VPS vs Shared Hosting

There are a lot of hosting companies out there and it can be hard to know what to choose for your website.  Every website needs a host.  It’s the place where all the website files are stored and served to the world wide web.  While there are many different types of hosting, the two most affordable options are shared hosting and a virtual private server.  There are a number of factors which will help you determine which might be right for you.

What is shared hosting?

Shared hosting is usually the cheapest package a hosting company will offer and it is like a motel.  A motel has a lot of rooms that are rented really cheaply.  Rooms within a motel may have communicating doors between them which can make you feel a little unsafe because you have no idea who is in the room next to you and you don’t want to know what they’re doing over there.  Chances are pretty good you won’t get robbed in your sleep, but it’s always possible. Oh, and you might go home with bed bugs.

Okay, so I don’t have an affinity for motels, but what does this have to do with shared hosting?  Well, just like a motel, you share a physical space (called a server) with a lot of other people (who own websites on the server).  This is known as “shared hosting”.

What’s the problem with shared hosting?

Since you share this server, you also share what’s called a public IP address.  A public IP address is a unique set of numbers that identifies each device that connects to the internet.  So if your neighbors are involved in illegal activities, they may sully your website reputation because your IP address is the same as their’s.  Just like the communicating door between the motel rooms, there isn’t a lot of security between you and your next door neighbor.

There’s also the issue that a server only has so many resources to go around.  Let’s think of that as hot water.  If your neighbor in the motel takes an uber long shower and uses all the hot water, you get a cold shower or no shower at all.  This can also happen in shared hosting.  If Joe Bob’s Crab Shack gives out coupons for a free crab dinner and people flock to their website to grab one, they could take all the bandwidth resources leaving your website with none.  Now, before you get all upset with Joe Bob, keep in mind that shared hosting environments portion out resources and set limits on those resources for each website account on the server.  However, there may be times when your website speed and uptime is affected due to another website on the same server.

Another thing about limiting resources, shared hosting does place limits on resources and it may be that they just aren’t enough to handle the traffic you are getting.  If you suddenly get a ton of traffic to your website, your website may stop responding because you’ve outgrown your resources.  True story: happened to a client of mine during a product launch.  Not fun!

Why should I chose shared hosting?

Just like a motel, some people think the cost savings is worth it and for a lot of websites, it can be.  Most small business websites can function just fine on shared hosting and the cost savings can be good for the budget.  Just be sure to keep regular backups of your website in case anything does go wrong and make a plan of action if your website is blacklisted due to the activity of others.  If your website audience is growing, however, it may be time you look at using a virtual private server (VPS).

What is VPS?

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is more like a condo building.  Within a condo building, there may be 4 to 8 units that have no communicating doors between them, offer more square footage and gas, electricity, water, etc are not affected by the other units in the condo.  In other words, they don’t share resources, they are completely separated from one another, they have unique addresses, and there are fewer of them.

A server can be configured into smaller, virtual servers that stand alone and act as if they are the only server on the physical server.  Each virtual server is completely isolated from the other, has a unique public IP address, it’s own resources, and many more resources.  Your neighbor’s illegal activities on his VPS can no longer touch you because you are completely isolated.  If your neighbor starts to resource hog, you can still take your hot shower because your resources are in no way connected with his.

What’s the problem with a VPS?

They’re expensive and they mostly require some server experience to set up.  A lot of hosting companies will offer a service to help you set it up the way you need it to be set up.  But if you have problems with your set up, you most likely will need to learn something about server administration to fix the issue.

I started leasing a VPS from InMotion Hosting a few years ago to host client websites.  It’s one of the best moves I’ve made in my business because it gives my clients the benefit of a VPS without having to pay the full price for one and without having to manage it since I do all the management of it.

And the best part about a VPS for my managed WordPress hosting service?  If I outgrow my VPS, all I have to do is notify InMotion Hosting and they’ll scale up my resources and give me the space and bandwidth that I need WITHOUT making me move servers.  I’ve moved servers before with 20 clients and it was NOT FUN.  I do NOT want to relive that experience.

Why should I chose a VPS?

If you have outgrown shared hosting, have had trouble with website performance, have had a negative experience with a neighbor, have a lot of traffic, host a lot of videos, or just want the security a VPS offers, I highly recommend a VPS.  But like I said, if you want the benefits of a VPS without having to manage it yourself, my managed WordPress hosting service may be a great fit for you.

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