When it comes to choosing the right kind of hosting packages for your website, you’re going to have a lot of different options to choose from.

Not only do you have to find a quality hosting provider, but you have to decide between a multitude of hosting types as well.

You’ll have a lot of things to consider:

  • The hosting features that your site requires
  • The scalability of your web hosting environment
  • The level of server resources you require
  • If your traffic levels are rising quickly
  • If you require any unique server software
  • And a lot more

One of the most common forms of hosting you’ve come across in your search is VPS hosting.

Below we breakdown what VPS hosting is, how it works, and the pros and cons, so you can decide if this style of hosting is going to be the best fit for your needs.

By the end of this post you’ll be able to answer the question, “Do I need VPS hosting?” with a resounding yes or no. 

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What Is VPS Hosting?

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. That might give you a couple of clues as to what this type of hosting is all about.

First, we’ll start on the “server” portion. A server is essentially a big computer that’s used to store website files. When you purchase any kind of web hosting you’re renting server space from a hosting company who runs hundreds or thousands of servers, known as a datacenter.

When someone types the URL of your website into their browser, the browser will communicate with the server and display your website’s files. All of this happens in a fraction of a second.

To understand the virtualized aspect of a virtual private server, let’s compare it to a few other forms of hosting packages.

With shared hosting, you’re renting a portion of a server, which you split with other users.

With dedicated hosting, you’re renting an entire physical server that’s entirely dedicated to your site.

VPS hosting acts as a combination between the two. Your virtual server will pull from multiple different shared server environments, but it’s entirely private, so it operates similar to a dedicated server.

You’ll have access to a greater level of server resources, improve website performance, higher levels of security, and a lot more. You’ll learn more about the advantages of VPS hosting below. 

How Does VPS Hosting Work?

As you learned above, the virtualization aspect of VPS is one of the biggest differentiating factors between VPS and other types of hosting. Instead of a physical server being divided up into tons of shared server environments, it’s broken down into a handful of virtual servers.

So, yes you’re still technically sharing a physical server environment. But, there are much higher privacy protocols in place, so any other VPS hosting users will never affect your ist in any way.

The virtualization aspect works to create a virtual dedicated server. 

This gives your site advantages like:

  • Better site performance. With a VPS server, you’ll have access to a guaranteed level of server resources, so you can always expect the same level of high performance. 
  • Higher security standards. Your server will be completely isolated from other websites, and you can implement stricter security firewalls and the like. 
  • Greater server customization and access. With a VPS server, you have direct root server access, with greater control over server OS, scripts, and more.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of VPS hosting.

Pros of VPS Hosting

For some website owners, VPS hosting will be their dream hosting setup. It offers your website a great blend of server performance, security, and control, all in an affordable server package. 

Here are some of the biggest advantages to VPS hosting: 

1. High Level of Server Resource Access

With a VPS server, you’re guaranteed greater access to server resources. This means higher levels of storage, bandwidth, CPU, RAM, and more. Plus, access to the resources spelled out in your hosting plan is guaranteed.

Sometimes, if you’re on a shared hosting plan you might notice a drop in site performance due to other sites on the same server. With VPS hosting this will never be the case.

So, not only are the plan limits much larger. But, you’ll always have these resources available and dedicated to your site alone. 

2. Greater Flexibility and Control

When you choose VPS hosting, you’re giving yourself greater server access and customization options. Essentially, you’re less limited with VPS vs. shared hosting when it comes to what you can do with your server. 

Using a VPS gives you more server customization options right out of the gate, plus the ability to customize your server down the road. For example, with most VPS hosts you’ll have a choice of operating system, as well as the type of software you’d like to install on your server.

Most VPS plans will also give you SSH access, which is secure direct server access. Some users might not require this, but for those that do, this will be invaluable. 

3. More Affordable than Dedicated Hosting

If you want some of the benefits offered by a dedicated server, but don’t quite have the budget for it, then VPS can be a great choice. 

Sure, technically VPS isn’t the same as a dedicated server, but it operates in mostly the same way.

Basically, with VPS hosting, you’re getting a lot of the performance and the features of a dedicated server, but without the high associated costs. 

Plus, by configuring your site to run on a VPS server now, you’ll gain the understanding you need if you ever do decide to upgrade to a dedicated server. When that day comes, you’ll have a leg up in terms of the learning curve.  

4. More Scalable by Nature

If you ran into the limits of your shared hosting plan, then you’re probably looking for a form of hosting that will grow with you as your site grows.

VPS hosting is pretty scalable, meaning you can add more server resources if your site requires it. Plus, VPS servers can be quite large, so they can support very large and fast growing websites. 

Now, it isn’t as instantly scalable as cloud hosting. But, it’s still scalable, you’ll just need to notify your hosting company about the increase before you hit your plan limits. 

