Sunday, January 30, 2011

VPS Hosting vs. Dedicated Server

Shared hosting is just not suitable for the needs of many website owners.  These are individuals and businesses who cannot afford to endure the security, stability and performance issues that have been known to come along with this environment.  Those with more demanding needs are often best suited for a dedicated server or virtual private server, more commonly known as VPS.
So what’s the difference and how do you choose between the two?  First, you need to make sure your goals are clearly defined.  What do you plan to accomplish with your website?  Will it simply be a static site full of articles or photos?  If so, you may not need a VPS or dedicated server at all.  Besides, most sites are hosted on a shared server, so this is certainly an option you want to keep open.  However, if your plans stem far beyond this, then it may be time to consider a more robust solution.  Once you have established this, making a decision becomes much easier.
Key Shared Qualities
A dedicated server and VPS share many common qualities.  Both give you a tremendous level of control when it comes to customizing your hosting environment.  For example, you typically have root access to the server, which allows you to perform various configurations, install custom software applications, and reboot the system.  These are luxuries you do not get in the shared hosting environment.
A dedicated and virtual private server also provide you with a fixed amount of resources, the former can just give you considerably more.  RAM, disk space, bandwidth and other resources are made exclusive to you, unlike in the shared hosting arrangement where they are shared with other users.  This factor makes these two types of web hosting very similar in terms of performance as each are far more stable than sharing hosting.
Key Differences
Before making a decision, you should know a little more about virtual private servers.
A VPS essentially resides on the same hardware as other virtual servers.  It is not a physical server, but a virtual entity that is simulated within the physical hardware using specialized virtualization software.  Thus, even though a VPS often looks and feels like a standalone dedicated server, it is actually running on a shared server.
The unique quality of virtualization technology is that the software isolates these virtual containers into their own separate compartments, making it so that they have no impact on one another.
The obvious drawback to a virtual private server is that it offers a smaller amount of critical hardware resources.  This is because there are divided amongst a number of other partitions on the  physical machine.  As far as choosing goes, these resources should be one of the major decision drivers.  Look at this way – a VPS hosting package may offer about 512 MB of RAM, but a dedicated server can provide up to 2 GB and often more.  This is a tremendous difference that can have an impact on many of your services and processes.
When it comes to scalability, performance, security and overall reliability, a dedicated server is the clear cut winner.  This type of hosting is ideal for large content-rich community sites, high traffic e-commerce applications, or any site that involves mission-critical operations.  These are website owners who cannot afford to suffer from the potential issues a VPS hosting environment presents.  On the other hand, if your web presence has yet to grow to the point where it warrants an entire server, going virtual could be the solution that provides a happy medium.  Once your site grows in popularity and attracts more visitors, you can then migrate over to a dedicated server to meet that demand.
Price Factor
A VPS hosting plan is often considerably cheaper than leasing a dedicated server, with some packages costing as low as $20.00.  When factoring in that it can provide many of the same benefits, you could say it really delivers great value. Virtual private servers are a big hit among software developers because it gives them a more reliable environment to run their applications while small business enjoy the added dose of power they lacked in their shared hosting environment.  For large companies however, price isn’t a primary concern, as they require the most reliable solution possible.
These factors should all be considered when choosing between VPS and dedicated hosting.  Taking them into account will help to ensure a smoother deployment of whatever type of server you decide on.