VPS Hosting is just a little piece of the web hosting industry offering. With so many out there to choose from, one being more advantageous than the other, how can you be sure that you have made the right decision?
Today, I’ll be covering the main aspects of VPS Hosting and what clearly differentiates this mid-level hosting plan from the other ones available out there. Without further ado, let’s begin!
- 1 Top 5 VPS Hosting Providers
- 2 First Off, What Is VPS Hosting?
- 3 How Does VPS Hosting Work?
- 4 VPS vs. Other Types of Hosting Services
- 5 Okay, VPS is Great, but How Do I Know When to Make the Switch?
- 6 How to Choose the Right VPS Hosting?
Top 5 VPS Hosting Providers
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First Off, What Is VPS Hosting?
VPS, as you might already know, stands for Virtual Private Server and designates a server shared among different “tenants” (as it happens with Shared Hosting, but to a much lesser extent – more on that later on). By extension, VPS Hosting means that you can opt to host your own website on this specific Virtual Private Server.
How Does VPS Hosting Work?
It is pretty hard to explain if you have not delved into the matter yourself, but I’ll try to be as brief and clear as possible.
Think of a VPS as an onion. This onion is sliced into several “layers” that are now independent one from the other. These layers are shared among different persons and are free to do whatever they want with them. VPS Hosting works the same way. Your host basically slices a server into different compartments and hands them out to different customers.
Now, as I previously said, VPS Hosting, theoretically, resembles Shared Hosting at first sight, but let me tell you why it’s significantly different.
When you opt for a Shared plan, you actually agree to share an entire server with other tenants (which are far more numerous by the way). If someone uses too many server resources, it affects everyone else. If someone gets banned on a website, everyone else gets banned, too, since there’s usually no Dedicated IP address allotted to anyone.
Conversely, Virtual Private Servers work on the aforementioned “compartments” which operate independently from others in that you get your own storage, disk space, monthly bandwidth and RAM to use at your leisure. Obviously, with VPS Hosting you cannot use “too much”, but rather, “use up your entire allotted resources”. Others won’t be affected. This is what differentiates Shared Hosting from VPS Hosting.
VPS vs. Other Types of Hosting Services
Aside from the notable difference we’ve covered above, there’s much more to say about the two.
First of all, Shared Hosting caters to entry-level users. These users are obviously not that experienced and are in the process of learning the ropes. It could take a few days or a few years for that.
Because of their inexperience, they’ll end up using many resources – not because they want to annoy you, but because they really have no idea how much they ought to use.
Not only that, but Shared servers are sometimes unstable and lack proper support. This is not a general rule and can widely vary depending on your preferred web hosting provider, so I’d personally recommend you carry out your own due diligence prior to committing to a long-term subscription. It’s safer this way.
On the other hand, VPS’s attract much, much more experienced users who know how to individually handle servers, so that’s why most companies won’t bother to offer any kind of managed VPS hosting solutions.
Issues with VPS Hosting Compared to Shared Hosting
There are many advantages to considering VPS Hosting instead of Shared Hosting, but there are two main disadvantages to opting for it though: the cost and technical jibber-jabber.
It building upon Shared Hosting, it’s pretty normal for it to sometimes cost more than $50 per month. You do get what you pay for, so don’t be concerned about quality issues. Serious web hosting providers will not fail you.
The technical jibber jabber can easily get to you if you are not very experienced. Unless you find a managed VPS Hosting solution, there’s really no workaround to the technical terminology you’ll face. With practice comes perfection though, so we encourage you to just jump into the matter fearlessly. You’ll eventually succeed.
VPS vs. Dedicated Hosting
Long story short, VPS’s don’t come to par with Dedicated Hosting.
First of all, Dedicated Hosting is just what the name suggests: you get your own server which can be used at your own leisure without fearing that you might disturb any tenants, as you’re the only one out there.
Well, at first sight, it might look like the best thing to buy, but hold your thought for a moment until you see the cost. It easily exceeds $100 per month and can go all the way up to $1000 depending on what specifications you want to see and use.
Now, this solution is ideal for established business that need to house thousands of unique visitors per day. There’s no way around it.
However, if you own a medium-sized blog or perhaps an e-commerce store that earns you around $500-$1000 per month, you’ll do just fine with VPS Hosting. There’s no point in pouring your hard-earned money down the drain for specs that you will never, ever use.
Okay, VPS is Great, but How Do I Know When to Make the Switch?
First of all, congratulations if you started off with a shared hosting plan! You have likely spared a lot of money till now.
You’ll very likely not know when to make the switch from Shared to VPS, but the most obvious indicator is if your website starts showing signs of “tiredness”. It does not all come down to how much traffic you receive though, it’s also heavily reliant on how much storage and RAM your website uses. I’ve stringed together a few more sub-indicators to help you decide whether it’s high time you upgraded:
- Your Website Receives A Lot Of Traffic
If your website just doesn’t seem to keep up with the traffic you receive, you might as well just upgrade ASAP as postponing it could lead to serious cuts in potential traffic. I would personally not think very highly of websites that take a lot of time to load, let alone have the patience for it to do so. Ugh.
- Reliability and Security Start to Become a Compulsory Requirement
Shared Server tenants are usually not concerned about the security of their websites, mainly because they’re not even aware of the risks involved of even owning a website, so web hosting providers just don’t seem to care about offering security extras to these customers. There are the occasional hosts that allow you to buy an SSL certificate but that’s pretty much it.
When it comes to VPS’s, things become more serious in that you can opt for better website backup solutions, advanced monitoring capabilities and enhanced security features.
