Frequently asked questions

Your questions answered

What is Bytemark Client?

Our command-line client is one way of managing your server and is perfect for those who are familiar with the command-line.

You can do all sorts of things with the command-line client, such as create a new account, image a new Cloud Server, or manage an existing Cloud Server. For programmers, you might also want to integrate with our API.

Alternatively, if you’d rather not work with the command-line or API then you can simply manage your servers in our easy to use Panel.

What is Symbiosis?

Symbiosis is an open-source hosting environment developed by the team at Bytemark.

Setting up a server from scratch can be fiddly and repetitive. That’s why we created Symbiosis: a simple but powerful way of setting up and managing servers. Using Symbiosis to manage your server means there is less time spent setting it up and more time spent developing your applications.

You can use it to:
- Quickly set up websites and email in just four steps.
- Simplify complex tasks like firewalling, spam filtering and automating backups.
- Host PHP, Ruby on Rails, Perl and MySQL with ease.
- Ideal for beginners and a time-saver for experts.
- System security updates applied automatically.

Symbiosis is built on reliable Debian GNU/Linux. It’s available free with every Bytemark server and is fully documented.

Do I need Windows or Linux Hosting?

This is completely up to you! We recommended choosing the OS you are most familiar with.

What is GiB?

Computers use the binary (base 2) number system, whereas humans are more used to the decimal (base 10) number system - which gives nice, round numbers!

1 Gigabyte (GB) is equal to 1,000,000,000 bytes 1 Gibibyte (GiB) is equal to 1,073,741,824 bytes.

Physical computer storage, such as RAM and Hard Drives, is typically sized in decimal units eg. Kilobytes (KB), Megabytes (MB), Gigabytes (GB) etc.

Bytemark measures the resources allocated to its Cloud Servers in binary units eg. Kibibytes (KiB), Mebibytes (MiB), Gibibytes (GiB) etc. Resources measured in binary also happen to be slightly larger than decimal ones, so you are getting more for your money!

What is archive storage?

Archive storage is an ideal place to store backups as it’s cheap and guaranteed to be on different underlying hardware than your main SSD storage. It’s also useful for log files and other data where performance isn’t critical.

Read more in our extensive user documentation including a simple way to make your Symbiosis backups more secure.

Can I point my domain names I have with other registrars to you?

Yes. There are two different ways to transfer your domain to Bytemark, and it depends on whether or not your domain ends with .uk.

Please see our full documentation for further instructions.

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes (often abbreviated to K8s) is a container orchestration tool. It allows developers to automate tasks within containerised workloads, this enables application development to be more scalable, fast and cost effective.

It is an open-source project which was originally created by Google and is now part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

To learn more about how Kubernetes works and what it is for, read our Beginner’s Guide.

What’s the difference between Kubernetes and Docker?

Docker is the industry-leading containerisation tool whereas Kubernetes in the industry-leading container orchestration tool. They are not alternative solutions to the same problem.

To summarise the difference, Docker allows you to create containers and Kubernetes then helps you to manage those containers. It is worth noting that you don’t have to be using Docker in order to use Kubernetes, alternative containerisation tools are available.

What is Managed Kubernetes?

A managed Kubernetes service is where a team of experts look after your Kubernetes cluster for you. This is one of the services Bytemark offers as part of our Kubernetes platform.

Running a Kubernetes cluster actually involves a high-level of infrastructure maintenance, it isn’t the kind of software that you can simply install and leave to run. A managed Kubernetes service could be the ideal solution for your company if you:

- Want to focus solely on application development, not infrastructure management.
- Don’t have the on-premise resources to host and monitor clusters.
- Don’t have a dedicated site reliability engineering (SRE) team.
- Want to be able to rely on Kubernetes experts if you experience any issues.

Is Kubernetes secure?

Kubernetes is still considered an emerging technology, as it is a new and powerful tool you could be at risk of abuse if your platform is not configured properly. That’s why the Bytemark team stay up to date on all of the best practices for setup and maintenance - to keep your cluster safe!

As Kubernetes is an open-source project, new updates are always being added. By letting our team of experts manage your Kubernetes cluster for you, you can rest assured that you are always running the latest version of the software. This will ensure that you are protected against any newly identified bugs or vulnerabilities.

Bytemark also offer a full monitoring service for your cluster, so any unusual activity can be identified and dealt with before issues arise.

Your cluster is essentially as secure as the system & hardware it is running on. We own our data centre, so we have full control over security protocols. Our efforts to protect our customers services and manage security risks has been recognised through receipt of the ISO 27001 accreditation.

How much does Bytemark’s Kubernetes service cost?

