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VPS Web Hosting Guide

VPS Hosting GuideChoosing the type of web hosting plan you need is just as important as deciding on a web hosting provider. You’re faced with choosing between a shared hosting plan, reseller hosting plan, dedicated server, or virtual private server. Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is a popular choice for websites looking to balance budget and performance. Most websites only require a shared hosting plan. However, when websites become successful or have specific hosting requirements that shared hosting can not provide, webmasters often need to upgrade their web hosting plan.

If you are in such a situation, don’t be discouraged that you have to upgrade. Consider yourself lucky, this is not a bad thing because your website is popular and special. Not sure where to start? Find out everything you need to know about VPS hosting right now.

VPS Overview

Virtual private server hosting allows multiple sites to share the same server without any single site hogging all the resources. The web host creates individual virtual servers on the same physical server. Resources such as disk space, RAM, and CPU are divided among the sites. The idea is to give sites the benefits of dedicated server hosting without the higher price.

Shared Versus VPS Hosting

As the name implies, shared hosting means numerous sites share the same server. The problem is that all those sites share the exact same resources and shared servers can have up to hundreds of different hosting accounts all on the same server. Thankfully there are resource limits/caps placed on each hosting account that resides on a shared server to prevent one account from using beyond their allocated amount of resources. This helps prevent hosting plan A from using x amount more resources (CPU, RAM, etc.) than other hosting plans on the server, leaving hosting plans B, C, D, and so on to scrounge for what resources are left. But when you have hundreds of hosting accounts all on one server the amount of resources allocated to each account sometimes isn’t enough for more resource intensive or higher traffic websites to perform well.

VPS hosting is similar to shared, except the server is partitioned off into smaller virtual servers. You have full control over your virtual server/hosting account and you don’t have to worry about another hosting plan using any resources you’re paying for because you are the only one that has access to your partition. Technically, you’re still sharing resources, but the host divides them so you always have access to the resources you paid for. A downside for some users is that you’ll be responsible for more technical aspects of your hosting plan than you would with shared hosting. This is good if you want more control, especially if you’re using custom software and settings.

VPS Versus Dedicated Server

A VPS still requires you to share. Dedicated server hosting means no sharing. You get all the resources of the entire server to yourself. It costs more and does require more technical expertise on your part. You may be responsible for troubleshooting and maintaining the server yourself. With VPS, you only need to maintain your own little portion of the server. It’s less work with a VPS, but you may have fewer resources available.

Reasons For A VPS

VPS web hosting isn’t necessary for everyone. Most websites start with shared web hosting. When you start to notice problems with performance or you are constantly hitting¬† your resource limits, it’s time to consider upgrading to a VPS. It’s important to remember you’ll pay more for the benefits of VPS, but you’ll also get better performance, leading to a better visitor experience.

The most common reasons to switch to VPS hosting include:

  • Reliability – Know what resources you have available at all times without worrying about what other sites are using.
  • Increased control – VPS hosting allows users to customize their virtual private server with special configurations and software.
  • Increased bandwidth – Get the resources you need to handle a growing site without worrying about resources from others sites on a shared host.
  • Better security – Gain access to improved security monitoring, incorporate advanced security for your site and even more reliable backups options.

If you’re getting notifications about resource issues or visitors are complaining about site performance, it might be time to consider switching to a VPS. Start with a lower level plan if you’re not certain whether a VPS is right for you. You can upgrade at any time with most providers.

Levels Of VPS Plans

VPS hosting isn’t a one size fits all plan. There are different levels of VPS plans. The more resources the plan offers, the higher the price will be. Hosts base levels on items such as:

  • Disk storage – Plans often start at 20 GB.
  • RAM – 1 GB is the minimum for most setups. Opt for 2 GB and higher if possible.
  • Bandwidth – Most plans begin with at least 1 TB.
  • Virtualization – This is the type of virtualization solution used. This is often a personal preference.
  • CPU Cores – Sites are assigned CPU cores. Number of cores and speed is important.

Plans also vary based on operating system. Some use Linux, while others use Windows. Some hosts offer both options. VPS plans are also available in managed, semi-managed and unmanaged.

Linux Versus Windows VPS

The choice between Linux and Windows VPS hosting is part user preference and part required applications. Both operating systems provide secure, reliable VPS hosting. If you plan to use SSH or scripts and applications that need Apache modules, you’ll have to use Linux hosting.

If you’re using any of the following applications, you’ll have to use Windows:

  • ASP.NET and ASP Classic
  • Visual Basic Development
  • MS Access
  • C#

Linux is often the more popular option due to the variety of open source software applications available. It can be more cost effective for hosts to use. Choose the right type of OS for your site’s needs.

