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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 is a type of hosting service that uses a virtual machine to share resources on a physical server. It’s best for websites whose traffic exceeds the limits of shared hosting but don’t need the resources of a dedicated server.

VPS hosting vs. shared and dedicated hosting

VPS hosting vs. shared hosting vs. dedicated hosting.

The most common types of hosting plans are shared, dedicated and VPS hosting.

Shared hosting plans are the cheapest option. These plans offer the lowest storage and bandwidth and try to accommodate as many websites as possible on a physical server.

They’re perfect for websites that aren’t resource-intensive, such as blogs and personal websites. They’re also a good fit for some small businesses.

On the other hand, a dedicated hosting server caters to a single website. It’s the most expensive type of hosting because you’re renting the entire server. It’s best for enterprise-scale organizations and high-traffic websites.

VPS falls in between shared and dedicated hosting. Like dedicated hosting, it can handle large storage capacities and high bandwidth.

The difference is instead of one user taking over the whole server, multiple users share the server — kind of like shared hosting. However, a certain amount of resources are dedicated to your account, regardless of what other websites on that server are using.

Comparison between shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting

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.

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 OS.

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

How virtualization works.

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 VPS.

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 backup. Also, you can always add storage space should you need extra.

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.

Benefits of VPS hosting

  • Storage and bandwidth.
  • Server control.
  • Reliability.
  • Privacy and security.
  • Flexibility and scalability.
Bluehost’s VPS hosting plans come with a variety of benefits.

Storage and bandwidth

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

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:

  • Install custom software or applications.
  • Configure the website infrastructure.
  • Add security features.

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).


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 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.

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 websites are isolated from each other.

With VPS hosting, 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.

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.

Types of VPS hosting: How they compare

Types of VPS hosting.

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

Fully managed VPS

The hosting 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.


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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

When to switch to VPS hosting

When to switch to VPS hosting.

Deciding between shared and VPS hosting?

Here are a few reasons to switch to a VPS hosting service:

  • Your website is starting to slow down: There are many reasons why your website might slow down or run into server errors:
    • You’re receiving more traffic than usual.
    • You’re hosting a lot of files.
    • Your web server cannot keep up with your website’s needs.

A slow-loading website poses a big problem for an online store, as loading speed can affect conversions. In fact, Portent found that websites that load in 1 second have 5 times the conversion rate of websites that load in 10 seconds.

The good news is, choosing the right web hosting plan can positively impact your website’s loading speed. So, if you’ve fully optimized your website yet are still experiencing slow loading speeds using a shared hosting plan, maybe it’s time to consider VPS hosting.

  • You own an eCommerce store: Signing up for a shared hosting plan for your online shop just won’t cut it.

Online stores receive more traffic than blogs, so they need more resources. They also require secure environments, primarily because they deal with sensitive personal and financial information.

For example, hackers breached another hosting company’s shared environment and installed malware on its servers in December 2022. The hackers then gained access to the website credentials for some of the users on those servers.

If a cyberattack targets one website in a shared hosting environment, it compromises other websites on the server since multiple users share the same space.

This type of cyberattack isn’t an issue for VPS environments.

Thanks to virtualization, VPS-hosted websites appear to be hosted on a single server when website files are probably on multiple servers. If hackers compromise one server, the other servers will still be available.

  • You need to install custom files: For WordPress users, shared hosting is great for blogs and other websites without special installations outside WordPress. But if you need to install custom software or perform specific configurations, you’ll need a hosting plan that offers more control.

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.

Bluehost plans offer complete root access for VPS and dedicated hosting plans.

  • 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 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.

Final thoughts: 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.

Minal heads Content and Social Marketing for Bluehost. With over 15 years of experience in the technology industry, she believes in creating solutions and producing content that fulfill a customer's needs. She strives to bridge the gap between what users need and what they want. She has worn multiple hats over the years with experience in creative and brand strategy, content and social marketing, event and community marketing, brand operations and strategic partnerships. She is a dog mom and a stickler for calendaring.


  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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