VPS Allowed and Blocked Services

Published on Sep 9, 2017

Many hosting companies have a clear Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that outlines the services they allow to run on their servers, or more importantly, the services the hosting provider does not allow. These policies exist for all types of hosting services, from shared hosting to dedicated servers. As long as you are using someone else’s network, servers, and data center, there are going to be restrictions.

It’s important to check if the services you plan on running on your server are allowed before purchasing your hosting plan and configuring your server. Most providers will cancel your servers without a refund, not to mention the downtime you will run into and the amount of time you dedicated to setting up your server. Luckily you can easily find what services are allowed by reading the AUP for the provider you are interested in.

Blocked Services

The types of services blocked are fairly consistent across similar hosting plans and servers. Shared hosting plans are generally very strict on the services they allow due to the fact that many websites are using the same shared resources on a single server. Virtual Private Servers and Dedicated servers will generally give you additional freedom, but not everything is allowed. Below is a list of common services that are blocked by nearly every United States based VPS provider.

  • Commonly Blocked Services
    • Video Chat
    • Port Scanning (Possibly Illegal)
    • TOR Nodes
    • Proxy Services
    • Bitcoin Mining
    • IP Spoofing
  • Illegal Activities
    • Phishing
    • Illegal Downloads and Piracy
    • Botnets
    • Denial of Service Attacks
  • Sometimes Prohibited
    • Adult Content
    • Video Game Servers
    • IRC Server
    • VPN Server
    • Video Streaming
    • Torrents
    • Usenet

There are other services that are often blocked by shared hosting providers, such as file and image hosting. It’s important to check with the hosting providers you are considering before purchasing a server to verify that the services you want to run are allowed. Companies will sometimes make exceptions at their sole discretion concerning some services if you ask them in advance.

Allowed Services

Listing all of the allowed services would be impossible and the list also depends on the hosting company and the type of server you are purchasing (shared, vps, dedicated). If you have to ask if the service you are running is allowed or not, it’s probably in the gray area and you will have to look at the Acceptable Use Policy. Below is a list of commonly accepted services that should be perfectly fine with all VPS providers.

  • Website Hosting
  • Website Crawling
  • E-Mail Server
  • E-Mail Mailing List
  • Database Services
  • Audio Streaming
  • Mumble / Ventrillo Servers
  • Cloud / File Hosting
  • Code Hosting
  • CRON jobs

It’s generally safe to say that if the service doesn’t require a high CPU load (such as video game servers, bitcoin mining, video encoding), isn’t illegal, and doesn’t have a high risk of abuse (torrents, adult content, IRC servers), you can probably run it on your VPS. For shared hosting, it’s a little bit different though. Shared hosting generally only allows hosting a few websites with minimal resource usage and frowns upon multiple cron jobs, long living processes, and sending out more than a few hundred e-mails a day.

How to Run Blocked Services

If a service you want to run is prohibited by your hosting provider, you are not out of luck. The first option is to ask the provider if they would make an exception for your server. If you can show them that you’re not an abusive user, they might grant an exception for some services.

If you’re unable to convince your host to allow you to run the blocked services, you now need to shop around for other hosting providers that will allow you to run these services. There are many VPS providers available and they each have a different list of what is and isn’t allowed on their servers. There are also niche hosting providers that focus on hosting a single type of service.

Finally, if you can’t find a provider that allows you to run a specific service, you either have to move onto looking at dedicated server providers or renting rackspace at a colocation with your own server. There isn’t much you can do at this point other than face the additional cost of a dedicated server or a colocation.

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