If your website has outgrown the limited options of shared hosting, but you aren’t ready to commit to a dedicated hosting plan, VPS hosting might be the right choice. VPS, or Virtual Private Server, hosting has been called a “bridge” between shared and dedicated hosting – a way to reap the benefits of greater control and scalability than shared hosting offers without the expense and large-scale management of a dedicated server environment. Here’s a look at how VPS hosting compares to dedicated hosting in terms of scalability, accessibility, flexibility, and cost.
What is VPS Hosting?
VPS hosting is a blend of shared and dedicated hosting features, designed for users whose sites may have “outgrown” a shared hosting environment. Like shared hosting, VPS hosting allows for multiple clients to use a single server. Each site on a VPS server, though, is partitioned into its own space using virtualization technology, so that it uses its own allocation of server resources and can run its own operating system and applications. In this way, VPS hosting is able to replicate the isolation from other sites that characterizes dedicated web hosting, but without reserving an entire server for a single client.
As they do in shared hosting, clients on a VPS server share the server hardware with others on the server. Each site has its own allotment of server resources, making it less likely that a sudden spike in usage by one site could affect others with slowdowns and downtime. Users can only access their own virtual environments, without the risk of malware and other contaminants from adjacent sites on the shared server. And, because each site has its own virtual space, users have complete control over the site, with root access for granting permissions and installing needed operating systems and applications.
In a VPS hosting environment, the partitioned server acts like an independent, dedicated server containing a single website. Clients can make use of it in much the same way, with benefits including customization, security, and scalability – but at a lower cost than most dedicated hosting plans.
Customization and Control
In shared hosting environments, users have limited control over many of the features and functions of their sites, but both VPS and dedicated hosting plans allow for multiple levels of customization and control of the site. In these environments, the host is responsible for the physical maintenance of servers, as well as upgrading server software and managing its resources.
Beyond those parameters, though, site owners have access to root functionality and are generally free to install the operating systems and applications they need for the purposes of managing the site. For that reason, both VPS and dedicated hosting options are favored by users with experience in web development and site design, since most providers include self-managed options in their hosting plans.
For users who prefer to leave the management of the site to professionals, both VPS and dedicated hosting providers generally offer a variety of managed plan options. Managed hosting plans are typically tiered, and can be customized in a variety of ways, allowing users to select from available features and functions as the site grows.
Hosting providers who offer VPS along with other hosting types may offer customer service and technical support tailored to the VPS environment, so that users can access in-depth support for managing their sites that can be similar to the robust support offered by dedicated hosting providers.
Enhanced Security and Stability
Shared hosting can pose a variety of security risks – and the ability to put stricter security measures in place is a key feature of both VPS and dedicated hosting. In all these environments, general server security is the responsibility of the host, but users of VPS and dedicated hosting can typically install their own protections to meet the specific needs of individual businesses, such as companies handling financial, medical, or other kinds of sensitive data.
In both VPS and dedicated hosting situations, users’ sites are isolated from contact with others. Although other sites share a VPS server, virtual partitioning reduces or eliminates risks from malware and other intrusions from shared technology. VPS hosting, like dedicated hosting, also offers more stability and better site performance, since server resources are allotted to each user within individual virtual spaces, rather than shared across all users. In this way, site speed and stability are not affected by surges in traffic or other behaviors by neighboring sites on a shared server.
Flexibility and Scalability
VPS hosting plans can offer solutions for the various stages of a site’s growth. Self-managed hosting options allow users to install the applications they need for functionality and security, and managed hosting plans allow users to add or remove services as needs change. VPS hosting provides room for increased site traffic and expanded functionality, with options to migrate to another server within the hosting environment if needed without changing providers. This kind of hosting can serve as a gateway to dedicated hosting as a site evolves – or serve a user’s needs for the life of the site.
Pricing for Affordability
As a middle ground between shared and dedicated hosting, VPS hosting is typically more expensive than shared hosting, but it can also be significantly more affordable than dedicated hosting usually is. With a variety of tiered plans that combine services, features, and resources for different client needs, VPS hosting offers options ranging from basic plans that approximate the higher tiers of shared hosting – around $20 to $30 per month – up to around $200 per month for more advanced packages that can be similar to the prices of lower-tier dedicated hosting services.
Who Needs VPS Hosting?
VPS hosting isn’t for every website owner, but it can be a solution for those whose sites have grown beyond the parameters of shared hosting plans, or users who want more control over their site’s features and performance. VPS can also be a way to try out many of the features of dedicated hosting in a more affordable environment. With a variety of plans and services available from hosting providers who offer VPS, this blend of shared and dedicated hosting features can be either a stepping stone to dedicated hosting – or the right solution for the life of a small business site. If you think VPS hosting is the right hosting plan for your business, get started today.
Machielle Thomas is the Content Manager for Bluehost. She writes curates web and email content for marketing professionals, small business owners, bloggers, and more.