Shared Hosting or VPS - which is more suitable for your business?
Hosting - a very large and necessary field to understand when it comes to getting your websites or applications online for the rest of the world to see, visit and interact with.
There are a number of different hosting plans, types and alternatives that you can choose from, which can turn out to be extremely overwhelming especially for people without prior experience.
In this article today, we are going to be comparing two of the most popular hosting options on the market - shared hosting and virtual private servers (VPS) in order to help you gain a better understanding of which one would be more suitable for your business.
What is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting is the most popular option, as it has been around for years. With shared hosting, you have one physical machine - host server, that plays host to a number of different websites or applications.
However, this physical instance only has a set number of resources that must be shared by the hosted websites or apps, hence where the name of the service derives from.
It’s like living in student accommodation in university or in college - you might have a separate room, but the kitchen, the fridge and the bathroom all need to be shared, which can be quite inconvenient in most situations.
This is the cheapest hosting alternative that you can purchase, and despite its many advantages, there are a number of reasons behind the lower price, which we are about to share with you.
Advantages of using shared hosting
Firstly, as we already mentioned, this is the cheapest option that you will be able to find anywhere, making it really affordable for those who don’t wish to spend a lot of money on hosting.
Secondly, going for a shared hosting plan can be much more beneficial for small scale businesses, companies and personal blogs that don’t focus on providing or selling their goods or services online, but rather use their website or application as a platform to supply users with information about deals and in-store promotions.
Thirdly, shared hosting plans also don’t require any previous technical experience in order to be operated well. In most cases, you’d get a control panel like cPanel or DirectAdmin along with your plan, which you can use to manage your server and website with ease.
You don’t have to worry about choosing an operating system or having to write commands in the console in order to set up additional plugins or software. As a matter of fact, most shared hosting providers will even offer you full 24/7 support that you can utilize in order to address any issues that you might have.
Additionally, with a shared hosting plan you can also get a lot of extra included features such as server snapshots, backups and a strong DDoS protection, which some other hosting plans might include as an add-on option.
Shared hosting drawbacks
Although shared hosting can be a very good option when it comes to hosting, there are also a significant number of disadvantages that might keep most users away from getting such a plan.
First and foremost, the biggest issue with shared hosting is that it can be suboptimal when it comes to experiencing high traffic. Due to the fact you are required to share the physical server’s resources - CPU power, RAM and storage with other websites and applications, an increase in traffic for one of the other hosted websites or apps can result in your being left deprived from these resources.
This would in turn mean that your website would begin to load slower, and be a lot less responsive when it comes to user requests. As of recently page loading speed has been named a key raking factor and user experience metric by some of the most popular search engines, which makes it necessary for your website to always load fast or risk taking a hit when it comes to Search and SEPR performance.
Next, with shared hosting you don’t really get any root access to your server, meaning that you will need to manage your website and operate your server from your control panel of choice, rather than being able to personally customize your server or install any software that you like.
Moreover, because of the fact that your website will be located in a shared environment, there will also be a lack of choice when it comes to some particular software. For example, if you wish to use a specific MariaDB version, you won’t be able to have it installed for your website.
Furthermore, you can’t really scale your plan in order to accommodate higher amounts of traffic if needed. Instead, you’d have to upgrade your shared hosting plan to feature more resources, which you might ultimately end up not using.
What is a VPS?
A Virtual Private Server - VPS, is a special virtual server that utilizes virtualization technology to create simulated virtual machines on a physical server. To put it more simply, it’s like having multiple virtual servers located on the same physical instance. If shared hosting was like living in shared accommodation, a VPS server can be defined as having your own flat in an apartment block, where multiple people live together but each has their own designated living quarters.
This allows each virtual machine to have its own independent resources, meaning that you won’t need to share your resources with any other websites or applications. You get your own CPU, RAM and storage, which is one of the reasons why a VPS is usually more expensive than a shared hosting plan.
Benefits of using a VPS server
When comparing virtual private servers to shared hosting, there are immediately a number of obvious distinctions that can be noticed.
Firstly, as we already mentioned, the greatest advantage of VPS servers is that they don’t force you to have to share resources with other websites and apps.
Secondly, in contrast to shared hosting, you get full administrative control over the server, allowing you to install any software as you wish.
Thirdly, you can easily scale your hosting plan when using a VPS server. But what do we mean by this scalability? It is simple - you can get more resources for your server or remove those that you don’t use without having to change your entire plan.
For example, let’s say you are operating an online traveling agency. Your most popular seasons are summer and winter, meaning that during those times, your website will experience the most amount of traffic with visits falling off in the other 2 seasons. Given that the seasons are essentially changing between high-traffic and low-traffic in terms of visitors, you’d need to adjust your plan accordingly in order to ensure that you are paying for the resources that you need to accommodate the high number of visitors, while also making sure that you aren’t paying for something that you don’t use.
With a VPS server, you can easily add more storage, memory or processing power during the seasons that you experience the most user visits and then remove those resources in order to avoid paying for something that you won’t be using as much when you enter the other seasons.
This scalability is also perfect for companies and businesses that are just starting online. Let’s say that you are going to be starting an online ecommerce store that will focus on selling physical items or offering services. At first, you might not be able to predict the amount of visitors that your website will get, meaning that you won’t be capable of knowing which hosting plan or option to go for.
In such cases, going for a VPS is a very good choice as you can easily upgrade your server at a later point if needed should you experience a large volume of traffic. If your business does start slow, you can also downgrade your server and avoid paying for the resources that you aren’t using.
On the other hand, virtual private servers are also a great alternative to dedicated servers, which can be extremely expensive depending on the amount of resources that can provide.
Finally, some hosting providers do also offer services such as Bitcoin VPS, which you can pay for using Bitcoin or other types of cryptocurrencies. Using such alternative payment methods is a great way to not only protect your privacy, but you can also save a lot when it comes to making international transactions with these being just some examples of the benefits of paying with Bitcoin.
Disadvantages of Virtual Private Servers
If we have to give an example of a VPS server drawback, it would be that you would need to have some basic experience and fundamentals about server management. However, this is also not entirely necessary as most hosting providers will, as we mentioned previously, offer you full system support.
The other thing is that when comparing VPS servers to shared hosting, the price will also be higher due to the reasons that we discussed such as independent resources and scalability.
Another potential issue is that most providers will offer services such as backups and software licenses as an additional item that you need to purchase rather than including it into the price of the plan as is the case with most shared hosting options.
Shared hosting or a VPS?
Our suggestion would be to go for a shared hosting plan if you don’t want to spend too much on hosting or if you have a local, personal website that you don’t expect to see a lot of monthly visitors. Shared hosting is also a better option for people with no technical experience.
If you want to take advantage of features such as full root access and scalability, then you could consider investing in a virtual private server. With a VPS, you will get a lot more features as well as the ability to scale your server if needed.