August 21, 2018

VPS web hosting: best of both the worlds for blogs, small websites

This is a compendium on VPS web hosting, the most common type of web hosting for individuals and small firms. But many of its details are not known to users, which might lead to poor decisions and consequent lack of good services and loss of money.

With the index below, you can jump to a particular section if you're in a hurry. For keeping the article for reference, you can think of bookmarking it.

-What is VPS Hosting?
-How does VPS differ from shared hosting?

-How does VPS cloud hosting differ from VPS hosting?

-Is dedicated hosting necessarily better than VPS?
-When do you need to upgrade to VPS from shared hosting?

-Why not go for unmanaged VPS web hosting?

 

What actually is VPS Hosting? 

As the name suggests (VPS= virtual+private+shared hosting), this type of web hosting gives you private space in a virtualized server. What it means is that your website is in a shared server but you still have your private space. Consider it as living in a joint family but with a bedroom of your own - so you do not have to buy or rent a full house and yet have privacy. Or consider yourself in a flat in an apartment building rather than having a villa on one hand (with huge costs and all the headache of maintenance and security) and a dormitory on the other hand (in which people live in a big hall, with so many others, with no privacy and little personal space).

VPS gives you a private space of your own, and you can have managed (in which the host manages services and space for you) or unmanaged (in which you have to manage the space provided to you) plans within VPS plans. Small firms and individual bloggers should opt for managed plans so that they do not need IT professionals to support them.

Virtualization in web hosting


In the context of web hosting, 'virtual' would mean that your website is hosted in a shared server but you have been assigned a space of your own (which others won't use) by way of what is called virtualization.

In virtualization, the physical server's space is divided into stand-alone compartments (virtual machines or VMs), and each compartment can run its own OS and programs and have its own RAM.

There are different ways the VMs can be configured and that determines the service level achieved.


How does VPS web hosting differ from shared hosting? 

In shared hosting (which is the cheapest type of web hosting):
  • There are a large number of users. 
  • All users share the same common space and resources. 
  • You cannot have your own OS and software installed on the server. 
  • If a few websites get huge traffic or have a defective code, all other websites are badly impacted. 
  • Expansion of resources is difficult (except in cloud hosting). 
  • Since these plans are the cheapest, they are often poor in terms of efficiency and customer support. 
  • In 2018, shared hosting plans come at around $3 per month. Some even start with $0.99! 
  • Shared hosting suits only small websites that need fewer resources. 
In the case of VPS hosting:
  • The number of users sharing the same server is smaller. 
  • Resources are apportioned among users. 
  • Each user has his own space, processing power, RAM and bandwidth. 
  • The user has access into root of the server and thus can customize various functions. In fact, you can install your own Operating System on the server and are not limited by the host-provided OS. 
  • Unless it is a severe issue, one user is not impacted by deficiencies of other users. 
  • Expansion is possible even in single-server VPS plan, and is guaranteed when it is cloud VPS hosting. 
  • It gets better resource allocation and consequent high efficiencies as well as good customer support from the host. 
  • Major hosts have varying VPS plans according to resources allocated.
    As of now, VPS hosting costs about $15 per month. Plans can start as low as $5.99 a month. 
  • VPS can serve small and medium sized websites as well as large ones (that depends on many factors, though).

How does VPS cloud hosting differ from single-server VPS hosting? 

VPS cloud based web hosting combines the good features of VPS with flexibility and scalability of cloud resources. These plans are slightly costlier than single server VPS offers.

Is dedicated hosting necessarily better than VPS hosting? 

The question in other words is, are you paying for dedicated server when you don't need that?

Dedicated hosting is of two types: managed and unmanaged. We'd talk about managed dedicated web hosting in which the server and other resources are exclusively available to the user but he need not bother about maintenance of these resources, which is done by the web host itself.

It would appear that dedicated hosting is always better than VPS hosting because the former is fully exclusive. However, if your use of resources is not too high and you need not maintain absolute privacy, VPS would be less expensive as compared to the dedicated one.

Dedicated hosting starts to make sense only when the user has his own technical team for optimization of resources, maintenance and customization - as in the case of techies or big companies.

 

When do you need to upgrade to VPS hosting from plain shared web hosting?


Remember that even when the web-host tells you that you get unlimited or very high level of resources with shared web hosting, you will NOT get such resources. By its very nature, shared hosting will give you the performance based on how all the websites on that server behave, and you have NO control over what resources others use.

Many hosts recommend their users to go for VPS or other plans when the website owner reports of slow speed, website hanging or high downtime. These could be due to that website's own reasons or due to other websites on that server, but web hosts often scare the users into buying a premium product.

There also is a genuine and welcome reason why upgrading from shared hosting is recommended: when there is rise in traffic on the website/ blog beyond what is offered in the shared hosting plan.

So, if in your own analysis, if your website is having issues with shared hosting but not for a valid reason, you perhaps need to change the host rather than the plan.

On the other hand, if you find the host good but you have outgrown the shared hosting, go for VPS hosting.

 

Is unmanaged VPS not a cost-effective solution? 

Generally NO. Let's see the user scenarios: The web space user is either an individual (or a small/ medium sized firm) with limited requirement for web activities and less money to spare OR a medium or big sized firm with big web-based business and lots of funds to allocate to portal management. The first one should go for shared or VPS hosting and the big guys for VPS or dedicated one.

Only in a scenario where the firm has lots of in-house technical capability but only low or medium level of web hosting requirements, VPS web hosting with no management will make sense. This could be the case only with techies and developers, not others.

When you go for unmanaged VPS, the host might charge you much less but you will have to manage starting with the basic web hosting control software. And if there is an issue, it will be you who will have to resolve it.

To conclude, VPS suits most blogs and websites. Go for a low-end VPS web hosting plan if your needs are low. Go for cloud VPS if you think you will need to upscale your hosting soon. Happy hosting!

Since proper web hosting is so integral to maintaining a professional, self-hosted blog, happy blogging too!!

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