GiB
grep: /etc/os-release: No such file or directory
Distro     :
Kernel     : 3.10.0-1160.76.1.el7.x86_64

fio Disk Speed Tests (Mixed R/W 50/50):
---------------------------------
Block Size | 4k            (IOPS) | 64k           (IOPS)
  ------   | ---            ----  | ----           ----
Read       | 5.28 MB/s     (1.3k) | 63.87 MB/s     (998)
Write      | 5.31 MB/s     (1.3k) | 64.30 MB/s    (1.0k)
Total      | 10.60 MB/s    (2.6k) | 128.18 MB/s   (2.0k)
           |                      |
Block Size | 512k          (IOPS) | 1m            (IOPS)
  ------   | ---            ----  | ----           ----
Read       | 127.60 MB/s    (249) | 97.28 MB/s      (95)
Write      | 134.38 MB/s    (262) | 103.76 MB/s    (101)
Total      | 261.98 MB/s    (511) | 201.04 MB/s    (196)

iperf3 Network Speed Tests (IPv4):
---------------------------------
Provider        | Location (Link)           | Send Speed      | Recv Speed      | Ping
-----           | -----                     | ----            | ----            | ----
ping: socket: Operation not permitted
Clouvider       | London, UK (10G)          | 199 Mbits/sec   | 197 Mbits/sec   |
ping: socket: Operation not permitted
Scaleway        | Paris, FR (10G)           | 199 Mbits/sec   | 197 Mbits/sec   |
ping: socket: Operation not permitted
NovoServe       | North Holland, NL (40G)   | 200 Mbits/sec   | 198 Mbits/sec   |
ping: socket: Operation not permitted
Uztelecom       | Tashkent, UZ (10G)        | 158 Mbits/sec   | 180 Mbits/sec   |
ping: socket: Operation not permitted
Clouvider       | NYC, NY, US (10G)         | 180 Mbits/sec   | 154 Mbits/sec   |
ping: socket: Operation not permitted
Clouvider       | Dallas, TX, US (10G)      | 179 Mbits/sec   | 137 Mbits/sec   |
ping: socket: Operation not permitted
Clouvider       | Los Angeles, CA, US (10G) | 163 Mbits/sec   | 105 Mbits/sec   |

Geekbench 5 Benchmark Test:
---------------------------------
Test            | Value
                |
Single Core     | 704
Multi Core      | 2182
Full Test       | https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/19977280

YABS completed in 8 min 46 sec

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Contabo Legit?

Yes, Contabo is legit. They have been operating for 20 years (since 2003), selling VPS (Virtual Private Servers), VDS (Virtual Dedicated Servers), dedicated servers, web hosting, and more. All at very competitive prices.

The reason many people ask this is because of their incredibly low prices for very high resources, and because of the negative reviews.

As explained in this review, however, I’ve used their services for 10 years and have minimal complaints, so I can 100% say Contabo is legit.

Why is Contabo so cheap?

Contabo can offer very cheap VPS with high RAM thanks to a number of factors, some of which very likely include:

1. Cost-effective resource management and possibly overcommitting1Memory overcommit is when a server provider allocates more memory to virtual machines than the host machine physically has available. Server providers can do this by using advanced memory management techniques and allocating memory dynamically, which allows for better use of resources and keeps costs low for customers. This may not cause issues for customers as the provider can ensure that the virtual machines only use the memory they need, and not all at once, which prevents any lag or issues with performance. server resources. This is a common practice in the industry and allows for more efficient use of resources.

2. Being in business for a long time means Contabo have experience in investing in the best value hardware and negotiating prices since they buy hardware in bulk.

3. Being located in Germany, which is known for having great prices for server hosting, can also contribute to Contabo’s ability to offer cheap VPS with high RAM. Germany is a great country for server hosting, at least based on the many server providers with great prices that I’ve seen over the years.

4. Factors such as having a reactivation fee after a server is suspended, so customers aren’t late with their payments, and a setup fee, that ensures users are committed to their subscription, can also contribute to keeping costs low while still offering high RAM.

What CPU does Contabo use?

Contabo has AMD, Intel, or DELL CPUs, depending on your server type. As you can see from my benchmark report, my VPS S is using an AMD EPYC 7282 16-Core.

Is Contabo reliable?

From my recent experience, yes, Contabo is reliable. I’ve been hosting critical projects with them for at least 3 years and have never had any issues.

However, your mileage may vary. Even though there are many others who are very happy customers, there are some that have had bad experiences with Contabo.
With servers that I use for noncritical use, I’ve had a few issues over the past 10 years, where I’ve experienced some downtime. But since I wasn’t hosting anything important for my business, it didn’t affect me much.

My recommendation is to test them out first before committing to using their services for production. And even then, I’d ensure I have some form of backup.

Is Contabo VPS good?

Yes, Contabo’s VPS are good – at least based on my experience of hosting websites/services that don’t have any special requirements and using it as a remote desktop and development environment.

Perhaps your use case is different than mine, and you need higher performance, in which case I can’t say if it will be good for you.

Conclusions

As you can tell, I’ve had a great experience with Contabo for a decade; I keep buying their servers for important projects and keep recommending them to friends.

I’d recommend them to anyone interested in the best value-for-money servers, but given I would also caution them to read reviews and decide for themselves.

There are a great number of people who are delighted by Contabo’s servers, myself included, but there are quite a few people who seem to have had a negative experience.

So I’d recommend trying Contabo out for noncritical projects first and seeing for yourself.

I know I probably didn’t touch on every aspect or more benchmarks in this review. If you have any feedback, requests, or questions, please feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible and update this article with any new info.

  • 1
    Memory overcommit is when a server provider allocates more memory to virtual machines than the host machine physically has available. Server providers can do this by using advanced memory management techniques and allocating memory dynamically, which allows for better use of resources and keeps costs low for customers. This may not cause issues for customers as the provider can ensure that the virtual machines only use the memory they need, and not all at once, which prevents any lag or issues with performance.
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