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Whenever you reach the resource limits of your shared hosting plan or notice a dip in your website’s speed, it’s time to consider an upgrade.

The most popular upgrade options are virtual private server (VPS) and dedicated server hosting, both of which offer significant performance improvements over shared hosting.

But which of these hosting plans is best for you?

Ultimately, your choice depends on your website needs and hosting budget. Let’s compare VPS vs. dedicated hosting and go over their key differences.

The difference between VPS and dedicated servers

VPS and dedicated server hosting are reliable upgrades from shared hosting, but they have some important differences. A dedicated server gives you exclusive rights to an entire physical server. By contrast, a VPS only allocates space to you on a server.

A dedicated server gives you exclusive rights to an entire physical server. By contrast, a VPS only allocates space to you on a server.

Both options help solve shared hosting problems, like many websites competing for unevenly distributed server resources, which is a common reason for slow page load times. And sometimes, shared server overload can result in downtime.

But VPS and dedicated servers offer different ways of combating the limits of shared hosting. Ultimately, the hosting plan you choose will depend on your needs and budget.

Here’s a rundown comparing VPS vs. dedicated servers to get you up to speed.

Overview of VPS hosting

Bluehost’s VPS hosting plans.

VPS hosting lies between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. While you don’t get an entire server to yourself, you do get to reap some of the benefits of dedicated hosting while evading some of the drawbacks of shared hosting. 

A notable difference between shared hosting and VPS hosting relates to server allocation. With shared hosting, you generally don’t get any fixed server resources besides storage space.

This means that if one website on your shared server experiences a traffic spike, your website’s performance might take a hit.   

But with VPS hosting, you don’t have to worry about how many resources other websites are using because it won’t affect your website’s speed.    

A VPS gives you dedicated space on a large physical server that other websites on the server can’t access.

To protect your resources, your web hosting provider separates server resources using a process called virtualization. This process divides a physical server into multiple virtual machines, which are created and managed by a hypervisor program.

Each user has a personal virtual machine and can’t access another virtual machine’s resources (e.g., CPU power, RAM and bandwidth).

Overview of dedicated hosting

Bluehost’s dedicated hosting plans.

A dedicated server is the physical hardware behind dedicated hosting. It is an entire server reserved for a single website or client.  

When you rent a dedicated server from a web hosting company, no virtual layer or resource sharing is involved — you have exclusive rights to all your server’s resources.

Of all the various types of hosting available, dedicated server hosting provides the best performance, making it the top choice for high-traffic websites.

This performance superiority is due to its resource allocation and customizability. 

With full access to a physical server, you can serve web content quickly, and if you approach the resource limits of your server, you can upgrade to a customized server stack (several dedicated servers working together) to optimize your hosting setup.   

Because each dedicated server plan has fixed resources, you should think carefully about your resource requirements before choosing one.

Ideally, you’ll want to strike a balance by having just enough resources to grow your website. Allocating too many resources can result in unnecessary costs because you’ll still have to pay a fixed sum every month, even if you don’t use the full server resources.

Advantages and disadvantages of VPS hosting

VPS hosting with Bluehost.

While VPS hosting outperforms shared hosting, it may not meet the specific needs of some websites.

Here’s how VPS hosting measures up against other web hosting plans.

Advantages and disadvantages of VPS hosting.

Advantages

  • Price: VPS hosting is substantially cheaper than dedicated hosting. So if you’re on a limited hosting budget but have outgrown your shared hosting setup, VPS hosting could be a great option for you. At Bluehost, our standard VPS plan starts at $29.99/month.
  • Scalability: VPS hosting is more scalable than shared hosting. While dedicated hosting can be scalable, scaling with VPS hosting is usually more straightforward.
  • Setup: While some technical expertise is involved, configuring VPS hosting generally requires less technical experience than dedicated hosting.

Disadvantages

  • Limited control: A VPS provides much more control than shared hosting but not as much as dedicated hosting. That said, some VPS hosting providers, like Bluehost, give you root access to your VPS. 
  • Security vulnerabilities: With a VPS, virtualization technology provides more robust protection than shared hosting. Security breaches do happen in VPSs, but the risk is significantly lower than with shared hosting. If you’re worried about the security of your VPS-hosted website, you can take some additional preemptive steps to protect your business.

Advantages and disadvantages of dedicated hosting

Dedicated server hosting with Bluehost.

