Been reading so much about VPS servers that my dang eyeball fell out. Hate it when that happens.
All things being equal (disk space, memory, bandwidth, etc) a Managed VPS cost about double what you pay for unManaged.
For example, the unManaged Link-3 plan at VPSlink that comes with 10-GB disk space + 256-MB RAM costs $25/month. The same plan (10 + 256) from Spry is fully managed. It costs $50/month. ($45 if you pay for 3 months.) Both are located in Seattle, part of the same company, and probably the most popular VPS host.
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But the Spry plan only comes with PHP 4.x and MySQL 4.x. I would prefer PHP 5 and MySQL 5. Hence » WiredTree. They're in Chicago, are "fully managed," and have everything I want. Their network sounds impressive.
Now Magoo could easily administrate an unManaged VPS for us, but I'd only want to bother him if I *have* to. And an unManaged VPS would involve lots of bothering, I fear.
One guy who described how to choose a VPS, recommended, as his #1 priority, selecting a provider who was "geographically close." (Cuz it will be faster.)
The article I was reading when my eyeballs fell out » How to Choose a Good Web Host (one of my favorites). Here's a few quotes (dated 01.feb.2008) I found particularly insightful:
As far as shared hosting, I've come to the conclusion that the big guys are the love/hate of the hosting world. They work great up until they don't. When they stop working great, it's time to move up to a VPS.
Beware when choosing a control panel. Some panels lock you in to certain configurations of software. For example, updating PHP on a server that runs Plesk can be tricky and often ends in violence. CPanel servers often run old versions of Apache, and can't support subversion hosting. Be aware that using a control panel may limit your ability to configure your server manually later.
If everyone on the server used their full allotment of space, the hosting company would go under trying to buy adequate storage to keep up. More likely, they'd just shut your site down citing an ambiguous violation of their terms of service. Happens all the time. Beware!
Oops, my dang eyeball just fell out again. Better find it before the cat gets ahold of it.
For more along these lines, here's a Google search for the query » vps managed vs unmanaged