A Virtual Private Server, or VPS, is a hosting solution that provides much of the functionality of a dedicated server at significantly lower cost. With a VPS, your virtual server will share the resources of a hardware server with the other virtual servers running on it. However, unlike traditional shared hosting where your site competes for resources with all the other sites on the server, your virtual server is assigned its own dedicated resources on the server that the other virtual servers cannot use. This makes a VPS a common stepping stone up from shared hosting. So, when should you consider changing to a VPS?
Room to Grow
The first reason would be for scalability. As mentioned before, when your website runs on a shared server it is competing against the other sites on the server for resources. With a VPS you are assigned an amount of RAM, disk space and CPU allocation that can be used to run your website, service or whatever you feel like doing with the server. You also aren’t limited to the amount of resources that you can use. You can purchase extra resources and use them to increase the resource allocation to your VPS at any time. Similarly, when you don’t need as many resources on your server you can reduce what you’ve assigned the server. This means your server can always have the right amount of resources available for your site to run at its best.
The next reason could be that you need customization. With shared hosting the service is provided very much on a “you get what you are given” basis. Your hosting provider will have set up the server for how they want it to run. Oftentimes this is fine for a number of general websites, but if you need anything custom then they usually won’t change the configuration for you. With a VPS you are in charge by having root (administrator) access, so you can configure it to meet your exact requirements, whatever they may be.
On a similar note to being able to customize the software installed on the server, you can also choose the operating system you want to run. Commonly, shared hosting providers use Linux distributions to run their servers, if you need a specific Linux distribution or even a UNIX distribution or Microsoft Windows then you may struggle to find a shared hosting provider that can give you what you want. With a VPS, you can choose which operating system you have installed on it, further increasing the amount of customization available to you.
Another reason to consider moving to a VPS is you need more security for your server. When you use shared hosting, your hosting provider has usually invested some time to make sure that the server is as secure as they can make it. Providers then have a range of customers running a load of different websites on the server. Some of these customers may not be very good at keeping their sites up to date or may use poor quality website software that could create weak spots for a hacker to get access to or control of the server. With a VPS you know exactly what is installed on your server and can ensure the software is kept up to date and secure.
Reliability and Respectability
Finally, the last reason that would indicate it’s time to upgrade to a VPS is that your site’s reputation is being damaged by your host. Similar to before, when many different sites are being run on the server, some may be being used for nefarious purposes, or others may get hacked, and you could find yourself sharing a server with sites used for phishing scams or sending spam. This can reduce the reputation of all the sites hosted on the server in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization, or how search engines like Google rank your site in search results). By hosting your site on a VPS, you can ensure that your site and server maintain a good reputation.
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