Bytemark offer an end-to-end Kubernetes platform, we can handle transitioning legacy applications to microservices, Kubernetes installation and updates, cluster setup, operations support, and everything in between.

As we offer a wide range of services, prices will vary depending on what kind of solution your company is looking for. Please contact our sales team to discuss your needs and get a quote.

What is Cloud Hosting?

Cloud hosting is a method of providing virtual resources to customers in a way that is cheap and scalable. If you have a Bytemark Cloud Server, you are using cloud hosting!

The “cloud” is a collection of virtual servers, spread over several physical machines. These virtual servers are not tied to a single physical machine and are therefore not affected when there is an outage of a single machine.

This is distinct from “dedicated” hosting, where data is physically tied to one machine.

How long does it take to set up a cloud server?

Cloud servers are extremely quick to provision. In most cases they can be set up in under 5 minutes.

What cloud hosting plan should I choose?

We offer a basic, standard and premium plan as a starting point. You can read more about their example use cases on our Cloud Hosting page.

But you can create cloud servers to your own custom specs, so whatever your needs we will be able to accommodate them. You can alter the specs at any time using Bytemark Panel, so whichever plan you choose to begin with it will be able to grow with you.

How is Bytemark Cloud hosting environmentally friendly?

We designed our fully-owned, custom-built data centre “YO26” to be as energy efficient as possible.

Most notably, we minimise the need for expensive air-conditioning by using fresh air cooling. When the external temperature is less than 21.5 C (90% of the hours in the year here in York!) the data centre can be cooled without the use of air conditioning compressors.

Read our full environmental statement.

Do you offer live migration for cloud servers?

Yes. Behind the scenes, we sometimes move your servers between different machines; a process called ‘live migration’. This allows us to perform upgrades and fixes to both software and hardware as needed, without interrupting our customers’ services.

Most server providers (who don’t do live migrations) tie your server to a piece of hardware. When that hardware fails, these providers may require you to rebuild your server from backups or wait for hardware to be re-provisioned. Our Cloud Servers can usually be rebooted on new hardware when a failure is detected, shortening down time.

We also use custom-designed network storage allowing you to add more storage whenever you need, as well as for us to live migrate that storage in case of trouble.

In short: we designed our Cloud Servers to stay running; you are not obligated to over-provision for reasonable uptime or to avoid data loss.

Do you offer load balancing?

Yes! Load balancers are configured within the Bytemark Panel, with no code or complicated configuration required. Simply select your target instances, point your web traffic at the load balancer and we handle the rest.

They are also available via the Bytemark Cloud API, enabling dynamic on-demand scaling for our advanced users.

Do you offer backups for cloud servers?

Yes! For servers in both York and Manchester, we offer two ways to take backups: scheduled and manual.

Automatic scheduled backups can be set to happen on schedules that you configure. You can have up to three schedules for taking backups.

You can backup your root disc at any time. Manual backups will be stored indefinitely until you choose to delete them.

Backup pricing is based on storage cost, dependent on the size of your disc and the number of backups you choose to keep.

We provide 25GiB of backup storage free for every Cloud Server, enough to keep one free backup of a 25GiB disc. Additional backup storage is charged at £2 per month for each 100GiB storage block.

You can also read the full documentation on our backups service.

Can you provide Micro VMs?

Yes! You can set up a Micro VM in Bytemark Panel for just £6/month. All micro VMs have a fast 5GB SSD and 768MB of RAM. They are ideal for Gitlab Runners, small applications with a low footprint or as part of horizontally scaling applications on Kubernetes, Docker Swarm and other platforms.

Can you move my website from my existing provider?

Yes! Any of our experienced system administrators can take a quick look for you, free of charge, to help determine how much work it would be to migrate your services across to Bytemark.

All we’d need you to provide is a login to your existing server. Once we’ve had a look, we can give you an estimate and if you want to proceed then our standard charge is £100/hour, billed in 15-minute chunks. We’ll establish a plan with you that lets you test the new server just before everything goes live.

After we’ve migrated your services across, if you’d like us to look after your server then we can do that too! Just let us know and we can talk to you about your options.

Why do I have to enter my card details for a free trial? Am I charged?

We require card details to start a free trial for identity verification purposes. You will not be charged for your server during the 7-day free trial period.

However, in order to ensure valid card details are entered, we will initiate a pre-authorisation check by taking payment with the card for £0.66. This is then immediately cancelled, so the money never actually leaves your account.

How does the free trial work?

The trial has a limit of £50/month spend which includes Cloud Servers, additional discs, IP addresses and backups.

It does not include domain registrations, which must be purchased separately.

