The two most common types of web hosting are shared and dedicated server hosting.
But while these cover specific needs, what if you need more server resources than a shared hosting plan can offer? What if you want to avoid paying for the high price tag of a dedicated server but still require some of its most outstanding features at your fingertips?
This is where a Virtual Private Server (VPS) comes in. Here we’ll compare VPS hosting with shared and dedicated server web hosting. We’ll also mention the Virtual Private Server cost, security and customization options, and web hosting performance over its counterparts.
Also, we’ll discuss who needs VPS hosting and what they have to gain by using virtual private servers for their projects.
What Is a Virtual Private Server (VPS), and How Does it Work?
A single physical server is a powerful computer capable of handling heavy tasks, storing files, and running any software or service to users over the internet.
To address the high demand for web servers and simultaneously reduce server hosts, web hosts started deploying virtual private servers for their clients. A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a “virtual part” of a server with fixed resources and is sold as a service. This is the only thing differentiating VPS hosting from shared and dedicated hosting.
Users on a virtual private server see it as a dedicated system. VPS hosting means using that virtual server to host website files. Although its resources are still split between hosting accounts, they have a fixed amount of resources.
A virtual server uses virtualization technology, also known as a hypervisor – a computer software capable of creating and running guest operating systems.
This software splits the physical server into multiple virtual servers with dedicated resources like disk space, memory, networking, processing power and their own operating system.
It creates an isolated hosting or virtual environment, each acting as a single server with its own operating system. Individuals or companies can rent each virtual server environment for multiple purposes, such as service deployment or website hosting.
Think of it as multiple users having access to the same computer. In Windows Server, for example, you can have multiple accounts which have access to specific folders and files of the operating system.
In VPS hosting, the concept is similar, and each account only has access to its files and folders. More importantly, every user can be logged in simultaneously without interfering with another one’s work.
This isolation makes VPS hosting a more secure option than shared hosting. It also allows for more customization and flexibility than shared hosting plans.
For example, you can install any software on your VPS and have full root access for server administration. That’s an excellent motivation for small to medium-sized companies who need more features out of their hosting plans.
What Are the Benefits of Using VPS Hosting?
There are many benefits to using a VPS hosting solution over a shared hosting plan. These plans are helpful for businesses that want a dedicated server space or simply more websites and speed. Some of these benefits include:
The isolated environment VPS hosting uses is more secure than shared hosting plans. This is because each website has a dedicated environment with access to its own files. The user of a virtual server can’t see the files on another one despite both being hosted on the same server.
This makes it difficult for hackers and other intruders to access your website’s files and database, adding a much-needed element that every business is after.
The security of VPS hosting is often compared with dedicated hosting, but it greatly depends on the web hosts’ servers and the technology used.
Increased Flexibility and Customization
Unlike shared hosting plans, VPS hosting plans offer improved flexibility and customization options. This is because you have root access to your server and can install any software you need.
Remember that a VPS can have a broader range of software installed, while shared hosting usually comes with a web hosting control panel and pre-installed services to host your website file and email addresses.
For VPS, each web host might give you options to use Windows Server or Linux operating systems on the virtual machine, and you can deploy any software package you or your business needs on it.
For example, you can install packages like MySQL to store databases and Apache or Nginx web servers to host your own website. You can also change the server settings to meet your specific needs, but this depends on the hosting plan and the server administration allowed.
More Server Resources
VPS hosting plans offer far more resources than shared hosting plans. One key difference is that these added resources are dedicated to a specific account, meaning they won’t be shared across multiple users of the same physical server.
Your website will have unlimited bandwidth and disk space to grow. You will also be able to host more websites on a single VPS plan than you would be able to on a shared hosting plan.
Usually, most prominent VPS hosting providers support an unlimited number of domain names and websites and provide frequent backups, meaning they can cover every need of a small organization or company.
Still, having root access to your server is vital so that you can manage it precisely as you want to, while adding more resources is more manageable than switching plans.
Because of the dedicated resources, a VPS hosting provider can offer improved performance over shared hosting. Therefore, VPS is the right choice to set up multiple websites and even cloud-based services for your customers.
