What’s the difference between shared hosting vs. VPS? If you’re just building your first website, or even if you’ve had one for years, you may not understand how it all works. Hosting seems to be one of those things that people know they need, but they don’t actually understand why.
It’s easy to see how it could all get confusing if you don’t have a background in tech – at first glance, all of the different hosting plans look pretty much the same. But here’s our expert tip for the day: if you’ve been using a shared hosting plan just because it was the easiest option, it may be time to switch to VPS.
What’s the difference between shared hosting and VPS?
Let’s start with the basics. Many first-time website owners start with a shared hosting plan. Why? Because it’s almost always the cheapest option and using it doesn’t require any specific knowledge of the capabilities of shared hosting vs VPS.
Shared hosting is when one physical server machine hosts anywhere from two to hundreds of different websites, all in the same space. All of the sites share the server’s resources (including storage and bandwidth) in a sort of first-come-first-serve fashion. That means that if any one site on the server has a particularly large surge in traffic or runs a lot of large graphics or apps, it will likely use up more than its fair share of the resources, negatively affecting everyone else.
How is VPS different? Well, like shared hosting, many different users all share one physical machine. But unlike shared hosting, each site is allotted its own share of the data and bandwidth that no one else can touch. In effect, the server is partitioned into dozens of different compartments, and each one operates individually from all the rest – sort of like a mini dedicated server.
Why should you switch to VPS?
There are lots of different reasons people choose to make the switch from shared hosting to VPS. More often than not, it’s simply because their website has outgrown their hosting plan. Do you think you’re in that same boat? Here’s how to tell:
- Your website has been lagging. Are users regularly complaining of slow load times or of elements (like videos or graphics) not functioning correctly? Shared hosting often results in some, or all, of the hosted websites running slowly or even crashing. Too much overload could even cause the whole server to crash, causing costly downtime for everyone involved.
- You’re expecting a jump in traffic. Often, when websites are just starting out, traffic is low and slow. Shared hosting is fine in instances where the site doesn’t receive much traffic or is something super simple, like a static blog. But if you’ve been in business for a while and your fanbase is growing, that increase in website traffic might mean it’s time to switch to VPS. Making the move before things get too busy will help avoid unnecessary downtimes or service interruptions.
- Your site requires more security. Some businesses, like those that collect credit card information from customers, are just more sensitive by nature. A breach in security could be a huge embarrassment – and a huge liability – to you. Shared hosting, of course, is not the most secure environment. Because there is no separation between your site and the others that share your space, any virus or malware that affects their sites can also affect yours. Likewise, if a malicious user gains access to any one of the other hosted sites, he can also gain access to yours. VPS, however, is inherently more secure. Because your site is virtually separated from all the others, it is much more difficult for malicious users or harmful viruses acquired by the others to affect your site or its performance.
- You want root access. If you have a little more tech knowledge than the average user and you’d like more control over your own site, VPS is the way to go. Unlike a shared hosting environment, VPS allows you to install custom software, configure the server to suit your specific needs, and even run multiple operating systems if you want to.
When it comes to shared hosting vs. VPS, we think VPS is the clear winner for many small business owners. If you’d like your business to thrive and grow, you need a website that can keep up. VPS ensures that you have the resources to make that happen.