6 Reasons to Use VPS Hosting
Most beginner website owners start off with a shared hosting plan. Shared hosting is designed for small sites that don’t demand too much. Once your site outgrows shared hosting, you’ll probably look at a VPS for the next step up.
The important part of VPS hosting is virtualization. The host divides one server into several smaller virtual servers, each with their own chunk of RAM and hard drive space.
When a customer takes on one of these virtual servers, they enjoy a more isolated experience, since their virtual server can’t be disrupted by other customers.
VPS for Business
VPS hosting is ideal for small businesses that want a little peace of mind and are willing to pay for it. If you need to know that your website won’t be dragged down by a bad neighbor, a VPS will be worth the extra spend.
So let’s take a look at a brief recap of 6 reasons why one should use VPS hosting:
- Greater private disk space
- Higher availability of resources, without interruption
- Ability to manage and intake high traffic demand and application configuration
- Robust safety features and security measures
- Customizability while maintaining security and performance
- Scalability at it’s best.
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VPS vs Cloud Hosting
You may be wondering where cloud hosting fits into the hierarchy. In truth, cloud hosting and VPS hosting are very similar.
There’s no industry definition of the cloud, and in hosting, the word “cloud” might not mean what you expect it to mean. Hosts can also use the word “cloud” fairly loosely in their marketing blurb.
VPS on the Cloud
Normally, hosts will roll out a VPS on one server, which has a single disk. That disk might fail. If it does, you’ll need backups to restore your site.
Other hosts provide a similar service with the VPS hosted in the cloud. This means that multiple copies of your site are stored on a Storage Area Network (SAN). Often, this SAN will be connected to a single physical server.
Cloud VPS Pros and Cons
So while this kind of cloud VPS hosting sounds fancy, there are pros and cons.
- The VPS is saved as several instances across an array of storage devices, with any device ready to step in if the primary device fails
- It has the potential for more downtime.
- It’s more expensive
- It’s less secure
- All the storage devices are linked to one server.
A different form of cloud hosting involves clustering servers together and linking them to a cloud platform. Your host can deploy its VPS servers on this platform and adjust resources assigned to your VPS instances.
With this method, you can also theoretically grow the VPS beyond the restraints of a single server, giving it much more RAM than a single machine could provide.
If you choose this method of cloud hosting, you will lose a lot of the control over your VPS, since some of its traditional server features will be bypassed.
There’s nothing wrong with traditional VPS hosting, although cloud hosting may provide some redundancy. The nature of that redundancy needs to be investigated so you know exactly what you’re getting.
And, in exchange for the extra cost, you should look for a host that’s offering a significant uptime boost.
How Do You Manage Sites on a VPS Hosting Plan?
If you’ve never used a virtual server before, you might not be sure what to expect.
On a typical web host, it’s almost identical to how you managed sites on shared hosting plans.
The majority of hosts will let you manage your site through cPanel. Everything will be the same, you’ll just have a few extra options.
Let’s look at the Bluehost cPanel front-end as a demonstration:
Familiarising yourself with cPanel can make your life significantly easier. Check out some hosts who use cPanel.
5 Key VPS Hosting Features to Look For
Before purchasing a web hosting service, you’ll want to look for a few other features aside from just cPanel.
Most Important Features
Here are the most important ones, in my opinion:
- Solid-state drive (SSD) — one common motivation for buying a VPS is speed. SSDs help speeds up your site in just about every way.
- Managed — there are different levels of server management that a host can provide. At the very least, look for managed VPS hosting that monitor and detects security issues.
- Linux or Windows — only some VPS host plans support Windows.
- Full Root Access — root access lets you install any software you’d like, or modify any files with no restrictions (just be careful!).
- Instant Reboot — while instant reboot capability is almost standard, it’s vital to know ‘instant’ really does mean instant.
