VPS refers to a virtual private server. This is a virtual machine provided as a service from web hosting companies. A VPS can exist within a larger computer or across several computers, but has it’s own copy of the operating system. This allows customers to access the root systems and configure their VPS as they like. They can also install any software that will run on that OS. This provides a more secure and stable environment isolated from other users, with its own dedicated server resources.
Most people launching their own website typically start with shared hosting. Shared hosting means your account (site) occupies a portion of server disk space, but may be stored there along with dozens or hundreds of other sites, all competing for the same server resources, such as CPU, RAM memory, bandwidth, and disk input-output. You are not allowed to access the operating systems, and can’t alter server configurations.
The shared hosting company is essentially leasing you space on their hard disk. You’re allowed a limited amount of capacity in terms of resources like disk space, email accounts, or databases. You can’t use anything beyond your allotted resources unless you pay for upgrades. You have to share these server resources as part of a customer pool, so there’s always a possibility that the code in someone else’s site, a hacker, or sudden leaps in traffic could impair the speed of your site or even crash the server.
VPS hosting is a step up, in that it allows you your own space with it’s own resources. With it’s own isolated OS, it’s more secure and reliable, and offers greater control. While some machine resources may be shared, VPS hosting means that the resources you paid for will be there for you, all the time.
Issues with VPS Hosting
But there some downsides to VPS hosting. Most hosts provide different levels of service for both shared and VPS hosting, but even cheap VPS hosting is typically more expensive than shared hosting.
While there are both managed and unmanaged VPS accounts, there may be some limitations. If you have an unmanaged account, you will have to have the technical skills necessary to manage, monitor, and maintain the different elements to your own VPS environment. This means selecting and installing/uninstalling your own applications and features. With unmanaged VPS hosting, you have to maintain your own software and server environment, so that if anything goes wrong, it’s up to you, not the hosting company, to get it up and running again.
Choosing the right VPS host
If you’ve decided VPS hosting is the right solution, you’ll be faced with a variety of hosting companies that can provide it. Making the right decision depends on a number of factors:
#1. Windows or Linux
You need to understand which type VPS platform you want to run. The most common are Windows or Linux systems. Both have their advantages. Windows is compatible with more programs, specifically common Microsoft programs like ASP or other .Net applications. Linux can offer more customization and performance, but is more difficult to learn and use.
#2. Managed or unmanaged
With VPS hosting, you basically have an entire virtual server to yourself. Managing it and fixing errors can be tricky. Managed VPS hosting includes the services of your host company in monitoring its performance and accessibility. With unmanaged hosting, the host company takes no actions or responsibility for what happens with your site. You have to keep the site running properly all on your own. If an application crashes, a virus is introduced, or page loads start taking too long, you have to find and correct the problem yourself. If you don’t have the skills and need to conserve funds, finding cheap managed VPS will be your best option.
But when it comes to VPS hosting, the whole virtual server is handed over to you. So, there needs to be somebody to look after it and monitor its performance. If this is taken care of by your VPS provider, then it is called managed VPS, whereas in unmanaged VPS you need to take the responsibility of your server all by yourself.
If you’re pretty familiar with web development, hardware, firmware, and the many aspects of website administration and server management, you may be able to build and manage your own server environment effectively. If you aren’t confident that you can do this, you should look into managed hosting. It usually will cost more. Though cheap managed VPS hosting options are available, the support that’s offered will vary from one host to the next. Be honest about your own abilities as it could leave with you rebuilding from scratch.
Fully managed VPS hosting is the only sensible option for those with little experience in server management. Understand what’s involved and what it will cost when choosing either an unmanaged or managed account.
#3. Scalability and Redundancy
Redundancy is about having a backup system in place in case there is a system failure. For instance, the risk from power failure can be dealt with by having a redundant power source, such as a generator or UPS. If a hard disk fails, another server should be ready to take up the workload. Redundancy also requires some sort of failover, so that the redundant system kicks in automatically, instead of waiting for human intervention.
Scalability refers to the ability to handle spikes in demand. For example, a sudden flood of visitors could overload available resources. Another server will have to be configured as a stand-by, so that it can automatically fail over and take up some of the workload.
Both features should be in place in order to provide your site maximum uptime and dependability.
As with any expenditure, the price you may have to pay will be a big factor in your decision to move to VPS and select a VPS provider. It’s always necessary to weigh the costs vs the scope of the services provided, and assess how that will affect your future business plans. VPS hosting costs will vary according to the hosting company, but fully managed VPS plans will cost the most. Hosting companies may offer different packages on a sliding scale of minimal VPS usage to maximum plans that provide the most hardware and performance capacity. You should base your decision on other factors, such as hardware specifications, service levels offered, options for customizing your VPS, and other factors that could affect your business plans.
Whether you opt for a managed VPS server or one where you have to take full responsibility, a VPS will still provide important advantages over other types of hosting. Where those advantages are critical, VPS hosting is the right option. However, all VPS hosting is not the same, so as in any business decision you should do your research and make an informed choice.