The trial lasts for 7 days. You may upgrade at any time during the trial by clicking the ‘Upgrade’ button in Panel.

What form of payments do you accept?

We accept all major credit and debit cards including MasterCard, Visa, AMEX and Maestro.

Will taxes be included in my monthly invoice?

Your monthly invoice will include applicable VAT charges which are clearly indicated on the document for your records.

Is there a minimum contract period?

For Cloud Servers, there is no minimum contract period. We will only bill you for the resources you use.

However, we do respect long-term commitment and can offer a fair reduction for 2-3-year contracts.

How does daily pricing work?

We provide daily pricing values to help you budget and compare costs between providers. The daily pricing may in reality fluctuate within a small tolerance, as it is based on monthly values.

Can I upgrade and downgrade my hosting package?

Yes, you are able to increase or decrease your Cloud Server resources at any time and your billing amount will be updated accordingly.

Do I still pay for servers that are turned off?

Charges are still applied to powered off servers unless they are deleted and/or purged.

You can expect your Cloud Servers to be available for 100% of the time — that is to say that once you start a Cloud Server running, it won’t stop running due to hardware faults.

If there is a failure of a Cloud Server, providing the customer’s machine was “properly configured” at the time of a failure, Bytemark will refund 10% of hosting fees for every full hour that it is down or unreachable. (For more details, please check our Service Level Agreement).

Can I buy cloud hosting without a domain name?

Yes! We provide cloud hosting, DNS hosting, and domain registration independently from each other. Most people will need a domain name, and DNS hosting: you don’t have to buy them from us, but your sites may be slightly more reliable if you’re not relying on a separate DNS service provider.

What do you offer as part of the managed service?

Managed hosting from Bytemark lets you focus on what you do best — building your business whilst we maintain your hosting.

For a full breakdown of everything under the remit of our managed service, please read our Management Definition Document.

What kind of servers can I ask you to manage?

We can happily manage Cloud Servers running any current version of Debian, Ubuntu or CentOS, as well as Windows Servers.

What do we monitor and how do we do it?

We run a variety of different checks of server health, both on the server itself and remotely.

For more information on what monitoring will be covered as part of your managed service, please read our Management Definition Document.

I would like to schedule some work for outside business hours, how much will it cost?

Sometimes you might want us to do some maintenance work for you outside of our usual business hours, perhaps to avoid downtime during a busy time of day. We can certainly try to accommodate that!

We charge £120/hour for work outside of business hours (17:00 to 09:00). Support work within business hours is priced at £60/hour.

Can you help migrate my services from another hosting provider?

We sure can! We’d start by asking you to provide us some login credentials so that we can assess how much work is required.

On a 12-month contract, you get an hour of free system administration time, which is generally enough for us to provision the hardware, configure the server and migrate a few small websites. If it takes longer, we might need to cover that in the quote we give you.

If I need more backup space, what will it cost?

You receive a free 50GiB of monitored backup space for every server you have managed by Bytemark. If you need more space, every additional 100GiB costs £2/month.

What invoicing options are available to me?

Depending on what works best for you or your business, we can invoice monthly, quarterly or annually. We can include Purchase Order (PO) numbers if you need.

Are Docker containers slow?

Docker containers are essentially as fast as the machine they are running on. Unlike Virtual Machines, there is very little resource overhead for containers.

Are Docker containers specific to one operating system?

In theory, no. However, there may be conflicts with certain legacy or niche operating systems. This is why we recommend running Docker on Debian 9, which is the latest stable version of Debian.

Are docker containers isolated?

Docker containers are not as isolated as Virtual Machines, which are isolated at the hardware level.

Docker containers running on a machine share the same “host” kernel. However, Docker containers do use similar security features to Linux containers. When you start a container, Docker creates a set of namespaces for the container.

Each container also gets its own network stack and you can set up Control Groups to limit and account for resources.

How does containerisation differ from using Virtual Machines (VMs)?

VMs work using hardware virtualisation; the host OS acts as a hypervisor and presents VMs with virtual hardware that looks real. Guest VMs run their own complete operating system, including a kernel.

In contrast, containers share the host OS kernel. This means slightly less isolation compared to VMs but provides lower resource usage and better performance.

You can fit more containers, and therefore services, onto a single server compared to VMs and save on hosting costs.

What does a Docker image contain?

An OS usually consists of at least a kernel along with a set of system libraries and utilities. A Docker image uses the kernel from the host OS, but generally needs its own minimal set of system libraries and utilities required for an OS to function; this set is often taken from Alpine Linux or Debian Linux. This minimal OS image is usually what people use as a starting point for their own images, adding to the image their own applications, sites and services such as a MySQL database or web server software like Apache.