What Is a VPS? And 6 Signs That You Should Switch to a VPS
Anyone with a website needs hosting. A virtual private server, or VPS, is one of the fastest and most scalable options out there.
Most people have heard of servers and understand that they’re responsible for storing files, images, and everything else that makes a website work. The “virtual” part stems from the fact that a single piece of hardware is divided into separate servers, each working independently of the others.
The “private” aspect is also relevant. Just as it implies, if you decide to use a VPS, that server section is reserved exclusively for you and your website.
How Does a VPS Work?
A VPS looks to emulate the same level of service and security as a dedicated server but at a fraction of the cost. Web hosts achieve this by installing a virtual layer on top of the server’s operating system. By doing so, they create a virtual fence around a user’s server area that works independently from anyone else found on the same hardware.
Users can then use this setup however they please, safe in knowing that everything they do is stored separately from everyone else’s files. This virtualization means that there are no concerns around web space, memory, processors, or other hardware that keeps a website online. While these servers may be virtual, they act entirely like separate systems, including resources.
How Does a VPS Compare with Shared and Dedicated Hosting?
A VPS is a middle ground between the other popular types of web hosting, which come in both shared and dedicated varieties.
Shared hosting sees multiple sites residing on a single server, with all of them sharing resources. If you’re relatively new to web hosting or like to keep costs down, there’s every chance that your current plan involves shared hosting.
While cheap yet functional plans are always appealing, shared hosting isn’t always the right choice, especially for businesses or websites you can’t live without. The same hardware powers every site on the server, so if someone else experiences a spike in traffic, that leaves fewer resources to keep your site running optimally.
Similarly, if one site suffers a security breach, few restrictions are in place to prevent other sites on the same hardware from getting infected. Essentially, there’s a lot of trust between site owners on the same shared hosting, as when one experiences a problem, everyone might have to get involved.
At the other end of the scale is dedicated hosting, which a VPS looks to copy. The key difference here is that instead of dividing up a single server using software, hosting on a dedicated server means all the hardware is yours to do with as you please.
The critical differences between dedicated and VPS hosting come down to cost and flexibility. Anything you can do on a VPS; you can do on a dedicated server. That can even extend to installing custom software and operating systems, adding bespoke security, and anything else.
In practical terms, however, you’re literally renting an entire server in a hosting facility. The technology itself, the power it consumes, and the space it takes up all become your financial responsibility.
As noted, VPS hosting is the right solution for anyone that needs something in between the two alternatives. In addition, it’s often a far cheaper option than dedicated hosting, as the associated costs like power and backups are split between everyone on the server.
Just as with shared hosting, your site isn’t the only one physically found on the server. However, your content is ringfenced in terms of resources. If someone else’s influx of traffic puts pressure on their hardware on the server, that’s no problem for you. A VPS is set up to ensure you have all the resources available you expect, and they’re not accessible for anyone else to use.
When Should You Switch to a VPS?
If you currently use shared hosting or are still in the planning stages for your next big web project, it’s always worth keeping a VPS in mind. Here are our top reasons and timings for making the switch:
When Your Current Hosting Can’t Keep Up
If you’re on shared hosting, the chances are that your website will eventually outgrow it. However, if you’re accommodating hundreds or thousands of visitors each day, you don’t want to compromise their experience because there aren’t enough resources available for fast loading times.
Just as you don’t want to interfere with the quality of experience on someone else’s site, you don’t want them to do the same to you either. A VPS ensures this doesn’t ever become a problem.
When You Want to Do Something Different at the Server Level
If you want to add new software to the server or dedicate more resources to certain areas of your site, shared hosting won’t cut it. However, you have far more options on a VPS – it’s like buying a home instead of renting one. Furthermore, even if your host can’t do something for you, you’re welcome to go in and make changes as and when needed.
If You Intend to Process Financial Transactions
Data security is hugely important, and shared plans can’t provide the level that any business that accepts online payments needs. If you’re actively selling, the chances are you’re promoting too, and visitor numbers are constantly on the rise.
A VPS ensures you know exactly where you stand at all times while ensuring that nobody else can view the data you collect and store on the site itself.
When You Receive Warnings and Error Messages
You might receive errors while working on the backend of your site. You might even get automated emails from your hosting provider to say that you’re exceeding your expected account allowances. Both are signs that it’s time for an upgrade, and a VPS can quickly ensure that both become issues become a thing of the past.
When You Need to Know Your Site Is Online
From personal blogs to large e-commerce retailers, nobody likes to think their site could go down at any moment. The fact is that a VPS is more robust and reliable than shared hosting. You’re free to add your own security adjustments, and you’re not at the mercy of whatever someone else is doing on a site hosted on the same server.
When You Want to Plan for Future Growth
When you reach a point where you know a site will be around for a while and traffic is on an upwards trend, it’s worth considering a VPS immediately. If you know that shared hosting won’t keep up in the future, preparing in advance can ensure your site is ready as things take off.
Something as simple as a Google update or an article going viral can cause a surge in traffic virtually overnight. If you’ve got a VPS ready to handle that surge, it’s one less thing to worry about.
A virtual private server, or VPS, represents a reasonable middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated servers. They’re an excellent hosting option for professional websites and anyone with rapid growth in mind with more control and security than shared options and substantially lower costs than their dedicated counterparts. Having questions? Visit us to see how our premier hosting and cloud service offerings can help you.