Over the past few weeks I’ve been looking at the different hosting options for your business. Last time out I examined some of the pros and cons of using shared hosting services (if you’ve missed it, you can read it here) and whilst shared hosting services can be a great entry level solution, they do have some limitations. In this article, I’m putting Virtual Private Servers under the spotlight.

If you are aiming to host an ecommerce or a website which receives lots of traffic, or even some software applications, then a Virtual Private Server or VPS may be the answer. Before I look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using a VPS let’s recap on how the technology works.

From a technical point of view, a virtual private server has some similarities with a shared hosting system: A VPS is a partitioned section of a server. Unlike a shared hosting service, you can access and manage your own view of the operating system, giving you greater control over its resources.

It’s for this reason that a virtual private server is suited to a wider range of uses. However the main reason Virtual Private Servers are a popular choice amongst small businesses and web developers is because they can provide reasonably good performance for a website at a reasonable price point..

Virtual Private Servers vs Dedicated Virtual Private Servers:
It’s perhaps worth noting that some providers make a distinction between Virtual Private Servers and Dedicated Virtual Private Servers. In reality the technology used in the two systems is identical. The main distinction appears to be Dedicated VPS systems tend to provide more resources, however this comes with a caveat: and depends on the Hosting Provider. Some can be over enthusiastic with the use of words and promises and it’s worth remembering that there can be fundamental differences in the service being offered. If you are paying more for dedicated resources always check that the resources promised are available at least some of the time.

Most VPS providers provide a level of resources and sometimes providers also offer additional resources when they are not being used by others. Just like a shared hosting service, a VPS system should be considered as an entry level service and it’s worth noting that although they provider greater control and flexibility over the hosting environment, some of the underlying server resources are shared with other users.

No matter what type of VPS service your business uses, it is always advisable to test the systems from the user’s perspective, particularly during peak times.

Pros:
– Good for hosting a single business website,
– You can host multiple static sites with low volumes of traffic
– Can be used for hosting small applications, maybe as a development or beta testing environment.
– Provides some control over your hosting environment, including ability to set up and manage some server settings.
– Some of the management, including security patching of the underlying server is carried out by the hosting provider.

Cons
– VPS are a shared platform and it is possible for others to impact upon the performance of your system. One problem with a shared process will affect all.
– VPS costs more to run than a shared hosting plan
– Requires more technical knowledge
– Performance: although better than a shared hosting plan, there can be limitations on the technology. Beware of false promises! Always check that you are getting what you are paying for.

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