VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. It’s a form of hosting that allows users to have their own dedicated virtual machine for hosting purposes. This virtual machine isn’t really a separate server, but it functions exactly like one. Even though a VPS hosting arrangement allows multiple users’ accounts to be hosted on the same server, each one gets a private, virtual server that operates exactly as though they had an entire server to themselves. It differs from dedicated servers in that they do not have their own hardware unto themselves. In fully virtualized systems, however, the user may not ever have their attention drawn to that fact.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) has both features and characteristics of shared and dedicated web hosting. So it is the perfect environment for people who are on budget and who are looking for cheap hosting with dedicated server features like custom applications, specific settings, more cpu power and more memory.
Because it’s more expensive option than shared hosting, you should go for it only if you already have some experience as a webmaster (most of the time a VPS comes un-managed unless you pay extra) and your website receives some traffic. Only then can you justify a move to a better server. But if you know that you need better hardware to keep up with the increasing traffic, a well-managed VPS can be a powerful choice – of course as long as you choose a good company and configure it correctly.
A quick note for those who have no idea – What is VPS?
Similarly to shared hosting, a VPS offers you some space on a physical machine. The difference between shared hosting and virtual private server is that the latter gives you a part of the machine of which you are a sole owner. Unlike on shared hosting, all of the resources which are assigned to you are yours to use. This means that although some other websites may be hosted on the same machine, they won’t affect your site as each of them has its own resources assigned to it. You get what you pay for, nothing more and nothing less.
Beside this, the nature of virtual private servers allow burstable RAM. For example when there are traffic spikes more memory may be required than your currently assigned memory because of the lots of visitors, visiting the site at the same time. Burstable RAM allows you to go over your RAM for short period of time. This will ensure that there is no downtime of the website. With root access that will allow you to fully manage your vps server, install software, reboot your server, and other things that are not allowed in shared hosting.
The pricing model, depending on the CPU power and memory are far cheaper than that of a dedicated server. Beside this, you can upgrade any time to more powerful vps configuration. But you always need to do some research, before purchasing. I started looking for reliable vps web hosting provider, and in the process I have tested several hosts, and this is the list I have come up with hosts that have the best ratings, user reviews, support and uptime.
How to choose one?
1. See if you can justify that choice – money and experience-wise
A VPS is not as easy to manage as shared hosting. If you have some experience or time to learn a lot in a very short amount of time, go for an un-managed one which can be grabbed for as low as a dozen or so bucks per month. Keep in mind that you will be responsible for everything on a VPS and will have to install everything from scratch. All you get is a virtual server with one of the Linux systems – either Ubuntu or Centos – installed, and from there you have to take care of everything else (unless you decide to pay extra/month for a CPanel license).
If your budget is a bit bigger and you don’t want to waste time on taking care of everything on your own, choose a managed one (or, at least, get yourself CPanel, which is super easy to use but costs extra). Remember that the level of management is different between vendors, so you should definitely check both the offer as well as recommendations/reviews from other customers. When I chose my first VPS I had to learn everything from scratch (I went with an unmanaged one) and honestly, despite having a lot of satisfaction after setting it up correctly, the beginning was a real nightmare.
2. Find as much information about customer support as possible
Of course, you don’t have to collect thousands of reviews but go through as many as you can and see what people say about the company’s support. Honestly, because I started my VPS adventure having no idea what I’m doing, I’ve spent a lot of time chatting with support – my first evening I lost my root password twice! Luckily, there wasn’t much done on the VPS, and a quick system reset was enough to get me going again.
Other time, I’ve had a huge technical issue, and my VPS company was at fault – my server stopped sending and receiving emails, and I was unable to communicate with anyone or send emails after people registered on my site. Lucky for me, my customer support was really professional and not only did they admit to making a mistake, but they moved me on to a new, working machine and helped me configure my server and put my websites back again.
3. Check your server configuration
I chose to move from shared hosting onto a VPS because I wanted to create a friendly environment for my sites. When choosing a VPS hosting package, check the amount of RAM, disk space (don’t go for anything other than an SSD), the number of CPUs and transfer bandwidth (it’s sometimes called unlimited and un-metered, but even then it’s still measured, only the cap is really high). When moving onto a VPS don’t go for the lowest package (usually with 1 CPU and 512MB/1GB RAM as it’s really not that much). Go for at least double that, as your control panel will eat a lot of resources on its own.
Depending on what kind of control panel you decide to choose, keep in mind that if you are on an unmanaged VPS, you will have to install every piece of software on your own. Personally, I use Webmin + Virtualmin as my control panel, as it’s considered one of the safest and most professional choices available for free. Remember to make sure that you configure it properly – a newbie mistake I once made was allowing my server clock set in Webmin to run late, which de-synchronized my applications from the Unix time and caused some of them to stop working. For example, all of my opt-in plugins were unable to process signups as my server was unable to connect with AWeber.
