Virtual servers are all the rage now in the hosting world, and more and more individuals and businesses opt-in for this versatile solution. That's far from surprising - the online environment is getting more and more competitive, and site owners have to get really creative when developing their project. But before you make a stunning website that will wow your visitors, you have to choose the right hosting service for it.
Why VPS Hosting?
As the majority of online pages are relatively small and not very resource-hungry, shared servers can often accommodate them easily, costing the client just a few dollars per month. Yet, an increasing number of users are turning to VPS hosting solutions.
Any provider can split a physical server into several independent copies through a process called virtualization. Each account gets a dedicated amount of system resources and its own caged environment. This brings a ton of benefits:
Better Performance - you are no longer crammed on the same machine with hundreds of other users like with shared hosting. Instead, you get your own CPU, RAM, disk space, and bandwidth to utilize as you see fit. Such a setup guarantees you will always enjoy better speeds and uptime from a VPS hosting server.
Ultimate Control - regardless if you choose an unmanaged or managed VPS, you get some (or full) root access to make customizations. Change your OS, set up a custom software, or put up your own security firewall - it's all possible on a virtual private server.
Next-Level Security - one of the major flaws in shared hosting lies in its architecture - all users utilize the same resources and environment. This means that a security breach through one client account poses a threat to everyone. VPS hosting solves that problem - each user is completely separated from the other, so it's only a matter of securing your own virtual server.
Expert Support - you might see a lot of offers for quality managed VPS hosting on the market. It's like an extra helping hand when you run into a problem. Most business owners don't know much about server administration, so such solutions guarantee you can still take advantage of a VPS without any previous technical knowledge.
This all sounds great, but there are still hundreds of providers fighting for your attention. Making an informed decision might require some research...
How To Find The Right VPS Server Provider?
The general answer to that question is actually quite simple - know your needs. Having a clear idea of what your website is going to be (or already is), its hardware/software requirements, and your future growth plans will see you bring down the hosting choices to just a few top contenders. But let's dig a little deeper and outline the most essential aspects you need to focus on.
1. Server Location
This might not seem like a big thing, but choosing a data center close to your audience location gives a much-needed boost in terms of speed and connectivity. When the distance between client and server is minimized, the information travels a lot shorter, and you get faster page load times as a result. Sure, many international hosts are optimized enough to serve content rather quickly, regardless of the visitor location, but every millisecond counts in the world of websites.
2. Operating System
Choosing the right OS entirely depends on what software you intend to use for your web pages. If your weapon of choice is an open-source CMS like WordPress, Joomla, Magento, or similar - Linux VPS hosting is the way to go. Analogically, if your project utilizes a .net technology or runs MSSQL databases - Windows services are the proper solution.
3. System Resources
If you already have a website, this would be an easy task. Your current host probably has some kind of control panel to show you the essential site metrics. Check your resource consumption and, more specifically, CPU, RAM, disk space, monthly traffic. Another good idea is to look at the number of account files (inodes) as some hosts put such limitations in their Terms & Conditions.
Even if you don't have a website already built, you can go for an entry-level VPS and scale up as your project grows. Which brings us to...
One of the greatest benefits of VPS hosting is the ability to add (or remove) resources on-the-go. This allows you to fine-tune your service without upgrading to a more expensive package and keep your services budget-friendly. Still, not all VPS providers offer this flexibility, so it's a good thing to check beforehand.
5. Plan Features
The bread and butter of your hosting account. Naturally, you will be looking for the specific features that satisfy your particular needs - be it an SSL certificate, daily backups, a CDN, or something else. But take your time to consider the whole package - there might be some extras that can come in handy even if you don't have an immediate use for them.
6. Customer Service
VPS hosts generally offer two types of services - managed and unmanaged. As you can tell by the name, the main difference between the two is the level of support you're getting.
Managed VPS hosting is the ideal choice for beginners and smaller businesses without a dedicated IT team. The provider takes care of all technical tasks - setting up the server, doing software installations, perform maintenance and updates, solving client issues.
In comparison, experienced developers prefer the freedom of the unmanaged VPS server. With this service, the host takes care of the initial setup and gives you full control afterward. You get unlimited root access and can tweak and modify practically any server component.
Even the best VPS hosting service would be useless if you cannot afford it. Looking around, you can find all kinds of deals, loosely ranging from $9-$99 per month. That's not at all surprising, as providers give completely different packages in terms of hardware, features, support, etc.
The thing you're looking for here is cost-effectiveness. So once you determine your maximum budget, you can shortlist all quality hosts that fall into that category and determine which one gives the most value for money.
As you can see, finding the right VPS hosting partner is not such a big deal when you know what you're looking for. Even if you just cover the most important aspects of the service, you will find a number of good providers that will readily take on your requirements. Ensure solid hardware and pick a flexible solution with a rich enough feature set. Consider the specifics of your project, especially if they are unusual to the standard hosting setup.