Contabo review: VPS powerhouse on a budget
Contabo is a German hosting provider, previously known by the name Giga-International. It’s mainly focusing on advanced Virtual Private Server (VPS), Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS), and dedicated server hosting. In this Contabo review, I focus on its VPS services, analyzing the pricing, performance, security, and more.
If you are looking for advanced storage or web-app hosting, Contabo is the one. A bonus – highly affordable prices.
At the same time, it’s growing rapidly. In 2014 it had only 2 data centers in Germany and now operates 8 locations worldwide. So if you’d like to catch Contabo while it’s not a mainstream provider, now is the chance.
But this is just background info. I actually purchased Contabo’s VPS plan to see if a low price can deliver good service. Let’s get into it.
|Hosting types:||Shared, VPS, VDS, dedicated|
|Server locations:||The US (New York City, Seattle, St. Louis), Germany, and Singapore|
|Support:||Phone and email support (8 a.m. to 11 p.m. CEST)|
|Current deal:||Get Contabo for just $6.99/month!|
Pros and Cons of Contabo
- Powerful and affordable VPS servers
- New fast NVMe storage
- Strong server and datacenter security
- Servers across 3 continents
- Advanced hosting solution
- Complex pricing structure
Contabo mainly focuses on VPS hosting, which starts at $6.99/mo. Other options include shared hosting ($3.99/mo), VDS ($49.99/mo), and dedicated servers ($139.99/mo). While shared, VDS, and dedicated plans are nothing exceptional with their pricing, VPS is definitely affordable.
|Hosting type||Best for|
|VPS ($6.99/mo)||Quick and powerful server hosting solution.|
|VDS ($49.99/mo)||More flexibility for those who need dedicated-level power.|
|Dedicated ($139.99/mo)||Enterprise hosting needs.|
|Shared ($3.99/mo)||Small to medium-sized website hosting.|
My main focus when talking about Contabo is the VPS. So let’s take a closer look at what these plans can deliver.
Contabo has 4 VPS plans. All of them are equipped with DDoS protection and snapshot technology. You can also choose which OS should be pre-installed on the server and pick a control panel. While cPanel and Plesk are paid, you can get Lamp, Lamp + Webmin, or Webmin for free.
Resources go as follows:
- VPS S – 4 CPUs, 8GB RAM, 50GB NVMe or 200GB SSD, 1 snapshot and 32TB bandwidth.
- VPS M – 6 CPUs, 16GB RAM, 100GB NVMe or 400GB SSD, 2 snapshot and 32TB bandwidth.
- VPS L – 8 CPUs, 30GB RAM, 200GB NVMe or 800GB SSD, 3 snapshot and 32TB bandwidth.
- VPS XL – 10 CPUs, 60GB RAM, 400GB NVMe or1.6TB SSD, 4 snapshot and 32TB bandwidth.
For the resources included, the prices are super low. And I really don’t like exaggerating like this, usually.
Recently, Contabo has upgraded their VPS with faster NVMe storage. Yet you still have a choice. You can pick NVMe if you need high performance, though resources will be fewer. Meanwhile, SSD is still an option and storage limits are very generous.
At the same time, keep in mind that the service is unmanaged. You’ll have to mainly use SSH to manage your server unless you install some sort of a graphical interface to work with. Not beginner-friendly at all, but that’s not where Contabo aims, to be honest.
So for a bare server, it’s perfect. Yet other features are costly:
- Server management is an extra $129.95/mo.
- SSL is an $89.99 one-time fee.
- A faster server setup is $34.99 extra.
Sure, apart from the expedited setup, you can do everything yourself. So Contabo is not to blame here. But is there anything else to know?
Pricing need to know
Contabo pricing tends to be pretty complicated, with all the extra options that have the potential to balloon the costs. But that’s not all.
You’ll get the cheapest rate by picking the VPS S plan with a 12-month subscription in the EU server location Otherwise, a setup fee or a small data center fee will be applied.
So, Contabo still has setup fees and charges different rates for different data centers. A pretty outdated practice, if you’d ask me.
Let’s break it down a bit, so we can get a better picture:
- 1-month billing has a $6.99 setup fee.
- 3-month billing has a $5.49 setup fee
- 6-month billing has a $3.49 setup fee.
- 12-month billing has no setup fees.
Now, data centers:
- EU data centers – no increases.
- United States Central – $1.25/mo extra but removes all setup fees.
- United States West – $1.50/mo extra but removes all setup fees.
- United States East – $1.75/mo extra but removes all setup fees.
- Asia – $3/mo extra and regular setup policy.
Pricing is rather complex but doesn’t affect the total cost in any major way. Set up fees or slight price increases, Contabo is still affordable.
Plus, the renewal prices remain the same, so it’s a good long-term solution.
By the way, there’s a 14-day money-back guarantee. You have to notify the provider within this period after the purchase has been made. At the same time, extra fees associated with the account will not be refunded.
So there’s a lot to consider when opting for Contabo. Yet, no matter what you pick, it will be affordable.
All in all, Contabo has options of all sizes and forms, yet VPS remains one of the most popular hosting solutions that’s affordable and highly powerful. The provider includes more for less when it comes to server resources.
