Whether you are creating a simple page, web app, or a complex enterprise software solution, you need to take care of your server—the powerful computer program that can store and run your application. But, investing in a dedicated server for your business purpose is no simple matter. Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting can be the right choice as it gives total control of a server at a lesser and manageable budget.
Sounds good, right? But before you subscribe to whichever hosting provider ranks first on Google today, take a few minutes to read this article. We will explain the difference between the main hosting types and help you make the best decision.
Hosting your website with a dedicated server might cost you tens of thousands of dollars, which can be difficult for starts ups, small and medium companies, and web professionals to budget. No worries, you don’t need to buy and configure a server on your own. There are plenty of providers ready to offer you a part of their server. For a small monthly payment, you can get a place to host your application.
VPS is currently the number one recommendation for companies across the world, but those who recommend the service often fail to explain why this is the most reasonable choice.
Are you ready for some well-founded arguments?
Here we go!
What is VPS?
VPS is Virtual Private Server. This method hosts your website or application on a server by virtually dividing server resources into several segments, each reserved for a different app.
Are there alternatives?
Of course, a virtual private server is not the only option for hosting your website. Usually, you have to choose between a shared server, a VPS, and a dedicated server. Recently, cloud hosting is also gaining popularity. Here are a few competing approaches:
If we equate hosting to a web app’s living arrangements, then shared hosting would be a dormitory.
Technically, shared hosting is a server that hosts a lot of apps. Your application will have to juggle access to server amenities with dozens of other apps. What’s wrong with this approach?
Well, server RAM, CPU power, and storage are limited, and each application hosted by the server consumes a portion of these resources. As a result, the experience of your app users will highly depend on how your neighbours use the available resources.
If other hosted apps on your shared server start attracting more visitors, fewer resources will be left for your app. This sure is going to affect your website performance.
For many app developers, this risk is justified by the low price of shared hosting. Some providers even offer shared hosting for free, but the usual price tag is between $2 and $20 per month.
Another advantage of shared hosting—you don’t have to trouble with server configuration and maintenance. Everything is already done for you.
Shared hosting is a great option for beginner apps, but you should not consider it a permanent solution if you aim to build a solid business.
If we continue on with our comparison of hosting and various living conditions, a dedicated server is a separate house, and your app is the sole occupant. No other apps can access your server or its resources, so you can fully enjoy exclusive privacy, security, and flexibility.
With a dedicated server, your application is hosted on a separate server machine configured to your current needs. It also has a scalability potential, which is not the case of a shared server. You also get full control over your server and can install any programmes you need to run your app. But to really capitalize on this advantage, you may have to hire a server administrator—a professional responsible for your server maintenance.
In addition, renting a dedicated server is a solid investment. Prices start at around $100 per month and can reach a few thousands of dollars depending on the resources you require. You can also configure the server by yourself and place it in your office, but that will cost you a lot as well. And with that approach, administration costs are not included, so you also have to add a salary of around $50.000 to your budget.
Only a few companies can afford this type of hosting, despite its advantages.
Virtual Private Server
But what if you need better quality than shared hosting can guarantee, yet a dedicated server doesn’t fit your budget? A virtual private server sits between these two options, providing comparable service quality for a more reasonable price.
A virtual private server takes advantage of virtualization technology by virtually dividing a single server into separate sections, each able to host an application and reserve required server resources.
Generally speaking, a virtual private server is a shared server, but with a significant improvement: your performance doesn’t depend on other apps hosted on the same server.
Supporting a VPS server is not a big deal, but certain technical experience is required. A nice price can cover this inconvenience. You can rent a virtual private server for just $5 and up, depending on the parameters you need to run your app.
If you ever need more resources, you can also easily upgrade your plan.
A cloud hosting is a younger brother of VPS with one significant difference: a VPS is a section of one physical server; cloud hosting isn’t associated with any physical machine.
There are many servers across the world, forming a cloud environment. When choosing cloud hosting, you have a piece of this environment reserved for your app.
In the case of VPS, there are always the limits of the physical server you should be aware of. Cloud hosting, on the contrary, gives you unlimited scalability potential ensured by an array of servers that form the cloud environment.
The pricing plans offered by some cloud hosting providers are stunning and start from a few cents per month. The average cost of cloud hosting starts at $5-10, which is more than affordable.
A virtual private server has a solid advantage - it is customizable. You can manage your server, install or uninstall software components to make it match your needs. There’s no such option for cloud server, so you’ll have to work with the provided settings. The good thing is - there’s no need to maintain the server by yourself. No technical background is needed to launch your app in the cloud.
If your are still confused between cloud hosting and VPS, then, check out the comparison for top players on the market: AWS, DigitalOcean, Heroku, Google Cloud, and Azure.
Reasons to opt for a VPS
When comparing the available options, a virtual private server seems to be a reasonable choice. Top five reasons you need VPS Hosting for your business are affordability, security, customization, availability and scalability.
