Choosing the right kind of hosting for your website can seem like a complicated process. Not only do you have to sort through dozens of different hosting companies, but you also have to choose the right type of hosting as well. Two kinds of hosting you’ve probably come across in your search are shared hosting and VPS hosting.

These two types of hosting both meet the same end goal, ensuring you have a site live on the internet. But, they both have very different ways of accomplishing that goal.

However, it’s important that you choose the right kind of hosting solution for your site. By choosing the right type of hosting you’ll make your life as a website owner much easier. 

Below you’ll learn about shared vs VPS hosting, what makes them different, along with their unique advantages and disadvantages, so you can choose the right kind of hosting for your website. 

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What Is Shared Hosting?

Before we can do a comparison, it’s important that we first explain what shared hosting is and what it means for the website owner. Shared hosting is the most common form of hosting in existence today. Due to its low cost and beginner-friendly features it’s most commonly used by those who are building out their very first websites. 

Shared hosting is so cheap because you’re sharing server resources with hundreds or even thousands of other users. By splitting the overall cost of server resources you’ll be able to get a hosting solution at a much cheaper rate.

Each individual on the same shared server is given a set amount of disc space, server memory, CPU, and more. 

Think of it as a shared family desktop computer. Overall, the cost is cheaper than getting every member of your family their own laptop and every person in your household will have access to the machine. 

However, even though you’re using the same physical computer you can create your own user profile and install whatever apps and programs you wish. Still, since every person in your home is using the same machine, you’ll be using the same storage space, even if the desktop is split up into multiple user accounts.  

Shared hosting is a solid entry-level option due to price alone. However, most users will outgrow shared hosting eventually. If the volume of traffic your site receives continues to grow you’ll want to upgrade hosting packages to maintain a high level of performance. 

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Pros of Shared Hosting

Almost every hosting provider offers some form of shared hosting. Beyond being the cheapest option available there are some other advantages to shared hosting you’ll want to be aware of.

Here are some of the most common benefits of using shared hosting.

1. It’s Affordable

Most people will turn to shared hosting due to its cost alone. You’d be hard pressed to find a cheaper form of hosting that still provides you with all the features you require. However, you’ll want to make sure you choose a high-quality provider, as you’ll still want to ensure high levels of performance, security, and usability.

2. It’s Beginner-Friendly

When you sign up for a shared web hosting package you’ll get access to an intuitive control panel and user dashboard. This makes it easy to setup your site, install a CMS, configure your email accounts, and much more. Plus, you’ll generally be able to find a wealth of information online that’ll help you get your hosting and site setup. Shared hosting is a great choice for those who have little to no tech skills. 

3. Included Maintenance and Upgrades

On a related note, all of the server upgrades and necessary maintenance will be handled by the hosting staff. These tasks are absolutely necessary if you want your server to continue to function at the highest level possible. Still, they’re pretty complex and will be difficult to do on your own. With shared hosting, you won’t have to tackle any complex server maintenance tasks. Plus, any security-related tasks will also be handled by the hosting staff. 

Cons of Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is popular and the most common form of hosting. However, it’s not without its drawbacks and won’t be perfect for every kind of website out there. 

Here are some of the biggest drawbacks of shared hosting.

1. Slow Speeds

With shared hosting, you can run into issues with site performance. Since you’re sharing the server environment with other users, if one of those sites is having a massive traffic day it could actually negatively impact your site. The same goes for your site. If you’re experiencing a high volume of traffic there’s a higher chance your site could go offline, or perform poorly. 

2. Lack of Server Control

With shared hosting, you’re limited by the initial server hardware and software configuration. You can customize by installing your own CMS, or make small changes via the control panel, but that’s about it. Advanced users or site owners who require a unique hardware and software setup will want to look for other forms of hosting. 

3. Potential Server Limits

With a shared hosting service, there is server storage and bandwidth limits. If your site is growing quickly in terms of size or traffic volume, then you may need to upgrade your hosting package. 

Shared hosting doesn’t really have the ability to scale and support a growing site, like other forms of hosting. It’s a great way to get started online, but with a growing site, there’s a chance you’ll need to upgrade to a VPS hosting plan or another form of hosting eventually. At HostGator, we make it easy for you to migrate your shared hosting to a VPS plan. 

Who Should Use Shared Hosting?

A shared hosting service is perfect for beginners who are building their first sites online. If you just have a simple project and aren’t really concerned about traffic, or building a large website, then shared hosting will suit your needs.

Generally, shared hosting will be the starting place for most website owners. Plus, most shared hosting plans also offer you the ability to create multiple sites on a single hosting account. This gives you the freedom to experiment until you have a site that’s worth moving forward with. 

What is VPS Hosting?

Now that you’re better educated on what shared hosting is, let’s take a deep look and explain what VPS hosting is. VPS hosting operates in an entirely different fashion to shared hosting; however, it’s technically still shared hosting.