4. Check if your VPS provider is OK with some of the extra options
To make your VPS even more powerful, it’s worth investing in a Nginx with PHP-FPM setup instead of a typical Apache server. A proper VPS Nginx configuration can bring a massive increase in performance of your sites, speed up your server and improve user-experience of your websites. This setup alone can make your two core VPS function much better than an Apache HTTP with more cores. Before you choose a company, it’s worth checking if they offer help with configuration and management of such server setup (some offer Nginx out of the box), as well as some other options such as keep-alive. The keep-alive function allows visitors to use the same connection during their whole stay on a site, without having to reconnect each time they click on a link).
With so many VPS hosting companies out there, how can you make sure that you end up with a reputable one? Here are a few guidelines that should point you in the right direction.
There are three kinds of VPS hosting: unmanaged, managed, and unmetered. In terms of cost, unmanaged and unmetered VPS hosting are more pocket-friendly. You’ll get 24-hour server monitoring with managed VPS, but it comes with a heftier price tag.
Furthermore, good VPS hosting plans come with a money back guarantee. In case you’re unsatisfied with the provider’s service, you can get a refund.
The reason why you’re shifting to VPS from shared hosting is because it’s supposed to be more reliable in terms of uptime. As such, don’t settle for a plan that offers less than 99.95% uptime guarantee.
There should be proper security mechanisms in place to ensure that all transactions done via your website are protected, especially if you’re operating an e-commerce site. Even if you don’t intend to turn your website into a business, the availability of Secured Socket Layer (SSL) certificates is an indicator that the VPS hosting provider is experienced and capable in terms of securing their accounts. Also, check if they offer 24/7 network monitoring.
8. Control Panel
Industry favorites like cPanel and Plesk make server management a breeze. Ask the prospective provider if such tools are included in their packages. When it comes to this area, be very selective since user-friendly tools will reduce your learning curve hence you’ll be able to focus more on your core competencies.
9. Customer Support
Providers that offer 24/7 technical support should be at the top of your list since you’ll never know when your website will experience technical difficulties. Do they have multiple contact options? It would be a good idea to try contacting a company’s support team even before you sign up so that you’d have an idea about their response time and quality.
Advantages of a VPS:
How VPS is better than a Dedicated Server?
The advantages of VPS hosting are many. Virtual private servers behave just like separate machines, meaning that they can be rebooted independently of each other, and even have separate software and operating systems installed on them. VPS hosting is a great compromise between shared hosting arrangements offered by most hosting services, and a full, dedicated server. Users of VPS hosting have what amounts to an entire server dedicated to them alone, but for much less money than a dedicated server. This means that the performance of other users on the same hardware is not likely to impact their virtual server at all.
You can avoid the restrictions imposed by Shared Hosting.
Users are also generally not required to deal with the same restrictions that shared hosting arrangements would impose on them. This means that users get better overall performance and faster loading times than a shared server could give them. In some types of VPS hosting arrangement, the user may not even notice that the hardware that they are interacting with isn’t technically real, and users can even have root access to their virtual machine for software installation and configuration purposes. Users an also do things like host multiple domains and backup data much more easily than they could with a shared hosting arrangement.
More User Friendly:
Virtual private servers also tend to be more user-friendly than a dedicated server, and can provide users with much more assistance with things like monitoring and configuring their server.
An optimal environment for your applications:
Virtual private server hosting is an ideal choice for a wide variety of applications. It functions as an almost perfect compromise between a dedicated server and a shared server, offering stability, versatility, and high performance at a relatively inexpensive cost. Anyone who is considering a dedicated or shared server should look into VPS hosting, and make sure their needs wouldn’t be better served by a private virtual machine.
Less expensive and more user-friendly than a dedicated server, but more stable, more customizable, and less limited than a shared server, virtual private servers are the ideal choice for most hosting needs. As VPS hosting becomes more popular, hosts are finding ways to make it even more stable, flexible, and inexpensive for their user base, ensuring that all of the advantages that virtual private servers offer their users are just going to continue to get better and better.
Faster load times and more resources than a shared server
VPS hosting differs from shared hosting in that, since the user gets their own virtual machine to work with, what other users do with theirs will not likely have any effect on it. Virtual private servers can give users faster load times and more resources than a shared server, as well as much greater stability. Since the virtual machine behaves almost exactly like a physical machine would, users also have the ability to install their own software and operating systems on it, as well as have root access, change configurations, and perform other tasks that a shared hosting arrangement would prohibit. People who are tempted to use a shared host often gravitate toward VPS hosting because they can do more with it, and experience faster loading and less downtime.
While established businesses have the funds for a dedicated server, most startups don’t. If you’re trying to control your expenses, a VPS hosting plan will definitely fit your budget while at the same time provide excellent service.
