You have a hosting decision to make. It’s really important to get it right and give your business website a solid platform. So what’s the difference between shared hosting and VPS? As an experienced B2B website design agency with a whole lot of knowledge about website hosting, we know the score. This article takes you on a common sense, plain language journey into shared and VPS hosting, designed to inform you about what they are, the differences between them, the pros and cons of each, and what they mean to you. Read on to find out which type of hosting will suit you best, fresh from our talented web design Oxford team.
First in our expert guide to the difference between shared and VPS hosting, what is shared hosting? A shared web hosting service involves a number of websites sitting on just the one server machine, a server simply being specially-configured computer connected to the internet. This means you share physical space on the server with one or more sites, potentially many of them. The fact that you’re sharing the server with others mean you share the available resources. A shared hosting environment comes with shared files, shared databases and more. So how many other sites might you end up sharing server resources with? While it’s usually a lot lower, it can be thousands.
What is a VPS? It stands for Virtual Private Server. It’s an isolated environment on a physical server, owned and operated by a cloud or web hosting provider. The server uses something called virtualization technology to break the machine’s resources up into multiple private server environments that share the resources. The server is a physical machine but its resources are virtualised.
VPS hosting gives you your own dedicated server space along with a level of resource that’s reserved for your site and only your site. This gives you much more control than shared hosting and also lets you customise the hosting. When there are multiple sites on a single web server with shared hosting, the resources available to you aren’t guaranteed in the same way.
Why would you opt for VPS hosting? It’s perfect when your business has outgrown its shared hosting for whatever reason – perhaps you’ve expanded the business so much that you’re getting many times more visitors compared to those you used to attract. A VPS will give you more wriggle room because it lets fewer users share allocated hard drive space, memory, and processor power.
Basically, a VSP acts as a storage centre for site files and data. It runs on its own instance of an operating system, and the ‘superuser’ access you get means you’re free to install software to run on the Operating System. All this means a VPS can be defined as a server within another server, where one server is the host for several virtual servers but each runs on its own, separate from the rest.
Next, let’s explore the key differences between shared and VPS hosting.
What is the difference between VPS and shared hosting? Here are the main differences between VPS and shared hosting deals.
First, website Security. When your site’s hosted in a shared environment, security breaches are more of a risk. Simply having more sites hosted on a server creates more chances for cyber attacks of various sorts, from malware to ransomware and everything in between. Data theft can be even more of a problem. If you run an ecommerce site where you save customer data and customers pay online a data breach can be catastrophic, and could even mean you get a stiff fine under the Data Protection Act.
There’s more. Because shared hosting is usually the choice of people without much cyber security experience, they’re unlikely to be particularly security aware. It’s really important to carry out all the right security and other updates as they arise when not doing so can leave glaring loopholes for hackers to exploit.
In contrast, VPS hosting comes with a wealth of robust security features as well as being carefully managed by knowledgeable people at the hosting provider end. Skilled and experienced VPS hosting management will take care of every your security requirement, so you can relax.
Website performance is another biggie. The user experience is critical to every online business. People want to enjoy a seamless experience on board an engaging, fully-functional website whose content loads fast whatever device it’s being view on. It’s important to know 47% of website visitors expect web pages to load in less than two It’s also the case that people who have a slow loading experience don’t like it – and a whopping 79% of them won’t come back. It’s partly a frustration thing but also a trust thing. Can you really trust a site that loads so slowly you’re forced to wait? A VPS hosting solution is often the best performing option simply because shared hosting resources are shared between every site hosted on the server.
Website reliability and stability also matters, and server uptime is crucial. Can you imagine how website visitors feel when the site they wanted to buy from keeps going down? Again, it’s a trust thing. The uptime is basically the amount of time a server is fully operational, and it varies. It’s usually reported by the server itself, an internal measure. Uptime simply means the percentage of time, over a specified interval, that the server serves up websites. If yours is 99.9% or more, that’s excellent. If it’s less than excellent, how does that affect your business – if at all? In a shared hosting environment you get more sites loading up the server and using its resources. In contrast VPS hosting environments don’t share resources, which usually means the uptime is better. Some hosts even guarantee a full 100% uptime.
