By Jason Chow
One of the key elements in your digital presence is your website and that sits on top of a web hosting solution. Theoretically, your web hosting package is the foundation of your site. Choosing the right hosting package can be a challenge especially with the multiple types available offered by so many hosts.
Today we will look at some of the differences between shared and VPS hosting to see what each of these are more suitable for.
What is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting packages are the most basic buy-ins to the world of web hosting. They are commonly available and usually start from prices as low as even a dollar a month. The main thing you need to know about shared web hosts is that you are basically placing your website on the same space that is housing possibly hundreds of other websites. Think of it as living in a high-density condo that houses hundreds of other families at the same time.
All these sites are sharing the resources of a single server. For example, if the server has 128GB of RAM, that 128GB needs to be shared in slices among all the sites the server is covering. Depending on how many sites the host squeezes onto a single server, this might affect the amount of resources available to your site, affecting its performance.
If you’re looking into shared web hosting, make sure that you check the available amount of resources your shared server will have and ask how many accounts the host will pack on to each server if possible.
Because of that congestion, shared host sites are often exposed to vulnerabilities which other sites there might have. If a site has its files infected, that malware may try to infect the files of other sites it can reach–possibly yours.
In terms of administrative overhead, shared hosting is perhaps the easiest to handle since your host will deal with all server-related issues. This includes server-side software and hardware upgrades, maintenance and administration.
Do be aware though, that not all shared hosting is equal. There are hosts who are more reputable, offer better deals or are simply more reliable than others. I recommend you do some web host comparison shopping before you take up the first great deal you see.
What is VPS Hosting?
VPS hosting offers users a middle ground between shared hosting and having to own a dedicated server. Using VPS hosting means that you still reside on the same physical server as other sites, but in your own virtual space.
Like the apartment building association I did under shared hosting, in VPS it would be like you have your own floor on the condo, services by its own staircase and elevator only for you. This makes those resources exclusively for your use alone.
Resources such as memory and processor time are dedicated to your account and those won’t go to other accounts even if you are not fully utilizing them. This means that your site can perform more reliably and won’t be affected when other sites are using high amounts of their own resources.
Security increases as well because you are siloed in your own private space. Most VPS hosting also offer more robust security features such as high availability and disaster recovery. You won’t get the best of everything like a dedicated server will offer, but it is much better than shared hosting.
One more reason to use shared hosting is if you are keeping any personal data on your account. This means private information of your website users, such as name, address, email and so forth. Users entrusting sensitive information such as this will almost always require better security from your end as a matter of principal.
Of course, along with these enhanced features comes and enhanced price tag. Expect to look at prices which are higher than shared hosting but cheaper than dedicated hosting.
Another thing to be mindful of is that unless you opt for a managed VPS account you will need to be ready with some form of technical expertise to manage your virtual server. Some technical matters may require quite extensive skills and unless your host is willing to offer support you may end up paying for a dedicated system administrator.
Which Is Right for Me?
As a rule of thumb, many people will consider the needs of their website when deciding which web host to opt for.
If you are making your first few steps into the world of web hosting and have little experience, I highly recommend you look towards shared hosting initially. This will require a much lower investment and take the onus off you in technical requirements.
Small site owners who have limited traffic (500 or fewer visitors per day) will also benefit from the lower fees associated with shared web hosting.
Once you’re better established and are used to the nuances of web hosting then you can consider a VPS hosting plan. Ideally, project your site traffic growth based on your current rate of growth with a few allowances and prepare for such a move ahead of time.