By Jerry Whitehead December 28, 2016, 7:40 PM
What’s the Difference Between a Dedicated Server, VPS, and Shared Hosting?
A lot goes into creating a successful website. There are the aspects that seem immediate and obvious. Having your content, calls to action, functional payment systems, and all of the other day to day customer facing assets are at the top of your list. But, what about your hosting environment? Is it up to the task of supporting your specific needs consistently with no lags in performance? If you’re unsure of the answer to that question, then it’s time to learn a bit more about what exactly you’re paying for every month when selecting your hosting plan. Unfortunately, one size does not fit all when it comes to hosting a site. This provides an added layer of decision-making when first getting your site off the ground, but once an initial decision is made, you shouldn’t have to worry about it again. That is, unless you’re forced to migrate after expanding due to your success. With the help of this guide, you should be able to make the right decision the first time and then not have to worry too much about your hosting again.
The three main types of hosting plans consist of shared hosting, VPS, and a dedicated server. Let’s break these three categories down.
Shared hosting is what one can consider a “starter kit” or something similar. Basically, many people cut their teeth putting up a site using a cheap shared hosting plan, but ultimately move on because shared hosting is so limited. If you’re planning on running an ecommerce site, don’t even look at shared hosting. Ecommerce sites are much too resource hungry and activity fluctuates too often. You’ll quickly hit the wall. Shared hosting is the slowest hosting solution because you’re sharing a finite pool of resources with every other account on the server. To put it simply, if your neighbor is seeing spikes in traffic or is doing something that requires a lot of bandwidth, you could feel the pain and experience slowdown.
That’s not to say no one should use shared hosting. It exists and is popular in its own right for a reason. Not everyone has an involved website that needs a high spec’d server. For a fairly static site that consists of a few pages, shared hosting would work fine. However, if you’re looking to do a WordPress installation or any other kind of site that has daily professional use, the following two options are probably a better choice for you.
Virtual private servers are a great middle of the road option that will probably meet the needs of most people that aren’t at either extreme of the resource hungry scale (static sites and large ecommerce ones). With a VPS, you’re no longer sharing a limited allotment of resources with every other person who is being hosted on the physical server you happen to be on. To be clear, there are other accounts on the machine, but each account has guaranteed resources. So, if the situation mentioned earlier happens (neighbor sees a spike in activity) you won’t suffer any negative effects because only your site’s activity will affect the performance of your VPS. A Cloud VPS can also offer some creative solutions to problems such as needing a desktop environment to remote into so you can work from anywhere or as a place to run specialized software.
A dedicated server is the most robust and powerful hosting solution you can opt for generally. If shared hosting is like an apartment in a six story complex, a dedicated server is your own house in the suburbs. To continue that analogy, it’s also the most expensive option. But don’t let that dissuade you from opting for a dedicated server if your needs call for one. Ecommerce sites with many products and high traffic would benefit greatly from being on a dedicated server. After all, it’s been documented that site speed plays a big part in a site’s success and conversion rate. It’s not just speed that you need to keep in mind either. If a hosting solution isn’t up to the task of powering your site, you can go offline or at a certain point visitors won’t be able to load the site due to overload.
Got all of that? It’s a lot of information and you still might have questions about what kind of plan it is, exactly, that you need to ensure your site operates at a satisfactory level on a consistent basis. After all, slow speeds and downtime cost you money. That’s why this decision is so important. At JaguarPC, we’ve been helping business owners and independent contractors set up high performing sites for years. Contact us today and we’ll help you make the right choice for your business’ hosting.