Contabo ease of use
Contabo is an unmanaged service that in no way is beginner-friendly. For this reason, it's a service well-liked by developers and server managers. Affordable rates and no extra fuss make it a go-to option for advanced server solutions. At the same time, you can opt-in for a Webmin control panel to be installed at no extra cost.
With such a service, all responsibilities (and perks) fall on your lap. You get the hardware and the connection to it to set up and freely customize the way you see fit.
For its part, Contabo houses all you need to handle the above. Since many of these tasks require advanced features and tools, there’s no way the platform can be truly beginner-friendly.
However, if beginner-friendliness isn’t a concern and you know that you’re purchasing an unmanaged server solution as well as all that it entails, we’re golden. Then, Contabo’s hosting management is relatively straightforward.
When you log in, this is what you’ll see on the main account dashboard:
As you can probably tell, most people wouldn’t describe Contabo’s dashboard as sleek or modern. Not in this decade, anyway. Having said that, it gets the job done perfectly.
For starters, you’ll be able to find vital features all clustered neatly on the left of your screen. Meanwhile, you can find a list of your VPS as well as some quick access buttons — such as start, restart, stop, and manage — at the center.
Ultimately, the dashboard isn’t going to win any award for cutting-edge designs. But, for those of you familiar with an unmanaged server’s tools and features, it should be easy enough to navigate.
Another plus for Contabo is that a Webmin control panel is also available to be installed for free. However, you do have to opt-in during the checkout process.
It’s intuitive and convenient. Most importantly, it has all the features and tools that you need to set up, configure, maintain, and upgrade your server. Some handy ones include configuration of users, modification and control of apps, setup of DNS, and more.
Overall, I’d consider Contabo’s dashboard and the included Webmin control panel to be one for the winning column. With a combination of user-friendliness and control, you should be able to easily manage every aspect of your server.
Performance is, of course, vital in this Contabo review to decide if the provider holds up its end in terms of reliability and speed. Well, it’s fair to say that Contabo VPS performed very well considering its cheap pricing. Sure, its performance isn’t industry-changing but, overall, still excellent.
Let’s check out the results from the tests I ran.
I monitored Contabo for 50 days, and the results I pulled from the SSH command showed that it’s up for exactly that long. That’s a great sign showing the provider’s reliability.
But, of course, I’ll still keep a close eye on Contabo’s reliability as I go along and will keep you updated if the results change.
As for speed, Contabo performed really well with its response times. I ran tests for 5 different locations across the world, and the results range from between only 36ms and 384ms — both incredibly fast.
Below is what the results are like from Dallas, Seattle, London, Tel-Aviv, and Hong Kong:
The fastest response time was Dallas, coming in at a lightning-fast 36ms. Meanwhile, Hong Kong came in last but at a still very speedy 384ms. Truth be told, I had expected the discrepancy in speed due to locations.
My server is located in the U.S. — which explains the excellent results for Dallas and Seattle. After all, the shorter physical distance helps to minimize latency. Meanwhile, Hong Kong is on the other side of the world from my server location. Therefore, the slower response times reflect the longer physical distance.
It’s worth noting here that Contabo has servers in 5 regions: New York City, Seattle, St. Louis, Germany, and Singapore. New York and Seattle are the newest additions in the expanding list of the provider's datacenters.
Finally, I also tested Contabo to figure out its Geekbench score. This is what the tests returned: single core at 616 and multicore at 1942. While the results aren’t overwhelmingly impressive, they’re solid considering that I tested on the cheapest server.
In case you aren’t familiar with it, Geekbench is a set of benchmarks that measures processor and memory performance. It runs a series of tests that mimic real-world tasks and applications to time how long the processor takes to complete the tasks. Higher scores are better since they mean that the CPU completes the tests faster.
Ideally, I’d like to see higher scores for both single-core and multicore. But, I find myself far more forgiving when I take into account Contabo’s dirt-cheap pricing. Since its entry-plan is only $6.99/mo, these scores are acceptable as far as I’m concerned.
All things considered, that’s a tick for Contabo’s performance. Reliable and fast, it sets quite a bar for other cheap hosting providers.
As Contabo offers unmanaged servers, it doesn’t offer the full stack of security solutions. But, the measures that are offered are very handy. Plus, the provider’s data center security is excellent as well.
Let’s take a closer look at Contabo’s range of security features:
Here, you need to use your email and phone number to identify yourself. Plus, you need to authorize every person contacting the provider from a new email if it involves your customer account.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection
A DDoS attack is where a high amount of requests from compromised systems overload a server with the intention to disrupt its services.
Contabo’s DDoS protection is included in all of its packages and is already automatically activated.
Data center security
Contabo appears to take data center security seriously. It offers constant CCTV monitoring with over 50 observation cameras and video recording, magnetic card access, alarm system, multiple live webcams, and security service on duty 365 days a year.
Plus, the provider also protects against elements with smoke detectors and fire alarms, water detectors, and heat extraction systems amongst other things.
Apart from those listed above, Contabo has other precautions in place, too. However, the provider made it clear that it “can’t talk about the details” but suffice to say that it’s “obsessed with security.”
