How Do VPS Servers Work And How Are They Different From Shared Hosting?

29th July, 2019 by

When preparing to launch a website, it’s important to consider the practicalities around how it might be accessed by audiences. That doesn’t just refer to site design, or whether video clips are embedded from third-party platforms like YouTube. It means choosing a web hosting firm capable of juggling simultaneous data requests, providing sufficient bandwidth for content to be delivered anywhere in the world with minimal delay. And then there’s the decision around how many server resources your website may need…

Share and share alike

The default web hosting option is shared space on a server. Multiple resources are stored on the same server, with access divided among them. This is the most cost-effective approach, but high traffic volumes on other clients’ sites may affect your own site’s responsiveness and performance. There will be limitations on disk space, memory, CPU usage, and other shared resources, all of which are centrally set. And although the server host is responsible for maintenance and security, clients have no scope to alter or improve on these settings.

At the other end of the scale, dedicated hosting allocates an entire server to one customer. The only shared resources are network access points, which generally provide sufficient bandwidth for an increase in visitor numbers. However, costs for this are high, and considerable technical knowledge is required to manage setup, maintenance, and security on an ongoing basis. Many companies would prefer a middle ground – which is where VPS servers come in…

The middle ground

To use a property analogy, you could think of a shared server as an apartment, compared to a dedicated server’s house. By comparison, VPS servers would be a condo. There are still neighbours in the same building, but they’re fewer in number and less likely to affect each other’s activities. Maintenance of communal areas is still undertaken by qualified third parties, but it’s possible to introduce greater personalisation. And best of all, larger numbers of visitors can be accommodated at once, because greater resources are available.

These are the main differences between VPS servers and shared hosting solutions:

1. Greater control. 

There’s no need to rely on the operating system or other software specified by a shared hosting provider. Each walled segment of disk space is fully customisable, with settings configured to your preferred specifications.

2. Superior speed. 

Virtualised server environments receive more resources than shared hosting, and the activities of other clients on the same server won’t impact your own site’s performance. That’s crucial for handling sudden traffic spikes.

3. Extra space. 

Because fewer clients are sharing a server, there’s far more scope to expand if the business grows. Scalability is often crucial as companies evolve beyond their original remit, or introduce more product lines/services/features.

4. Heightened security. 

As cybercrime continues to rise every year, being able to deploy bespoke security solutions may be advantageous. Each VPS client receives an independent IP address, differentiating it from near neighbours.

Every company has unique circumstances, and the choice between shared or VPS servers ultimately comes down to the individual. However, VPS servers tend to be a better option for established or mid-sized companies – especially ones with plans to expand. This is the ideal choice if your business has regular traffic spikes, or receives high volumes of visitors. It’s also best where services or industry specialisms necessitate greater control over issues like security. And although there’s more responsibility for server setup and management, 24/7 support is still offered to every client for peace of mind.

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