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When Should We Switch to VPS

VPS strikes a balance that is valued by many businesses

A middle-of-the-road solution between dedicated servers and shared hosting is a balance that makes a lot of sense for many businesses. Such a service exists and is called a virtual private server (or VPS). VPS offers webmasters a way to host their own server, but without the higher costs and complexities of dedicated servers. Here's more about whether VPS strikes the right balance for you.

What Is a VPS?
When a website uses shared hosting, it shares memory, hard drive space and CPU cycles with other sites on the same server. If one site gets hacked, there is a chance that other sites on the same server can get hacked. If one webmaster uses up all the server resources, other sites on the same server suffer. Some web hosts place hundreds of sites on the same server, so each site is at the mercy of other webmasters.

VPS is a virtual server solution that segments customers into virtual compartments. Each customer site is “sandboxed” from the others. Each virtual server runs in its own separate “space” on the server, and each webmaster is limited to her own private virtual server. The virtual servers run on the same physical machine, but memory is not shared with other customers. A customer who uses up all resources on a virtual machine will not affect other customer sites on separate virtual machines.

From a webmaster’s perspective, VPS runs similar to a dedicated server. The webmaster can remote control, log in and view the server’s desktop as if it was a dedicated server. Resources such as storage space and installed applications are usually set up when the webmaster signs the hosting contract, but the webmaster can scale resources if more are needed in the future.

When Is It Time for a VPS?
VPS is generally more expensive than shared hosting, so most webmasters hold out on upgrading. However, shared hosting is only a viable solution when the site is starting out and doesn’t have much traffic. Once traffic increases, the website can suffer with performance if it’s sharing server resources with hundreds of other sites. Performance issues not only harm user experience, but they also affect search engine rank.

The webmaster should consider VPS when traffic is increasing, but there are other reasons to host a VPS. Although the VPS is given one IP address, the webmaster can host several sites on one server. This means that if the business runs several websites on shared hosts, the sites can be consolidated into one VPS solution. The webmaster can manage every site in one location instead of logging in to several different dashboards. Instead of paying for several shared hosting accounts, the business pays for one virtual server account. Even though VPS solutions are more expensive for one website, consolidating multiple sites into one VPS solution can actually prove to be a cheaper solution.

Some Small Cons to VPS
Every solution has a few downsides, and VPS is no exclusion to the rule. Each web host offers different support, but VPS generally means the webmaster is in charge of backups and server maintenance. Some web hosts offer a managed solution, so the webmaster has support if technical issues occur.

The one Achilles heel for VPS is that all virtual machines are still hosted on one physical device. If the one physical machine crashes, all virtual servers are wiped. This means the webmaster must be diligent in creating backups that aren’t located on the virtual server. The web host is responsible for the physical machine and will re-establish VPS connectivity, but this means the VPS starts from scratch and backups will be needed to recover data.

While there are a few negative points when moving to VPS, the pros offer much better performance, control and cost-efficient ways to manage several websites. VPS is a great solution for growing businesses that need to move beyond the limitations of shared hosting.

This is a special guest post by Jennifer Marsh. Jennifer is a software developer, programmer and technology writer and occasionally blogs for email hosting provider Rackspace Hosting.

More Stories By Amy Bishop

Amy Bishop works in marketing and digital strategy for a technology startup. Her previous experience has included five years in enterprise and agency environments. She specializes in helping businesses learn about ways rapidly changing enterprise solutions, business strategies and technologies can refine organizational communication, improve customer experience and maximize co-created value with converged marketing strategies.

Connect with Amy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest.

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