VPS vs Shared Hosting - When to Choose Each Image

VPS vs Shared Hosting – When to Choose Each?

If you don’t want dedicated servers (and many people won’t), then you’ll have a couple of options left. We’re going to look at two of those options in this post: virtual private servers (VPS) and shared hosting.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS)- Basically, a single physical machine will run a number of different virtual environments that function as individual private servers.

Shared Hosting – Uses a single server to hold a number of different websites. Because servers can cost money to run, power, and maintain, the cost of the single server is spread over the different people who own websites that live on it.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but generally a VPS solution will deliver a bit more power and control over your website, but a shared hosting solution will offer more support and be a bit cheaper.

The best way to host your website, if resources like cost and tech personnel aren’t an issue, is to use dedicated servers. Dedicated servers give you the maximum amount of power and efficiency for the least amount of headaches. You don’t have any resources that are shared with different people and nobody else’s website will have an impact on the performance of your own.

For many websites and online content services, however, dedicated servers are not a practical web solution. They aren’t the most cost efficient way to get your content up and running on the grid. For smaller websites and companies that aren’t directly tied to technology, running servers is not generally the best way to run a website.

Comparing and Contrasting VPS and Shared Hosting

01Cost

Let’s start with the end. How much will VPS and shared hosting, respectively, cost to run your website on them?

First, you should know that there is no set in stone model for the thing. Hosting servers are not something that is standardized as far as price goes. The price for all kinds of different server solutions can vary widely depending on the company, the special, and the person you talk to when you’re signing the deal. You can spend hundreds a year on a shared hosting model and you can also spend under a hundred dollars a year on a VPS hosting model. Definitely shop around, definitely compare the prices of different models before you really go for something.

Also, when considering the cost, you want something cheap but something that also won’t cause you a headache. Saving a couple bucks a month but getting a lot less resources and far worse tech support for fixing those critical website errors is probably not a cost effective way of running a website. Pay for good web hosting. But with that said, also don’t overpay for mediocre web hosting. Most web hosting websites love to splash features that you may not actually need across their mastheads, trying to draw your attention. As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t know what the feature does, don’t go out of your way to pay extra for it.

Okay, so what can you generally expect? Shared hosting is generally the cheaper way to run a web server. Thousands of websites can share a single server and the administration for all of them is centralized. It doesn’t cost a single website too much money to join up and get a bit of power. Of course, remember that you will be getting a bit less power in this scenario.

A VPS solution will generally be a bit more money. You will probably end up with a bit more power out of the VPS route, and you will definitely get more control and customization over your web hosting solution.

Takeaway: Shared server solutions are generally cheaper than virtual private servers.

02Security

Problems with your website will generally not come through the server. Most tried and tested server companies will provide great support, and not a lot will happen on a shared server or VPS solution.

However, in general, the nudge for security goes to the VPS. A shared server runs a lot of different websites on a single server, and a problem with a single website could certainly feedback into the system and compromise the other websites on the server. This wouldn’t happen with a VPS. Still, if you really want security, the dedicated server is the way to go. Despite being a lot more expensive in most cases, it gives the most security to a single website, because none of the resources or avenues of access are shared with the other websites.

Remember also that part of security is the support you’ll receive from the company that is hosting your website. Paying more money, while not always guaranteeing a better response in a time of crisis, is generally a good way to get more security.

Takeaway: While not technically the best, shared servers still generally offer security that is “good enough” for most applications. If security is really important, virtual private servers will be better, but will still not compare to the power that dedicated servers can offer you.

03Performance

You’ll get what you pay for. If you pay only a few bucks for web hosting each month, you’re usually not going to get break-neck delivery speeds for your data and will have a low ceiling on the size of your website.

Ultimately, you’ll get the data that you pay for. Both shared servers and VPS solutions will deliver these things. If you pay a lot of money for a shared server, you’ll probably outperform somebody paying only a little bit of money for a VPS solution.

Shared servers split their resources between thousands of different websites, while virtual private servers are generally built to have a little bit more speed. You’ll probably find better performance on a virtual private server. Also, the increased customization that the virtual private server brings will allow you to bring the speeds up even higher by optimizing different settings and software for the particularity of your website.