Fully dedicated servers are great for high-growth enterprises, but they won’t be the best option for every business. Here are a few reasons to choose dedicated hosting over shared server hosting and some drawbacks to consider.

Advantages and disadvantages of dedicated hosting

Advantages

  • Performance: Dedicated servers are the ultimate hosting option if you value high performance. With all server hardware resources dedicated to your website, the speed and functionality of resource-heavy web apps can be optimized to enhance your website’s performance.  If you’ve got dedicated server resources and an optimized website, you should easily ace Google’s Core Web Vitals.
  • Robust security: A dedicated server might be your best option if you operate a business with a lot of sensitive customer data. Dedicated hosting provides the ultimate protection because your website doesn’t share physical server space with strangers, and you can fully configure your security settings. For example, financial institutions and entrepreneurs building eCommerce stores need their websites to be PCI compliant. And if you have website visitors in the European Union, GDPR compliance is a must. Achieving compliance is much easier when you have full control over server resources.
  • Control: If you’re ready to assume the responsibility of full server control, then dedicated hosting has what you need. For example, you can tweak your server architecture to improve the performance of your website or install a firewall as part of a customized security solution. Bluehost provides improved cPanel access and full control of your server operating system, such as Linux.

Disadvantages

  • Price: Dedicated hosting is a costly option that might be beyond the budget of some website owners. If you’ve outgrown shared hosting, but your business is still finding its feet financially, then a VPS might be more cost-effective.
  • Scalability: While dedicated hosting provides extensive resources for your website, it’s not as scalable as VPS hosting or cloud hosting. That said, dedicated servers can be scaled up by creating server clusters.
  • Technical skill requirements: With dedicated hosting, you generally need to manage your server’s resources yourself. If no one at your business has the expertise required to handle your server’s resources, you may need to opt for a fully managed dedicated hosting plan.

Signs you’ve outgrown shared hosting

Shared hosting may be all you need if you run a simple WordPress blog as a hobby. But if you own a high-growth business, there comes a point where shared hosting can hurt your bottom line.   

For example, eCommerce stores, such as those built with WooCommerce or Shopify, can lose sales due to poor website performance and recurring downtime, which result in a lower conversion rate and higher bounce rate.

According to Portent’s data, speed matters: a one-second page load speed was associated with a conversion rate of 40%, while a three-second page load speed was linked to a conversion rate of 29%.

To find out if it’s time to upgrade from shared hosting, consider whether the following problems could be affecting your online business:

  • Insufficient memory space.
  • Performance degradation.
  • Security issues.
  • Lack of server control. 

Insufficient memory space

As you edge closer to your shared hosting memory limit, you might look at ways to free up storage space, such as by compressing media files. But there’s only so much you can do before the quality of your website is compromised.

A VPS or dedicated server plan may provide better value for money than a higher-tiered shared hosting plan if you run a complex website, such as an eCommerce store or a website with many resource-hungry files. 

With Bluehost, our Basic shared hosting plan provides 10 GB of SSD storage, and the Pro plan gets you 100 GB of storage.

Our Standard VPS plan gives you 120 GB of SSD storage, and our Standard dedicated plan offers a massive 1 TB of HDD storage. 

Performance degradation

Visitors expect lightning-fast websites, so your website must meet their expectations.

But to fix a performance problem, you must know you have one.

First, run a website speed test using a tool like Pingdom to check if your website’s page load speed is below standard. 

If the test results indicate poor website performance that could be losing you sales, it’s time to consider upgrading from shared hosting to a VPS or dedicated server.

Due to the uneven distribution of resources, websites on shared hosting plans generally have lower performance than those hosted on dedicated or virtual servers.

With shared hosting, you may not get any guaranteed random access memory (RAM), and resource allocation may be uneven.

Our VPS plans provide 2–8 GB of RAM, and with our dedicated hosting options, you can get 8–30 GB of RAM.

With Bluehost’s VPS hosting plans, you’ll get a 2-core CPU. If you choose one of our dedicated hosting solutions, your website runs on an Intel Xeon D CPU.

Security issues

If your business handles sensitive customer data, such as credit card information, you must apply robust security measures to protect your customers from data breaches.

Increasingly, customers look for security measures like SSL certificates before they enter their information on a web form. According to Statista, 64% of customers are more likely to make purchases from businesses that keep their payment details safe.

When your website is hosted on a shared server, you have more than your website’s security to worry about.

