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Most small businesses start their websites off on a shared web hosting plan.

However, there will come a time when your website outgrows a shared hosting solution.

If you don’t need the more expensive enterprise-scale dedicated hosting, consider getting a virtual private server (VPS) plan instead.

To help you choose the best solution for your website, we’ll discuss what VPS hosting is and how VPS hosting works. We’ll go over the features, types, and benefits of virtual private servers. Finally, we’ll cover how to know it’s time to upgrade your hosting and how to choose a plan.

What is VPS hosting?

VPS hosting, an abbreviation for Virtual Private Server Hosting, is a pivotal solution within the web hosting landscape. VPS hosting is a type of hosting service that uses a virtual machine to share resources on a single physical server itself.

It’s best for websites whose traffic exceeds the limits of shared hosting but doesn’t need the resources of a dedicated server. This server, often referred to as a host machine or node, allows for the creation of multiple virtual private servers (VPS) within it. Each VPS operates as an independent entity, with its dedicated resources, including CPU, RAM, storage, and operating system.

How VPS hosting works

VPS hosting uses virtualization technology to split one server into multiple virtual servers.

Hosting companies use a hypervisor (or a virtual machine monitor, VMM), specialized software that simulates and creates different virtual machines (VMs), also called guests.

How virtualization works.

The hypervisor splits a host server into separate virtual parts on top of its operating system (OS). This enables the server to support other guests — allowing them to install their own software and their own OS.

In a nutshell, virtualization works to give users sharing one server the illusion of private space. Thus, the name “virtual private server.”

VPS works differently from shared hosting.

Every time a website overuses the shared server’s resources, it negatively affects another website’s performance. But that’s not the case with the VPS servers.

In addition, your virtual machine could be hosted on multiple physical servers, but it appears as if it’s hosted on a single server. The advantage is that when one of those servers is down, your website still runs because there’s a backup. Also, you can always add storage or disk space should you need extra.

 VPS hosting compared to other types of hosting.

VPS hosting stands out among several hosting options, each with its own set of advantages and limitations. Let’s compare VPS hosting to some other common types of hosting to help you make an informed decision:

Shared hostingVPS hostingDedicated hosting
Best forBeginners, small websites, such as blogs, and portfolio websites, small businesses, etc.Beginners to advanced users, such as, E-commerce website owners, and those who have outgrown shared hosting.Advanced users, enterprise-scale websites that receive a lot of traffic and are resource-intensive.
Performance (storage and bandwidth)LowMid to highHigh
SecurityLowMid to highHigh
CustomizabilityLowMidHigh
CostsLowMidHigh

Shared hosting vs. VPS hosting:

Shared hosting: In a shared hosting environment, multiple websites share the same server and its resources. This means your website shares CPU, RAM, storage, and bandwidth with other sites. While it’s the most economical option, it can lead to slower performance if neighboring websites experience high traffic or resource demands.

VPS hosting service: VPS hosting, as previously discussed, provides you with your own virtual server within a physical server. This isolation ensures that your website’s performance isn’t affected by other sites on the same server. VPS hosting is ideal for websites that have outgrown shared hosting but don’t require the full resources of a dedicated server.

Dedicated hosting vs. VPS hosting:

Dedicated Hosting: With dedicated hosting, you get an entire physical server dedicated exclusively to your website(s). This provides the highest level of performance, control, and security. However, it is also the most expensive option and may be overkill for many websites.

VPS hosting: VPS hosting offers a middle-ground solution between shared and dedicated hosting. While you don’t have an entire physical server to yourself, you do have dedicated resources within a virtual server. This means you can enjoy many benefits of dedicated hosting, such as enhanced performance and control, at a fraction of the cost.

What VPS hosting is used for?

VPS hosting is used for eCommerce websites, software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, agencies, programmers, and developers that build more than one website. Basically, you should consider VPS hosting if a shared hosting plan doesn’t give you the resources you need for your website.