Takeaway: Virtual private servers offer a higher level of performance for the money, but you may not need it. Don’t pay for hosting services that you don’t actually need!

04Client

Virtual private servers give a lot more customization options. They are generally built for clients that need a little more service and options for their websites, with special software and plugs that will work better on the customization level. Shared servers, on the other hand, are generally built for smaller clients. Those servers will offer a bit more of an on-the-rails experience, coming with extensive control panel functions and mostly supporting basic security and things that smaller clients really want managed, like email.

Takeaway: Virtual private servers are built for bigger clients with more technical websites and advanced modifications, while shared servers are great for the entry level.

05Resources

Dedicated servers provide by far the most power and resources for a website. If you’re really worried about having the right kind of speed and power to give a great website experience without crashing, this is the route that you’ll want to go, regardless of money.

If you aren’t looking into dedicated server solutions, you’re now in the land of compromise. You aren’t going to be getting the most possible power and resources, so be realistic about the kind of stuff that you’ll need. Don’t overpay for more resources than you actually need.

Shared servers generally offer the least amount of resources, and virtual private servers generally offer more resources. Again, this is just a generalization. You’ll get what you pay for. Pay more for a shared server and you’ll get more resources versus someone that pays less for a virtual private server.Takeaway: Dedicated servers have the most amount of available resources. Virtual private servers generally offer more resources than shared servers, but you’ll get what you pay for. More money generally equals more resources.

06Scaling

Shared hosting can expect to handle about 30,000 visitors each month without experiencing problems from your hosting solution. More than that, and you may need a better plan or a different kind of hosting solution. While moving your hosting is a pain, overpaying for hosting is also a pain. You may expect your site to grow into a dedicated server but paying for that a year before you need it is a drain on your personal or corporate resources.

Virtual private hosting is a much better way to scale in the long run, because your resources are loaded into a virtual machine that can get more power when you pay for it. Moving around resources on a shared server is a bit more difficult and time consuming. Manipulating the amount of power that a site gets on virtual private hosting is a lot easier.

A lot of this revolves around expectations. If you think that you’re going to see radical web traffic growth over the lifetime of your site, and you think that it will start in a couple of months after launch, then it can pay off to go with the VPS right from the start. But don’t get greedy and shell out extra money for power you don’t need.Takeaway: Virtual private servers offer a lot more long-term upside for scaling, if you think that your website is going to need it. But as with anything, you’re paying here only for the potential to scale. You may not even need to scale, and in that case, the shared server will be the better choice.

07Server Maintenance and Adjustments

If you have a smaller site that has no need for extensive customization and software installation, then a shared server is going to be the way to go here. The very guide rails that can frustrate people who want a greater amount of customization and control over their sites can be a godsend for you, helping keep the web admin part of the project simple while you focus on other parts of the site.

If you know that you’re going to need to make some technical moves with your site, including more advanced software installations and customizations, you’ll probably need to go the virtual private server route.

On the other hand, shared servers generally know that they are dealing with people who have less technical knowledge of websites, and they are able to handle some of the administrative tasks on the backend.

Takeaway: Virtual private servers offer a greater deal of customization for the user, while shared servers generally offer more built in adjustments and maintenance because they expect the users to need a bit more administrative help.

Conclusion

It should be easy to tell from that list that virtual private servers are generally a bit more powerful than shared servers, especially in the following ways:

  • Virtual private servers offer a higher degree of customization and administration for the user.
  • They generally offer more power and greater website performance.
  • They have a bit higher level of security.
  • It is easier to scale the available resources for your site when using a virtual private server.

In the end, you’ll get what you pay for. Certain shared server subscription plans will give you far more power, performance, and dedicated support than a virtual private server plan will give you. The real technical difference is that a virtual private environment can accommodate installations and modifications to the virtual machine that a shared server cannot accommodate. Don’t overpay for the power that you need. Check the specifications on each server option, and really ask yourself whether you’ll need the increased scalability and customization that the virtual private server can afford you.

The shared server is better in one category that ends up being critical for a lot of websites–it is generally cheaper than a virtual private server or a dedicated server.