Ultimate Guide to VPS

3 years ago
Betty M Russ

Whether you’re looking to set up a high-quality server as your business scales up or transition your current dedicated server to a more affordable alternative, then you’re in the right place. Virtual Private Servers (VPS) offer a fair compromise between the shared hosting and dedicated hosting end of the server spectrum.  This guide’s main goal is to help educate you on what can be accomplished with a VPS and assist you in determining whether it is the right solution for what you/your business needs.

The Spectrum:

We just said VPS lands in the middle of the server spectrum, so to better understand that let’s explain the polar opposites of shared and dedicated hosting.  Shared hosting is when a group on different sites pool their funds together to share a set of hosting resources (hardware and software). Working together to do this allows each site to achieve hosting that it otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford on its own. Some of the downsides that come with this are a lack of customizability (one server fits all) and security.

While shared hosting involves pooling resources, dedicated hosting is every man for themselves. Your server is 100% yours and you can customize its OS and applications however you see fit. It’s also more secure since you’re the only one with access to it.  Of course, all these great features come at a cost (literally): they are more expensive to maintain.

The Middle Ground:

Enter VPS. Understanding the other two types of servers is crucial because at its core VPS is just a mix of the two. Several sites pool in their funds to maintain one core piece of hardware (known as the hypervisor), and this hardware uses virtualization to create an individualized and private virtual server for each site.  The physical server can support multiple VPS at once, and each of these is unaware of the others being hosted.

With each server being unaware of the others security is much less of an issue than with typical shared hosting.  With shared hosting, you can get a domino effect going when one site is compromised, but since there is no virtual relation between the servers in VPS they are secure from one another.  Depending on what your reason for needing a server is this privacy issue could be crucial. Things like PCI compliance require a certain level of security to be met to protect user data, and VPS is a safer bet than shared hosting.

Additionally, this individualization means that your server can be customized as you see fit since you’ll be the only one using it. Just like with dedicated hosting, if there are applications you want to include/customize on your server that is within your capabilities.  You also gain the advantage over shared hosting of scalability and avoid overshadowing.  Shared hosting plans don’t have as strict rules on who can use what resources at what time, so if another site on the server gets a lot of traffic it could hurt yours. VPS on the other hand pre-allocates resources to each virtual server so that you get exactly what you pay for and know that it will always be there (short of a hardware failure).

Things to Look For in A VPS Host:

So, VPS sounds pretty great. It’s cheaper than dedicated hosting but you still can leverage a lot of the benefits of having your own environment. If VPS ends up being the path you select for supporting your site the next step is choosing the right hosting plan to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

There are a few things you should look for in every VPS hosting plan besides an affordable price.  The first of these is anti-DDoS protection. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks are cyber-attacks where a malicious user attempts to overwhelm your server by clogging it up with thousands of dummy requests.  If successful these attacks can limit your site’s ability to react to real users, and oftentimes they go hand in hand with other security breaches.  Finding a hosting plan that both monitors for and takes actions to prevent DDoS attacks is important so that you can have peace of mind.

And speaking of peace of mind, it’s hard to relax if your site is down in the first place. That’s why you should also always look for a 99.9% uptime guarantee. This means that your host promises to keep your server operational for that percentage of the time. It goes without saying that the lower this number is the worse the product since you can’t make money off of a website that doesn’t work.

A third thing to make sure is available is disaster recovery. Remember that famous saying about men’s best-laid plans going awry? Double that in the world of tech.  Things fail, it’s unavoidable. What is avoidable is the panicked recovery scramble. If your hosting provider has a disaster recovery plan to help you restore lost data and get things operational again in an efficient manner, that can be priceless.

VPS Hosting in a Nutshell:

Hopefully, at this point, you have a better understanding of both how VPS works and what you should look for in a plan for your site. There are several things to watch out for and to make sure are included in your hosting plan, and it’s also imperative that you go with a company that can live up to its promises. It’s possible that VPS isn’t the right fit for what your business needs, but if you find yourself looking for something new a lot of services will offer month to month enrollment so it may be worth at least trying out.

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