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The rise of OVH

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My new Internet Service Provider is called OVH.

OVH only recently became an ISP. Until 2010 it was specialized in web hosting, later expanded to Virtual Private Servers and all sorts of hosted solutions like email, data storage, web servers and the like.

OVH has an interesting story. It was built over the past ten years with minimum budget and careful re-investment of all profits into their own infrastructure. The Wikipedia page about OVH does not really give many details. See also an article (in French) in Liberation about how the company was funded from literally nothing.

OVH is famous for democratizing netboxes in France. For 20 euros/month you have full root access to a Linux box somewhere in their data centers. Start by remotely installing an OS then configure it and use it as if it was somewhere in your cellar. For years now, French users have been using these as remote media and torrent boxes.

OVH later expanded to the UK and recently to the US too. They now have offices a bit everywhere and apparently just overtook the big German players in terms of size and equipment.


My experience switching from Free ISP to OVH ISP was quite painless. From registration on the OVH web site to a working Internet connection at home took me a week with just one single day of network interruption. They did not ship me a magic media box but a straight simple DSL modem including Wi-Fi, a 4-port router, and two RJ11 telephone lines.


The price point is just the market-defined 30 euros/month. For that price you get non-filtered net access, two phone numbers, unlimited calls to many countries (including mobile phones), a bunch of email addresses in the domain, and unlimited storage through their Hubic service.

OVH does not try to give you a media center, their offer does not even include any kind of TV service. Their web page is only about their own services.


I observed a 10% increase in bandwidth compared to Free DSL, something I attribute to the absence of TV service. This will not make any difference but is always appreciated.

Weak points

Several points came up over the past week that were not handled so gracefully.

  • Double account: I now have two accounts with OVH, one for hosting and another one for DSL. At no point did OVH try to ask if I was an existing customer. Merging both accounts requires sending a transfer order on paper with a copy of an ID card. Hahaha… Won’t happen.
  • Paper procedures: OVH just loves paper. They provide a generic console to manage all services and in many cases you end up printing a PDF, signing it and sending it to them with a copy of your ID. Not sure if they do that to slow down some requests or if they truly did not spend any time optimizing their stuff. Certainly feels out of time in 2012.
  • Manual procedures: creating an email on the domain was apparently done manually, it took a couple of days and was subject to a number of follow-up messages on my “order”. Weird.
  • Bugs in management console: OVH offers two different management consoles: v3 and v5. v3 looks like Windows 3.1 and has about a million icons to describe all possible tasks. The icons are of course impossible to identify, forcing you to click endlessly on the many menus in order to find out what you are looking for. v5 is kind of spartan and buggy, but still officially in beta. Hopefully I should never have to touch the DSL configuration ever again.
  • Minimum 12-month commitment: I decided not to care about this, hope this was not a bad choice.


So far the good points largely compensate the annoyances: my home network finally works flawlessly with Google services. No delays on YouTube, Google Play, GMail, Google search. Escaping from the Free DSL circus was desperately needed and so far OVH really delivers.

Written by nicolas314

Monday 22 October 2012 at 11:30 pm

Posted in free (isp), isp, ovh

Tagged with , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. You can assign the nic handle of the hosting account to the ADSL account (the other way around is not allowed). I also did not find the way subscribe to ADSL from the hosting account.


    Tuesday 11 December 2012 at 9:38 am

    • I actually called the service line twice. First time they told me you could assign one NIC to another but that should be done by an admin on the hosting site. Called the hosting site, they asked me to fill in a form and wait for an answer. Which I dutifully did. I was then told that it could not happen without sending ID and papers, which I politely declined.

      Only by sheer luck did I finally find how to switch the billing account on the hosting part to the DSL part. They love procedures and their help desk can really be clueless at times.


      Wednesday 12 December 2012 at 1:26 am

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