Advantages and Disadvantages of Shared Web Hosting Versus VPS
In order to have a website you need to purchase web hosting. The two most common types of web hosting are "shared web hosting" and "VPS Hosting". VPS stands for virtual private server hosting.
Shared web hosting is the entry level hosting and is what most new websites start off with. As the traffic to the website grows to the point where it outgrows the shared web hosting, the next level up is VPS hosting.
In this article we'll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of shared web hosting versus VPS hosting.
Advantages of Shared Web Hosting
The main advantage of shared web hosting is that of being inexpensive. Shared web hosting is among the least expensive web hosting plans out there. Less than $10 US dollars a month is common.
The reason why shared web hosting can be made this economical is the fact that the hosting company hosts or runs many websites on one web server. Sometimes hundreds or thousands of websites can be sitting on one server. Since most new websites start off with shared web hosting and do not have much traffic yet, one web server is powerful enough to support all those sites at the same time.
Examples of web hosts that provide shared web hosting services are bluehost.com, hostmonster.com, hostgator.com, dreamhost.com, GoDaddy.com, 1and1.com, and hundreds of others. Probably more web hosts provide shared web hosting than any other type of web hosting.
So the second advantage of shared web hosting is the fact that you have a lot of choice of web hosting companies to choose from. Most of these shared web hosting company will manage the server for you in terms of operating systems administration and software upgrades. Because the website owner do not have to do these things themselves, share Web hosting is a good place to start for first-time website owners or for those with less technical experience.
The web hosting company will also provide technical support to their shared web hosting customers. Look for those that will provide 24 x 7 phone support. And look for those that provide the popular CPanel software that enables the website owner to perform certain managerial tasks in regards to the website and hosting.
Disadvantages of Shared Web Hosting
The disadvantages of shared web hosting stem from the fact that one server supports multiple websites. That means that if the hosting company puts too many websites on one server, the performance of that server can degrade, causing your websites to load slowly and visitors will not get a snappy response time from your site. This leads to poor perception on the part of the visitor and they may not come back.
If any website on that server experiences a huge traffic spike, it will affect performance for all the websites on that server.
Another disadvantage of having so many websites on one server is security. If another website on the same server was hacked in such a way that the hacker was able to access the server, then your website on that same server can also be compromised, even though your website has no security holes.
If any website on that one server has a problem such as a runaway script or a virus, it may have the potential of bringing that server down, causing your site to be unavailable.
There are websites that started off with shared web hosting, but have outgrown it. By outgrow, it means that the website has attracted so much traffic that the shared web hosting server is unable to serve the pages in an optimal response time. The site can become so slow to the point that one of two things can happen. Either the website owner can not stand the slow performance of his/her site anymore and have to upgrade to another type of hosting plan. Or the shared web hosting company contacts the website owner and notifies him or her that the site can no longer be hosted on the shared webhosting plan. In effect, the web hosting company kicks the website off the server because the site is receiving so much traffic that it is degrading the performance of all the other websites that are hosted on that server.
This is the time when the website owner has to upgrade to another web hosting plan.
Advantages of VPS Hosting
One such plan is VPS, and it is the next level up.
VPS stands for "virtual private server", which means that the website is hosted on a server that is "virtually private". "Private" in the sense that the website owner feels like he or she has his or her own server. But in reality, multiple websites are still hosted on that one server. It is just that the server is configured in such a way that it appears to the the website owner that the whole server is his. The server runs in what is known as "virtual machines". A virtual machine is functionally equivalent to a separate physical computer. Although in reality, it still shares the same hardware.
The advantage of running a site on a VPS is that it provides independence from other websites on that server. Other websites on that server cannot affect your website in terms of security as it can with shared web hosting.
In general, VPS is able to support a higher level of website traffic than shared web hosting. VPS is in between shared Web hosting and dedicated hosting, where dedicated hosting is the next level up above VPS.
Disadvantages of VPS
In order to run a website on a VPS web hosting, you need to either have a certain level of technical expertise in administering Web servers or hire someone who does. That is because many VPS providers will not manage the server for you. This is because the server is supposed to be yours. You need to administer your own virtual private server. This is known as "unmanaged hosting". Some VPS providers will provide you with the popular viruozzo and plesk software for administering your server.
Some web hosting company that provides VPS are NetworkSolutions.com, Hostgator.com InMotion.com, zerigo.com, and many other -- but not as many as for shared web hosting.
Same as in shared web hosting, it is still possible for VPS providers to put too many websites on one server causing performance problems.
Finally, VPS is generally more expensive than shared web hosting.
If you are starting a new website, it is probably best to start off with shared web hosting. That way you can learn the ropes of web hosting, while having the web hosts administer the server for you and provide technical support.
Many websites will not outgrow their shared webhosting. If they do happened to outgrow shared web hosting, it typically take years to build up that kind of traffic. So starting off on inexpensive shared web hosting may be a good idea economically.
Unless you know for sure that you will outgrow shared web hosting and have the technical staff to administer a VPS server, then you can skip shared web hosting and start directly at VPS.
Alternatively you can also start at an higher level with dedicate hosting or cloud hosting. These are beyond the scope of this article, as the majority of the websites that are out there will not be at this level.