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. Essentially a VPS server is a virtualized server environment that operates like a dedicated server, but instead pulls resources from multiple different shared physical servers. The technology is similar behind VPS and shared hosting, but the VPS technology is much more advanced and offers your site certain advantages.

On a VPS server, you have much greater access to server resources, since you can tap into more physical servers when your needs expand. With VPS hosting you’re guaranteed a certain level of server resources, plus you have the ability to quickly scale up your resource use if your traffic needs are currently expanding.

A VPS hosting plan offers you higher levels of flexibility, along with more customization options and support for your growing site. 

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Pros of VPS Hosting

VPS hosting is like a hybrid between shared and dedicated hosting. For some website owners, this will be the perfect hosting setup.

Here are some of the biggest benefits of using VPS hosting.

1. High Levels of Performance

With VPS hosting you have immediate access to a greater level of server resources. So, if you have a large or growing site, you’ll be able to support a higher volume of users without a decline in performance. Plus, since your hosting environment is virtualized it’s more isolated from other sites on the same physical server. This makes it so other sites will not affect the performance of your site. 

2. Greater Levels of Security

VPS hosting offers you higher levels of security than shared hosting. Since your hosting environment is virtualized you’ll be isolated from other sites that have space on the same physical server. Virtualization technologies have a very high level of security, so other sites on the server will not affect your site in any way. 

3. Scalable Hosting

VPS hosting is flexible. If you’re experiencing a higher volume of traffic than normal you can simply scale up your server resources. Since you’re not confined to a single physical server it’s easy to add more server resources. It’s near impossible to find this level of flexibility and scalability with shared hosting. 

4. More Server Customization

With VPS web hosting you’ll have access to more server customization options. You’ll also get root server access, which gives you greater server control. A VPS server behaves more like a dedicated server than a shared server, giving you more power, freedom, and control. 

Cons of VPS Hosting

However, VPS hosting isn’t without its drawbacks. Since it’s a more powerful form of hosting it’ll be more technical to manage your server environment effectively. 

Here are the two biggest drawbacks to VPS hosting that might make you consider using a different form of hosting.

1. It’s More Expensive

VPS hosting will be more expensive than shared hosting, there’s no doubt about it. Since you’re getting access to more server resources the costs will increase as well. Generally, you’ll only have to pay for the server resources you use, however, which makes it very cost effective, even while paying a higher monthly rate. 

2. It’s More Technical in Nature

With VPS hosting you generally need a higher level of technical skills in order to manage your server the right way. However, depending on your hosting provider you might also be able to sign up for a managed VPS server. A managed hosting environment means that the hosting provider’s technical staff will help to maintain, upgrade, and optimize your server environment for you. 

Who Should Use VPS Hosting?

VPS hosting gives you a significant upgrade over shared hosting. However, that doesn’t mean it’s well-suited for every kind of website. VPS hosting is a great fit for established or growing websites, or sites that are expecting an increase in traffic in the near future. Sites that require a higher level of security or flexibility should also consider VPS hosting.

Finally, your final concern should be your budget. It doesn’t make sense to upgrade to VPS hosting until you can actually afford the higher monthly cost. 

Is Shared or VPS Hosting Best for Your Website?

Most website owners will find the most value with shared hosting. It’s cheap, easy to set up, and will provide you with enough server resources to get your site off the ground. Some site owners might even be able to remain on a shared web host forever. It simply depends on the needs of your site. For example, maybe all you’re building is a simple portfolio site. Or, your site will only ever get a small volume of traffic. 

Typically, you’ll only want to upgrade to VPS hosting when your site is pushing against the limits of shared hosting, or you require some of the unique features offered by VPS hosting.

The best form of hosting for your site is the kind of hosting you can afford. If you’re building a brand new site, then, by all means, start with shared hosting. As your site grows, hopefully, your profits will grow as well. Then, you can use this increased revenue to fund a more powerful form of hosting, like VPS.

Choosing Between Shared vs. VPS Hosting

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of shared hosting vs VPS hosting. Shared hosting will be the cheapest form of hosting available to you, but some site owners will need the additional resources offered by VPS hosting.

On a feature level alone, virtual private server hosting will provide your site with higher levels of performance, scalability, and security. But, these features will come at an elevated cost. 

Most website owners will find the most value in a shared hosting plan. Shared hosting is the perfect form of hosting for beginners and new site owners, as it’s easy to get started, and will provide you with sufficient server resources to get your site through the initial growth stages. 

Whether you’ve decided to go with a shared hosting plan or VPS hosting, make sure you take your website needs into account. The type of hosting will differ depending on your budget and the stage your site is currently at. Remember, the beauty of hosting is that you can always upgrade to a different form of web hosting as your website needs evolve. 

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