Your website may not be experiencing heavy traffic right now, but what if your business booms unexpectedly? Prepare yourself for sudden success and avoid missing crucial business opportunities due to slow loading time and downtime. You may choose to start with the minimum resources that you need. As your website grows, you may also gradually increase your VPS hosting plan to accommodate its needs. You won’t have to pay for resources that you don’t need yet.
VPS hosting will provide you with root access. This means that you alone have the say as to what applications and operating system to install. Furthermore, you can manage your website by simply logging into your control panel with your username and password. Edit content, upload files, and manage your online business anytime and anywhere you want!
VPS hosting will supply your account with an individual IP address. This is needed to secure a dedicated SSL certificate, which e-commerce sites must have. Also, your virtual server is essentially isolated from others so the risk of unauthorized access to your server is minimized.
With reseller VPS hosting, you can purchase a portion of the server and divide it into several shared hosting accounts that you, in turn, can sell to the public. The good part is that server maintenance will be done by the VPS hosting provider, not you.
Depending on the type of VPS hosting plan that you sign up for, you’ll get technical support should you encounter difficulties. Unlike dedicated server hosting wherein everything – from installation to updates to maintenance – will be handled by you alone, most VPS hosting providers will give you the assistance that you need.
VPS hosting is an inexpensive solution that presents most of the resources, features, and flexibility of dedicated server hosting minus the complexity and the cost. It’s no wonder why many users have moved from shared hosting to virtual private serving hosting.
What is Hybrid VPS Hosting?
A newer and more reliable form web hosting is called the Hybrid VPS Hosting which is essentially an improved VPS hosting with more features and an enhanced performance.
A hybrid VPS server uses better hardware with a better CPU to hosting plan ratio. Instead of cramming as many hosting plan subscribers into one CPU, a hybrid VPS only allots a maximum of eight plans per CPU. What this means for your webhosting plan is that you have a guaranteed amount of RAM, disk space and bandwidth that is unaffected by the other hosted sites in the same server.
Using a hybrid VPS server is basically like having your own dedicated server in terms of performance but without having to pay for the high cost of actually having your own physical server. Hybrid VPS hosting is the ideal choice for high traffic websites or websites with hundreds of web pages that are heavy on images or videos but may not have the budget for a dedicated server.
Some Disadvantages of VPS:
One disadvantage of VPS hosting include the fact that, since the physical machines that virtual private servers are created on must run many different types of software to make this possible, certain types of software won’t perform as well on them as they could on a dedicated server. This isn’t generally big enough to be a deal breaker, but it is something that people looking for the best hosting solution for them should keep in mind when considering a virtual private server.
In spite of all the good things that have been said about virtual private hosting, we all know that no web hosting solution is perfect. As such, even VPS can have drawbacks. It is advisable to know not only its advantages but also its disadvantages so that you’d know if it’s suitable for your website’s requirements. Here are five limitations of VPS hosting.
1. Difficult to manage for inexperienced users. In shared hosting, users are not responsible for patches and upgrades for the OS. In VPS, you take full responsibility of your own virtual server in terms of site maintenance, software installations, security, application patches, and security updates. This means that you will be burdened with dealing with technical problems and software incompatibility as if you’re using a dedicated server.
2. Possible security risks. As with shared hosting, you may not be issues with your own IP address so you might end up sharing it with spammers, adult sites, and scammers. Sometimes, sites hosted on the same IP address are grouped together so this may result in your website getting banned from major search engines that actively block suspicious activity.
3. Unequal distribution of CPU. Sometimes, the CPU of the physical servers isn’t shared equally among the virtual servers. This means that there’s a chance that one virtual private server can use up the entire CPU, causing the node to crash hence bringing down all the virtual servers on that node. If this is the case for your provider, look for another one that does proper CPU splitting.
4. Disk I/O. If your account is running applications that are heavy on data transfer, then you’d be better off using a dedicated server over a virtual one.
5. Reduced Control. In some VPS hosting plans, users may share program components with other users. This may result in the lack of flexibility in configuring individual settings separately from other users that are hosted on the same virtual private server.
As you can see, VPS hosting is not for everyone. In terms of benefits, it’s a step up from shared hosting. However, it still has drawbacks compared to a dedicated server.
At some point VPS hosting may become a necessity. Before you decide to make a move, calculate all the costs associated with it and consider all the technical specifications that you require.
Remember, that it’s a whole different world compared to shared hosting – especially if you go with an unmanaged VPS, and the number of things that you have to take care of at once can be overwhelming, especially in the very beginning.
On the other hand, having root access and being able to utilize Nginx, different PHP setups and a huge variety of applications, can easily turn even a very low-budget VPS into a very powerful hosting machine. In the end, it all comes down to the time and effort that you are willing to put into its management.