Welcome to our new blog!

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Hello, and welcome to our new blog! First, let us introduce ourselves. We’re Universal Layer (LLC), or ULayer for short. We’ve been around since 2017 in some shape or form working on our products behind the scenes. We’re a new, privacy centric hosting provider. We want to be different and think we can set ourselves apart from most of the bland hosting market. We won’t tell you things that aren’t true, we won’t promise you things that don’t/can’t happen and we’ll set fair expectations from the start. Unlike most hosts, we’ll help you with anything we can within reason. We’re Linux fans and can tackle problems or help with most Linux setups. When you contact us, you won’t get sent to some outsourced call center that copy and pastes responses. Our support team will go above and beyond to help you when possible. We genuinely care about our customers. You’re not just another nickle or dime to us…

Privacy (Encryption): With privacy being our #1 priority, we are doing things that other hosts are not. Data is always encrypted at rest. If you use our shared hosting or VM products you can be sure that the data is being written to encrypted block devices (HDDs or SSDs). We use dm-crypt + LUKS to achieve this most of the time. On our Ceph storage backed products the OSDs are encrypted as well. This means that if a malicious actor has physical access to our servers it would make it difficult or impossible to retrieve any plain-text data from the storage device(s) without our authorization (us inputting the key). This essentially adds another level of trustless-ness (we made that word up) to where our servers are located. We don’t know of any other affordable host that does this, and we think that makes us unique.

Privacy (Your Data): Storing your data on ULayer products adds liability on our part. This is not something that we take lightly, we want your data to be as secure as possible. While a lot of this responsibility is the un-managed customer’s duty, we will do our best to keep your data secure. This is why we pledge to never do anything that would compromise the trust between you and us. We aren’t going to be looking at your data without your permission, unless we’re legally compelled to. If at all we’re able to notify you of such legal requests, we will. In other circumstances, where we may not be able to say anything, we’ll have a warrant canary on the site (coming soon).

Security (Our Services): At ULayer we like to say that we bake security into everything we do. This is the truth, because we are cypherpunks and care a great deal about security. We use open source software that has been battle-tested when possible. We prefer strong encryption as well. Our code and configuration is clean, easy to read and uses sane, but secure defaults. Anyone should be able to jump in and understand how things work here. We’re fans of the Crystal programming language, because it’s fast and relatively secure. Our panel is custom built using this language (we hate PHP) 🙂

Uptime & Performance: We want to provide the masses with hosting that’s not only affordable, but performant and with solid uptime. That’s why we use RAID 1 or 10 for VM storage on our hypervisors. On our Ceph backed hypervisors, the data is replicated 3x, allowing for more stability. We also check all of the disks in our servers daily by running a short SMART test and running an extended one every week (fully automated). When a disk has a bad SMART attribute, we’re instantly alerted to the fact, so that we can get it replaced before failure. We also monitor all of our servers using Prometheus (with AlertManager for alerts). With Prometheus, we scrape metrics every 10 seconds and we build beautiful graphs using Grafana to graph those metrics. With this we can pinpoint what happens on our servers and see where the bottlenecks are. Gone are the days of guessing or assuming what happened at a specific point in time.

We’re Different: We like to think that we’re different. We’re doing this simply because it’s our passion, and that we want to make a living from it. We want to be different from other hosts, we don’t use licensed, proprietary VM management software and we have our own panel that’s made in-house. We won’t to nickle and dime our customers and we’re not some gigantic mega corporation that only cares about profit. We’ll provide you with privacy friendly, affordable hosting and quality customer support from real humans like you! If you’re interested, check out our services!

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