Shared web hosting or a VPS: What’s best for you?

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Janina
07-09-2021
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Starting a new website? It's time to compare shared web hosting to a VPS and work out which option is best.

Starting your own website is already a lot of work, even before you start digging into the simple-sounding job of choosing a hosting solution. But don’t worry, you’re not the first person to need a bit of help here, and this is something that’s worth thinking through carefully.

Finding the right type of hosting is critical in ensuring that your site operates smoothly, especially in an age where competition happens mainly online. A site’s performance can make or break a sale and even affect your customers’ perception of your brand. Making the right decisions today could also save you from a costly and onerous migration later.

There’s an array to choose from, but let’s start with two of the most common (and low-cost) types of hosting - web hosting, a.k.a shared hosting, and virtual private servers (VPS). But more on them later.

For starters, you need to know a few things about your website before you can make a confident call on your choice of hosting:

  1. The type of website. Will it be a personal blog or a business site? Will it be for a small or big business?

  2. Budget. While many, especially newbies, would treat cost as a primary consideration, this could be a big mistake in the long run if you find yourself having to migrate to better hosting, or stuck with limited scalability.

  3. Server administration and management. Do you have the technical expertise to maintain servers and fix issues on a day-to-day basis, or will you need a team of experts?

  4. Disk space. This refers to the amount of data you can store on the web server. HTML or text is economical while a lot of images, videos and animations may require more disk space. If you’re just starting out, it is likely that this won’t be a problem.

  5. Bandwidth. This refers to the amount of data you are allowed to transfer to and from your web server, inducing uploads and downloads. Like disk space, this probably won’t be much of a concern for starters.

  6. Security. It’s easy to put security last when it should be top of mind. Cutting corners now can cost you later, from a reputational hit to losing unhappy customers. The basics can go a long way in protecting you, though, so make sure your hosting provider puts a premium on your security by at least providing regular security patches and updates to your server.

  7. Scalability. As your site grows and attracts more visitors, you’ll want to easily increase your resources to meet new needs. The question here is: would your hosting solution be able to serve more visitors with the same quality performance once you become more popular?

Once you’ve thought these over, you’re ready to take a closer look at web hosting and VPS, as well as what to consider when finding the right plan.

Shared web hosting

To visualise shared web hosting, imagine yourself in a shared office space. You share resources such as the printer, coffee maker and even the space, so you can’t makeover or personalise your workplace.

Someone else keeps the coffee beans topped up and there’s always milk in the fridge, but at lunch time the kitchen can get a bit crowded.

What’s more, your workstation is a standard one. You have an internet connection but without ultra speed. You have security, like a lock on the door, but no top-of-the-line biometric measures.

Shared web hosting is similar — you get your share of a server’s resources and networking and you don’t need to worry about maintenance. And given the limitations, it is the cheapest option out there.

This is good enough almost all of the time. But if you need more than the basics, or you’re planning to grow fast, it might not be what you’re looking for.

Here are some key factors when choosing or creating a web hosting plan:

“Low-cost” doesn’t always mean “cost-effective”. If you’re saving $5 a month but suffering from slow load times and security issues, you’re better off spending a little more.

Choose a host that acts on risks fast and proactively. When you’re on a shared server, your neighbour’s issues might spill over and affect you if your host isn’t proactive, or your sites aren’t properly isolated from each other. Some questions worth asking providers are: How serious are they about security, like regular server patching? What’s their plan if another site on your server gets overloaded? If you or someone else on your server grow beyond the limits of your plan, what happens next (and will it affect your site’s performance)?

Look for dedicated technical support. Given the possible issues that can arise from shared servers, set yourself a high standard for technical support. Look for a provider that guarantees 24/7 access to support and answers questions quickly.

In sum, with shared web hosting you get:

  • Shared resources - which can be more than enough for a lot of sites
  • Limited speed, storage and processing, especially if your site is particularly big or has other special demands
  • Low hosting bills

Recommendation: Shared web hosting is best for basic personal sites, blogs, and small businesses.

VPS (Virtual Private Servers)

With Virtual Private Servers, your imagined workstation is more “yours”, and it comes with extras – compared to shared web hosting you can expect a VPS to be extra-secure, with extra-large storage space and possibly an extra-fast internet connection.

Every VPS is somewhere in the middle of shared and dedicated servers. You and your fellow workmates still go to one place for work but this time you have your own cubicle, which you can personalise and control.

In hosting, this private cubicle means having your choice of operating system, along with your personal share of storage, CPU, RAM, and bandwidth (a lot of providers, including us, promise unlimited bandwidth).

Here are some key factors to consider when choosing or creating your own VPS plan:

Site performance. A lot of factors can speed your site up, or slow it down. When it comes to server hardware two biggies are CPU and RAM. “CPU” (or central processing unit) refers to a computer’s capacity to process data. “RAM” (random access memory) refers to memory space.

In general, more CPU and RAM means your server will run faster and handle more work. Think of it like this: more CPU cores let your server multitask, and more RAM lets it do those tasks faster. If your site gets busy enough to overload either your CPU or RAM, page load times will get longer, and eventually your site will crash.

Quality hardware. As well as looking at the number of CPU cores and gigabytes of RAM on offer, remember that we’re talking hardware so the actual machine matters, too. You don’t want your VPS sitting inside a years-old box that was built back when 4G phones were the latest thing. Ask about the hardware that providers offer. See if anyone else can match the NVMe storage that we put all our new customers on.

Server management. VPS are unmanaged services, which gives you big web management responsibilities that might distract you from growing your business. VPS providers, like MyHost, can aid you with managed services add-ons. While this would add some bucks to your bill, the reward is not needing to worry about web maintenance tasks as our engineers cover everything from monitoring to security.

In sum, from VPS you get:

  • Customisations
  • More storage
  • More speed
  • More bandwidth
  • More scalability
  • More control over server security

Recommendation: VPS is best for larger and fast growing businesses like ecommerce, especially if you can handle your own server administration.

Still undecided?

If you can’t make this call on your own, that’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We would be glad to work through your options with you. Just contact us to get started.

We can help you work out whether web hosting or a VPS suits you better, and once you’ve made that pick we’ll get you onto the right plan as well.

The benefits of going with MyHost

Our Web Hosting packages, which all come with free unmetered traffic, fully featured email and automatic backup, are optimised to be compatible with WordPress and integrate smoothly with Cloudflare.

As for VPS Packages, MyHost plans all include full root access; unlimited national bandwidth; 1 Free IP address; and free set up.

Every VPS is on high quality hardware and with automatic daily backups of your server stored for 14 days in a secure offsite location.

For every hosting solutions, we provide 24/7 support to all our clients. We guarantee a 99.9% uptime with robust performance and high speed, as well.

Every business is different, and web hosting isn't a one-size-fits-all thing. We've been helping New Zealanders strike the right balance for years, so if you have any questions, you know who to ask.


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