VPS Is Perfect for Medium-Sized Sites
Where smaller sites will do just fine with shared hosting, and large, enterprise-level sites definitely need dedicated private server hosting, VPS hosting can work best for medium-sized sites that have a moderate amount of traffic.
Pros and Cons
Like all forms of hosting, VPS has its good and bad points. Below, we list the primary ones.
VPS hosting is a great compromise between shared and dedicated hosting.
- It’s affordable
- The VPS can be set up in a few minutes
- VPS hosting tends to be more reliable than shared hosting since your site can’t be affected by another resource-hogging customer
- This kind of hosting gives you more access to the server’s configuration
- You can create and remove sites from your VPS at will
- Each site can have its own control panel
- Software can be installed and modified
- It’s more secure than shared hosting.
Another advantage of VPS hosting is the ability to customize your operating system. You can do this with a dedicated server, of course, but at a much higher price.
There are a few downsides to VPS hosting too.
- You need to know a little more about server administration
- There’s quite a jump in cost
- An unmanaged VPS may look like a cheap option, but if you have a lot of experience
- Choosing a plan can be complicated.
My Choices: The Top Three VPS Hosts
There are a lot of hosts who provide VPS plans. So it can be hard to know what to choose.
To make it a little easier, I’ll tell you my favorite hosts for VPS.
Liquid Web has a great reputation as a hosting company when it comes to high performance and support.
They do not offer shared hosting anymore and specialize in cloud computing plans (like VPSs) and dedicated servers now.
All VPS plans come with full root access and server management that takes care of most security and performance concerns.
The technical specifications of all Liquid Web’s VPS packages are better than just about all competitors and have a large amount of SSD disk space included.
If you’re looking for a slightly more affordable host provider, InMotion Hosting might be a better fit.
The one potential catch is that all their operations, including datacenters, are based in the United States.
If most of your customers are on the other side of the globe, this could cause slower than ideal loading times.
However, the VPS plans offered by InMotion are priced reasonably and come with a lot of great features.
All plans have SSD storage, and free SSL certificates are offered through AutoSSL in cPanel.
Finally, InMotion Hosting has fantastic support documentation, and a great U.S. based support team .
If you’re really on a budget, Bluehost is another option for VPS hosting.
While BlueHost is primarily known for their shared hosting plans, their VPS plan options are pretty solid.
They offer a great amount of SSD disk space and RAM, as well as up to 3 TB of bandwidth for a low price .
Don’t expect the same level of performance and support as Liquid Web and InMotion Hosting, but it’ll beat your typical shared hosting performance comfortably.
VPS is a great choice if your website has grown beyond shared hosting but isn’t ready for a dedicated server or a full cloud-based solution.
But there are a lot of things to consider in choosing a host. Hopefully, the information here will help you make the right choice for your site.
Other features in Hosting Types
- Managed WordPress
- Dedicated Server
- Website Builders
- Shared Hosting
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VPS Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a VPS?
VPS stands for virtual private server. It’s a type of hosting account where you’re designated a virtual slice of a server for your own use.
While you share the physical hardware with other customers, you have your own container on the server, with your own operating system, resource allocation, and software.
A VPS is a step up from shared hosting, and a step down from a dedicated server.
- What is a virtual server?
A virtual server is a server running on another server. Think of it like a pizza sliced into segments. Each customer’s VPS is a separate slice, but they all run on the same physical computer.
If you’ve ever used software like VirtualBox, or Parallels, you’ll be familiar with the idea of running one operating system within another. VPS hosting is essentially the same.
- Why would I upgrade from shared hosting to a VPS?
If your website becomes popular, VPS plans can prevent some of the headaches you might experience with shared hosting plans, like bandwidth slowdowns or another customer’s buggy script.
With a VPS plan, any resources allocated to you are yours alone. If someone else on the same server crashes their website, it won’t affect your site’s partition.
- Is my VPS truly private?
