Ask most website owners about hosting and they’ll happily explain what shared, dedicated and cloud hosting is. But when it comes to virtual private servers, lots of them aren’t 100% sure what VPS are or what they’re best suited for. Some don’t even know that there is a Virtual Private Server hosting option. So, to put everyone clearly in the picture, this article will give you a full introduction to VPS.
What is a Virtual Private Server?
A virtual private server or VPS, is a hosting solution that falls midway between shared hosting and a dedicated server. A Virtual Private Server is created by using virtualization software to divide a physical server into several smaller, virtual ones, each with its own operating system and dedicated storage, RAM and CPU resources.
How is a Virtual Private Server different to Shared and Dedicated server hosting?
Shared hosting is a bit like communal living; essentially, you lease part of the server and share the resources: CPU (processors), memory and disk space, bandwidth, etc. with the other users. This works well for most smaller websites as the speed, storage, bandwidth and reliability you need usually function without a problem. However, for businesses with bigger requirements, the resources available can be too limited.
There are some potential issues with shared hosting: if some of the other websites sharing the server hog resources it can impact on your site’s performance and if they leave themselves vulnerable to infections or hacks, this may compromise your own security.
If shared hosting can be likened to lots of people sharing a big house, VPS is the equivalent of dividing the big house into a number of smaller flats. Each Virtual Private Server is a separate computing environment, isolated from the others, with its own dedicated resources. Being a separate entity with its own operating system means your data won’t be compromised by other customers’ vulnerabilities. It also means you can run any custom apps.
Continuing with the house analogy, having a dedicated server is the equivalent of owning the entire house. You have all the disk space and computing resources at your disposal and control over which operating system and hardware you want to use, however, this does make it the most expensive choice and is best suited for businesses that have larger processing and storage needs.
What are the benefits of Virtual Private Server hosting?
Essentially, VPS hosting gives website owners the opportunity to have many of the features of a dedicated server but at a price that is much nearer the cost of shared hosting. For example, at eUKhost, you can have a Virtual Private Server for £12.99 (ex VAT)* per month. That’s only a few pounds more than our top spec, shared hosting solution but significantly less than our lowest priced dedicated server at £69.99 (ex VAT)* per month. (* Prices at time of publication.)
VPS also gives you the option for fully managed hosting, full administrative access, remote server access, and the ability to run custom software apps. In addition, you have much greater CPU, bandwidth, RAM and storage at your disposal than with shared hosting.
Who should consider using VPS?
With advances in virtualization and cloud computing, it looks increasingly likely that shared hosting is becoming yesterday’s entry level solution. For new companies starting up today, going straight for a Virtual Private Server is the much better option. For website owners that are still using shared hosting, there are signs you should look for that can tell you if it might be time to upgrade to VPS, these are:
A slow running website – an indication that you’re hitting your shared hosting resource limits.
Your website has started to have much greater traffic or has significant peaks that it struggles to cope with.
You store sensitive data and need to protect your customers’ information and comply with the Data Protection Act, etc.
You run an e-commerce site that stores card details or processes payments and needs to comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).
Your company needs to run custom apps in order to operate its business.
What to look for when choosing a VPS hosting package
Not all VPS hosting is the same and some hosts offer far better services and value for money than others. Below is a list of things you should look out for:
Fully managed hosting
Many businesses that use shared hosting don’t have the in-house technical expertise to manage a server and if this applies to you, you should look for a host that provides a fully managed service that maintains hardware, installs and updates your operating system, and monitors your server for problems so that it continues to operate at optimum levels.
24/7 Customer Support
If you have a problem on Friday night you don’t want to wait until Monday morning before you can speak to your hosting provider, for this reason, it is absolutely essential that your Virtual Private Server host offers full 24/7 support, including technical support. A good host should have various channels through which you can communicate: phone, email, live chat, etc.
You should also check that your support can give advice on security and application performance.
You need a host that can guarantee your website will be online and won’t be hampered by reliability issues. Ideally, your host should offer uptime at 99.5% and above: if they can back this up with a service level agreement, even better.
Underpinning your entire operations is the hardware your VPS is hosted on. If you want a Virtual Private Server that delivers enterprise-class performance, you need to ensure that your web host is investing in up-to-date technology such as super-fast SSD drives and, the latest Intel Xeon processors, high-speed DDR4 memory and high-performance RAID controllers.
Whilst price is important when choosing a Virtual Private Server hosting packaging, it should not be the determining factor. It’s far more important to consider the value for money that you get for the package you choose. For this reason, it is best to compare the different services on offer carefully and to make sure that you get everything you need not just for now but or your future needs.
Hopefully, this article will have given you a much clearer understanding of virtual private servers. You should now know:
What a Virtual Private Server is and how one is created
The differences between shared, VPS and dedicated hosting
The benefits of VPS hosting
Why and when you should consider switching to VPS
What to look for when choosing a VPS hosting package