Since a VPS server allows for greater scalability and faster loading times, opting for a high-quality host can significantly impact the performance you get from your VPS server. So keep this in mind before buying your plan.
How Much Does VPS Hosting Cost?
The VPS hosting landscape is very competitive, and in most cases, you can find an attractive package even with $10 per month or even less. The pricing can increase when you opt for more features like CPU cores and RAM or a fully-managed setup, reaching up to $50 or more per month, depending on the hosting provider.
It’s worth noting that some plans use unmanaged VPS servers, leaving the clients to administer their own system. Unmanaged VPS hosting is very common since they’re cheaper than managed VPS, but they require users with plenty of technical knowledge.
On the other hand, managed VPS hosting leaves all the technical aspects like updating core software components, creating backups, and security to the web host to handle. Managed VPS is generally a more expensive hosting package for beginners looking to set up their company online without much hassle.
While the total cost is considerably higher than shared hosting, virtual private servers can attract people who want more server features without wasting money on in-house equipment.
VPS Hosting vs Shared Web Hosting
Before we mention who it is for exactly, let’s see how VPS hosting compares with other popular hosting solutions like shared hosting and dedicated hosting.
Shared hosting is the most popular type of web hosting because it’s affordable and easy to set up. With shared hosting, your website shares resources with other websites on the same physical server. This means there are no fixed resources for each account.
These server resources can include CPU, RAM, and disk space, so if other users of this particular server have higher traffic, your performance might be limited. While this option is the cheapest and most suitable for small websites, it can lead to inconsistent performance when experiencing a high server load.
Since you’re sharing a server with other websites, you don’t have great control over your environment as you would with other types of web hosting. So this means you won’t be able to change specific operating system settings that would otherwise affect all users on each server.
VPS has many similarities with dedicated servers but uses virtualization technology to reduce the server cost. On the other hand, VPS is an extended version of shared hosting with dedicated resources for each account. This suggests that each account has a specified number of CPU cores, RAM and disk space that no other user has access to.
Having each resource separate from each account leads to better security than shared hosting. While in shared hosting, a user can’t access another user’s files, being in the same environment introduces a few security concerns, which is a considerable risk for many people.
VPS Hosting vs Dedicated Server Hosting
VPS and dedicated hosting are two very different web hosting solutions, but they have similarities, the most notable being the exclusive server resources.
While VPS is more affordable and shares resources between websites through software virtualization technology, a dedicated server provides complete access to an entire server. This package is perfect for high-traffic websites that want peak performance, rock-solid stability and the best security.
A dedicated server gives you access to all the resources to handle large amounts of traffic without experiencing any slowdowns. They’re also great for people who want absolute control over their web hosting environment, as they can install any server operating system like Linux or Windows.
The speed factor is a no-brainer with dedicated hosting. Having an entire dedicated server just for you means you get every bit of performance out of your system, supporting practically an unlimited number of websites.
While server management is top-tier on dedicated setups, having more control over your own server is a much-needed plus for more giant corporations.
Who Should Use a VPS for Their Web Hosting Needs?
To sum up, VPS is perfect for anyone who wants essential control over their web hosting environment and needs the flexibility to customize it to fit their needs.
If you intend on having more than one website but don’t have massive traffic yet, then a VPS hosting plan is an ideal and balanced option with plenty of features. Opting for managed or unmanaged VPS depends on the web developer’s skills, as they’ll need to install any additional software to use it to its full potential.
Most of the VPS features are comparable to dedicated hosting. However, the latter suits big companies and organizations managing hundreds of websites, massive traffic, and many users. Examples of websites needing dedicated hosting are streaming services or websites with bulky databases or critical data.
Additionally, VPS is an excellent option for businesses on a budget. It’s way more affordable than dedicated servers and provides most of its features and benefits.
VPS is also popular in gaming. Game developers often host their game servers in remote locations and on third-party hosting companies, and VPS plays a significant role as it’s a cost-effective and reliable option.
Google also has their own Game Servers program based on Agones, an open-source game server running on the deployment platform Kubernetes. This is to help smaller developers get their game servers online with minimal effort.
If you’re still unsure if a virtual private server is the right choice, speak with a representative from your favourite web hosting provider to get more information and find the best solution for your needs.