Shared Hosting vs VPS Hosting – Which Should You Choose?
So you’ve decided that you want to host a website to share your idea or business with the world. Before you can get your site off the ground, you need to choose a suitable hosting plan.
When choosing a hosting package it’s important to know which options are available, and which of those plans will be most suited to the type of website you’re hosting. Each type of hosting comes with it’s upsides and downsides, so in order to make an informed decision you should weigh each option. It’s also important to consider any changes you might make in the future, such as upgrading your website to facilitate more users – if this is the case, you should choose a hosting plan which will accommodate this change in the future.
What Is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting is the most popular form of web hosting for several reasons.
With shared hosting, multiple websites are hosted on the same physical server, with users sharing system resources. Each account is set limits on how much resources they can use, in order to avoid one system using too much resources.
Think of this as sharing a house with housemates – they each take up a certain amount of space, use a certain amount of electricity, and contribute to rent and bills at the end of the month. The compromise you make when giving up some of your space in the house is offset by the cost you save with multiple people splitting the rent as opposed to paying it all yourself. Shared hosting is similar in this way.
Shared Hosting Benefits
The main benefit of shared hosting is the price. As the server space is shared, you’ll find that providers will offer shared hosting plans at very affordable prices. At UKHost4u, we offer shared hosting packages for as little as £1 per month (for the first 3 months).
Shared hosting is usually fully scalable – so if you need more storage space or memory for your website, upgrading to a better package is simple and stress-free. If you’re starting on a basic package, this gives you lots of room for growth.
Ease of use is a big factor for many, which is another reason why shared hosting is so popular. Shared hosting packages typically come with a simple management interface such as cPanel, which allows you to easily customize and configure anything in your hosting account – from website files to email accounts, and everything in between.
A final major benefit of choosing a shared hosting package is that you don’t need to carry out your own technical maintenance like you might do on a dedicated package with some providers. Server maintenance is usually included, so you can let your hosting provider take care of the technical side of things while you focus on your website.
Shared Hosting downsides
As good as shared hosting sounds, it certainly does have some drawbacks.
The biggest limitation of shared hosting is the performance. Since you’re using a single server with resources shared amongst all accounts, if any technical issues arise, or if one account uses a huge amount of resources, you may find that your website slows down or performs worse.
If your website goes viral and you receive a surge of traffic, you might find that your website significantly slows down. The reason for this is that shared hosting packages aren’t designed to accommodate large amounts of traffic, and as a result this can affect performance. If another customer’s website on your server experiences a very high amount of traffic this can also affect your website’s performance.
For many, the price point outweighs the downsides and upgrading to a better package can also help alleviate these downsides.
What Is VPS Hosting?
VPS Hosting can be considered a stepping stone between a shared hosting plan and a dedicated server plan.
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a virtualized server, hosted on portion of a physical dedicated server. A VPS acts as a fully dedicated server, with it’s own operating system, storage, memory and bandwidth. This means that a VPS can act like a dedicated server, at a lower cost than a dedicated server.
VPS Hosting benefits
The most important benefit of VPS hosting over shared hosting is the significant increase in resources. VPS plans typically provide much more storage space, memory, and bandwidth over shared hosting packages.
This provides you with the optimal performance regardless of traffic – if you have a surge of traffic to your website, performance won’t suffer like on a shared hosting platform. SSD drives are common and also dramatically improve load times.
In turn, the greater performance of a VPS server will give your website the stability and reliability your visitors will be looking for, especially in an Ecommerce environment. With downtime costing businesses a huge amount, it’s easy to see why many choose the superior resources of VPS hosting.
VPS hosting comes with a level of scalability, so downgrading or upgrading your setup is easy. This is another reason why many choose VPS hosting over dedicated hosting – hardware changes are problematic with dedicated servers.
If you have some technical knowledge and are looking to customize your server, you’ll be happy to know that VPS hosting provides a greater level of customization compared to shared hosting. You will typically have access to a hosting control panel and this will be highly customizable – giving you complete control over your hosting environment.
Last but not least, VPS hosting is significantly cheaper than dedicated hosting, while providing much of the same services. If you don’t need a physical machine, or the best-of-the-best hardware, then VPS hosting is a highly affordable alternative to dedicated hosting.
VPS Hosting Downsides
One of the downsides of VPS hosting compared to shared hosting is the cost. Compared to shared hosting plans, you can expect to pay much more for a VPS package. This can be a turn off for some, but for many businesses and small to medium sized companies it can be affordable.
Another major downside is the technical knowledge required to maintain your server and customize the configuration. If you plan on having a complicated setup you may need someone with a lot of technical expertise or even a system’s administrator, as access to the provider’s support team may not be sufficient for complex issues.
When Should You Choose Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting is suitable for the following uses:
- A starter website for testing or personal use
- A simple WordPress blog
- A basic informational website
- A small personal portfolio
In all of these situations you won’t be receiving massive amounts of traffic, and your resource usage will be minimal.
When SHould You Choose VPS Hosting?
VPS Hosting is suitable for the following uses:
- An Ecommerce platform for selling products
- A heavy Content Management System such as Magento
- A website with heavy traffic and many complex user actions
- A custom setup with high resource requirements