Is it going to be managed or unmanaged? Shared website Hosting is usually managed, with hosting experts taking care of all the techie essentials for you. VPS hosting can be either managed or unmanaged. The unmanaged side of things leaves you responsible for many aspects of the site hosting, things like installing and maintaining the server software, and it clearly isn’t for people who don’t know their onions. When it’s managed VPS hosting, the host takes care of it for you.
Website scalability matters. Imagine you set up a site with great expectations but they don’t come to fruition as quickly as you’d predicted. You’d like to scale down for now, until things pick up. The opposite can apply – you’ve grown unpredictably fast and need your hosting to grow with you, without any delays or hassle. Growth obviously places increased demand on your server and can involve both the size of the website – the pages, content and so on that needs to be hosted – as well as increased traffic. Shared hosting tends to be good for low to medium traffic websites where the traffic usually stays reasonably stable. If you’re expecting bursts of high traffic you might find your shared hosting falls over under the pressure. VPS hosting comes with the space you need for spikes in traffic as your site gets more popular.
Should you worry about server customisation? It depends. You might want to run custom applications, for example, or customise the server’s bandwidth, RAM (Random Access Memory) or the amount of disk space. Shared hosting won’t let you do it, but VPS hosting packages can, with a variety of customisation capabilities.
Lastly in our exploration of what is the difference between VPS and shared hosting, there’s the money bit. Shared hosting tends to cost less so is more affordable, which means it can be a good way to test a business concept to see if it flies. Because VPS uses more resources, it costs more than shared hosting.
Let’s summarise the pros and cons of shared hosting. On the positive side shared hosting is a low cost option, a good way to test drive anew business without breaking the bank. It’s also sensible for websites that don’t encounter dramatic spikes in visitors, and for very simple websites without a need for high security around data. It’s a really simple way to handle hosting because the service is managed by an expert on your behalf – a ‘fire and forget’ way to host a site without any technical responsibilities.
On the down-side, shared hosting comes with restricted resources because the server and bandwidth resources are constrained. There’s a higher risk of cyber security problems because the owners of the businesses hosted on the server don’t always have any technical server knowledge. And because there are few or no options to customise the server, what you see is what you get.
Next in our guide to what is the difference between VPS and shared hosting, here are the pros and cons.
On the pro front, while VPS hosting might cost more it actually delivers an excellent service for less than full-on dedicated hosting, where your site is the only one on a server. This means it’s actually pretty good value. It comes with better security simply because of the lack of other sites on the server.
When you want high performance, it’s best not to share resources. Because VPS hosting doesn’t share resources, you benefit from great site performance. And it’s scalable. With VPS you can easily increase your storage and get more bandwidth, and do it quickly if you need to.
On the downside a VPS deal is more expensive than shared hosting. But as we’ve mentioned, it’s cheaper than dedicated web hosting and an excellent middle ground for many businesses. There’s better resource availability because VPS hosting allocates resources to a virtual server, and it’s perfectly configured by the hosting provider.
It can be an excellent option for small websites with low to medium traffic, for example your personal blog, a small business website, or a basic brochureware site where there isn’t a lot of consumer interaction taking place. It’s a great choice when you want to test-drive an inspiring online business idea in a cost-effective way, and perfect for a site whose low profit margins mean you’re working to a tight budget. The same goes when your site doesn’t need a lot of technical support. That’s why shared hosting is popular when websites are first established, and through their early days.
Who typically uses shared hosting? It’s perfect when you want a beginner-friendly, low cost hosting solution. It’s ideal for personal projects, small businesses, and even medium sized businesses. Shared hosting takes the pain out of server management, which can be totally baffling if you’re not experienced. As long as your site stays within the resources you’ve paid for, it can do a top job for you.
That’s it. The difference between shared and VPS hosting should be clear. Whatever your online business, reliable web hosting sits at the heart of best practice. You want to either feel confident in the skills of your VPS host, or feel good about the solidity and service provided by your shared hosting package. Then you can go make money without worrying about what’s going on under the hood.
Our expertise in web development, Oxford based as well as offering services right across the UK, means hosting genuinely matters to us. We host websites for SME businesses and larger Corporate clients, and whatever kind you choose it is always top class. If you’d like to host your site with us we’re always happy to talk.