You’ve been writing for a while, and your blog is gaining traction. Each post takes a lot of time, and creating the images to support your written content is not a trivial task. You expect a fairly high number of unique visits every time you post something new, and you get even more traffic from search engines that have indexed your older content.
All of the things we just mentioned contribute to the increasingly large load placed on your server, and as time goes on, you (and your visitors) will likely notice its performance degrading.
Is It Time to Upgrade Your Hosting Plan?
One of the first things you should consider is upgrading the type of hosting you are using. If you are still working with that shared hosting plan you got when you were just starting out, it is probably time to think about shifting to a VPS plan (or even a dedicated server).
In this article, we will take a closer look at both VPS hosting and dedicated server hosting. We will cover their similarities and differences so that you can decide which option is best for you when you upgrade.
Determine Your Baseline
Before we get into the differences between VPS hosting and dedicated servers, we wanted to mention the basics of selecting a plan. Generally speaking, you will be choosing based on:
- The number of CPU cores (more = faster)
- How much RAM you want
- How much storage/disk space you need (as well as whether you want a faster SSD or a cheaper traditional option)
However, the resource allocation on a server is just one aspect to consider. You will also need to consider how many websites and blogs are allowed to use the server’s resources.
Option 1: VPS Hosting Is Virtually Private
Like virtual reality, Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting feels almost like having your own little world. VPS is similar to shared hosting in that multiple websites share the resources present on a single physical server. However, the difference between dedicated and VPS hosting are the restrictions placed on who can use the resources.
The web host uses a hypervisor, or software designed to create individual virtual machines on the server. This strict separation protects you from your neighbors, though all of you are still accessing a “shared” pool of resources (remember, though, that the server is likely to be more powerful and less “populated” than one used for shared hosting).
Furthermore, the resource allocation is divided evenly, and one website cannot take advantage of another’s resources (and vice versa). Think of it like owning a condo. Everyone can decorate their home to their own satisfaction — but they can’t knock down walls and take over their neighbor’s living room.
Option 2: Dedicated Servers Are All Yours
Dedicated servers are, as their name implies, servers that are wholly dedicated to serving your blog (and your blog alone). You are basically given an empty server, and you can put whatever you want on it.
Generally speaking, web hosts will offer several physical server configurations from which you can choose, though some will let you build a server that matches your specifications exactly.
A dedicated server contrasts sharply with a shared plan (where you have little to no control over your server environment) and a VPS option (where you have some control over your environment, but there are still limitations placed by your web hosting provider). Just as you choose the hardware you get, you have 100% control over the software that is installed onto your server.
How Does VPS Hosting Compare to Dedicated Servers?
There are a lot of similarities between VPS hosting options and dedicated servers.
Both options offer you increased control over your hosting environment, especially with regards to the software that is installed. Both options offer you the option of purchasing the specs that you need when it comes to hardware.
Though this analogy is overly simplistic, you can think of a VPS plan as a light version of a dedicated server. A VPS plan is set up like a shared plan but behaves like a dedicated server. A VPS plan offers you a chance to try out the most premium of hosting options, a dedicated server, without the cost.
It will be no surprise to you that VPS plans are cheaper than dedicated servers. When a web host can put multiple customers on a single server, they can charge less to each customer.
We’ve seen VPS hosting packages as low as a couple of dollars a month up to high-end options over $175 per month.
Extremely low-end dedicated servers might set you back about $5 or $40 per month, but a more realistic price for a quality offering is around $100/month (with the sky being the limit).
Managed vs. Unmanaged Options
One thing that we did not cover in the descriptions of VPS plans and dedicated servers above is the work that you need to put in to set up, configure, manage, and maintain your web hosting environment.
At one end of the spectrum are fully unmanaged plans, where you are responsible for most everything related to the server’s software (in the case of a VPS plan, the host will provision your virtual machine and leave the rest to you).
At the other end of the spectrum are fully managed plans, where the web host takes care of pretty much everything on your behalf — you decide what you need or want, and the web host’s staff is responsible for getting everything installed, configured, and maintained.
PRO TIP: Don’t confuse managed VPS or dedicated plans with “managed WordPress hosting.”
Most web hosts tend to fall somewhere in between these two extremes. You will need to speak with the web hosts you are interested in to see exactly what they offer (and what they do not). Not all managed hosts operate in the same way or offer the same services.
In addition to considering how much of these administrative tasks you want to tackle on your own (as well as what you are comfortable doing), you will need to consider your budget. No rule of thumb says how much managed services run, but they do have a cost (sometimes considerably so).
We have mentioned that one of the perks of upgrading from a shared hosting plan is to get full control over the software involved. One of the biggest decisions you will have to make is with regards to the operating system that is installed. Though you have choices, the number of choices you have are still somewhat limited — Linux and Windows options are common, while Macintosh is unheard of.
Generally speaking, opting for Windows hosting will result in higher hosting fees. That’s because Linux is open-source and free to use, while Windows needs to be licensed from Microsoft for use.