The Best VPS Hosting: Who’s Right For Your Site? [Updated: 2018]
How to Get the Best VPS Hosting for Your Needs
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, and it’s a type of hosting you’ll consider if you outgrow a basic shared hosting plan.
VPS hosting offers a partially isolated environment along with more control, and the ability to do more advanced things with your website. The server space is divided into containers, and those self-contained servers are less prone to security risks.
Why Upgrade to VPS Hosting?
If your site’s too big for shared hosting but too small for dedicated server hosting, VPS hosting may be just the right solution for you.
VPS vs Shared vs Dedicated Hosting
To better understand VPS hosting, you must first understand what both dedicated server hosting and VPS are.
A dedicated server offers privacy, security, and dedicated resources. You don’t have to compete with any other websites for bandwidth, speed, and storage space. It’s your own private little island in the hosting ocean.
Security levels are judged in comparison the best available option, shared hosting is still relatively secure.
Let’s compare the most popular types of hosting and see the real differences in security:
|Hosting Type||Shared||Virtual Private Server (VPS)||Dedicated Server|
Shared hosting means your client’s sites can be affected by other websites on the shared server. Generally, this exposes the sites to a higher risk of viruses or attacks.
Users of the server occupy their own private space, although vulnerability could be an issue if the hypervisor is compromised. The hypervisor is at the pinnacle of the server.
By using a dedicated server, security measures are irrelative to other sites. Depending on your team or package type, your websites’ security is entirely reliant on you and your team.
Image courtesy of Flickr under a CC-BY 2.0 license.
A VPS creates an environment similar to that of a dedicated server, but in a shared hosting situation. In other words, you’re still sharing the physical server with other publishers, but you have a bit of private space within that shared space. So you’re sharing an island with other natives, but your area is fenced off from everyone else.
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. (Note that you still share some things with your fellow 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.
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:
Bluehost cPanel Demo
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.
- 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.
VPS Hosting is Great Value for Money
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 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 host plan options are pretty solid.
They offer a great amount of SSD disk space and RAM, as well as “unlimited” 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.
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