Getting started: Domain and VPS

A common first step in one’s privacy journey is obtaining a Virtual Private Server and a domain to host on said server.
What services do you all recommend for VPSs and domains?

To be clear, I know getting a dedicated server is better, but many people don’t want to spend that much if they’re only going to host a few services.

Njal.la is a great domain provider that offer anonymity and other perks, though it’s relatively expensive
1984.hosting is a great secure web host
As for a vps knownhost.com is reliable but not as much private, I’ve struggled to find a private VPS that doesn’t go to the moon in price

Domain:

Cloudflare, Google Domains, and Porkbun are all great choices (understandably, many users in this community will disregard one or both of the first two).

Some other recommendations: Which domain registrar should I pick? : webhosting

A lot of people recommend Namecheap. I strongly disagree with this recommendation. Firstly, Namecheap is not even that cheap — it’s more expensive than both Cloudflare and Porkbun. Namecheap is also notorious for scummy business practices such as, most notably, automatically renewing domains with auto-renew explicitly disabled.

If you are looking for anonymity/extreme privacy, the expensive OrangeWebsite is the only option I know of. OrangeWebsite accepts cryptocurrency and allows you to use their business information for your domain’s WHOIS records (note that you do not technically/legally own the domain if you do this). This is not the same as WHOIS privacy protection, which is a basic feature included for free with any decent registrar that prevents your personal info from being publicly accessible.

VPS:

Linode (use Level1Techs’s affiliate link) has been my go-to VPS provider for years. They certainly don’t offer bottom-of-the-barrel prices, but their uptime and support has been absolutely rock-solid. I’m wary of Linode’s acquisition by Akamai, but so far I haven’t seen anything of concern.

DigitalOcean (use Lawrence Systems’s affiliate link) is another reputable provider that has been around for a long time. DO and Linode are pretty much direct competitors, so a lot of their pricing is matched to each other. However, I have less faith in DO nowadays after a public incident (OP / post-mortem by DO / later clarification by OP) and two data breaches (2020 / 2021).

Hetzner and Netcup seem to be frequently recommended on the basis of price, but you probably can’t expect the same level of polish and reliability as Linode and DO.

OrangeWebsite allows purchasing VPSes anonymously with cryptocurrency. These are very expensive though.

There are some other recommendations on Hacker News, notably to check LowEndBox and LowEndTalk if you’re in search of the cheapest VPS providers.

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Linode is so hard to register for, I’ve tried registering 3 times over the past 3 years, I tried once anonymously, and twice with my full identity and every time they denied me even making an account even though I would pay for their service

Linode probably flags IP addresses as having too many registrations, but I don’t think they have an official policy to block registrations while using a VPN. I recommend turning off your VPN temporarily or trying a different VPN server/provider.

You should have no trouble accessing your account through a VPN after the initial registration, especially once you start paying for service.

May I provide you an alternative? You can get away with hosting services in a VM on your computer and even port forwarding is safe as long as you don’t host any vulnerable services. There are alternatives to domain registrars like freedns.afraid.org or ngrok.io but freedns can issue a wildcard certificate and get your HTTPS traffic (it is not a problem if your service has an additional layer of protection like e2ee or it uses its own encrypted protocol) and while you dont even need to port forward with ngrok, it still isnt as secure (but again, is fine if additional layers/alternative encrypted protocols are involved). Another really nice alternative is using onion addresses. You do not need to port forward and you do not need to register domains. This works best if your service is lightweight, isnt things like cloud storage/syncing 10’s of gigabytes (because it will be ever so slightly slower) and is browser accessible (however you still can use it with android apps if you enable VPN mode in Orbot for said app).

And to conclude, if you still want a VPS and a domain registrar, I would use Vultr as a VPS provider and either Porkbun or Cloudflare if you really want the cheapest option as domain registrars.
(edit: changed Namecheap to Porkbun and Cloudflare due to lower renewal fees. Thanks, @anon339631231)

To add: I do not recommend using providers and registrars that are free (like Oracle VPS) or allow you to be completely anonymous (like Njalla). They at the very end hold all the rights to terminate your accounts for whatever reason or hijack your domain/VPS (and in the case of Oracle, you do not own any of the content you host on their free servers even if you are the actual owner)

I couldn’t find my piece of paper with offshore hosting providers and best practices regarding hosting anonymously. But I’m sure Flokinet was on that list.

I would like to clarify this by saying that, even if Namecheap has cleaned up their act lately (which it seems they have to some degree), you should check Namecheap’s renewal pricing before registering a domain with them. The same advice applies to every registrar, but good luck finding the renewal pricing on Namecheap.

NameSilo is another registrar that seems to get regular recommendations on r/webhosting. Prices appear to be competitive at a glance.

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The recommendation honestly depends on your goals.

If you want to just host your personal services, like NextCloud or Bitwarden, I would recommend either Vultr or Linode. I personally use the first one and I had zero problems with them. Their cheapest ipv4 plan starts with 3.5$ per month (with only 512mb or RAM, so running multiple services on this server will be a challenge). The cheapest plan on linode starts at 5$ per month. If you are on a tight budget, you can get an ipv6 only VPS and use something like cloudflare to be able to properly access it remotely (its going to be slightly cheaper than VPS with ipv4). If you plan to store alot of data, check out buyvm, as they have one of the cheapest (if not the cheapest) storage slabs on the market (starting from 1.25$ for 256GB and 5$ for 1TB)

For getting a domain, I would recommend NameCheap or GoDaddy in most cases. I know that NameCheap has mixed opinions, but for now i have not noticed any problems with this service. The choice is up to you.

On the other hand, if you plan to host something sensitive, consider something from
bitcoin-vps website (like cockbox,for example). For privacy friendly domain provider, go for njalla.

…or just access it via IPv6, if you’re really on that tight of a budget.

NameCheap is, at best, meh — see posts above (generally extremely overpriced renewals).

PLEASE DO NOT USE GODADDY!!!
To this day, they are widely known for extremely scummy business practices such as, most notably, parking domains that you search on their website and then charging thousands of dollars for them. GoDaddy is easily among the worst choices of registrars/web hosts anyone could possibly make today. Search r/webhosting if my mini-rant was not enough.


For anyone looking into cheap VPSes, I encourage you to research the difference between KVM and OpenVZ.

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If godaddy and namecheap are so bad, then why so many people use them? What alternatives can you recommend instead?

It is not allways possible to do that (i have allways had alot of issues with my ISP while dealing with ipv6 only connection) and it does not look very well. With cloudflare you can use their tunneling functionality to route traffic to your ipv6 server from their ipv4 addresses.

If Facebook is so bad, then why do so many people use it? :stuck_out_tongue:

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Well… that is not a reliable way of measuring how good a service is. The reply by @jameskitt616 and @Braxman_Basedman below James’ is enough to explain why.

Already listed above1 2 3 your first reply. Porkbun or Cloudflare. NameSilo is also a good option.

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