Cons of VPS Hosting

VPS hosting is a very popular form of hosting for those who want a hybrid blend between shared and dedicated hosting. But, it still won’t be the perfect form of hosting for everyone.

Here are some of the biggest drawbacks to VPS hosting you’ll want to be aware of: 

1. Requires More Technical Expertise

VPS hosting isn’t technically advanced, but it does require more tech skills than a basic shared hosting plan. Shared hosting is built from the ground up for beginners and the intuitive nature of shared hosting reflects that.

When you sign up for VPS hosting it’s generally assumed that you have more experience with your site. At the very least you should be comfortable with the backend of your server. 

If you want to do more advanced things with your server, then you might have to hire out the necessary technical help. 

2. More Expensive than Shared Hosting

VPS hosting doesn’t usually fall into the “expensive” hosting category. But, if you’re upgrading to VPS from a shared hosting plan, then get ready for a price increase. 

With the additional costs of VPS hosting, you will be getting access to a higher quality server, along with greater plan limits, great server performance, and improve security. But, it will come at a cost. 

Be aware that if you require a higher performing style of hosting, then you’ll have to pay for it. 

But, when looking at the feature set you have access to, compared to the overall price, it does end up being a pretty good deal. 

Reasons to Upgrade to VPS Hosting

If your site has been experiencing any of the issues below, then it might be time to consider VPS hosting. 

Here are some of the most common reasons website owners decide to upgrade to VPS hosting:

1. Your Site is Loading Slowly

There are a number of reasons for your site to be loading slowly. But, if you’ve taken the time to optimize your site performance and you’re still dealing with very slow loading times, then it might be time to upgrade your host.

It could be an issue with your traffic levels (covered below), RAM consumption, server storage issues, or something else altogether. 

By migrating to VPS, you’ll give your site support for higher traffic levels, along with more storage to effectively store your site’s files. 

2. Your Traffic Levels are on the Rise

Shared hosting is meant for websites that don’t get much traffic. But, as your traffic levels grow, then you’ll also start to demand more from your web host. If you notice an upward trend in your traffic levels, then it might be worth upgrading your hosting.

Rising traffic levels mean greater server resources consumption, so to avoid slow loading times, and even server crashes, it’s smart to upgrade sooner rather than later. 

3. You Want a More Secure Host

Keeping your site secure is one of the most important things you can do. Right out of the box, VPS hosting plans offer you higher levels of security.

A VPS website security checker will include improved firewalls, dedicated malware scans, monitoring, along with improved website backups (in case something goes wrong).

Plus, your site will be operating in a completely isolated server environment, so you’ll never be impacted by other sites. 

What to Look for in a VPS Host

If you’re the type of site owner who could benefit from VPS hosting, then you’ll also need to ensure you choose a VPS web host that offers the features you require, and the quality you need. 

Here are some of the key features to look for in a VPS hosting provider: 

Sufficient Storage and Bandwidth

When choosing a VPS plan make sure the plans you’re looking at have sufficient CPU, RAM, disk space, and bandwidth. 

Server Security Features

VPS hosting should have a very high level of security. Look for features like DDoS attack protection, multiple firewalls, along with regular offsite backups, in case a full website restore is needed. 

Knowledgeable Support

A quality support team is a must-have. Look for a VPS host that offers multiple support channels, speedy response times, and technical team members who can help you through tough website or server issues. 

High Reliability

Reliability is how often your site is online. The industry standard is above 99%, which seems high, but remember that any time your site is offline can be actually losing your site money. Ideally, a VPS host should offer you an uptime around 99.99%.

Quality Server Hardware

The quality of your VPS server depends on the physical server hardware along with the network. Keep an eye out for Intel processors, and RAID drives. On the network side, you’ll want a fully redundant network that’s built with no single point of failure.

Of course, there are probably many more features that you’ll require. But, at the very least, keep an eye out on the hosting plan features highlighted above. 

So, Do I Need VPS Hosting Services?

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how VPS hosting works, the types of sites VPS is used for, and the benefits it can bring your website.

VPS hosting services  aren’t right for everyone. But website owners who have rising traffic levels, are currently experiencing slow loading speeds, or want a higher level of security, can all benefit from VPS hosting.

Finally, you should consider if you have the technical means to manage your own VPS account. It will be more intensive than what it took to configure your shared server—especially if you’re running any custom server elements. 

If you’re looking for very high levels of performance and demand the best for your site, VPS hosting delivers.

Do you need VPS hosting services? Trust your site to a VPS hosting provider that checks all of the above boxes and more. Explore your VPS hosting options with HostGator.

Kevin Wood writes about technology and human potential. You can find him at his virtual homes Wooden Writing and Counter Culturist.