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Have you outgrown your entry-level shared hosting plan? There are several types of web hosting solutions available for those needing more space and control and better performance.
These include virtual private server (VPS) hosting, cloud hosting, and dedicated servers (also referred to as dedicated hosting).
In this article, we’ll take a look at:
- What your options are
- The upsides and downsides of each
- How much you can expect to pay for that hosting
When Shared Hosting Isn’t Enough
Many people start with a shared hosting plan for their website.
However, shared plans come with limited resources and slower performance than their premium counterparts. For most people, these limitations won’t be an issue.
Shared hosting doesn’t afford the website owner much control. For example, you’ll be able to change some basic things, but you won’t have full root access. You’ll also have limited (or no) choice with regards to the operating system of the server.
Those who want better performance, more resources (or guaranteed resources for their site), and greater control over their hosting environment should look to a cloud, VPS, or dedicated hosting plan.
What is VPS Hosting?
Virtual Private Hosting (VPS) hosting is similar to shared hosting in that the web host places multiple sites onto a single server.
However, rather than pooling the resources of that server and allowing websites to draw from the pool as needed, hosts use virtualization software to create what you can think of as compartments for each site.
These compartments protect your website’s resources from usage by others. They also prevent you from dipping into your neighbors’ share.
VPS hosts typically use multiple speed-boosting technologies like SSDs (solid-state drives), Nginx or LightSpeed web servers, effective caching techniques, the HTTP/2 protocol, and CDNs (content delivery networks).
Furthermore, having your own slice of the server means that you get additional control over the software that runs in your environment, such as the operating system.
You’ll also get full root access, which allows you to make extensive changes to your environment that wouldn’t have been permissible with a shared option.
What is Managed VPS?
If you’re moving up from a shared hosting plan, but aren’t keen on the amount of work required to set up, configure, and maintain a VPS hosting environment, consider a managed option.
With managed VPS the web host assists you with some (or all) of the system administration tasks. The services included in a managed plan vary based on host — some companies help you with just the bare minimum, while others will handle everything on your behalf.
Control Panel Considerations For VPS
Note, however, that one of the things that are missing from many VPS plans (especially unmanaged ones) is a GUI control panel like cPanel.
If you’re not comfortable with the command line, look for a plan that comes with a control panel or offers you the opportunity to purchase one as an add-on.
The Pros and Cons of VPS Hosting
- The upsides of VPS hosting include increased control over your web hosting environment, better performance, and improved security.
- The downsides of VPS hosting include additional work on your part to manage a VPS server (as compared to a shared plan) if you purchased an unmanaged plan. However, managed VPS options can be much more expensive than shared and unmanaged VPS plans
Pricing for VPS Hosting Plans
There’s a wide range of plans for VPS hosting plans. We’ve seen plans as inexpensive as $4.95/month, though some high-end options will run you hundreds of dollars per month. In general, we think that $20-40 a month tends to be the average for a VPS hosting plan.
What is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting is similar to traditional web hosting. Traditional hosting (including VPS hosting) relies on a single server to power a site. Cloud hosting utilizes the resources of a group of servers (which is called the cloud) to host the website.
Cloud server costs more than many other types, but this is because you are getting hosting from multiple servers.
The Pros and Cons of Cloud Hosting
Some of the benefits that come with cloud hosting include:
- Easy scalability: because there are several servers from which you are drawing resources, you can quickly scale your hosting environment up (or down) as needed. This means that you pay for only what you need, while still having the option of purchasing additional resources in times of traffic spikes.
- Less downtime: If one server becomes unavailable, there are other servers ready to handle the load.
- Better pricing: With cloud hosting, you get a lot of the benefits of a dedicated server (e.g., performance, security, redundancy), but without the high-end pricing.
However, there are also some downsides to cloud hosting.
- Cloud hosting does cost more than shared hosting, as well as some VPS hosting options.
- You may be limited in terms of customizing your hosting environment. To be sure, you’ll have a more significant number of options when compared to a shared environment. But, with a cloud environment, the host will likely impose more parameters on you than if you had a VPS or dedicated environment where the decisions you make will be less likely to impact the websites around you.
- Cloud hosting doesn’t perform as well as a dedicated server, especially the high-end dedicated options (but, we reiterate that cloud hosting is cheaper).
Pricing for Cloud Hosting Plans
In general, you can expect to pay upwards of $19.95 per month for cloud hosting options. If you opt for a managed cloud hosting option, where the web host handles system administration tasks on your behalf, expect the monthly price to jump up significantly.
Pricing for Private Cloud Hosting
Private cloud hosting gives you one or more dedicated servers that are used by your enterprise alone. This type of hosting is preferred by government entities and organizations with strict security and compliance needs. Prices can range from $1,600/month up.
Video: Liquid Web, provides a quick overview of private cloud hosting.
What is Dedicated Hosting?
