There are many ways to host a website. While some businesses and individuals choose to run their own hardware and software, the most popular option for hosting a basic website is to take advantage of shared web hosting. It`s easy and it`s inexpensive. A hosting company places hundreds of websites on a single host server with the idea that few of the websites will be overly active at any one time, so sharing the resources of one large server is cost effective.
Shared web hosting is quite adequate for most individuals and some small businesses with simple needs such as hosting a blog or providing a few web pages that are mostly informational in nature. However when needs grow, or something more advanced is required, things don`t remain quite as simple.
While a viable option for many customers, there are some definite disadvantages to shared web hosting. A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is the next step up in the hosting hierarchy. A virtual private server looks to the customer like a stand-alone computer and is managed just as if it were your own machine. Behind the scenes virtual servers are another form of shared computing; the hosting company uses a single large physical machine to host a number of VPS installations. The big difference is that a VPS gets guaranteed resources while a shared host website never does.
How do you know when to make the leap to a VPS? Whether your needs demand a Linux VPS or a Windows VPS, the basic principles are the same.
1. Your website has become very busy with substantial traffic, and sharing processing power and bandwidth with hundreds of other sites is not giving you the performance you need. A slowdown in the responsiveness of your website is a key indicator.
2. You need the ability to obtain additional resources. Your business may be growing quickly and you need to upgrade your server capacity at increasingly frequent intervals. A VPS arrangement allows you to work with the hosting company to get a bigger slice of the resource pie, something that can`t effectively be done with a shared hosting arrangement.
3. You need to run special applications, such as media streaming or real-time gaming. While this can sometimes be done with a shared host, resources and performance will be limited and often the hosting company frowns on your running such intensive applications.
4. You need more control over the server, especially root access, to properly manage your server content and performance. You`ll almost never get this with a shared hosting service.
5. You have concerns about information privacy in the shared hosting environment, which relies on shared data storage; with a VPS, your data storage has significantly more isolation.
If any or all of the above describe your situation, it may be time for you to make the leap into virtual private server hosting services.
Of course you should look, at least a bit, before you leap. The additional power and flexibility comes with new responsibilities and some additional work. But if you or a member of your staff have a little experience with server operation or are willing to learn, this will be an opportunity, not a problem. Some modest work up front will pay enormous dividends down the road. Here are a few things to consider.
1. You run the VPS, not the virtual server hosting company. This means that you may have to do some of the software updates, you ensure adequate system security, and so on. With full control comes full responsibility. This, however, is not as onerous as it may sound. Many easy to use system administration tools are available and often these are supplied by the hosting company. Plesk, cPanel, and other hosting control panels ease the transition into system administration with a minimal learning curve.
2. You can break things, and when things break, you`re the one to fix them. Again, this sounds worse than the actual reality. Yes, you`re completely free to make trouble. But acting with care and deliberation will help you avoid 99% of the problems. It`s those who take a cowboy approach who cause issues, and unfortunately get the headlines.
3. Some old-fashioned gumption is required. Running a Windows VPS or a Linux VPS is not for the faint of heart. But then, neither is being in business, so chances are you don`t have this issue.
VPS hosting provides a significant step up in capability from shared hosting arrangements without the costs and difficulties of running your own hardware and software. There is some effort involved but it is easily managed, and you`ll be rewarded with better website performance, increased flexibility and resource availability, the freedom to run intensive applications, and the freedom to manage the virtual server to best support your business.
Are you ready to make the leap into better website performance and flexibility? VPS hosting may just be the next big move in empowering your business.