Time to make your business shine on the web? Creating a website can be fun, but many people fret about the technical side of things. In this article, we explain what a web host is, why VPS hosting is so popular, and how to get set up with VPS hosting for your new site.
A web host is like a home for your website, the service that gives you web server space for all the files and information on your site. It’s what a web browser communicates with when a customer visits your website, in order to get and display the right information to them. As a business owner, you don’t need to fully understand the ins and outs of what this means, but in order to create an effective website for your company, you’ll need to choose a web host.
Simply put, there are three types:
- Shared hosting
- VPS hosting
- Dedicated hosting
Shared hosting can be a good place to start, mostly because of its small price tag. For serious businesses, however, it has its risks and limitations, in part because you can’t control which other sites you share the server with, the growth and traffic of which can impact on your website’s performance. VPS hosting is often seen as the middle ground, or the sweet spot, in the world of hosting, while dedicated hosting is the Rolls-Royce equivalent, very solid but also noticeably more expensive than other solutions.
How do I know if VPS hosting is right for me?
If your site is already live with a shared-hosting solution but it’s starting to seem a little slow and unreliable, it’s likely that it’s time to upgrade to VPS hosting. You’ll notice an immediate and significant improvement in your website’s performance straight away – something that’s likely to pay off quickly, considering a page-load time improvement from eight seconds to two seconds has been shown to represent a 74% boost in conversion rates.
Even if you’re still at the design stage and you have yet to find a web host, it’s worth considering going straight for a VPS solution if you want some flexibility and the ability to grow. Most serious businesses worth their salt will pretty quickly start to enjoy the benefits of a VPS solution over a shared-hosting solution, while the next step up and dedicated hosting is pricey enough to need more consideration and commitment.
How does it work, and what do I get?
When you choose VPS hosting, what you get is your own piece of a virtual server. This means that you decide exactly how much space you pay for – and this can change as your business grows. Without getting into too much of the technical detail, it’s worth knowing that a VPS gives you significant advantages when it comes to access. You get full access to the operating system, along with administrator permissions, meaning that you can configure the VPS to your unique needs.
A principle called virtualization, which divides a single physical server across multiple virtual machines, and special software called a hypervisor make VPS hosting significantly more secure than shared hosting. This is because the different virtual servers don’t share the same IP address, so one website’s security compromise won’t adversely affect other sites on the same server. In addition, you can host multiple websites on your VPS, be it client websites or development sites in addition to your main website.
What are the benefits of VPS hosting?
We’ve touched on some of these already, but here are the key reasons why businesses choose VPS hosting:
- Control and customization
As mentioned above, VPS hosting gives you full access to the operating system. This is important if, among other things, you want to install certain applications and are keen to be fully on top of traffic management.
The value of this can’t be overstated. Cyber attackers are more likely to target high-traffic websites, and the account isolation of a VPS solution makes your website less vulnerable to such attacks.
When a marketing campaign suddenly pays off, a big sale brings a huge spike in traffic or your brand gets an unexpected boost, you’ll be too busy to change web hosts or negotiate on upgrade solutions, and you’ll be very grateful for the ability to scale up with ease with your existing VPS host.
Perhaps you don’t even notice the spikes when they happen, and perhaps you don’t actually need more server space – but when the traffic to your site ebbs and flows, you need your host to be able to handle it. This is possibly the most frustrating downside to shared hosting: you might experience downtime just as things are about to take off. A VPS host is far less likely to let you down.
- Customer service
This is rarely the first thing people look for when choosing a web host, but perhaps it should be. You won’t notice it until you really need it, but when you do, there’s nothing worse than to realize that you’re on your own, or that the customer support agent has logged off for the night. A combination of the slightly more complex technical nature of VPS hosting and the fact that you are in fact paying a premium for the service means that most VPS hosts offer 24/7 support – with enthusiasm, expertise and a smile.
It’s not the cheapest, sure, but it really is worth mentioning price as one of the main advantages of VPS hosting, because the difference in all of the above is so significant in comparison to shared hosting that the added cost will seem like a no-brainer in most cases.
What should I look for in a VPS host?
So you’ve decided that VPS hosting is the right solution for you – but how do you know exactly which provider to go with? Consider the below factors, and you should be able to make an informed decision fairly easily.
- Uptime and speed – do the site performance metrics of the VPS plan meet the needs of your site?
- RAM, storage, bandwidth, CPUs – will the virtual server’s dedicated resources do the job?
- Windows VPS versus Linux VPS – does the plan offer the kind of server you want?
- With the risk of sounding like a broken record, you don’t want to be disappointed when you need help the most, so do check customer service reviews and guarantees.
- It’s true that you get what you pay for, but what can you afford, and what are you willing to compromise on?
- For the techies and developers out there, don’t take root access for granted – if you need it, make sure you get it.
There are few good reasons other than a very limited budget to opt for shared hosting over VPS hosting. But you don’t need to splash out on dedicated hosting for your business website to be solid, secure and supportive of your needs. With a little bit of research, and by asking the right questions, you can enjoy a powerful website with scope for growth, supported by a VPS host.