Do You Really Need A VPS? Optimised Shared Hosting vs VPSs
It turns out that a lot of the customers affected by the 123-reg mass deletion scandal should not have been on a VPS to begin with, especially considering their VPS was unmanaged. The problem is people want bigger, faster, better without actually understanding what bigger faster better entails or what it should ideally look like for that matter. So when presented with what appears to be better they jump on the bandwagon without truly understanding the implications.
More so than not, small businesses are just that, small businesses, not IT experts. As a result small businesses don’t necessarily understand the ins and outs of the technical aspects behind running a website or in this instance a web server. So we’ll look at the advantages of high quality, optimised shared hosting vs an unmanaged VPS and which one is right for you.
Why Do People Choose VPSs
Some customers affected by the 123-reg data loss say they moved to a VPS because their 123-reg shared hosting was too slow. This is understandable however a VPS shouldn’t be the first point of call if you’re experiencing poor website performance.
The problem is many large shared hosting providers focus on density rather than quality, meaning that they look at the most customers they can cluster onto a single server. This will often affect the performance of a server as a whole and hence all of the websites hosted on it. In contrast quality, optimised shared hosting will have more breathing space as well as better server configurations ie nginx reverse proxy or in our case Litespeed web server. You can have a look at this guide on attaining super fast performance on shared hosting. Although focused on WordPress a lot of the core principles will apply regardless of your application of choice.
So is a VPS faster than shared hosting? The answer is not always and especially if the VPS configuration isn’t refined as would be the case in many unmanaged instances. Furthermore, optimised shared hosting should be able to match the performance of a small VPS.
Advantages of a VPS Over Shared Hosting
There are going to be some use cases where only a VPS will do and here they are.
Flexibility is where a VPS will always win over shared hosting hands down. You are able to install almost literally anything that is compatible with your operating system and finely tune every setting to your hearts desire. This just isn’t possible with shared hosting and although many hosts will be able to make some adjustments specific to your needs it is often at their discretion.
A VPS is like having your own island. Technically you’re virtualised so you share hardware with others but what goes on in other neighbourhoods will seldom have any impact on you especially if resources haven’t been oversold. In contrast shared hosting has a reputation for customers . However quality shared hosts will have systems in place to mitigate the problems that arise from noisy or bad neighbours often to the point you wouldn’t even realise they exist.
Advantages of Optimised Shared Hosting over a VPS
If your use case doesn’t fall into those discussed in the advantages of a VPS section then it may be worth looking into quality shared hosting especially if you follow the principles discussed in the fast performance on shared hosting article referenced above.
A cheap unmanaged VPS isn’t going to cost you much relatively speaking and in fact a low end VPS is probably going to be in the same price range as quality shared hosting. However generally speaking you will invariably save money with shared hosting.
Securing a VPS is no easy feat especially if you aren’t a seasoned server admin or a technically inclined customer. Hackers are everywhere probing the internet for unprotected servers and launching a slew of attacks with the hopes of getting lucky and gaining access to websites and servers. Quality shared hosts are aware of this and will have a plethora of defences up to protect themselves and their clients from would be hackers. In contrast, what are the chances unmanaged customers have even updated the OS or other software on their server since it was provisioned?
Ease of Use
SSH anybody? If you are unfamiliar with those letters then you should definitely steer away from a VPS at all costs. As well as keeping on top of the security patches described above there are a slew of configurations and settings you will need to familiarise yourself with. In contrast shared hosting is pretty much plug and play and the professionals with the know how handle all that for you behind the scenes.
We’ve just seen the damage that can occur by being on an unmanaged VPS. The beauty of quality shared hosting is that manage many aspects of your site for you such as, and perhaps most importantly, backups. Having experts manage the things you know nothing about means you can rest easy and not worry about the plumbing behind your website.
So there it is. A VPS isn’t always going to give you the benefits you think it will over shared hosting. The key take aways are unless you are a server admin who knows what they’re doing or genuinely need a VPS it is probably in your best interest to find yourself a high quality shared host with optimised servers such as ourselves.