In previous instalments, we’ve looked at a couple of different types of website hosting you could choose, including shared hosting and dedicated hosting. Of course, both of those are very different, but equally as useful. In this blog, I am going to introduce you to a new type of hosting, namely VPS hosting. We’ll see some of the advantages and disadvantages of using it, as well as whether or not it would be the right choice for your website.
VPS hosting, or Virtual Private Server hosting, is a relatively new type of web hosting, which has started to gain popularity in recent years. A virtual private server is basically a partitioned part of a physical server. Due to the partitioning, this server has its own operating system, disk/storage space and bandwidth etc.
So, what does this actually mean? A physical server is a server/computer that is located in a data centre, the location of which will differ depending on your hosting provider. That physical server is then divided up. When each division is created, that division will act as its own virtual server. Even though the ‘virtual private’ server is part of a larger, physical server, the user of this VPS server will see only their virtual environment and therefore they can make changes to it as they wish, as if it were a dedicated server.
Since a VPS server acts as its own server, even though it is technically part of a larger physical server, it is perfect for sites which may need to use a dedicated server in the future but aren’t quite there yet. As such, you could consider it as a ‘bridge’ between shared and dedicated hosting.
There are a number of strong reasons why you might want to choose VPS hosting for your website(s). Let’s take a look at some of the key ones now.
There are many situations where you may find that your website needs more than simple shared hosting. Maybe your brand is going global. Maybe you’ve got an online store with lots of products. Whatever the reason, VPS hosting will give you most of the benefits of dedicated hosting using a physical server, without the much heavier price tag. That’s perfect if you need better performance than shared hosting, but you are operating on a limited budget.
When you’re using shared hosting, you have no control over the configuration of the server on which your website is hosted. That’s fine if you aren’t particularly tech savvy, or even if you just don’t want to have that control. On the contrary, VPS hosting will give you much more control. It is likely that you will have what’s known as ‘root access’ to the server, which means you will be able to change settings and even install unique scripts and software. That’s perfect for an organisation that has specific standards, or that is just keen to experiment, to improve performance.
Unlike with shared hosting, but in a similar manner to dedicated hosting, VPS hosting essentially means you have access to your own server, with its own resources. Not only are these resources usually of a higher standard (such as more powerful memory and solid-state SSD storage, instead of traditional HDD storage) but the user is also not sharing them with anyone. That means the user’s website will perform much better and will score much higher in tools such as GTmetrix and Pingdom. That’s very important for anyone whose website might have a lot of traffic (visitors) and whose visitors are likely to be global.
A great feature of VPS hosting is that you can start off with the minimum amount of resources and you can gradually increase the resources you have, through your hosting provider. This means that you can start off on a cheaper plan if your budget is limited and as your website grows, attracting more and more visitors each day, you can add more resources, to cope with the demand. You can even downgrade if at a point where you have more resources than the minimum, you decide you don’t have enough budget or traffic to continue with those resources. That’s perfect, right?
Although there are clearly many reasons why VPS hosting is a great option, we do of course need to consider the reasons why it might not be ideal.
As we have seen previously, shared hosting means you’re sharing resources with other users on the server, and therefore you are also sharing the costs. When you’re just starting out, or you are on a budget, that’s perfect. With VPS hosting, however, you aren’t sharing the resources with anyone. That means that although you don’t have a whole physical server, you are still footing a lot more of the bill yourself. Typically, the cheapest VPS hosting plan could be around 10x the cost of the cheapest shared hosting plan, depending on the provider. Whilst that might still be manageable for many users, it might be out of the price range of some. However, most good hosting providers will allow you to start on a shared hosting plan and then upgrade to VPS, or even dedicated hosting at the right time, so you can’t lose.
Whilst most good hosting providers will ensure you don’t have any issues with your website hosting, if a provider doesn’t take enough care, you may find that you have issues. It is possible that a provider doesn’t actually allocate the physical server’s resources properly. By this, I mean that a hosting provider could potentially over-sell resources, banking on the assumption that most users won’t use their full resource allocation, in a similar way to how a train company might over-sell tickets, leaving you stood in the aisle on a busy journey. In this scenario, if down the line a website uses resources at their peak, it could cause server issues, affecting all other websites on the server. The best way to prevent this is to ensure that your hosting provider does allocate its resources properly.
VPS website hosting is a fantastic bridge between shared and dedicate hosting, giving you resources and performance on a similar level to dedicated hosting, whilst being more budget friendly. Knowing this, you are now in a position to decide whether or not VPS hosting is right for you. Generally speaking, if you fall into one of these categories, then it would be a great choice.
Clearly there are many reasons why VPS hosting would be the most suitable option. One thing is for sure – you shouldn’t let the price put you off, especially if you need this level of hosting to help grow your business. With the right hosting provider, you can always find the package to suit your budget. Some of the most reputable hosting providers are:
Of course, there are many other hosting providers out there. You just need to make sure you find the right one for you.
At Digital Lychee, I make sure that I tailor all my clients’ website to suit their individual needs. In your initial consultation (free and no obligation, of course) we will discuss your needs in full and I can advise you on the best type of hosting to suit your needs and how you can upgrade it going forwards, if necessary. If you are interested in my services, or you want to find out more about my blog, I would love to hear from you. You can get in touch with me here.