We’ve already mentioned that a VPS is much cheaper than a dedicated server. Very basic plans can start as low as $5 per month. But if you want to experience the true benefits of a virtual private server, we recommend allocating $20+ for hosting. Is that much? Not at all, especially when considering the dedicated resources and flexibility offered in return.
With a VPS, your server environment is reserved just for you. No one else has access, so you can be sure your data is secure. You can also set up firewalls to protect your data from fraud. This option is not available for shared and cloud hosting users—they have to settle for the server’s default security settings. Also, when you use shared hosting, the vulnerability of your neighbor websites can put you at risk as well. If one is infected by malware, it can attack your database. This doesn’t happen to VPS users, because server sections are virtually isolated.
Although you can’t manage the hardware, the software you install on your server section is completely within your control. You choose the operating system, versions of supported programming languages, and other programmes you install. As a result, your app is hosted on a server configured exactly to your needs. Better performance and easier application support follow.
With shared hosting, your scalability potential is close to zero. As your app develops and traffic increases, you can only use the resources that are not in use by other applications. Similarly, when running a dedicated server, scalability is possible but requires hardware upgrades and a bit of effort from your server administrator. VPS hosting enables you to expand server capabilities as you grow, all with just a few clicks and a slight increase in price. Just upgrade your pricing plan and voila! Limits are raised, and your app can continue growing unimpeded.
A dedicated server has a bunch of advantages, but one solid disadvantage can spoil everything: if something goes wrong with your hardware, all the apps or websites hosted on your server will go offline. In case you would like to secure yourself from these issues, the best way is to run a reserve server, but that will come at a huge expense.
With VPS hosting, you don’t have to worry about hardware failure. The hosting provider will ensure that if one of their servers goes down, a reserve machine will automatically take over the job. As a result, your apps are protected from server issues and are available to users at any time!
When to choose VPS?
A virtual private server is a good option for almost any situation. However, there are some use cases that can make a VPS an easy choice:
- You have a limited budget
You must be aware that shared hosting is a good idea for beginner businesses due to its low price. But a VPS is not much more expensive than a shared server, yet it offers so much more. If you have big plans for your app and business development, renting a virtual private server is a reasonable investment. You will have premium security and flexibility, coupled with almost endless scalability potential. In case you are planning for shared hosting, then ideally consider switching to a VPS as soon as your app begins generating income.
- You have specific needs
The default setup offered by shared and cloud hosting providers doesn’t fit all use cases. You may want to install third-party applications or use Windows or an operating system that isn’t default Linux. This flexibility isn’t possible with shared and cloud hosting, which doesn’t allow any installations. With VPS, you are given root access and can install any OS and any software you need for work. As a result, you can configure your server section to meet the precise needs of your application.
- You have several applications
You can rent one virtual private server and run as many apps as you want as long as there are enough resources to go around. When choosing cloud or shared hosting, you have to pay for each application. The scalability potential of a VPS allows you to upgrade as soon as you notice a need for more RAM or storage.
- You care about data security
If your web app handles confidential information (names, contact data, credit card information, etc.) don’t even consider shared hosting. It is too unstable, and there is a constant danger that a virus caught by your server neighbour will infect your app and database. VPS is a more secure place for personal data. Besides, you can also set up firewalls to increase app protection.
- Your app must be online 24/7
An application built for customers should be available around the clock. For certain types of apps, availability is critical: e-commerce apps (when you are offline, you lost the buyer), messengers (your aim is to connect people 24/7), marketplaces (your app is the means of communication for clients and service providers). The list can go on, but the lesson is clear: if delivering around the clock service to your clients is critical, opt for VPS. If a server fails, your VPS provider will connect you to another server in a matter of seconds. Shared hosting and dedicated servers can’t promise that level of stability.
After reading this huge list of advantages, you may think a virtual private server offers no drawbacks. And, for the most part, that’s true! Just keep this in mind: VPS hosting requires some server administration knowledge. If you lack the right expertise, you’ll have to outsource server maintenance or hire a professional just for that.
If server administration expenses are out of your budget right now, you can start with cloud hosting and sacrifice the customization ability first just to upgrade to VPS later.
Choosing a hosting type is critical. It determines the quality and speed of connection, the security of user data, and even your expenses.
A VPS successfully combines the advantages of two main hosting types: shared hosting and dedicated server. As a result, this relatively cheap solution offers good performance that fits most use cases.
A virtual private server is the best choice for many app types for these reasons:
- transparent and reasonable price;
- flexibility and customization ability;
- Stability and data security.
However, you should remember that a VPS requires a degree of server administration expertise. But this input is completely worth the above advantages.
Whether you are building a simple website or complex business system, a consumer application or a solid desktop game—there’s no software type a VPS won’t fit.
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