There is nothing called a perfect web hosting solution. There will always be trade-offs like with most things in the digital realm. Web hosting comes in various types meeting various needs. But VPS hosting will always be unique owing to its flexibility in both its functions and price.
Assuming you are new to the web hosting domain, here is a simple learner’s guide to VPS hosting that could get you on the right track.
Intro to VPS
VPS or Virtual Private Server is a hosting solution that lies somewhere between shared and dedicated hosting. Shared hosting is where your website shares resources with other websites in a single server. Dedicated hosting is when you get a server to host your website and only your website, which means your website will be the only one that uses all the resources of the server, unlike shared hosting.
VPS is a server in itself, but basically a virtual server that’s been divided into virtual compartments. It has its own copy of an operating system, and a set amount of allocated resources.
You could say VPS is shared hosting with dedicated resources but in a different, more flexible environment.
About the trade-off
Every hosting will be having trade-offs in one form or the other. So what’s that about VPS you ask?
Before we go to that, let’s analyze the drawbacks of shared and dedicated hosting just so you could get a clearer picture of how VPS is different.
It’s more like a rental. You essentially lease a portion of the server, and share the resources with other websites that the server hosts. Although it’s a great deal for small-scale websites, bigger ones will have problems. If those other websites consume a lot of resources, your website will have to manage with the remaining resources. This means frequent downtimes or slow-loading speeds for your website. It’s cheap though.
As for dedicated hosting, you essentially get a whole server and all its resources for yourself. The trade-off is that it will cost more. It’s the optimal package for a large website with a lot of traffic, or multimedia content.
How VPS is different
VPS is an isolated environment with its own dedicated resources. You will still be in a physical server, but unlike shared hosting, other websites consuming resources won’t be affecting you as you will already have the allocated resources to use.
Though, technically, you will be sharing the CPU, bandwidth and RAM of the physical server, it still wouldn’t compromise your website’s operations. You will have root access to the virtual server (similar to dedicated hosting), and with a copy of the operating system to yourself, you will also be able to add custom apps if need be.
Because of these reasons, VPS will cost you a bit more than shared hosting, but it still costs less than dedicated hosting. You pay only for a fraction of the server and get something as good as a full server.
Before choosing a VPS hosting provider
To use VPS, you should have a basic knowledge of shell commands, and using hosting control panels. You should also have server administration and troubleshooting skills. Depending on this, you can choose either self-managed or fully managed VPS service.
If you are not familiar with the things mentioned above, fully managed should be your choice. Fully managed VPS hosting will take care of such things for you, but at additional costs compared to a self-managed VPS service where you manage everything on your own.
Your choice should be based on the operating system you prefer – Windows or Linux. There are Windows-based and Linux-based hosting solutions available.
Technical support and backup
No matter what hosting solution you go for, you should never forget to enquire about technical support. Go for a VPS hosting provider with 24/7 technical support over email, phone or live chat just in case you encounter a technical setback. You would want them to answer from the other end when you need help fixing a technical issue.
Backing up important files shouldn’t necessarily be your responsibility. You can back up files in your local computer, and have the host regularly back up your files in their database just in case your VPS gets shell script infections. If the host doesn’t provide backup facility, you may end up losing a good amount of your work.
The uptime your web hosting provider offers is very important. Many guarantee 99.9% uptime. But you should still closely look into the details. For starters, you should check customer reviews, forums, and other third party reviewers of the hosting provider. Their past uptime records will also give you an idea if they are reliable enough.
If you have already been running a website for quite a while, you would have already experienced a couple of issues that keep giving you second thoughts on your hosting solution. If you want your website to perform consistently with its growth, a VPS hosting package would be the right call. By now, you should be on the right track.