This is a short review of Server Avatar server management panel for Virtual Private Servers or VPS. In some ways, it is similar to Runcloud or Gridpane, two other fine options that I have come to use and love. I was planning to post my thoughts about this SAAS tool a while. The recent “Lifetime deal” posted by Adarsh, the founder of Server Avatar, provided the trigger to write this post.
I had published post about Server Management Panels a few weeks ago on my blog. This was followed by a review of VPSNoobs. The readers offerd positive feedback for those posts. With that in mind, I plan to review Gridpane, Cloudpanel, Runcloud and a few other server management panels in the times to come.
Today, we will look at Server Avatar.
About Server Avatar Server Management Panel
Server Avatar server management panel launched in July 2016 as a free plan. In July 2017 it became a paid product. You can read more about the history of Server Avatar on this blog post, or on the About page of their website. The company behind this service is based in Surat in India.
Image: Features of SA (2 screenshots)
Lifetime Deals by Server Avatar
Regular pricing for this SAAS includes three tiers- free, and two paid plans- Newbie and Pro.
Server Avatar offered a lifetime deal in 2019, and again in March and June 2020. They had priced the 2019 deal at nearly US $300, for an unlimited number of servers. I had passed on that offer and invested in Gridpane instead. In March and June 2020, they offered lower priced plans. The number of servers ranged from 1 to 10, and were available under two tiers: base or “Newbie” tier or pro tier. I signed up for Pro plan for one server in March.
As on September 2020, they have offered another chance for a lifetime deal, which is supposed to be last one ever. For those who experience FOMO here is the link to the deal.
Review: My experience with Server Avatar
Having used Runcloud and later Gridpane with ease, I thought setting up a server with Servar Avatar would be a breeze. The steps after all are quite similar:
a. Log on to the account of your VPS provider, and set up a KVM based VPS. In case of cloud serer, create an instance. The operating system should be Ubuntu 18.04 or 20.04.
b. Log on to Server Avatar Account, add the ipv4 address of the VPS.
The menu shows a password for root account and an installation script.
c. Log on to the VPS using SSH or any other terminal (such as Putty for Windows). Using sudo (if logged on as user, recommended!) run the installation script.
d. The script will install software like PHP, web server, database, and so on. You can view the progress in the terminal window, or in the web interface of your account.
e. In a few minutes, front end interface should connect to the server. You can access the front end by a web browser. You will of course have to log on to your account.
Pitfalls experienced: March 2020
The above steps seems simple, however, it was not the case. I tried connecting 4 different VPS’es. All had the following specifications:
-KVM with Ubuntu 18.04
-Minimum 1 GB RAM
-over 15 GB of SSD or NVMe disk space
The progress bar in the web menu would show that the server was being configured, but would stop at around the 70 percent mark. I eventually had to write to customer support, and they had to configure it from the back end. Not the greatest start to using a new service.
On the positive note, Adarsh and his team were quite responsive to handle the matter. They, however did not provide the reason why I kept getting those errors.
Fast Forward September 2020
I have tested 5 or 6 different VPS’es of varying configurations, networks and with both Ubuntu 18.04 and 20.04. The following tasks were accomplished without any hitch:
-Connecting the VPS to the Web based front end
-adding a ‘user’ or non admin account
-Setting up WordPress
-creating a database for a non-WordPress based content management system
-Setting up SSL for the site
-SFTP and Firewall
-Creating cron jobs for automating the updates to the server
In other words, most basic tasks one would need to set up the server, except backups. That is a brand-new feature that I am yet to test out.
Wrapping it up
Like any good product or service, Server Avatar is a work in progress. Using this service was a rough start for me, but I have decided to put my 1 server account to use. In the coming days, you might see the results of my efforts. In the server management panel world, this is a newer, offering. It is rather rough on the edges, but holds promise. At the price point of US $25, the Pro plan is worth considering.
Update: Server Vatar have added functionality to create and add backups.
Image Gallery- Server Avatar Menu
I will leave you with a series of screenshots in the form of an image gallery or a short video. Instead of reading further about the configuration settings and admin menu for Server Avatar, the images may prove equally useful. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!
Email confirmation from Server Avatar on resource usage
Monitoring server load in Server Avatar web interface
Adding Users to VPS
Sample WordPress site using Server Avatar