When we start out with our blog we have no clue what a VPS or dedicated server is, we get a hosting account and that is it, well, for most of us anyway. Most people learn after a while when their traffic goes up that they are on a shared hosting which has a limitation, little freedom and no power of customization. Of course, this all varies from hosting to hosting. Some hosting providers offer more freedom than the others. But in the end, once we start receiving some high traffic the question comes up, should we upgrade to VPS or dedicate server?
Let’s first lay down the basics of what our basic shared hosting has, compared to VPS servers or better yet, dedicated server.
This is the bottom, the very basic of your own hosting you can get. You have some freedom but what is it exactly and why is to so cheap that we can get it for as low as $3 per month? Well, the name speaks for itself; you share one server with a number of other people. So basically your site A, and sites, B, C, D and all up to H, for example, are on the same server, the only thing that separates you is that each of your websites uses different partitions. But that means you are on the same IP address, also, if the hosting company goes overboard with placing a website on one server you will start fighting for memory, bandwidth and CPU.
Most companies know their limit pretty well, and this will rarely happen, but for blogs it is very easy to get surges of traffic and what happens in those moments is that your website can crash, and that is a thing none of us wants. At one point this SEO blog reached a certain peak point where shared hosting wasn’t enough, and every third visitor had to see an apology page because we couldn’t handle that sort of load. Well, the natural solution was to move up, so we did, we moved to a VPS server.
VPS server or in other words, Virtual Private Server is also as the name says, a Virtual server. So basically you still have a shared hosting, you and someone else can have a website on the same server, but each of you has his own virtual server that is private only for you and you are accessing it as the root user. It’s just like a virtual machine you can install on your computer, the concept is the same.
The benefits of a VPS server are that it’s customizable, has greater functions and still a very approachable price compared to a full dedicated server. You also have a limited RAM and disk space, but that can be scaled to your needs. Of course, the more you go up the higher the price. But it’s great as you can fit it to your needs. Also, you can have your own unique IP.
Dedicated server is obviously the top of the line; it is a private server which you can customize to your liking starting from an operating system of your choice to hardware and performances. This is usually expensive and is only for company websites that require specific customizations.
So back to the question, VPS or Dedicated Server? Well if you are a blogger the answer is simple, if you are reaching the traffic levels where your shared hosting can’t help you anymore it is obvious that you should go to a VPS server. Start with the lowest level and scale it to your needs, so you wouldn’t have to pay more than you need to. I hope that one day you will have so much traffic that you will need a dedicated server, but until that day comes you can have great customization privileges and all the space and bandwidth you need on a VPS server, and you won’t have to pay much.
If you want to learn more about web hosting and how it actually works I suggest reading through The Beginner’s Guide to Small Business Website Hosting.