Managed Versus Unmanaged

You also have to choose between managed, semi-managed, and unmanaged hosting. Each requires different levels of responsibility from the site owner. The main differences are:

  • Managed – Host handles all technical support and installs custom software.
  • Semi-managed – Host handles all standard technical support and user is responsible for all custom software.
  • Unmanaged – Host handles only network and hardware support. User is responsible for performance and software support.

The cost is higher for managed, but you have less responsibility. Semi-managed is ideal for those with technical expertise that don’t want full support responsibility. If you’re comfortable working with the software, performance, and security of the server, you can get lower cost unmananged VPS hosting, but it does require a bigger time commitment from the user.

If you are going to go with a managed VPS keep in mind that the term “managed VPS” can mean different things depending on the hosting company. When you are deciding on a provider make sure you understand what they will and will not do for you. Make sure you know the answers to the follow questions:

  • Will they proactively be monitoring your VPS and be ready to act the moment there is an issue, or do you have discover the problems first and notify them before they start to help?
  • Will they proactively make updates to software without you having to ask if there is an update available or security issue that requires a patch?
  • Will they help you to optimize your VPS so you have the best possible performance?

VPS Hosting Providers

VPS web hosts aren’t created equal. It is up to you to carefully compare plans to see which one best fits your needs. Four of companies we have reviewed that offer VPS hosting include InMotion Hosting, A2 Hosting, GreenGeeks, and Media Temple.

InMotion VPS HostingWith InMotion Hosting, you can choose from three plans starting at $44.99 ($29.99 with discount) per month with features including:

  • RAM – 4 GB, 6 GB or 8 GB
  • Disk storage – 60 GB, 130 GB or 200 GB
  • Bandwidth – 2 TB, 3 TB or 4 TB
  • Dedicated IP addresses – 2 to 3
  • Unlimited websites
  • Free backups
  • Pure SSD drives
  • Full cPanel license
  • Reseller access with WHM
  • Managed and unmanaged VPS hosting
  • 90 day money back guarantee period

InMotion Hosting offers reliable hosting at competitive prices that fit most websites’ needs. Read our InMotion Hosting review.

A2 Hosting VPS PlansManaged VPS hosting from A2 Hosting is really proactive instead of reactive (pretty much worry free). This means they will take care of everything and if there is ever a problem they will be on it before you are even aware of it. Their managed VPS plans start at $49.99 ($32.99 with discount) per month with the following features:

  • RAM – 4 GB, 6 GB or 8 GB
  • Disk storage – 75 GB, 100 GB or 150 GB
  • Bandwidth – 2 TB, 3 TB or 4 TB
  • CPUs – 4, 6, 0r 8 cores
  • Dedicated IP addresses – 2
  • cPanel included
  • Unlimited websites
  • US & Europe server locations
  • Free backups
  • Pure SSD drives
  • 30 day money back guarantee period

A2 Hosting offers two types of unmanaged plans: Dynamic ($9.98 and up) and Cloud ($15 and up). Both allow you to create your own custom virtual servers. Cloud offers higher limits for sites that need more resources. Additional features include:

  • Choose the type of Linux OS
  • Pay for what you use (Cloud only)
  • Pure SSD
  • Turbo VPS boost (up to 20x faster)
  • Full Root Access
  • Choose server location (Dynamic only)

These plans are ideal for users who want more control over exactly what resources they need. The Cloud plan even allows on demand plan resizing if your needs suddenly change. Read our A2 Hosting review.

GreenGeeks VPSWith GreenGeeks, you can choose from five different plans ranging from $39.95 to $159.95 per month with features including:

  • 1 GB to 8 GB RAM
  • 4 CPU cores
  • 25 GB to 125 GB SSD RAID-10 disk storage
  • 1 TB to 3 TB bandwidth
  • 2 IP addresses
  • Servers powered by renewable energy
  • cPanel and WHM control panels and licenses
  • Free nightly backups
  • Managed VPS hosting
  • 30 day money back guarantee period

Webmasters that want a green hosting option should definitely consider GreenGeeks. Read our GreenGeeks review.

Media Temple VPSMedia Temple offers you three types of plans to choose from – self-managed (starts at $30), managed (starts at $55) and fully managed (starts at $249). They offer a variety of features including:

  • 2 GB to 64 GB RAM
  • 20 GB to 600 GB disk storage
  • Up to 8 TB bandwidth
  • Nearly unlimited sites
  • Choice of Linux OS
  • cPanel or Parallels Plesk control panel
  • Hundreds of apps to choose from
  • 30 day money back guarantee period

Users can choose the right level VPS plan they need now and have plenty of room to grow for their sites. Read our Media Temple review.

All four hosts provide all the essential VPS web hosting options a business would need to boost their site’s performance. In case you are looking to add more VPS hosting options to your short list of providers to choose from also check out: KnownHost and LiquidWeb

If you’re not sure what level package you need, many businesses begin with a smaller VPS plan, and upgrade as needed to find the perfect plan level for them.

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