VPS hosting is a great option for these types of websites, as it offers:

  • A secure backup environment.
  • File storage that’s accessible anywhere in the world.
  • Support for email hosting and cloud-based hosting.

What VPS hosting is used for?

VPS hosting is used for eCommerce websites, software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, agencies, programmers, and developers that build more than one website. Basically, you should consider VPS hosting if a shared hosting plan doesn’t give you the resources you need for your website.

VPS hosting is a great option for these types of websites, as it offers:

A secure backup environment.

File storage that’s accessible anywhere in the world.

Support for email hosting and cloud-based hosting.

Types of VPS hosting

Types of VPS hosting.

There are three main types to choose from: fully managed VPS hosting, unmanaged VPS hosting, and semi-managed VPS. Knowing the differences between the three will help you choose the best option for your website.

Fully managed VPS

The web hosting provider company manages a fully managed VPS hosting plan. This option is best for busy teams or companies without IT support, as the web host does everything for you.

Pros of fully managed VPS:

  • The web hosting service handles all your technical needs, including server maintenance, updates, monitoring and security.
  • Plans come with technical support.

Cons of fully managed VPS:

  • It’s more expensive because you’re paying for the expertise and convenience.
  • You have limited customization options because the hosting company decides the server configuration and specification.
  • Installing software may require approval from the administrator.

Best for:

  • Teams that lack the technical knowledge and experience to run their servers.
  • Website owners that don’t have a developer/server administrator.

Unmanaged VPS

Also known as self-managed VPS, users have full control over unmanaged VPSs. The hosting company is only responsible for providing the physical servers.

Pros of unmanaged VPS:

  • You can freely customize your server — there’s no need to wait if you want to install something.
  • It’s cheaper than a managed VPS.

Cons of unmanaged VPS:

  • You must troubleshoot any issues yourself if you run into trouble.
  • You may require additional assistance if your server administrator isn’t experienced.

Best for: 

  • Teams with enough technical knowledge and experience to run their servers.

Semi-managed VPS hosting:

Semi-managed VPS hosting strikes a balance between user control and hosting provider assistance. In this hosting type, the provider takes care of essential server management tasks, such as hardware maintenance and security updates, while users handle day-to-day server administration, including software installations and configurations.

Pros of semi-managed VPS:

  • Users receive valuable support for server maintenance and infrastructure, reducing the burden of complex tasks.
  • You have greater control over your server’s software, allowing you to tailor it to your specific needs.
  • Typically, more affordable than fully managed hosting due to the shared responsibilities.

Cons of semi-managed:

  • Users still need a good understanding of server administration, which may be challenging for beginners.
  • Some technical issues may require the user’s intervention, which can be a drawback for those seeking a hands-off hosting experience.

Best for:

  • It is a good fit for users who have some experience with server administration but may not be experts.

Overall Virtual Private Server pros and cons:

Pros of VPS hosting:

  • Enhanced Performance: Dedicated resources ensure faster loading times and reliable performance, critical for websites with moderate to high traffic.
  • Isolation: Each VPS operates independently, preventing resource interference from other users, and reducing the “noisy neighbor” problem.
  • Scalability: Easily adjust server resources as your website grows, avoiding over-provisioning or downtime.
  • Control: Users often have root access, allowing complete customization of server configurations and software installations.
  • Security: Isolation and dedicated resources enhance security, reducing the risk of breaches common in shared hosting.

Cons of VPS hosting:

  • Technical Knowledge: Managing a VPS may require some server administration skills, which can be challenging for beginners.
  • Cost: VPS hosting is costlier than shared hosting, making it less budget-friendly for some users.
  • Resource Limits: While more powerful than shared hosting, VPS still has resource constraints, which may be insufficient for resource-intensive applications.
  • Responsibility: Semi-managed and unmanaged VPS hosting requires users to handle server maintenance, updates, and security, which can be time-consuming.
  • Complexity: Fully managed VPS hosting can be expensive and limits users’ control over server configurations.

