When you’re buying hosting from a provider rather than running your own servers, you typically have three different options to choose from: shared hosting, virtual private server, or dedicated hosting. But how do you choose between these options? The choice really comes down to important factors like loading speed, minimizing downtime, and how much control you want over your server’s performance. We hope this post will help you make the right decision for your website.
Shared hosting is the most popular option, by far. It effectively means that you’re sharing server space with other websites.
It works the same was as multiple apps running on a computer. The computer usually doesn’t need to run all apps at the same time. Instead, certain apps are called up at certain times and CPU is distributed accordingly. For most small- and even mid-sized business websites, this is plenty of bandwidth.
Of course, the analogy above also makes apparent the potential pitfalls of shared hosting. In cases when the servers are thinly stretched because of overall increases in activity (think: Cyber Monday shopping), or in cases where your particular website gets slammed with a ton of traffic (think: you’re featured on Oprah), you might experience performance issues due to the inherent nature of how shared hosting works.
Virtual Private Server
Virtual Private Server hosting is based on the same fundamentals as shared hosting, but with one key difference: a certain portion of the server’s resources are dedicated to your website. This can be customized to your needs, but the point is that it guarantees a certain level of performance because you’re not trying to use the same resources with other sites. Having dedicated CPU for your site also means you’ll be better equipped to deal with sudden increases of traffic.
If you run a website that experiences large amounts of traffic or is resource-intensive (think: lots of data-crunching), your best hosting choice will likely be a dedicated server. This is effectively the same thing as having a server room at your business location, but without the hassle of maintaining the equipment yourself—the server is remote, but it is entirely dedicated to your needs. That means you have a certain amount of guaranteed resources (like VPS), but because the server is entirely yours, it also means you have the ability to run unique configurations that you may not be able to do with hosting options that require sharing with others.
In terms of security, dedicated servers also offer the best options. As much as shared and VPS option have features that sequester sites and attempt to prevent one from infecting the others, the safest is to have your own space (and set your own security settings too). Last but not least, VPS and dedicated server solutions also tend to come with higher levels of customer service from the hosting company, which translates to the ability to reach someone very quickly about any potential issues.
It’s hard to come up with rules of thumb about which option you should go with. One way to think about it? If you’re getting fewer than 10,000 visitors a month, you’re probably ok with shared hosting (unless you have other special needs). Anything up to 100,000, can likely be managed with VPS. Anything above that will likely need dedicated hosting for the best performance.
Thankfully, by working with a hosting company, you can easily switch from these options as the needs of your website change. If you’re just starting out, your best bet is probably to do shared hosting, unless you’re doing something that’s resource-intensive. Then, as your business grows, if you’re not happy with the performance, you can upgrade to virtual private servers and see if that fulfills your needs, or if dedicated server is the ultimate solution you need.
Have special requirements for hosting your site? Contact us to discuss your options!