Shared vs VPS Hosting – What’s Right for Your Website?
Today’s web hosting space can be a little confusing for new website owners. Web hosting companies, like many others, follow trends and market products catering to demand. While this helps if you’re looking for a specific type of solution, understanding the type of web hosting – Shared vs VPS hosting, you’re getting is essential.
Shared vs VPS Hosting – How Web Hosting Can Affect Your Business
A web hosting plan is in some ways similar to a physical store. Each plan has a capacity of visitors it can handle at a time. If you exceed those limits, bad things start to happen, including slower service, customer dissatisfaction, drop in conversion rate, potential loss of sales, and more.
Matching the capacity of your website with your customer base is vital to overcoming some of the challenges mentioned. However, there are more things you need to focus on when it comes to choosing the right web hosting plan. Choosing the wrong web hosting plan can have significant consequences. For instance, how quickly your website performs may affect search rankings – something that directly contributes to the volume of organic web traffic you’ll receive.
Quick Tip: The Google search engine today follows a mobile-first policy that affects website search rankings. Websites must perform well on mobile devices, not just desktops, to rank well on Google search. The top keywords to remember when choosing a business web hosting plan are; Performance, Reliability, Scalability, Security, and Support. To see how this fits in with the type of plan you want to choose, let’s examine two of the most likely options you’ll be choosing between – Shared vs VPS hosting (Virtual Private Server).
Understanding Shared Hosting
Among web hosting plans, shared hosting is the most readily available you’ll come across. These plans are typically cheap and extremely easy to manage – ideal for most new website owners to experiment with. To provide shared hosting, web hosts pack as many as hundreds of user accounts in a physical server. These accounts share the same resources such as CPU, memory, and storage space, which is where the “Shared” part of the plan name comes.
Websites need these resources to handle web traffic, and when visitors try to load a page on one of the websites on a shared host, it dips into that common pool of resources to work. If the resources are in use, the website waits until resources become available. Because of the shared environment, websites on these plans are also prone to increased security risk. If one website on the server gets hacked or Malware affects an account – multiple websites on the same space may be affected. While price ranges will vary greatly depending on the service provider chosen, you will often find entry-level shared hosting plans selling for less than $5 per month.
Quick Tip: Web hosting providers often offer steep discounts for new customers, making their plans look very attractive. Make sure you take note of renewal prices so you can more accurately calculate your long-term operational cost.
When to Use Shared Hosting
Due to the characteristics mentioned, shared hosting plans are seldom ideal for use in a business context but rather personal websites like blogs. Unlike regular websites, business websites are an official representation of a commercial entity. They are part of your digital brand. In some cases, you can still consider shared hosting. For instance, if your website traffic is relatively low, you’re running a simple, static website, or if you don’t need to handle personal or financial data.
Pros of Shared Hosting
- Easy to manage
- Wide availability
Cons of Shared Hosting
- Less reliable performance
- Poor security
- Not much room to grow
Understanding VPS Hosting
If you feel that the cons outweigh the pros for shared hosting, the next category you can look towards is VPS. Although VPS plans may also reside on the same physical server, the way they are created makes them very different from shared hosting plans. Web hosting providers use virtualization technology called a hypervisor to create VPS accounts – isolated spaces that each simulate an entire server. Each VPS account gets resources of its own, which can’t be used by anyone else even if they remain idle.
Since VPS accounts are essentially individual servers, they come with many advantages aside from getting dedicated resources. The accounts typically come empty, giving you the flexibility to configure them exactly as you want – including:
- Choice of Operating System (OS)
- Web server application
- Database engine
- Script & framework support
The isolated nature of VPS plans also means much better security. Accounts are never affected by anything else which happens to others on the server, reducing the potential of your website becoming collateral damage if another on the server is somehow compromised or affected. While this may sound great, VPS also has its share of drawbacks. Since they have dedicated resources, fewer VPS accounts are usually found on each server. The result is an increase in cost over shared hosting plans.
VPS plans are also more challenging to manage than shared hosting. Unlike the latter, which come with nice user dashboards to simplify operations, VPS accounts require knowledge of server management and networking to deploy and maintain properly.
Quick Tip: If you want to use VPS for your website but lack technical skills, consider Managed VPS instead. With these plans, the web hosting provider will handle the deployment and upkeep of your server – for a price premium over unmanaged plans.
When to Use VPS Hosting
VPS plans are robust, secure, flexible, and scalable, making them suitable for a wide range of business websites. They are especially ideal for websites that need to handle more demanding workloads. Examples of websites suitable for using VPS include eCommerce sites or online stores, dynamic content websites (such as those run with Joomla or WordPress), and those with a generally higher volume (more than 500 visitors per day) of visitor traffic.
- Highly scalable and suitable for long-term growth
- Secure, isolated environment
- Reliable performance
- Technically complex to deploy and manage
- More expensive than shared hosting
Shared vs VPS Hosting – Are There Other Options?
In reality, the web hosting space has four distinct categories of web hosting plans: shared, VPS, Cloud, and dedicated server. Cloud is similar to VPS, except that the infrastructure it runs on is distributed across various systems. Dedicated servers are for highly demanding websites that can occupy all the resources of a single physical server on their own. They are generally the best for performance and security but come with a stiff price tag.
Besides these core categories, you will find many web hosts that market hosting plans for specific use cases. Some examples of these include:
- WordPress Hosting
- Joomla Hosting
- Business Hosting
Things get a little complicated here since how the web hosting service provider defines these plans can vary. For instance, one might simply rebrand shared hosting and sell it as WordPress hosting simply because you can run a WordPress website on it. Another service provider may brand shared or VPS hosting as “WordPress hosting” by pre-deploying the application or offering specific utilities and optimizations that will help increase the performance of WordPress websites.
When opting for a hosting plan that is “branded” in this manner, make sure you note the category the plan resides on – Shared vs VPS hosting.
Shared vs VPS Hosting – Choosing the Right Web Hosting Partner
Besides choosing the right type of web hosting between Shared vs VPS hosting for your business site, you should place equal importance on the service provider. Many service providers heavily market features – which is attractive to those comparing web hosting plans.
However, numbers don’t always tell the complete story, and two similar plans from different providers will not offer the same performance or other benefits. Take, for instance, one of the key performance metrics of a web hosting plan – web server response time. The actual server response time you get can vary by quite between different hosting providers. When choosing your web hosting provider, aside from the plan specifications, take note of;
Reputation and Track Record
Hosting providers that have survived for long periods in the market will have known track records. Look towards reliable sources like TrustPilot and HostScore to see what peers are saying about the brand and its performance.
Knowing that a hosting provider offers support via various channels is one thing, but consider the effectiveness of the support channels. Are there specific parameters they need to meet for support stated in Service Level Agreements?
Data Center Locations
Not all hosts publicize this information, but it’s an integral part of website performance. Hosting plans located on data centers closer to your target market means lower latency and better speeds.
Be cautious about web shots that claim excellent security without backing it up with facts. Some service providers will go above and beyond, either through partnerships with leading cybersecurity companies or offering unique solutions that can improve your website security.
Shared vs VPS Hosting – Migration Can Be Costly
Business owners should weigh choices carefully before making the final decision. Remember, it is relatively easy to start a website, but moving it to another host can be complicated. To avoid downtime and possibly unnecessary migration expenses, do your due diligence before signing up for the web hosting plan you have in mind.
Remember, the right choice lies not just in the web hosting solution but should be an ideal match between the site you plan to run and the plans available.