VPS vs Shared Hosting: What’s the Difference?

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Just three years ago, about 50 percent of small business owners did not have a website. Fortunately, we’ve seen digital adoption grow significantly since 2016 which has brought people like you to a big question…

“What kind of web hosting service should I opt into?”

For the uninitiated, a web host is a third party that houses your website online. The services offered by web hosts are not one-size-fits-all so, based on your needs, you’ll want to opt into the correct service package. The two most popular service packages that most hosting providers offer are shared and VPS (virtual private server) hosting.

In an attempt to make clear which of these two packages might be best for you, our team is going to break down VPS vs shared hosting pros and cons that are worth mulling over.

Shared Hosting

Given that shared hosting is the base package offered by web hosts, we figured we’d open our VPS vs shared hosting discussion by breaking this service down.

Shared hosting is a service where any number of websites share a single physical server in a web host’s warehouse. There are a handful of pros and cons to this arrangement including:

Pro – Affordability

Since hundreds of websites could be sharing a single server in a shared hosting arrangement, all of those websites essentially split the rental cost of the server. This splitting results in monthly fees that can sometimes be lower than $5.00 per month.

If price is your primary consideration when shopping for a hosting package, you won’t find a better option than shared hosting.

Pro – Availability

Every mainstream hosting provider offers shared hosting packages. That’s because shared hosting’s cheap and easy nature makes it the most popular service among buyers.

Given the volume of shared hosting providers that are out there, you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to comparing offers.

Pro – Ease of Use

Shared hosting is minimally customizable. While that, in a lot of ways, is a disadvantage, if you’re not a tech-savvy person and are just looking for a turn-key hosting solution, shared hosting undeniably makes things simple.

Con – Resources Are Shared

Shared hosting has an unknowable amount of websites sharing the same server.  When one of those websites experiences traffic spikes, other websites on the server may suffer slowdowns. That unpredictability could cause frequent website performance issues which may cost you customers.

Con – Security Concerns

If you collect private data on your website and are using a shared server, you’re harboring a liability. If a hacker has access to the server that’s holding your company’s data because you’re sharing it with them, they’ll have a much easier time accessing that information than if your site was hosted on a separate, private server.

Data breaches happen all the time and when they do, they cost the average business almost 4 million dollars in damages.

Con – Scalability

While hosting providers advertise things like “unlimited bandwidth” on their shared hosting packages, if your website blows up too much on a shared plan, your site’s speed is going to get throttled. The prospect of being punished for being successful makes it hard to scale your business on a shared plan.

VPS (Virtual Private Server)

VPS hosting is similar to shared hosting in that you’re still sharing a physical server with other websites. The big difference is that the amount of sites that you’re sharing with is capped and your server’s “brain” is virtually split into partitions that give every website their own, dedicated environment.

Here are some pros and cons to opting into this arrangement:

Pro – Private Resources

With shared hosting, your website’s performance is predicated on how busy other sites on your server are. With VPS, you always have a dedicated pool of resources. If you don’t exceed those allotted resources, your website will run consistently well.

Pro – More Options

If you need special control over things like the version of PHP your site is running or other configurations, you’ll have more control over that with VPS than you would with shared hosting. There are still limitations to VPS since you are sharing a server with others but for most small to mid-sized businesses, the options allowed through VPS will be adequate.

Pro – Priority Support

Since VPS is a more advanced hosting package, some hosting providers may give you priority support over their shared hosting clients. If customer support is important to you, this benefit could mean a lot to your operations.

Con – Price

VPS hosting is by no means a bad value given the dedicated services that it affords business owners. That being said, it’s not as cheap as shared hosting.

Depending on your budget, that could be an issue.

Con – It’s Not Fool-Proof

If you need a server solution that gives you outstanding security, resources, and customization options, you’re looking for a “dedicated server” which is a cut above VPS. That being said, VPS is a great middle-ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting that most business owners will find more than meets their needs.

VPS vs Shared Hosting: Which Should You Choose?

We can’t make a specific VPS vs shared hosting suggestion to you because we don’t know anything about your business. We will say that if you’re just launching your company and don’t have expectations for huge waves of online traffic right away, try experimenting with shared hosting. If you find that shared hosting is more trouble than it’s worth, you can always upgrade to VPS later.

For more pragmatic advice on all things technology, marketing, and business,  browse more of the newest content on our site!

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