VPS vs Dedicated Servers – Which should you choose?

When researching various hosting providers and plans to choose from, you will have probably come across many different kinds of hosting models such as cloud servers, dedicated servers, Virtual Private Servers (VPS), or shared hosting. While any of these plans would likely fulfill your needs, it’s still important to choose the service that would suit your requirements while not costing you too much.

Most starter websites would be suitable for a shared hosting plan, but if you’re hosting many websites, specialised applications, or you require a specific hosting environment, then you’re going to need something different.

In many scenarios this will leave you with two feasible options – VPS Hosting, or a Dedicated Server.

But before making a decision going forward with a hosting plan, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the differences between VPS hosting and a dedicated server, so that you can better understand which plan would be more suitable for you.

In this post we aim to explain what web hosting is, the differences between VPS Hosting and Dedicated Servers, and how to decide which type of hosting is more suitable for you.

An Introduction to Hosting

If we want to gain a better understanding of the differences between VPS plans and dedicated servers, we need to first comprehend the fundamentals of how web hosting itself works.

A web host is how and where your website lives. The way this works is your domain name gets assigned to a web hosting package which is actually server space. The server is owned by a hosting company who manages the server for you.

Web hosting is essentially the server space that a web host provides, which holds your website and allows users to access it over the internet.

Your web hosting account isn’t just limited to serving websites to visitors however. We find that many of our VPS and Dedicated Server customers implement applications, development work, or specialized software – instead of a website.

In other words, your web host provides your web hosting.

It’s important not to mix the two up, so here’s a distinction between the two:

  • A web host is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for your website to be viewed on the Internet.
  • Web hosting refers to the product of hosting itself, which is essentially rented space on a server in return for a monthly or annual fee.

Without web hosting, your website wouldn’t be accessible to the rest of the internet. Having a domain name and good web hosting is essential for any website to succeed.

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of web hosting, let’s go over exactly what VPS hosting and Dedicated Servers are.

What is VPS Hosting?

A Virtual Private Server, or VPS, is a virtual machine that gives all the features of a full dedicated server within a fully virtualized environment.

With a VPS server, there will be one physical controlling server, which is then separated into virtual partitions which can then be treated as individual systems. Each virtual server has it’s on resources, storage space, memory, and operating system. You can have a number of virtual private servers on one physical server and it is possible to have different operating systems for each VPS.

Customers can typically select the operating system, memory, storage capacity, and processing power of their VPS plan. This can then often be upgraded or downgraded at any time; since the physical hardware doesn’t need refitting, the resource limits can be easily and quickly changed.

VPS plans are an excellent choice for any growing business that combines the affordability of shared hosting with the improved features and benefits of dedicated hosting – without the higher costs and additional technical knowledge necessary. VPS plans don’t typically require much technical know-how, since the virtual server is configured by the hosting provider, so it’s often easier to use for beginners or teams who don’t have dedicated IT staff.

What is a Dedicated Server?

A dedicated server, as the name suggests, is a physical server that’s fully independent and separate from any other machines. 

Each dedicated server has its own physical hardware fitted in a server rack with root access provided to the customer renting the dedicated server. Every server has its own operating system, memory, storage space, processor, and network connection. There’s no sharing of resources or hardware with dedicated servers – each server is individual and separated from other customers, with their own dedicated space in the data centre.

With a dedicated server you have full control over every aspect of the configuration, from the hardware that the system is built with, right down to the operating system it runs on. Dedicated servers are often custom built to meet customer specifications, although it’s common to see more standard configurations to choose from.

There are many scenarios which would require a dedicated server, due to the greater control and performance provided. Larger businesses with traffic-heavy websites and resource-intensive applications will very often choose a dedicated server, since other options are unlikely to meet their requirements. As performance is best on a dedicated server, many developers and organisations choose these plans.

VPS Hosting vs Dedicated Servers

Now that we’ve covered exactly what Virtual Private Servers and Dedicated Servers are, it’s time to take a look at the biggest and most important differences between the two.

To make this easier to understand, and to illustrate how the two types of hosting differ, we will be explaining the differences in terms of:

  • Cost
  • Security
  • Performance

So without further ado, let’s get into it!

Cost

Pricing is one of the biggest deciding factors when choosing which type of website to go with for your website. As a business, you don’t want to be spending more than you have to on web hosting. However, it’s important to bear in mind that cheaper doesn’t always mean better! While you should take this into consideration, it’s not the only factor to consider when choosing a hosting plan. Remember though that the cost for any hosting plan will depend on the exact specifications and can vary greatly.

