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What Can You Do With A Minimal-Resource Cheap VPS?

A question is often posed asking why providers offer plans with minimal resources. This references VPS plans with 128MB, 256MB, and similar RAM allocations. RAM is the primary concern because of CPU abstraction (1 vCPU with one provider vs. another). Disk allocations are what they are, and comparing NVMe to SSD to HDD allotments is easy enough. This leaves RAM as the primary factor in deciding whether to spend your $6 a year with [Boomer.Host](https://boomer.host) or [HostSailor](https://hostsailor.com). _(No bias intended, these were the first two cheap OpenVZ VPS I came across)_

You now are the proud owner of a 128MB OpenVZ 7-based VPS. You have Debian 10 or 11 installed and updated. You are sitting at an idle usage of around 30 MB. What do you do with the resources left at your disposal?

Static Website

Hosting a static website is a trivial matter for a limited-resource VPS. In this context, a static website is one that doesn’t display dynamic content. Examples of sites that display dynamic content are WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. Hugo is a static website generator that would fit this use case. You create your website content using standard markdown files. You then compile and copy those files to your VPS running nginx or another web server.

OpenVPN Server

A VPN server is no doubt the most pervasive use of a low-resource VPS. OpenVPN can install on a fresh Debian-based system with a [simple script](https://lowendbox.com/blog/how-to-setup-openvpn-on-your-vps-ubuntu-18-04/). After the install you retrieve your .OVPN file from the server and import to the client. This process can be tricky on OpenVZ VPS due to the nature of enabling the required modules. TUN/TAP and PPP both need a reboot after enabling in Virtualizor or SolusVM.

ZNC IRC Bouncer

Though it has a archaic interface and look, IRC is a prominent platform for communication. A bouncer is a program that keeps you logged into IRC when your device is offline. This allows for caching of private messages and channel logs. It also serves to maintain a channel presence. A small VPS is perfect for this task, as [ZNC](https://wiki.znc.in/ZNC) takes very little resources to be happy. Compiling from source on low resources can be tricky, so installing from a repo may be necessary.

Squid Caching Web Proxy

A web proxy is a system that caches your web page requests with the intention of speeding things up. It also serves as a method of changing the location a websites sees you as coming from. The [Squid web proxy](https://linuxhint.com/install-and-setup-squid-proxy-server-on-linux-server/) is an easy to use system that can install on a low resource VPS. After installation add the proxy config to your web browser and that’s it!

Jump Server

The concept of a jump server was new to me when I started working for a VPS provider. In practice though, it is a simple one to grasp. Configure your critical infrastructure to accept connections only from the jump server IP. The server is a basic Linux server that works as the “jumping off point” for accessing your network. You can add useful utilities to this server, such as the net-utils suite and other admin tools.

Uptime Tracker

An uptime monitoring server is the most complicated of these to set up. The idea is simple; set up a cron with a ping (or netcat) to your destination server. If the ping fails, have the script email you to let you know. Simple, right? There are many customizations that can determine the complexity of the system. Do you want constant alerts when something isn’t responding? Do you want SMS messages, voice calls, or is email alone enough? Do you want to watch many endpoints with different requirements? Regardless, a low resource VPS is ideal for tasks like this since they take little power to execute.

DNS Server

Have you ever wanted to host your own nameservers for that hot new domain? Well look no further! A low-resource VPS is perfect for hosting DNS service! For this, a non-traditional (read: BIND) piece of software called NSD is your best bet. The [NLnet Labs Name Server Daemon](https://github.com/NLnetLabs/nsd) was build with speed, reliability, and stability in mind. It is simple to install as most mainstream package managers have nsd ready to go.  Edit your config to add your domain(s), create your zone file(s), run _nsdc rebuild_, and you are ready to go!

Conclusion

There are many more uses for a low resource VPS than listed here. These are some of the common scenarios where one might see value in a small VPS. As with everything, your mileage may vary. It would surprise people what an enterprising person can do with such a small amount of RAM. I have seen a 128MB VPS running a full WordPress install complete with MySQL.

7 Comments

  1. mark:

    Great Article for those new to the site, I look forward to more VPS idea articles.

    May 1, 2022 @ 6:52 pm | Reply
    • Thanks Mark, we are working to publish more helpful articles like this soon.

      May 4, 2022 @ 10:14 am | Reply
  2. Susan:

    Good info, thanks for sharing.

    May 1, 2022 @ 8:34 pm | Reply
  3. A decent article. We need more like this and less high school drama.

    May 2, 2022 @ 1:53 am | Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your opinion, David. Glad you found the article interesting. :)

      May 4, 2022 @ 10:13 am | Reply
  4. John Andersson:

    LowEndTalk loves OpenVPN and it’s 100,000 lines of clunky outdated/legacy preserving code.

    Hope your lists start reflecting the total and absolute supremacy of WireGuard as a VPN solution.

    It’s the one that’s in the Kernel! Independently audited and a sleek 4000 lines of code.

    May 2, 2022 @ 4:57 am | Reply

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