Although people often talk about “web hosting” as though it was a single thing, there are actually several distinct types of web hosting. The most common type is shared hosting, which is also the least expensive. This is what most people start off with, and many never move on to other types.
For some, however, shared hosting becomes too limited and they need something more flexible. One such option is VPS or Virtual Private Server hosting. In this article, we’ll be discussing the main features and advantages of VPS hosting.
What is VPS Hosting?
If you have a basic web hosting plan that costs about $5 per month or less, then you have shared hosting. This is what most companies advertise when they tell you their rates, features and advantages over the competition. Shared hosting means that you share resources with other users of the same service.
The advantage of this is that you save money. There is also not much to worry about in terms of maintenance, as you are not managing the server yourself. The disadvantage to this setup is that you are limited in terms of your ability to control the setup. For websites that get lots of traffic or need customized features, shared hosting can become too limiting.
At the other extreme, you have dedicated servers, where you actually own the server. This is a solution used by many larger companies who have vast online resources to manage. Dedicated servers are quite expensive and they also require a certain amount of technical know-how to maintain.
VPS hosting can be seen as a middle ground between shared hosting and having a dedicated server. With this setup, you don’t own the server so you are, technically speaking, still sharing with others. However, unlike shared hosting, you are allotted your own resources that are strictly your own. That’s why it’s called a “virtual” private server – you don’t literally own the server, but you have control over your own area.
An analogy that can be used is comparing web hosting to a living arrangement. Shared hosting is like renting an apartment in a large complex where tenants pay rent and share resources. Dedicated hosting is like owning your own home. VPS hosting is more like owning your own condo. Even though you share space with others, you have your own private area where you have some degree of autonomy. You are also responsible for maintaining this area.
Pros and Cons of VPS Hosting
If you are trying to decide if VPS hosting is right for you, it makes sense to consider the advantages and drawbacks of this type of hosting plan. There is no way to make a blanket statement and say that one type of hosting is superior or inferior. It all depends on your budget, the type of website you have, how technical competent you are and other such factors.
Pros of VPS Hosting:
- More secure than shared hosting.
- Web hosts usually give you several different plans to choose from, so you can choose the amount of space and bandwidth you need.
- You usually have access to better customer support than you’d get with shared hosting.
- You (or your staff) have the ability to make changes to the server.
Cons of VPS Hosting:
- More expensive than shared hosting.
- Demands technical ability to maintain the server, install software, handle security issues and other technical issues.
- Does not give you the resources or flexibility of a dedicated server.
Should You Upgrade to VPS Hosting?
I will assume that at this point you either already have shared hosting or you are planning to start your first website and are wondering if you should start with shared or VPS hosting.
You should consider the basic list of pros and cons listed above and see what kind of plan meets your needs right now. The good thing about web hosting is that it’s fairly easy to upgrade at any point if you find that you need more resources or flexibility.
If you have a personal or small business website, you probably don’t need anything beyond shared hosting. The time to start thinking about upgrading to VPS hosting is when you start getting large amounts of traffic, you want added security, you want to install some new features or you want the ability to customize your server.
If you want to frequently add new software or applications to your server, then you will find shared hosting limits your abilities. For an e-commerce site, for example, you may want to be able to customize the features to a greater extent than you can with a shared hosting plan.
Choose the Right VPS Hosting Plan
If you do decide to go with a VPS hosting plan you should be careful to find the right one. This means finding a web host that you trust and who offers some good choices for VPS hosting. I personally like and recommend Bluehost’s VPS hosting. You can read more about their VPS hosting plans and features on my buddy’s site – 100webhosting.com.
Once you’ve chosen the company (whether it’s one you already have shared hosting with or a new one), you should then carefully consider which plan suits you. You will usually have at least a few choices, based on the amount of resources you need. You can always start with the least expensive plan and upgrade later.
VPS Hosting can be a way to enjoy some of the benefits of having your own server without paying for dedicated hosting. For many website owners, it’s the next logical step when shared hosting no longer suffices.