If you need the fastest hosting, the most storage space (including SSD options) or RAM, the most secure hosting, and/or full control over your web hosting environment, a dedicated server (or dedicated hosting) is the option for you.
With a dedicated server, you get a full physical server that is used to host only one website: yours. All of the resources placed on the server by the host can be used only by your website, which results in fast speeds for your visitors.
Security and Control
You will get full control over the software installed (such as the operating system), and you will have few (if any) limitations on what you can run on your server.
For example, some shared plans cannot be used to host applications written in a particular language. However, you can set up a dedicated server to support whatever language you need.
Dedicated servers are incredibly secure. For starters, you won’t be sharing with other customers who might cause problems with the server itself. More, your server has its identifiers (including, but not limited to IP addresses), so it’s less likely fall victim to issues caused by attacks aimed at your neighbors.
Lastly, you’ll have control over your server and can, therefore, make sure that it has all of the security tools needed to prevent data breaches, foil attacks, and keep out unauthorized parties.
The Pros and Cons of Dedicated Hosting
The upsides of dedicated hosting are top-notch performance and full control.
The downsides include high prices (dedicated hosting plans are some of the most expensive on the market), as well as the need for technical know-how. Some hosting companies offer managed dedicated hosting, but it would still be wise to have the technical knowledge necessary to make informed decisions regarding your server’s setup, configuration, and maintenance.
Pricing for Dedicated Hosting Plans
Pricing for dedicated hosting plans vary but expect to pay at least $20-40 per month at the ultra-low end. As you add on to your server, expect prices to rise to hundreds, even thousands of dollars per month.
The Right Hosting Type For You
If you are outgrowing a shared hosting plan, the logical next step in terms of web hosting would be either a VPS or cloud hosting plan. VPS plans can be cheaper, and with advances in technology, they can be comparable to cloud plans in terms of reliability.
However, if you want things like easy scalability, a cloud plan would be your best bet. For example, an e-commerce store might want the option to scale up significantly only during Black Friday or Cyber Week.
Very few people should jump from a shared hosting plan to a dedicated server since the latter represents the best and most expensive hosting plans available. Only a small number of high-demand websites would benefit from the perks of a dedicated server.
|Business that runs frequent promos for sales.|
Site sometimes goes offline during traffic spikes.
|VPS or Cloud hosting. |
Look for "autoscaling" if you want your hosting to automatically handle traffic spikes.
|Small business site with sluggish speed that frustrates users and decreases conversions.||Cloud or VPS hosting|
Be sure your host uses a CDN.
|Business or government entity that handles sensitive data and needs to maintain regulatory compliance.||Dedicated or Private Cloud hosting.|
Search for a host that offers the compliance you require.
Recommended Web Hosts
Picking the right web hosting type for you is just the first step. The next is to find the right hosting company for you. Below are three options we think might offer products that fit your needs.
InMotion Hosting offers a variety of web hosting plans, including VPS and dedicated hosting options. Users interested in VPS plans will find both managed and cloud-based options, while dedicated servers come with free server management.
Liquid Web offers fully managed web hosting options, including VPS plans and cloud dedicated servers. Liquid Web’s pricing is considerably higher than its competitors, but the company provides robust performance backed by 24/7 customer service.
SiteGround offers managed cloud hosting and managed dedicated servers — the company does not offer unmanaged options. While their hosting plans don’t stand out from the crowd, what SiteGround does do well is provide 24/7 customer service via phone, email, and live chat.
Have more questions about VPS vs dedicated and cloud hosting? Here are some answers to some of the most common queries.
What are the differences between VPS and shared hosting?
Both types host multiple websites on a single server, but VPS hosting uses virtualization software to isolate websites and separate their resources from other sites to improve performance and security.
Shared hosting involves the communal use of a pool of resources. (Note: some companies like SiteGround isolate accounts on shared servers.)
What is the real advantage of using VPS hosting?
VPS hosting provides users with better performance, increased security, and greater control over their web hosting environment compared to shared hosting.
Furthermore, VPS hosting may come with managed services, which is ideal for those less keen on performing system administration tasks themselves.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the use of a group of computers (called the cloud) and related infrastructure to perform a specific function or set of services, like hosting a website.
The benefit of the cloud is that users don’t have to purchase or rent equipment like web services, which saves money. Many cloud services (but not all) are billed on a pay-for-what-you-use model, further driving down costs.
What is a virtual dedicated server? How is it different from VPS?
A virtual dedicated server is a single server instance that a customer can set up (“provision”) over the internet.
It is similar to a traditional dedicated server (and different from a VPS server) in that you get full use of the server, but the cloud provider manages your server for you.
When you’ve outgrown your shared hosting plan, it’s time to move to a premium option. In this article, we cover the ins and outs of VPS, cloud, and dedicated hosting to help you choose your next hosting type.