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What Type of Web Hosting is Right for You?

August 20, 2012 at 10:38 AM

With the ever increasing popularity of VPS hosting, we receive questions all of the time from prospective geeks asking us to explain the difference between virtual private servers (VPS) and shared hosting. They want to know what the differences are and what would be right for them. I am going to share with you what I share with them and, hopefully, these insights will help you with your decision.

Let us first start by explaining the differences between VPS hosting and shared hosting.

Shared Hosting Explained

With shared hosting, there are hundreds of users on one physical server. These users share resources (such as hard drive space, RAM, etc.) with each other. Shared hosting accounts are generally good for small-to-medium sized websites, with the caveat that SQL-intensive websites that attract a lot of users (and maintain many concurrent connections) aren’t ideal for the shared hosting environment. The reason being is that you are “sharing” resources with everyone else. If you aren’t using your fair share, you can slow down the server for others and be in trouble with the Terms of Service. It’s important to note that a web host has to weigh the needs of many over the needs of a few when it comes to a shared hosting server.

With the addition of technologies, such as LiteSpeed and CloudLinux, shared hosting has become a more stable and faster hosting environment than in previous years. Websites occasionally “peaking” in resource usage are handled better and have a smaller impact on other users. Additionally, the faster the server can respond to visitor requests, the better the server will perform overall as it won’t have to spend time queuing processes and, in turn, feeling “sluggish”.

All of our shared hosting plans include LiteSpeed and CloudLinux. We also use very fast 15K RPM SAS hard drives for file storage and Intel SSD’s for SQL storage. We know that shared hosting requires outstanding performance and we stack awesome software on top of awesome hardware to deliver that performance.

The biggest “pro” to shared hosting is cost. As a shared hosting user is sharing the server with many others, the cost for service is going to be the cheapest of any other type of web hosting service.

VPS Hosting Explained

A VPS (virtual private server) is an isolated, virtualized server environment. A VPS hypervisor will have significantly less users per server (around 10-30 on average). A VPS has its own operating system and control panel (for example, a Windows VPS can reside next to a Linux VPS on the same hypervisor).

As there are fewer users per server and each VPS is isolated from the other and running its own operating system, VPS are more secure than shared hosting. Additionally, since less users are sharing the overall resources, VPS are going to be more powerful (and faster) than shared hosting.

With a VPS, you have access to more than one control panel. You’ll have access to a management control panel (so you can reboot, rebuild, set root password, etc.) and you’d also have access to a website management control panel (such as cPanel, Plesk, DirectAdmin, Webmin, etc.).

With shared hosting, you’re confined to the operating system and control panel environment established by the host (with a few exceptions, such as perl module installations, etc.). With a VPS, you have full flexibility – you can install what you want, when you want.

A VPS can either be unmanaged or managed. With an unmanaged VPS, you are the server administrator. You configure and update the server’s operating system and control panel. The installation of one of our VPS is a 1-click operation (allowing you to choose from over 150 different pre-built operating system templates).

With a managed VPS, we fully support your VPS. We install, configure and provide on-going updates for the operating system and control panel on the VPS. Additionally, technical support is provided to you 24/7/365 for any issues you may have. We also have a premium management service that includes server monitoring and response. With this premium option, our techs constantly monitor the status of your VPS and, if we detect an issue, will fix your VPS if needed.

The downside to VPS, in comparison to shared hosting, is the cost. An unmanaged VPS can be near the cost of shared hosting. When you add a management plan (very useful for most users) the cost will increase. Additionally, website administration control panels (such as cPanel) cost money to license on a VPS.

So Which One is Right for Me?

There are several factors you will want to consider when choosing between shared hosting and VPS.

What do you want to do? As a VPS is faster and more secure than shared hosting, we recommend them anytime a business is looking to offer any type of online signup or ordering to their customers. Additionally, businesses may choose VPS over shared hosting because of the security and performance considerations.

Developers generally prefer VPS, as they can mold the environment to their exact needs.

Shared hosting is good for personal websites or websites that don’t use a lot of resource.

Still need help deciding?

We’d be happy to assist you in determining which web hosting would be best for your needs. Contact one of our Sales Geeks for assistance.