ReactionGrid no longer offers $25 regions, offering only entire servers starting at $150 a month, with a $500 setup fee.
Each server can handle four regions, and there is a discount for educators — to $75 a region with a $220 setup fee.
“The price for a $75 four-sim dedicated server actually works out to less than $25 per sim should users decide to go that route,” ReactionGrid CEO Kyle Gomboy told Hypergrid Business.
According to Gomboy, the company has decided to focus on dedicated server deployments and the Jibe platform, which is accessible via the Web.
Those looking to rent individual regions can go through a reseller, Gomboy said, but declined to provide any names.
“If you hang out on the ReactionGrid community you will find many educators and others there who have the lower priced single sim options,” he said. “[But] I do not know the specifics of what each partner offers so from our perspective we’d rather not say you can get any particular level of hosting from a partner.”
For the past year, ReactionGrid has been the gold standard for the mid-market, $25 regions, with a reputation for excellent customer service and a focus on performance and stability. ReactionGrid also offers web-based management tools for region owners.
However, other players have been emerging to fill this niche.
The latest player is PrimHosting, which has a self-serve interface to restart, rename, backup and move regions – and the magic price point of $25 per region per month.
Snoopy Pfeiffer’s Dreamland Metaverse is currently developing a new user interface that will allow for increased region management. The company already has a web-based interface for restarting regions and — for those running mini-grids — to create new users on their grids. In the future, the interface will also allow region owners to load and save the “OAR” region backups files, load and save the “IAR” user inventory backup files, and load and save terrains. Prices start at $30 per region per month.
(Disclaimer: both PrimHosting and Dreamland Metaverse are current Hypergrid Business advertisers.)
Other moderately-priced hosting providers include Talent Raspel and 3D Hosting, both based in Germany. The latter, run by OpenSim core developer Melanie Thielker, also offers a Web-based management panel for restarting, moving, or backing up regions.
Meanwhile, two providers have begun offering bargain-basement hosting. YourSimSpot, at $15 a month, and German-language Annuna, at $13 a month, both promise full regions of up to 15,000 prims each — the standard size of a full Second Life region.
YourSimSpot head Anthony Gill tells Hypergrid Business that his company offers hypergrid and groups and is in the process of implementing Freeswitch voice and the OMC currency. “We have a simple web-based management panel for region owners to perform administration tasks,” he added.
According to Annuna head Stefan Pommerening, the company doesn’t yet have any OpenSim customers. “Opensim hosting is still in the planning but will be realized within a reasonable short period of time,” he told Hypergrid Business.
There are great risks associated with cut-rate hosting, however.
One big issue is lag. Low-cost hosting providers typically use shared virtual servers to run their regions. This works well with low-traffic websites that don’t require any applications to be running non-stop. It doesn’t work so well for virtual worlds, which are up and running whether someone is visiting or not. In addition, virtual worlds have high bandwidth requirements compared to the average small website. As a result, developers recommend that shared virtual servers be used for non-mission-critical virtual worlds such as a low-traffic personal region or a testing area.
Another issue is the frequency and reliability of backups. Backups take time and use up storage, and no provider — big or small — is completely immune to failures. SimHost, for example, recently lost a region due to a server crash combined with a backup failure. And OSGrid has been having repeated outages over the past week and lost inventory issues.
Both are lessons for users to take their own backups. With OpenSim, it’s possible to get both a backup of your entire region (in the form of an OAR file) and a backup of your inventory (in an IAR file).