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2015's Best VPS Hosting Services
Let's review a complete run-down of this year's best VPS hosts, nominated for offering generous resources with the lowest price possible, as well as their reliability and dedication to customer service.
The point of this review is to give you the comparison information you'll need to make your own informed decision as an upcoming VPS user, and was compiled with the "at-home webmaster" in mind.
This VPS review is based on service offerings vs. price. All plans reviewed have modern statistics and display each host's 'Tier 1' plan offering - the lowest priced tier that small businesses and at-home webmasters would consider.
Narrowing Down the Best VPS Hosts
It's not easy compiling a 'best of' list. The one you're about to see was created by choosing only the VPS hosts that fit the following qualifications:
- Good Business Standing: Only solid, stable VPS hosts with years of seniority, proven customer service reputation and significant "clout" or brand awareness in the web hosting world were selected
- Mandatory Features: They must include both managed hosting and cPanel -- two vital features for anyone looking to run serious websites without having to pay an additional monthly fee
- Best Bang For the Buck: The services must offer an ample amount of resources for a low monthly fee. This is where 'big brands' always shine through: they offer much more for much less.
- "Good Neighborhoods": The reviewed VPS hosts must not allow the hosting of illicit or illegal categories of websites. When these 'bad neighborhood' sites are not allowed, everybody else benefits, as the host doesn't receive any sort of negative 'carbon footprint' with search engines.
Top 5 Best VPS Hosts: 2015
RAM: 1 GB | HDD: 50 GB Bandwidth 5 TB | $50/mo
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With generous RAM and Bandwidth offerings and top-notch customer service & response time, this is a standard go-to VPN host that continues to get recommended on the most trafficked web hosting forums.
RAM: 1.5 GB | HDD: 100 GB Bandwidth 4 TB | $50/mo
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Having a priority placed on disk space, WiredTree's large 100 GB disk space is attractive for those hosting and sharing large files directly off of the server. Additional resources can be purchased a-la-carte.
RAM: 1 GB | HDD: 60 GB Bandwidth 1 TB | $50/mo
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HostGator entered the VPN market with nearly identical pricing to its competition -- their 1GB "Snappy 1000" plan is actually a Tier 2 service plan. Pay even less ($20/mo) with their Tier 1 "Snappy 500" VPN plan.
RAM: 768 MB | HDD: 25 GB Bandwidth 3 TB | $25/mo
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This attractive tier-1 VPN hosting plan stands out from the competition by costing 50% less than competitors, sacrificing some memory and disk space. However, it comes with one of the most generous bandwidth offerings and has a-la-carte resource pricing.
RAM: 1.5 GB | HDD: 60 GB Bandwidth Unlt'd* | $55/mo
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The only host offering unlimited bandwidth (with fine print attached); ServInt continues to be known for great customer service, albeit, the highest prices in the industry after a price increase in 2014.
Important Considerations When Choosing A Plan
Before choosing a VPS package, keep the following information in mind:
- Start off with the smallest VPS package: If you outgrow it, you can simply upgrade to the next tier, and your host will give you enough advance warning via automated emails before that becomes absolutely necessary. Having an "overkill" of resources from day one is simply wasteful on your budget.
- Don't let huge numbers fool you: Many customers tend to get starry-eyed over VPS hosts that offer huge bandwidth numbers, when they'll never even use 1/5th of it. For example, note that even half a TB (about 500 GB) is overkill for the average webmaster or small business' monthly consumption. Focus more on choosing the webhost that offers the attributes you need most for your particular sites. Downloadable file sites and video sites need more hard drive space, for example.
- Some things can't be put into numbers: When prospecting VPS hosts, always remember that customer service means a lot. It's also something that can't be put into numerical format and stuck on a comparison grid. For instance, companies like KnownHost and ServInt are heralded for their outstanding customer service being such an asset, that it gives them more customers than competing brands that offer more resources. Get to know each VPS host's stand on customer service and turnaround time.
- Keep "extra services" at bay: Additional services can drastically increase your monthly bottom line. If you want add-on features like Fantastico (an application installer script that instantly sets up Wordpress sites), additional IP addresses or other premium features, it will cost you...so, the numbers you see above will become a bit more bloated if you add such features. Sometimes, it's better to deal without them, and consider them only if they become an absolute necessity at some point in the future.
What Makes A Good VPS Hosting Service?
We all want tons of space, bandwidth and everything else -- but, those factors alone don't make a VPS host 'great.' Here are several other aspects of business you'll want out of your host. Keep in mind, you're paying them a monthly fee and you're entitled to a degree of good service for it:
- Quick Response Time: This is amongst the most important parts of a VPS host's customer service quality. If something goes wrong, how long will it take for them to respond (even if it's at 3 AM?) We're not living in a day in age where a downed website is acceptable. If you're not an advanced server admin, you'll really be relying on your host's support to pull through in the clutch.