- You Need Better Control of Your Website
Shared Hosting places a lot of limits to the accounts of server tenants, and it’s pretty understandable; if they are given too much freedom, they might destabilize the whole network for everyone else.
Here’s where VPS Hosting excels and sometimes fails. It offers virtually unlimited freedom over your server compartment, but that usually also implies that your host will likely not get involved into setting it up for you, so you’ll be left alone to deal with the whole process.
How to Choose the Right VPS Hosting?
In order to assess the worth of any VPS Hosting plan, I’ve decided to divide the key points in different “factors”. Namely, these are:
Windows vs Linux
In your search toward finding the right VPS plan for you, you’ll see two types of Virtual Private Servers: Windows and Linux-based. The main difference between the two is that Linux is generally recognized as more secure than Windows, but lacks the extensive palette of add-ons that are found in Windows systems. Depending on your needs, one could cater to you more than the other.
Managed vs. Unmanaged
I’ve indirectly covered this before, but let me reiterate. On top of the normal pricing, some hosts will allow you to opt for what they call managed or unmanaged VPS Hosting. What the former means is that your host will take care of the annoying setup process for you and manage your server and, implicitly, website from that point onwards for a monthly fee. The latter obviously means that they won’t do any of that and the pricing will follow the same monthly structure with no additional fees.
If you’re experienced with servers and can easily pave your way through setting it up and managing it, you really don’t need managed VPS hosting; you’ll just pour money down the drain. The same applies if you’re a geek who has never worked with VPS’s before but would love to give it a try without any kind of divine intervention.
Do bear in mind that not all hosts provide the same “managed” features – some think that managed VPS hosting only means setting it up for you, whereas others go to great lengths to manage it for you on a monthly basis.
Redundancy and Scalability
Redundancy refers to the host having a backup resource in place. Is the data center experiencing a sudden and unexpected power outage? It should have a power-filled generator that’s able to supply power for a few days at least. Is the data center experiencing a sudden Internet connection disruption? It should have an alternative provider set in place. Has one of the servers gone down due to whatever reason? There should be a spare one in place to take over the role. In other words, if they guarantee 99.99% uptime guarantee or above, they need to demonstrate that they can in fact provide this performance.
All the aforementioned factors bear significant importance to your final decision, but the price will probably be the most influential out of all. As such, you should expect to pay anything between $8 for the most basic VPS plan to $50 for a highly-advanced one. Don’t worry, as you don’t necessarily have to pay $50 to benefit from the power of VPS Hosting. For $8, you can get, for example, 1 GB of RAM and 20 GB of storage, which is not bad for a mid-level company.
Cloud-Based and Conventional VPS Hosting
I frequently see these two terms being used interchangeably, so I’d like to shed some light on the matter, as there are notable differences between the two.
- Conventional VPS Hosting
As you’ve seen at the beginning of this review, “conventional” VPS hosting is, basically, a small server within a big server. The big server is actually a physical server that hosts the small servers, which can be called “virtual servers”. The difference between conventional and cloud-based servers lies on the fact that conventional VPS’s can experience real saturation if there’s enough resource demand, i.e. the host may be forced to upgrade the server’s specs to further support said demand.
- Cloud-Based VPS Hosting
So, conventional VPS hosting can experience real saturation. Why aren’t cloud servers prone to the same limitations?
Fairly easy: cloud-based VPS’s are actually an entire combination of “big” servers which interoperate. Let’s assume one of them reached its physical limitations. In this case, another “big” server would take over the role and supply the necessary bandwidth, storage, RAM and so forth.
Which is Better?
I would be inclined to unhesitantly choose cloud-based VPS hosting over conventional, but that’s only because I personally have a larger budget. If you cannot afford paying extra for cloud VPS, well, then just don’t bother, as the only difference between it and the conventional option is this very enhanced flexibility and reliability perk. You normally should not have any kind of problem with the “lesser” option.
Server Specs and Configuration
Okay, so we’ve covered many aspects till now. What about specs? Aren’t they important?
They are, and you should always consider high specs regardless of the seemingly low price. It might be that low for a very specific reason. Here’s what you should keep an eye open for when considering any VPS package:
- RAM & Storage: The more, the better, but if you need specific numbers here, I’d say that you would do just fine with 1 GB of RAM and 20 GB of storage. That is if you run a medium-sized blog, post a few articles per week and house 100-150 unique visitors per day. Anything beyond that requires better specs IMHO.
- Data Transfer: Most web hosts out there don’t impose any bandwidth limitations, but in case there are, make sure you get at least 20 GB of monthly data transfer. Anything lower than that won’t suffice, but that’s also heavily reliant on your website.
- Backup: Does your web hosting provider offer any kind of backup protocols? If so, make sure you ask how often backups are made (daily, weekly, monthly) and whether there are any steps you need to take in order to benefit from them.
- IP Addresses: Normally, you should have at least one Dedicated IP address with any VPS plan. The more, the better.
Problems come and go, and there must be an efficient customer support in place to help you with them. If your desired host cannot provide 24/7 customer support, there’s really no point in subscribing to any plan of theirs – it’s money thrown away.
Say your website goes blank all of a sudden. If there’s no support to help you, it will seriously affect your business. Most people tend to overlook this aspect, but it’s crucial, and lots of people have lost money because they did not pay attention to this seemingly unimportant detail.
Surprisingly, trial periods are not an industry-standard on this market, so I won’t put too much emphasis on this. They do need to have some sort of money-back guarantee policy – if they don’t, look away. Really.
Bearing all of these key points in mind will undoubtedly help you make the right decision. Best of luck!