Shared vs VPS vs Dedicated Hosting

If you intend on running a Wordpress website or a site that uses a CMS like Joomla or Drupal, you will need to host that site somewhere. Typically the best way to do this is to host it with a web host like Siteground or Namecheap; however, it isn’t always that simple.

Web hosting companies these days all offer a broad range of options to choose from at varying prices and it can be hard to decide which product is best for you. In this article I will be going over what each product is, how they differ and which is the right product for you. content:

What is Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is as the name implies: shared. This means that you are sharing a sever with others. Typically how this will work is you will simply get a user on a system and access to a single instance of Apache and Nginx (web servers) that will let you run a website on.

Typically smaller plans will put you on a smaller server with less resources as well as giving you less storage and typically only a single web server instance. More expensive plans will usually give you a user on a larger servers well access to more web server instances so you can run multiple websites from the same server.

Now on the surface this seems like a bad deal, why would someone want to get a plan where they have to share a server with others? I'll explain with an analogy:why would you go out and buy a drill when all you need is a screwdriver. The analogy works well here because the cost of shared hosting is exponentially lower than VPS or Dedicated hosting. While you can get a Shared Server plan just a few dollars per month, VPS or Dedicated hosting can run anywhere from $20-30 to hundreds of dollars per month.

The other reason you might choose shared hosting is how you plan to use it. Say you have a website that gets 10k visitors per month. Now web hosting companies will make you believe that you will need a large web server to support all this traffic and shared hosting won't cut it. Well this is only a half-truth. Let me explain.

If you have a blog or online store that is constantly updated then yes it is true, you will need a bigger server and shared hosting won't cut it; however, if you simply have a static landing page that gets lots of hits, or a blog that is only updated once a day for example. You can opt for shared hosting + a free CDN from a provider like Cloudflare. The small server will only serve data to the CDN and the CDN will take over delivering the cached website to your visitors. This strategy will let you serve a large number of users and keep your overhead costs low at the same time.

What is VPS Hosting

VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting is the middle ground from shared hosting and dedicated hosting. When it comes to VPS hosting, you have exclusive access to the operating system, however the OS is stored on shared hardware.

This is accomplished with a strategy called Virtualization. Virtualization lets you run multiple operating systems on the same hardware. In this scenario it works like this: The web host has a server that has 12 CPU cores, 128GB of RAM and 2TB of Storage. Now to rent out the entire server for a single individual would be very expensive and likely complete overkill for their website.

As a result the web host will divvy up the server using virtualization and give each user 2 CPU cores and 16GB of RAM. This way the users all pay much less for the service and can still run their website without issue. But there are more advantages than just the more affordable cost. Unlike dedicated or shared hosting, you can easily add or remove storage as well as moving your server elsewhere with ease. So if your website all of a sudden gets more traffic you can add more resources to your server with a click of a button and likewise, if you realize you got a server that is too big for your website, you can reduce the amount of resources on the sever, saving you money on your web hosting service.

What is Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting is the most powerful, and the most expensive hosting option offered by web hosting companies. Dedicated Hosting is as the name impliesDedicated. When you opt for dedicated hosting, you can pick a server with specs, and decide which data center the web host installs it in. After this you have compete and exclusive access to that hardware.

This is the best and most flexible option however it is also the most expensive option. For example, dedicated hosting at Namecheap starts at $80/month and goes up to $250+/month. Dedicated hosting also has some unique trade offs. For one because these are individual servers you are purchasing, there are no "plans" and ever server will have a different price. Also setup will take longer, where you can gain access to a Shared Server of VPS within minutes, dedicated hosting requires the hardware to be installed and can take a few days. Lastly it will be quite difficult to upgrade or downgrade your hardware. While you can do this easily with VPS hosting, with dedicated hosting requires re-installing hardware, and migrating all your data.

Shared Hosting vs VPS Hosting

The primary difference between shared hosting and VPS hosting is the exclusivity. Shared hosting is basically a VPS that multiple users share. The price is much lower but as a result you have more restrictions, and less resources to work with because you are on a shared plan.

The other downside of shared hosting is that if you have a "noisy neighbor" that has a large site then it can eat into your usage. One other trade off that comes into play when you host email on a shared server. Because you are sharing the IP with other users, you run the risk of taking the blame for any spam they send. If another user on the server send a bunch of spam and Google marks that IP address as being spam, this will negatively affect you as well, even if you have nothing to do with it.

VPS (Virtual Private Servers) solve these issues by giving you exclusive access to your virtual server. Although VPS's are much more expensive than shared hosting, you have the advantage of controlling the OS, having dedicated resources and having a dedicated IP so you don't have to worry about getting falsely marked as spam.

VPS vs Dedicated Hosting

VPS Hosting and Dedicated hosting on the one hand are very similar but on the other hand very different. For starters, your experience and features of both will be exactly the same. With both your get root access, and have exclusive access to the operating system. However this is where the differences stop.

While a VPS is Virtual, Dedicated Hosting involves physical servers. So while you have exclusive access to sever with both options, with Dedicated Hosting you get access to both the software layer and hardware layer while on the other hand with VPS hosting you only get access to the software layer.

The other big difference is cost. While VPS hosting isn't cheap, it' still much cheaper than Dedicated Hosting. For example you can get a VPS from Namecheap for $19.99 per month for the most expensive plan. That's a lot for hosting but that pales in comparison to Dedicated Hosting which starts around $80/month.

Shared Hosting vs Dedicated Hosting

I wont write much here as there is not much of a comparison to be made. These are vastly different products both in features they offer and how much they cost not to mention they are intended for completely different types of users.

Whereas Shared Hosting is intended for hobbyists, small websites and generally small deployments that don't need that much power. Dedicated Hosting, on the other hand, dedicated hosting is intended for companies, large websites and large deployments that have multiple applications running on the same hardware.

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So which type of hosting is best for you? Well that depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Overall I would say that typically you will need less than you think. If you are looking to host a single website, try going with shared hosting before you opt for dedicated hosting. With CDN's these days helping speed up sites, you will most likely be able to get away with the cheapest web hosting until your site starts getting really big.