If another website on a shared server has lax security measures and is hacked, your website may be vulnerable to attack because you share the same physical storage. This could put your customers’ data in harm’s way and damage their trust in your business.

To protect your website and your customers’ information, choose a host that takes security seriously, like Bluehost. And to add an extra line of defense against bad actors, consider a VPS or dedicated hosting plan.

Lack of server control

As your business grows and your website becomes more complex, some performance optimizations require server control, which isn’t possible on a shared hosting plan.

You’ll need to make changes using root access to ensure all your website components function as they should.

How to make the VPS vs dedicated hosting decision

To make the ultimate decision in the VPS vs. dedicated hosting battle, ask yourself a series of questions before you sign up for a long-term hosting contract:

  • How important is website speed to you?
  • What is your budget?
  • How much traffic does your website get?
  • What type of website do you operate?
  • What is your technical skill level?
VPS vs. dedicated hosting: questions to help you decide.

How important is website speed to you?

Speed may not be a top priority for a one-page informational website that only provides your business’s contact information. But if your business transactions depend on quick loading times, a dedicated server could pay for itself.

For example, if you run an eCommerce store, a dedicated server could give your customers a smooth path to the checkout page and increase brand loyalty.

What is your budget?

If your online business is seeing an uptick in traffic but is still low, your budget might not stretch to dedicated hosting. In this case, a VPS might be your best choice until your profit margins increase.  

How much traffic does your website get?

A dedicated plan might not be the best option if your website has moderate traffic or only sees seasonal visitor spikes. Take a realistic look at your web traffic data to ensure you get what you need, plus some room to scale.

What type of website do you operate?

If your website has various complex applications, you could benefit from the unrivaled resources of a dedicated server. Also, if your website handles sensitive customer data, it might make sense to get a dedicated server from the get-go.

What is your technical skill level?

Configuring a VPS or dedicated server is no walk in the park. To reap the benefits of these hosting types, you’ll need a great deal of technical know-how or a trusted IT team to set up and monitor your server environment.

Final thoughts: VPS vs. dedicated hosting — which is best for your business?

If shared hosting is holding you back from achieving your business goals and putting your company at risk from data breaches, consider choosing a VPS or dedicated hosting plan with Bluehost.

Whether you’re after a cozy home for your high-traffic blog or a rock-solid base for your booming eCommerce business, we have what you need.

Check out the great VPS hosting plans and dedicated hosting plans available on Bluehost, and get ready for unfettered control over your server kingdom.

If you need help picking a plan for your business, contact the Bluehost support team today.

FAQs

How many websites can I host on a dedicated server?

With Bluehost plans, you can have as many websites as you wish on your dedicated server. That said, the more websites you have, the more resources are expended, so make sure you stick to the limits of your dedicated hosting plan.

Are there different types of VPS?

Yes — the main types are managed VPS, unmanaged VPS and cloud VPS. The best VPS plan for you will depend on your budget, skill level and scalability requirements.

Why are VPS and dedicated hosting more expensive than shared hosting?

They’re more expensive because of how server resource allocation works. With shared hosting, several websites and clients are hosted on one server, and resource distribution is uneven. This all-in-one setup keeps costs low for beginners and small businesses.

If you opt for VPS or dedicated hosting, you pay a set amount for the fixed resources you rent. Since web hosts can’t rent your VPS or dedicated server resources to anyone else, the cost is higher than a shared hosting plan.

Who should use dedicated hosting?

Dedicated servers are best for businesses with substantial traffic and resource requirements. Also, if your website handles sensitive data, you can gain peace of mind with a dedicated server.

Can I upgrade a dedicated server?

You sure can. In fact, many enterprises use a customized server stack so they can allocate different tasks to specific servers. With Bluehost, server and plan upgrades are a cakewalk, and you can manage your hosting account and multi-server setup in one place.

Is a VPS much slower than a dedicated server?

Website speed depends on your hosting plan. A VPS can perform similarly to a dedicated server if you stick within your resource limits. In any case, they are both much faster than shared hosting. 

How long does it take to get a dedicated server?

If you choose dedicated hosting with Bluehost, we’ll have your server custom-built and connected to the network in 24–72 hours.

  • Tiffani Anderson

    Tiffani is a Content and SEO Manager for the Bluehost brand. With over 10 years experience across all facets of content and brand marketing, she strives to combine concepts from brand marketing with engaging content through the lens of SEO.

    Education
    University of North Texas
    Previous Experience
    Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media
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