Do You Need Shared Hosting, a VPS or a Dedicated Server

Posted at June 24, 2014 at 3:47 pm by admin

Whether you’re just starting a brand new website or you’ve got an established and successful site up and running, you’ll need to make sure you are always using the proper web hosting.  There are three main categories of web hosting, which are shared hosting, Virtual Private Servers (VPS), and dedicated server(s).  Within each category, there are several different levels of service to choose from as well.

Before you make any decisions, it is important to have a good understanding of what each of these types of hosting are, and a little bit about how they work.  From there, you can evaluate your specific needs based on a variety of factors about your site.

What is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is a service provided by hosting companies where multiple customers host their websites on a single web server.  Each customer is given a partition of the server where they can upload their website files, and edit them as needed.  The partitions also help to ensure that the different customers can only access their own files, and not the files of other people on the same server

The web hosting company will manage the hardware of the server, including monitoring it to ensure there are not any problems, performing any necessary upgrades, and replacing any parts when problems arise.  In addition, they will manage the software of the system to ensure the traffic coming into that server is directed to the right website.  There are many benefits to shared hosting, including the following:

  • Price – Since several individuals are all using the same physical hardware, the cost of this service is quite inexpensive.  In most cases, shared web hosting can be purchased for under $5 per month.  Here at Interserver, you can get high quality shared hosting for just $3.96 per month when you pay in advance.
  • Minimal Technical Knowledge Required – Since the web hosting company handles all the technical requirements, you really don’t have to be an IT expert to get your site up and running properly.  Even for basic technical things like entering name servers, the hosting company will provide detailed instructions on how to do it.
  • Rapid Setup – Since this type of hosting is used primarily for people who operate standard websites, there is no advanced setup required.  You can typically have your hosting up and ready to go in well under an hour.

For most people, there are only two real downsides to shared hosting.  The first is that eventually, your site may ‘outgrow’ the resources offered by the shared server.  When this happens, your site may begin to operate slowly or have other issues.  Fortunately, upgrading to a VPS or dedicated server is quite simple.  The other downside is that you have limited control over the server itself, because you are sharing the resources with other sites. All the customers are under the same operating system, which means what is done to one customer can have an effect on the others.

What is a Virtual Private Server (VPS)

A VPS is essentially a cross between shared hosting and a dedicated server.  Several customers will share the same physical hardware, but rather than sharing one operating system, each customer gets their own OS installed.

From the point of view of the customer, it appears as though they have their own dedicated server, even though in reality they don’t.  Another benefit to the VPS is that hosting companies typically only put a few customers on each physical server (depending on the hardware specs of the server).  Since the customer has their own operating system installed on the server, they will enjoy much more control over how it is set up and operates.  Some key benefits of a VPS include:

  • Price – A VPS is still going to be significantly less expensive than a dedicated server, though quite a bit more than shared hosting.
  • Control – When you have a VPS you can typically install any web applications or other software onto your virtual server.  You are also able to reboot your server any time you would like, since it won’t affect the other customers on the server.
  • Power – Rather than sharing resources with other customers, you are allocated a set amount of resources from the server that will be dedicated to your account.  When you sign up for a VPS you can typically choose how much hard disk space you need, how much memory, and even how much of the CPU you will need to utilize.
  • Upgradability – Since your VPS is assigned resources, you can often upgrade on the fly.  If you find that your site is growing to the point where you need more memory, for example, you can work with the hosting company to allocate the additional memory needed.

For many people, the VPS is the perfect solution for running sites that either need more resources, or more control than a typical site normally would. Since you can negotiate the exact technical specs you need, it is possible to operate sites that get a high amount of traffic, while still saving a lot of money.  The only potential down side is that you may need some level of technical understanding if you want to make specific changes.  Of course, you can always request technical support to help you along the way.

What is a Dedicated Server?

The highest level of web hosting is the dedicated server.  With this type of solution you will essentially be leasing an entire server to run your website.  Since you’re not sharing any of the resources with any other customers, you will have full control over how you want the server to operate.