It’s private in the sense that it’s a chunk of the server that only you can use. No other customers on the server can see or manipulate your site or its components. The software, operating system, and resources for each VPS customer are entirely separate from the resources allocated to other customers.
- Will I have complete access to the server?
Yes and no. The physical server is split between different customers, so you won’t have any control over that. But you’ll have full root and super user access to your own virtual server, so you have complete control over the hosting environment that your site uses.
Note that if you choose a managed VPS plan, your mileage may vary, depending upon your hosting provider’s terms.
- Do I need to learn server administration?
Not necessarily. If you select a managed VPS, your host will typically act as the server administrator. If a control panel is pre-installed, you can control most settings yourself, just as you would if you had a shared hosting account. In these cases, you don’t need to have technical knowledge.
If you select an unmanaged VPS, then you’re essentially getting a bare server with no technical support. It’s not a good idea to sign up for an unmanaged VPS if you don’t know how to manage a server.
- Will my VPS have the same technical capabilities as a dedicated server?
Yes. In most VPS hosting environments, you will be given root and super user access. You’ll be able to install software, connect via SSH, and reboot your virtual machine.
However, your host might limit what you can install, and root access isn’t guaranteed on all plans, like managed plans.
- Will my site be faster on a VPS compared to shared hosting?
In most cases, yes, you should find that performance is better, although there are a lot of variables involved. The fact that you aren’t sharing resources will definitely improve performance.
Compared to shared hosting accounts, VPS accounts are often run on better physical hardware with higher connection speeds. You should check that your host offers SSD storage, and review its data center credentials.
- Will a VPS improve my SEO?
It depends. You might see some benefits like improved page load times. Improved site speed can have a positive impact on your search rankings.
Although having your own IP address doesn’t guarantee SEO benefits, it does eliminate the risk of sharing an IP address with a spammy fellow customer.
- Should I start with shared hosting, or go straight to a VPS?
Shared hosting is ideal for small websites that don’t take up huge amounts of resources. However, you might want to start with a VPS plan if you need that extra control or root access, especially if you need to install your own software.
For a critical business website, a VPS can be a better choice because your site will probably load faster and be less susceptible to outages.
- Will a VPS protect me against traffic spikes?
It might, but you’ll need to look into the plan details carefully.
When a traffic spike occurs, some hosts will proactively increase resources for you, and bill you for the overage.
If you’re concerned about spikes, look for a cloud VPS plan that has elastic resources and consider using a CDN, like CloudFlare to improve server response times.
- How do I know what RAM and processor to select?
Use your past memory needs as your best guide and then allow some room for growth.
If you’re moving from shared hosting, look at your site’s usage from the control panel — e.g., cPanel reports this on its home page.
If you don’t have any figures to refer to, make sure you can alter your plan once you understand the resources you need.
- What are the alternatives to a VPS?
Shared hosting, dedicated servers, or cloud VPS plans can be good alternatives.
If you don’t need a large amount of resources for your website, you may be better off starting with a shared hosting account.
If you need complete control over a server, consider a dedicated server instead of a VPS.
If you need to be able to increase resource dynamically, look for a cloud VPS plan.
- Should I use a CDN with my VPS?
Yes. It’s a good idea to set up a CDN, regardless of the type of hosting you choose.
A CDN, or content delivery network, helps to save resources by reducing bandwidth and the number of requests to your web server. A CDN can save you money on your hosting plan, and mitigate threats from malicious visitors.
- What resources do VPS customers share with other customers on a server?
On a VPS server, all customers share the limitations of the particular hardware and software installed — e.g., available storage, memory, and bandwidth. However, since your website is walled off from the other sites on the server, you won’t be competing with each other for these resources.
- Where can I find free VPS hosting?
Since VPS hosting requires exclusive dedicated resources from the hosting provider, it’s difficult to find legitimate, reliable free VPS hosting plans. If you’re on a budget, we recommend instead that you find a provider that offers a free trial period or start off with a cheaper shared hosting plan.