How to choose the best VPS plan?

Bluehost’s VPS hosting plans landing page.

Now that you know what VPS hosting is and why you should upgrade, here’s what you should consider when choosing the best VPS plan.

  • Technical skills: Considering your team’s technical skills will help you choose the right VPS hosting type. If you want to do things yourself, get an unmanaged VPS plan. But if you’d appreciate an expert handling the technical side of running a server, a fully managed VPS plan is right for you.
  • Technology compatibility: The VPS hosting plan should be compatible with your OS. For example, your VPS host should support Windows if you’re running on Windows. Some VPS plans support multiple OSs, while others don’t. Ask a sales or customer support staff member before signing up for a plan, as some hosting companies do not post this info.
    • Bluehost’s VPS plans run on CentOS, which is a Linux distribution. These plans don’t support non-Linux operating systems.
  • Root access availability: Root access refers to the authority given to users to control and customize the server. If you’re getting a fully managed plan, there’s no need to concern yourself with root access availability since a technician will handle everything for you.
  • Storage and bandwidth: Choose a plan based on the storage and bandwidth you need right now — you can always upgrade later.
    • Bluehost has three tiers of VPS plans. All plans come with unmetered bandwidth but differ in RAM and solid-state drive (SSD) storage. The lowest-tiered Standard plan starts with 2 GB RAM and 120 GB SSD. At the top end, the Ultimate plan offers 8 GB RAM and 240 GB SSD.
Bluehost’s VPS hosting plans.
  • High uptime: What good are high storage and bandwidth when your website experiences constant downtime? A frequently offline website can lead to lost productivity and missed opportunities.
    • Your web hosting provider’s uptime should be as close to 100% as possible. Bluehost had a 99.91% uptime rating in 2022, according to one review website.
  • Cost: VPS hosting plans are generally more expensive than shared options. However, VPS is a cost-effective alternative to dedicated hosting. Compare different hosting plans to ensure you get your money’s worth. For example, look at the number of CPU cores and the amount of RAM.
    • At the least, servers should use the latest storage technology (e.g., SSDs), making it easy to run heavy applications faster.
  • Customer support: Getting timely assistance is crucial, especially when something goes wrong with the server.
    • Bluehost offers 24/7 customer and technical support over the phone, email, and live chat.

Benefits of VPS hosting

  1. Storage and bandwidth.
  2. Server control.
  3. Reliability.
  4. Privacy and security.
  5. Flexibility and scalability.
Bluehost’s VPS hosting plans come with a variety of benefits.

1: Storage and bandwidth

VPS hosting allocates a specific amount of storage and bandwidth per web server for each user. This ensures you’ll have enough resources to run your website.

2: Server control

In shared hosting plans, users typically have limited access to the server environment. This is because the hosting provider sets the conditions and parameters for the plan. For example, website owners on a shared plan cannot reconfigure their server settings.

VPS hosting provides you with complete control over the server, allowing you to:

  1. Install custom software or applications.
  2. Configure the website infrastructure.
  3. Add security features.
  4. As a trade-off, you’re in charge of maintaining and upgrading resources if you go with an unmanaged VPS plan (more on that later).

3: Reliability

VPS hosting rarely relies on a single server.

Thanks to virtualization, servers are made up of multiple nodes. So, if one node crashes, there is still a backup. This is a great feature for eCommerce websites, as downtime can be costly.

Using a virtual private server guarantees high performance by eliminating risks, such as suddenly running out of storage, which commonly happens when you use shared hosting.

4: Privacy and security

VPS hosting is more secure than standard shared hosting because of the virtual partitions that separate websites from each other. Users have less risk of “contamination” from compromised sites because the other websites are isolated from each other.

With a VPS hosting provider, you have more control over your website’s security. However, some web hosting providers also offer essential security features or may assist with maintenance. For example, Bluehost includes free SSL certificates on VPS plans.

