When your business website reaches the point where it’s constantly consuming a higher amount of server resources than what its current shared plan can handle, that starts to negatively impact its performance and loading speed. And that’s when you should consider moving to a more advanced hosting solution. The two options you have in such case are: a dedicated server or a virtual private server (VPS).
Renting a fully dedicated server is a costly and complicated task that may make more sense for large corporations having their own dedicated IT team. A VPS, on the other hand, is much more affordable and easier to set up, and it gives you almost all of the advantages of a dedicated server.
Beginners who have no previous experience with dedicated or virtual servers may get a little overwhelmed while trying to find the best VPS provider for their business website. If you are one of those beginners then keep on reading.
This is going to be a basic guide on the most essential features to seek in a VPS service, and without further ado, let’s get cracking!
Linux vs. Windows VPS
The first thing you have to determine is whether you need a Linux-based or a Windows-based VPS. The majority of web servers use the Linux OS, which is currently the default option that most web hosting providers offer. There are many free Linux distributions out there that can save you a lot of money as opposed to using commercial Linux distributions or Windows.
The only case where you should consider using a Windows VPS is if you’re going to run any Windows-only apps, such as ASP.NET and MSSQL. Keep in mind though that since the Windows OS isn’t free, VPS servers that are powered by Windows are normally more expensive than their Linux-powered counterparts.
Managed vs. Self-Managed
Server management isn’t always included with VPS packages. Many hosts let you choose between a managed service or a self-managed one. The latter requires you to have the proper knowledge and experience to set up the server software on your own. All software installations, configurations, security settings, troubleshooting and maintenance will be your sole responsibility. This obviously comes at a lower cost but requires more time and manual work to ensure everything keeps working properly.
Managed VPS takes care of all such technical tasks, and thus it’s a more suitable option for website owners who lack the technical skills and/or the time to invest in doing things themselves. When you purchase a managed VPS, you basically just tell the support team which software you want to be installed on your server and they’ll get everything set up and configured for you.
It’s worth noting that not all managed VPS plans come with the same level of support. There may be some limitations on the type of software and technical issues the support team can help with, so always check to confirm that they provide the level of support you’re looking for before you proceed with your order.
Each VPS works as a separate server that runs its own self-contained software. During initial setup, you’ll have to determine which software to be installed on your server, and you’ll usually have different options to choose from. What’s included for free and what’s available as a paid add-on varies from one company to another.
In terms of the operating system, CentOS 7 and AlmaLinux are two of the most popular free Linux distros for web hosting purposes. If you’d like to use a premium OS instead, such as CloudLinux, then you must purchase a license for an additional monthly or yearly fee.
You’ll also need web server software. Apache is sort of the default free web server that usually comes with managed VPS accounts. But if you are interested in a faster web server, LiteSpeed offers improved performance and it does require a paid license.
The third key software component is the control panel. The most commonly used web hosting control panel is cPanel, but this one doesn’t come cheap. More affordable alternatives include DirectAdmin and Plesk. Some companies may also have their own custom-built control panel that can be used at no additional cost.
Different security solutions may be needed to protect your server from potential threats and attacks. One of the most important security features is real-time malware protection with automatic scanning and removal functionalities. This is of particular importance to small business websites that store sensitive customer data.
Protection against DDoS and brute force attacks is another vital feature for websites that are more susceptible to such threats. Some providers utilize their own built-in security tools, while with others you may have to use a third-party security solution at an additional cost.
Scalability, which can be simply defined as the ability to automatically upgrade or downgrade your server resources, is one of the main strengths of VPS hosting. Some companies only give you the option to upgrade or downgrade between their fixed plans. Others offer a more flexible configuration and let you scale up/down individual resources. A pay-as-you-go, cloud-based VPS plan is the most economical option to look into.
Finding a VPS hosting service that meets your requirements and expectations may take more effort and time if you have no previous experience with dedicated hosting. This article aimed to simplify the process for you by explaining some of the main options you’ll encounter as you check out different companies and deals.
Interesting Related Article: “An Introduction to Using VPS Servers For Your Business“