- Updates Provided To You: Your VPS host should be updating your version of cPanel and other vital components of your server-side software so that you won't have to. When I had a dedicated server, I was responsible for doing this myself, and it was a nightmare. Nothing beats having someone do it for you, and this should be a standard practice with all of today's top VPS hosts.
- Your Host Stays Competitive: A good VPS host will realize when their competitors are offering more features or a lower price tag, and they should be re-evaluating their own pricing and offerings on an annual basis. Hosts like ServInt are well known for boosting features at no cost when their competitors do it. It's simply good customer service, and any host not doing this should be re-considered after a year or two of hosting with them.
- Protection: Any decent VPS host will have measures provided to you, by default, that help protect against common issues like brute force attacks. If their software doesn't do this for you, their support should help if these issues should ever arise (they're common for webmasters running Wordpress or Joomla sites). Will your customer support help you resolve and recover from an attack? They will, if their customer service is on par.
Why Choose VPS?
Top 5 Reasons Why VPS Hosting Is the Best Option
VPS is basically somewhere between "shared" and "dedicated" hosting, and its benefits over both of these alternatives are dramatic. Here are the top 5 main reasons why VPS is such a great choice for the at-home webmaster:
- It's inexpensive: VPS prices have declined over the years. It costs nowhere near as much as a dedicated server would with a typical low-tier VPS plan running around $600 per year -- a very manageable price that is the prime candidate for being written off as a business expense for tax day.
- It offers a lot of resources: Think about how much stuff 10 GB holds on your computer hard drive -- that's far less than what a VPS account will offer you. Considering how most Wordpress or Drupal-powered websites are tiny and lightweight, it's obvious to see that you're getting far more resources than your sites will ever use. This is why it never makes sense to start off with anything but the lowest priced VPS account with a host.
- It comes with more freedom: VPS offers more 'freedoms' than shared hosting. With VPS, you'll get unlimited domain and FTP accounts, dedicated IP addresses, free server backups, 24/7 monitoring and a timely administrative support ticket system that will take you far more seriously than they would with a shared hosting customer.
- No "Funny Business": Shared hosting typically offers gimmicks like "unlimited bandwidth and disk space," but this is never true. These unlimited resources are always metered by the amount of 'inodes' or PUT and GET commands being used. If you exceed these, your account gets closed...sometimes without warning. This never happens with VPS hosting.
- You'll never have to interact with the hardware: VPS accounts come with host-managed hardware. You'll never have to get up at 3 AM to reboot the server when it's down. You'll never have to configure hard-to-understand server settings, and most importantly - you'll never have to upgrade cPanel or other server-side software. The opposite is true for dedicated hosting.
Know Your Plan
VPS Plan Offerings, and What They'll Mean to You
Of all resources and perks offered in a VPS account, it's up to you to determine which will take priority for the work you plan to do. Here are the typical industry buzzwords, terms and plan offerings and what you'll need to know about each:
- RAM: For the most part, running sites that are very server-intensive will use up a lot of memory. Sites run by Wordpress with standard plugins typically don't require a lot of resources, though. Also, if you plan on running third party server-side software (the vast majority of users do not), it might require more memory than usual.
- Burst RAM: All VPS hosts advertise this separate kind of RAM. Basically, 'Burst RAM' is a type of "RAM pool" or reserve RAM that all server customer accounts will automatically tap in to in times where they exceed their own memory limit. It's not exactly something you'd ever rely on, therefore, it shouldn't be a consideration when choosing a VPS host.
- HDD: Disk space depends entirely on what kinds of files you're planning to upload. Use your computer's hard drive as a rule of thumb. How much space does it currently use on the backups of your websites? Most VPS web hosts give you far more space than you'll ever use when hosting commonplace websites.
- Bandwidth: Also known as "transfer," bandwidth is the data transfer to and from your account, and it is accessed every time anything website-related is loaded by anyone, anywhere. The amount of bandwidth you'll need is very subjective. For most common websites, whatever you'd get with a standard VPS is almost always more than enough. However, if you're hosting thousands of downloadable files that thousands of people access daily, you'll want to choose a VPS host with a high bandwidth offering.
- Managed Service: This phrase directly relates to your server's control panel -- specifically, cPanel. It means that you'll be able to manage your server through a GUI. Many people confuse it to mean that the web host will give you some sort of "management" services from their staff, but that's not what it refers to.
- Support: All VPS support is provided through a ticket system on your host's website. You'll be able to prioritize how important your issue is. Good hosts will get back to you in under a half hour (many times, even under 15 minutes!) You'll want fast, reliable support in the event that you make a disastrous mistake that you can't fix, or if you need help installing difficult 3rd party scripts on your account.
- Backups: It is the responsibility of all web hosting users to back up their entire account -- not doing so is foolish. Hosting accounts can be fully backed up through cPanel on a regular weekly schedule of your choosing. Many of the better VPS hosts, however, will also backup your account for you on their end (this is known as an "off-site backup"). By having both of these measures, you'll ensure that your stuff is double backed up, and ready to restore if something bad happens!