Within this category, you can choose from a wide range of different hardware specs based on your specific requirements.  Web hosting companies like InterServer have some servers available for rapid deployment, but if you need a custom build, that is often an option as well.  You’ll enjoy the following benefits if you choose to go with a dedicated server:

  • High End Power – Since the entire server is dedicated only to your site, or sites, you will enjoy the full computing power of all the resources on the server.
  • Customizable – If you ever find that you need more resources, you can pay to have your server upgraded at any time.  If necessary, it is even possible to use two or more dedicated servers to operate a single site.
  • Absolute Control – Since you are essentially leasing the full server, you can set it up and configure it in any way you desire.  Most people who go with a dedicated server manage the entire system themselves, and only rely on the web hosting company for housing the server and managing the hardware and internet lines.

The two biggest problems people have with dedicated servers is that they can be quite expensive, and that you need to have the technical ability to configure and operate it properly.  When sites get to the point where they require this type of solution, however, these types of concerns aren’t typically going to cause any issues.

Which One is Right for You?

There are a number of different things to consider when deciding which level of hosting you will need.  Some of the most important factors to consider are the following:

  • Number of Visitors – Even shared hosting can handle a large number of visitors per day.  The issues can come in if the majority of your visitors come in at the same time of the day.  Handling thousands of people at once will cause you to overload your shared hosting.  The real issue with visitors, however, is actually with the next point, database queries.
  • Number of Database Queries – When it comes to traffic related hosting issues, most of them are caused by the number of queries the visitors are making.  If each page on your site makes multiple queries per visitor, it can get overloaded.
  • Database Size – As you add more content to your site, your database will grow.  The bigger it gets, the more resources are required to pull each piece of data.
  • Number of Items Loaded per Page – Each file that is displayed on your page requires your web hosting server to process the request and serve it.  Every picture, video, audio file and others require their own requests to the server, so if your pages are graphically intense, for example, it may cause issues.

When you look at the stats of your website, you can get the information you need to decide what type of server you require.  If you’re not familiar with this type of information, you can pull logs and ask the technical team at InterServer to review them and make a recommendation.

For most people, however, a shared hosting solution is sufficient for their websites.  VPS accounts are only really needed for very busy sites, or those where a lot of resource intensive activity is being performed (such as forums or video sharing).  Dedicated servers are only needed by the largest sites, so unless you are quite sure that this is what you need, the chances are you can go with a shared or VPS solution.  No matter which option you choose, always remember that this isn’t a permanent choice.  You can upgrade, or downgrade at any time by simply submitting a request to your support team.

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2 Responses to “Do You Need Shared Hosting, a VPS or a Dedicated Server”

  1. himagain says:

    Thank you for a nice introduction to the hosting options, but as a good example of your target audience, what us tyros need to know is “the numbers”.
    What volume of traffic is pertinent to type of Server, vis:
    Shared: good for x thousands of visitors per week AND max per hour. (I learned this the hard way)
    VPS:good for x thousands of visitors per week AND max per hour.

    All of my experience has been with Shared Sites for many years and often the experience was not good: Overloaded Servers, sharing with finks, Service collapsing under stress and of course, Host business failing. Not to mention “shared” IP punishments.

    VPS sounds great. I’ve put it off for years because they ARE hard to set up and even harder to manage, but do offer far greater safety and stability for the few of us (true) who seriously try to make a living out there.
    But, not for tyros, I think now.

    Still, with the new Shared Server protection offered by Interserver (the best performer ISP I’ve finally found after years of mainly bad experiences) and the great idea of only 50% Server loads, I think I might get serious with a Shared Hosting Deal -or 2- and let the Interserver crew worry about my safety. 🙂

    • Bill Popaj says:

      Hello himagain, I am glad you enjoyed reading the introduction to our hosting options. In regards to your questions about “the numbers”, we have some answers. While we can’t provide specific numbers because of the delicacy that a shared environment offers, I can provide details that makes InterServers Shared Hosting platform super reliable.

      InterServer Shared Hosting handles more traffic than most other hosts using the following:
      1) LiteSpeed web-servers that offer better performance than other web-servers, and securely runs PHP with opcache enabled on all accounts.
      2) Increased real path cache in PHP on ALL accounts.
      3) Addon domain isolation within cPanel.
      4) Cloud Linux to add security and prevent a domain from overloading the server
      5) Raid10 for speed, and mysql on SSD drives (All newer servers run purely on SSD hardware)

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