VPS hosting will often be offered at lower prices than a fully dedicated server. Due to the way a VPS is hosted, it doesn’t cost as much for a hosting provider to setup and maintain a virtual private server – as several virtual machines can be hosted on the same physical machine, configuration and maintenance costs are significantly lower, and these cost savings pass on to the customer.

Dedicated servers are typically among the most expensive hosting plans available, for several reasons. Since the hosting provider has to install the relevant hardware, configure the operating system, and set everything else up, it sets the provider back more than a simple VPS setup – making it inherently more expensive for the customer. As the hardware and rack space is fully separated from any other customers, you pay for the privilege of not sharing this with other customers and having the maximum performance possible.

Security

Security should be another major factor to consider when choosing which type of hosting to go for. As you may be aware, businesses around the world are being hacked daily, with many companies losing huge amounts of money due to this. Protecting yourself from malicious parties and vulnerabilities has never been more important than today. You don’t want to compromise on security and risk yourself being hacked!

Note that the security of each hosting plan will heavily depend on the hosting provider in question.

VPS servers are generally understood to be quite secure in web hosting. Since each virtual server isn’t linked to any underlying hardware as such, viruses and malware usually isn’t able to travel past a single account. If one virtual machine is infected with malware, this can be removed. With that said, the hypervisor (the software on the host node that controls each virtual server) can very occasionally be infected with malware or viruses. This is a small weakness though which is hardly ever exploited.

Dedicated servers are often considered to be the most secure type of hosting plan available commercially. Due to the customizable nature of dedicated servers, most will typically be fully secured, locked down, and protected against common malware and viruses. Unlike VPS plans, there’s no hypervisor in a dedicated server. With the right configuration, a dedicated server can be completely secure.

Performance

Performance should be one of the other key factors to consider when choosing your hosting plan. If you’re running a specialised application, traffic or resource heavy website, or require the fastest speeds, then you’ll want to weigh all of the options before making a choice. The last thing you want is to be stuck with the wrong plan that doesn’t fulfill your needs!

VPS hosting is significantly better than your standard shared hosting plan used by most businesses. As each virtual server has it’s own resources, you won’t need to share memory, processing power, or storage with other customers – in a sense. The biggest difference between VPS hosting and Dedicated hosting in terms of performance however, is that the VPS performance will depend on how powerful the host node is. Technically resources on the host node will also be shared with other VPS machines – although not in the same manner as with accounts on a shared server.

Dedicated hosting provides the best performance you can buy in web hosting. Since every dedicated server has it’s hardware completely separated and independent resources, you don’t need to make any compromises. You can choose to use the most up-to-date, powerful hardware available on your server, and most importantly – you don’t need to share these resources with anyone else at all. This means that a dedicated server can provide the best possible performance for most applications.

When should you choose VPS Hosting?

There are a number of scenarios where VPS hosting would be an ideal choice of hosting plan.

When you’re scaling up your company and you find yourself outgrowing the resources and performance offered with a shared hosting plan, a VPS choice would be a solid step up.

If your website or application requires a specific setup or software that shared hosting doesn’t offer, but you don’t want to invest in a full dedicated server, then you may also want to consider a VPS.

If you’re just looking to benefit from the higher level of performance that a VPS offers then you may also want to consider a VPS plan. Page load speeds are more important than ever so you may want a hosting plan that can offer that!

However if you require the maximum performance possible, large amounts of resources such as storage or bandwidth, or your own dedicated hardware – then a VPS plan might not be best for you.

When should you choose a Dedicated Server?

For many larger businesses, developers, or organisations, a dedicated server can be the only feasible option – for a variety of reasons.

If you need a high level of performance for your website or application, you may want to choose a dedicated server. A dedicated server allows you to choose the most powerful hardware for your machine, and benefit from the fastest speeds without having to share resources with other customers.

For massive amounts of traffic requiring lots of bandwidth, dedicated servers are also a great choice. Other hosting plans often simply don’t have the resources required to host large amounts of website visitors without losing performance.

If you don’t need the maximum performance and the best hardware though, or your website isn’t attracting millions of visitors, you probably don’t need a dedicated server.

Conclusion

VPS hosting and dedicated servers are designed for different purposes, and different audiences. We hope with this blog post, you can gain a better understanding of how each type of hosting works, which situations would require each type, and when you should choose VPS hosting or a dedicated hosting.

At UKHost4u we offer affordable VPS hosting plans, as well as a range of dedicated servers. Contact us any time to discuss your options!

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