5: Flexibility and scalability

Flexibility and scalability are some of the best benefits of VPS hosting.

Whenever you need additional resources, you can easily add or borrow from another VPS if needed. This easy scalability is thanks to the hypervisor, which enables the host computer to support other servers and virtual machines by sharing its resources.

Is VPS hosting secure?

VPS hosting is generally considered secure, but its level of security depends on various factors, including how well it is configured and maintained. Here are some key points to consider regarding VPS hosting security:

  1. Isolation: VPS hosting provides isolation between virtual servers, reducing the risk of security breaches from neighboring websites. Each VPS operates independently, with its dedicated resources and its own operating system.
  2. Control: Users often have full control over their VPS, enabling them to implement security measures, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and security patches. However, this also means that users are responsible for configuring and maintaining security features.
  3. Updates: Regularly updating the operating system and software is crucial for security. VPS hosting providers often offer automated updates, but users must ensure they are enabled.
  4. Security Expertise: The level of security largely depends on the user’s technical expertise. Fully managed VPS hosting may provide better security support, while unmanaged VPS hosting requires users to have strong security knowledge.
  5. Backups: Regular backups are essential to mitigate data loss in case of security incidents.

Conclusion: What is VPS hosting, and how does it work?

VPS hosting plans are a great way to get more website security, storage, control, and bandwidth without the hefty price tag of a dedicated server. But it’s crucial to choose the best VPS plan for your needs.

If you’re pressed for time and would rather have a professional handle your server, choose a fully managed VPS plan.

If you’re familiar with server configurations and want to customize your settings, sign up for unmanaged VPS like we offer at Bluehost. Our VPS hosting plans offer unlimited bandwidth and domains, reliable SSD storage, and 24/7 customer support. Contact us today to get started.

FAQs about VPS hosting

What are the advantages of VPS?

The top advantage of VPS hosting is getting the benefits of dedicated web hosting at a more affordable price. This type of plan is perfect if you want to try dedicated hosting features without straying too far from a shared hosting setup or committing to your own server.
 
VPS hosting offers more storage and bandwidth, better server control, improved security and reliability, and easier scalability than shared web hosting.

What are the disadvantages of VPS?

The disadvantages of VPS hosting depend on what you’re looking for.
 
If you’re looking at costs and have simple web hosting needs, the price point is a disadvantage, as it’s more expensive than shared plans.
 
If you’re looking for a server with higher control and storage capacities, VPS hosting doesn’t offer as much as dedicated plans.

How much does a VPS cost per month?

Expect to pay at least $30 a month for a basic VPS hosting plan.
 
There are cheaper VPS hosting plans available, but they’re not worth it. The more expensive plans use the latest hardware and software. Thus, they’re able to offer better quality and reliability.

When is it time to upgrade to VPS?

The best time to upgrade to a VPS hosting plan is when your website slows down or you experience a cyberattack. Both instances mean your current shared hosting plan can’t support your website’s needs.
 
If you run an online store, choose a VPS plan from the get-go.

How much bandwidth do you get with a VPS?

Most VPS hosting plans allocate at least 1 TB of bandwidth per month.
 
Some VPS providers, like Bluehost, offer unmetered (unlimited) bandwidth, subject to fair usage terms.

How many websites can you host on a VPS server?

You can host multiple websites on a VPS server. The number of websites depends on server specifications, such as the type of storage used, the number of processors available, and memory.

Is VPS hosting fast?

VPS hosting is faster than shared hosting because it provides greater access to resources, resulting in better performance.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Education
    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator

3 Comments

  1. How To Start A Blog Reply

    Thanks for the useful VPS hosting information. Very informative!

  2. Very nice, very different, very good information. your information helpd me and clear all my doubts Thanks for sharing

    • Desiree Johnson, Content Specialist Reply

      Thank you Monika, we’re happy you found this information so helpful!

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