This plan is no longer available as of April 7, 2015

You may think that ninety-nine cents won’t get you far these days. After all, it would only get you about a third a gallon of gas, enough to drive 10 miles in a 2014 Nissan Sentra. It can get you further than you’d think, though, on the web. Since virtual private servers are so incredibly efficient, they’ve made it possible for us to create small, 99-cent/month Cloud VPS solutions.

However, many people are hesitant to choose that plan, unsure if it is powerful enough to meet their needs, offering just 256 MB of RAM (random access memory). People who are frequent users of cloud VPS plans often discuss what can be done with various amounts of server memory.

Let’s explore how people can use a 256 MB cloud VPS.

How are you using our 256 MB cloud VPS?

A discussion started on LowEndTalk on October 21 in which one forum member, username chinmoy, asked specifically how people were using the Atlantic.Net offering. He wanted to know what people were using the server for other than VPN (virtual private network) and SSH (secure shell) tunneling. Here are some of their responses to his question and other comments related to the plan:

  • W1V Lee said he was using the VPS as a “new point on my Observium map.” He also mentioned that he hadn’t experienced any downtime.
  • ginner159 said that he would “use it as [a] nameserver box” for monitoring if he had one.
  • LMS Smoke said that he was using the server to host a clan site for Battlefield 4, along with a TS3 server. He commented that he had experienced “absolutely no TS3 lag even when maxed out.”
  • Jar said that he was using it as a DNS slave.
  • nleibert wrote that he was using the VPS as a mail server.
  • yywudi commented that he was using it as one of his Radius servers, with “CloudFlare full SSL support in the web panel.”
  • Ree has not used the box yet, although he signed up for it about three weeks before commenting. He said that he wanted to monitor it first before he put it to use and that “there hasn’t been any downtime.” Based on that experience, he intends to migrate some of his sites to that plan, likely moving all of them to it over time.
  • Blanoz wrote that he had logged 19 days of 100% uptime thus far. He was using it for DNS, SSH, and email, commenting in conclusion: “Happy as hell with it.”
  • lossehelin noted that the server was “quite fast even when [using] GUI through VNC.” He did mention that he tried to run HitLeap on it and repeatedly ran into problems. That’s not surprising: the system requirements for that application include 1 GB of free RAM, four times what this VPS provides. Remember that this box is small.

256 MB server for academia & Drupal

Here are two other scenarios in which 256 MB was considered sufficient, from around the web (both from posts published in 2010 but still valid):

Academic site

Akshar Prabhu Desai wrote on Stack Overflow that he had developed an app “mostly full of static webpages with several YouTube embeddings,” along with a few forms. He explained that the site resembled Academic Earth, allowing YouTube to serve the videos. There were about 400 users at the time of his question, perhaps 35 of them active. The consensus in the comments was that Desai would be fine with a 256 MB server, provided that he correctly configured his system for a lightweight situation.

  • timdev said that he should compile LAMP from source and then streamline.
  • Serj Sagan recommended that he use LightTPD rather than Apache as a Web server.
  • Sagan also said that he felt Debian was “better at using less RAM out-of-the-box” than other popular Linux distributions.


The user Patrick asked on Server Fault if Drupal would run well within a small VPS. He also wanted to know of any “important configuration settings” so that his performance would be as strong as possible.

In the comments, sybreon said that he successfully ran Drupal with MySQL for two years on a VPS that had much less memory, 64 MB. He suggested basic adjustments:

  • Switching the settings of MySQL so that it is completely optimized. Within Debian, he suggested looking at my-small.cnf.
  • Use of a high-efficiency Web server, such as LightTPD or nginx, with a low ceiling for the number of PHP instances. (He said that he was able to support “2 PHP-CGI instances” within the 64 MB environment.)
  • Use of a stripped-down MTA (message transfer agent).
  • Disabling all unnecessary services.

Going tiny

The film Tiny covers the story of a couple building a house small enough to fit into a parking space in an effort to downsize their lives. The film has been viral since it taps into the needs of sustainability and continuing economic uncertainty. You may not want to move into a 256 square-foot home, but 256 MB could be just the right size to meet your VPS hosting needs.

By Kent Roberts


Atlantic.Net also offers managed, dedicated, and HIPAA compliant hosting – contact us today for a consultation.