It’s a shame that we don’t know for sure what those precautions entail. But, judging from the lack of negative Contabo reviews about its security, whatever those precautions are, they appear to be working.
Well-rounded and detailed, I’m satisfied with Contabo’s commitment to security overall. However, the provider could stand to be even more transparent with its security solutions.
Contabo’s support is only available via phone and email support between 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. CEST. Fortunately, Contabo also has a well-stocked knowledge base that’s filled with articles covering a wide range of topics.
If you run into any trouble or issue, you can get in touch with Contabo’s support team via a call or an email. You’ll find that the team uses a 3-tier system where its members are working as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level agents. Or, as the provider calls them: supporters.
From what I could glimpse, the agents from all 3 levels are well-trained and effective. But, the 2nd and 3rd levels are experienced system administrators who are well-versed with the technical side of things.
However, I do find Contabo’s lack of live chat a little bit of a letdown since it’s most people’s support channel of choice.
Sure, you could call instead. However, if you aren’t based in Germany, you’ll need to shell out for an international call, which could be costly.
As for email, it’s great that there’s a free option to contact Contabo. However, you might have to wait a bit since its support team only monitors emails during working hours — which isn’t ideal if you have an urgent issue.
Luckily, Contabo has a knowledge base if you prefer to handle any issue independently instead. The knowledge base might not be the most extensive one in the industry, but there are some very useful tutorials and guides included.
The articles are thoughtful and delve deep into the topics. Plus, there are in-depth step-by-step guides where necessary.
On top of that, I find Contabo’s comprehensive FAQ page to be very helpful, too. It covers a whole lot of areas including billing, domain, software, security, and service-specific ones.
Overall, Contabo support is a mixed bag. Its support agents are knowledgeable and helpful, but the provider lacks live chat, and its availability is limited to just business hours.
Contabo review: the final verdict
All in all, Contabo offers up a very affordable and straightforward solution — especially for those looking for high-level storage or web-app hosting. Despite its cheap pricing, my experience was a smooth one overall, with no serious issues or difficulties. I absolutely have to give props to Contabo for this.
Below, I have summarized the final verdict for the most important aspects:
|Feature||VPS for flexible needs|
|Pricing||Contabo is super affordable, with its VPS plans starting at just $6.99/mo. Plus, it’s also more than liberal with its server resources, and all of its plans are well-equipped.|
|Ease of Use||Contabo offers free opt-in for Webmin to help with hosting management. However, its native dashboard is slightly outdated. That said, both interfaces serve their purpose well and are functional as well as powerful.|
|Performance||The provider is reliable with its 100% uptime and has a remarkably fast response time.|
|Security||Contabo security precautions are stripped back since it’s an unmanaged solution. But, it takes data center security seriously and also offers vital measures like DDoS protection and two-factor authentication.|
|Support||You can reach Contabo’s team via phone call or email. The support is skilled and well-trained but only available during business hours.|
For those looking for a budget-friendly solution, Contabo is a good pick. However, since it focuses on advanced solutions such as unmanaged VPS, it’s more suited for those with at least some technical experience and know-how. Projects requiring advanced storage and businesses should be able to make the most out of Contabo’s plans.
Alternatives to Contabo
Contabo might be number one to many looking for affordable VPS solutions, but it might not be the right one for you. In that case, a couple of other providers might be a better fit.
Hostinger comes to mind first because it has even cheaper plans than Contabo. Its VPS plans start at just $3.95/mo. Hence, if you don’t need that much in terms of resources, you might want to keep Hostinger as one of the top options.
Plus, Hostinger offers semi-managed service, which is good news for those concerned about ease of use. There’s even a pre-installed control panel for easy configuration and management.
Beyond that, Hostinger is known for its performance, too. The provider is reliable and incredibly fast, with data centers in 7 locations around the world.
Liquid Web is popular for its enterprise-grade hosting solutions. While not as cheap as Contabo, Liquid Web is more than reasonable with its pricing — with its cheapest managed VPS plan costing $15.00/mo with our introductory discount.
Its managed hosting comes with Plesk and cPanel to boost its ease of use. Additionally, performance-wise, Liquid Web is reliable and speedy.
And, if you find Contabo’s support to be a hassle, Liquid Web offers a great alternative. Human support is available 24/7 via phone, email, and live chat. It even has a 59-second initial response guarantee for live chat.
Is Contabo hosting legit?
Yes, Contabo hosting is legit. The provider is a Germany-based company with close to 20 years of experience. For the most part, it focuses on offering VPS, VDS, and dedicated server hosting at affordable prices.
Why is Contabo so cheap?
Contabo is so cheap because, according to the company, it has a fully unified hardware platform in all of its data centers. This helps it to negotiate better discounts and save money as well as time on maintenance. Plus, the company also invests in durable and inexpensive hardware to get a bang for its bucks.
What CPUs does Contabo use?
Contabo uses Dell, AMD, and Intel CPUs, depending on your hosting solution.
Is Windows hosting available with Contabo?
Yes, Windows hosting is available with Contabo. However, you do have to pay an additional $7.99/mo for Windows.