For a lot of companies, they don't think much about what goes on behind the scenes of their website or their SaaS logins. They just expect everything to run. When you're running a small e-commerce site, this is probably fine. But as your site starts to grow, you may find that your speeds are slowing down. Customers may complain that it takes a long time for objects on your site to load. This may be a sign that your website is starting to outgrow its hosting. So what does that mean?
Basically, there are different ways to host a website
– or a software-as-a-service portal. Shared hosting is what the average user gets when they sign up for a basic website or blog. A dedicated server is a server owned and used exclusively by a company. Sometimes these are off-site, but they are often hosted on-site by a company. Shared hosting is often very inexpensive; a dedicated server is often expensive, and if run on-site tends to need an IT team to manage it.
A virtual private server is an intermediate step that can be perfect for a growing business, either for the company that needs a more robust option for its website or e-commerce platform, or for a SaaS startup that’s looking for the best platform to get started. What’s the difference between shared hosting and VPS?
On the surface, shared hosting and VPS
seem similar. They both run on servers that are being used by multiple users and companies. So what's the difference?
With shared hosting, everyone accessing anything hosted on the server is competing for the same resources. If one website is having a busy traffic day, it can utilize all the available resources, causing bottlenecks and slowdowns on other sites. Alternatively, if a website needs more resources than its allowed to use, it can be throttled, causing it to slow down.
With a VPS, multiple users share a server, but it is divided up into “containers” of sorts. Each virtual server is private; no other server can use those resources. This allows each website or SaaS platform to maintain its speeds and resources. VPS makes right-sizing your business easy
With shared hosting, your ability to get more resources when you need them is very limited. And with a dedicated server, many small-to-medium sized businesses will end up with more resources than they need, wasting money. With a virtual private server, companies can get the resources they need. If they know ahead of time they’re going to need more RAM or space
for an upcoming event, they can add that and move forward, then let the resource go when it is no longer needed. A VPS can expand with your business. VPS gives you a safer environment
When you’re using shared hosting, one danger is that if one website is infected or damaged, then the damage can spread to the server, and from there to other sites on the network. With a VPS, this can’t happen, since each server is within its own private container.
The VPS also gives you more space to play as a developer, since it is essentially a virtual sandbox environment. Setting everything to default is easy. This is very different than a dedicated server, where mistakes can end up damaging the servers in significant ways. Get tech help, or manage it on your own
Depending on how comfortable you are with networking technology, you can decide whether or not you want to get tech support on your VPS. Many companies that offer VPS hosting also offer managed plans; they may help you get all the software you need set up, trouble shoot problems if they occur, and help you with updates or other details.
If you’re fairly comfortable with networking systems
, however, you could choose to manage the virtual private server on your own. This is less complicated than dealing with a dedicated server, but still more complex than shared hosting. You install your own software, manage your own resources, and make sure that all the potential problems are solved. Does my business need a virtual private server?
It’s tough knowing exactly when a business should switch to a VPS from shared hosting. Companies need to consider:
- How much customization is necessary for their programs and software to run smoothly?
- Are customers experiencing lag or other delays that are happening server side?
- Is a business potentially losing profits because customers are leaving for competitor sites?
- Can the company afford to either hire someone to manage the VPS on an as-needed basis, hire a permanent IT person, or choose a managed option from a VPS company? Can they handle the IT needs themselves?
If the answer to most or all of these questions is yes, then it’s probably time to move to a VPS.