Running a business is the sum total of the decisions business owners and managers make on a daily basis. In the Internet Age where a web presence is no longer optional, choosing the right hosting provider is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as an entrepreneur. The two most popular plans for small business are shared hosting plans and virtual private server (VPS) plans.
Under a shared hosting plan, your website shares server resources with tens, hundreds and even thousands of sites. In a VPS plan, your site still shares the physical server with other sites but a fixed amount of hard disk, RAM, processor and bandwidth resources are exclusively dedicated to your site (for example, see www.accuwebhosting.com/vps-hosting/windows).
Neither the shared or VPS plan is inherently superior. The suitability of each will depend on your requirements. It’s therefore important that you understand how the two types of plans measure up when evaluated against key success factors.
1. Server Resources
Sites on a shared hosting plan have to split between themselves server resources on a first come first served basis. VPS-based sites have their own dedicated space.
Based on its configuration, the shared plan naturally means your website can run into problems when the maximum available RAM, CPU and network resources are exhausted by other sites on the same server. If one of the sites server experiences a sudden and sustained surge in traffic, this will impair the performance of other users on the server.
With VPS hosting, you have greater control over the resources assigned to you and don’t have to worry about someone else eating into your resource space. If you run a small, basic website with low traffic, a shared hosting plan would be appropriate. If you have substantial visitor traffic that’s also growing fairly fast, VPS would be best.
Naturally, the more resources that are available to your website, the better its performance. VPS has a distinct advantage in this regard. Your website is not battling other sites for resources so you are free to stretch the resources you’ve signed up for to their limit.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t necessarily mean that VPS hosting always results in higher performance than shared hosting. Shared hosting can work fairly well depending on what efficiency-enhancing technologies your hosting service provider has put in place such as a CDN, caching software and SSDs.
If you are looking for the lowest priced plan, shared hosting is the clear winner. Since you are sharing system resources with thousands of other sites, the cost of operations can be split among these sites to take advantage of the economies of scale. VPS hosting comes with more features and flexibility so it’s no surprise that you are going to pay more for it.
As with any financial decision though, you have to balance your expenditure on hosting against the value you truly need. You do not need to spend money on functionality that will be of no benefit to you.
4. Server Administration
Other than affordability, the other key reason many small businesses opt for shared plans is that the technical work of running the server is left with the hosting service provider. The user’s role is limited to uploading and maintaining their website. As business, you’ll therefore not need to hire IT staff for this role.
On the other hand, the flexibility of VPS hosting also comes with the burden of managing server resources yourself. You’ll have to hire or designate a system administrator who will ensure the server runs smoothly. The advantage of this level of control is that you can configure the underlying applications as needed in order to improve performance.
Web hosting has come a long way security-wise. Credible hosting providers have elaborate procedures to ensure the security of their customers. Nevertheless, no host can guarantee 100 percent security. Some of the largest and best protected sites in the world have succumbed to a security breach.
On shared hosting plans, a common security problem is the Noisy Neighbor phenomenon. This means that if one of the websites on the shared server runs into security problems, it could affect all other sites on the same machine.
With VPS hosting you at least have a dedicated space whose security you can control. Nevertheless, in the event of a security incident, your web host may not come to your aid with the same level of urgency as they would with sites on a shared server since the latter implies far more customers are affected.
Overall, your website and business needs should be the primary drivers of your decision to go with either shared hosting or VPS hosting.