Virtual Private Server (VPS) plans are the next natural progression after shared hosting. However, the move does raise issues such as potential increase in cost and complexity of management. If you’re wondering when to make the move, read on.
Shared plans are often the first step users take into the world of hosting. They are cheap, easy to manage, and offer most things that beginner websites need to run. After gaining a bit of experience, it’s inevitable that many of you ask what’s next.
Understanding How VPS is Different
Shared hosting plans may sometimes cost more than VPS plans due to allocation of resources. However, to understand the need to move to VPS, you need to know the fundamental advantages.
VPS plans each reside in their own little isolated environment. Although you’re sharing a server with others, what they or you do will never affect each others’ hosting accounts. If they get hacked or catch a virus, it’s not a problem for you.
Aside from that, many VPS hosting providers often offer much better security features to their users. ScalaHosting for example, developed SShield – a unique real-time AI security feature for their VPS users.
Any resources allocated to your VPS plan belong to you alone. Unlike shared hosting, these resources are guaranteed to you at any time you want them. This eliminates the potential of resource bottlenecks on overworked servers.
VPS plans are highly scalable. You can request for more of any particular resource you need at any time. This gives you a high degree of flexibility and in fact, can lead to greater cost savings since you only pay for the things you need.
Since you have to administer what is essentially your own virtual server, there are many more things you can do in a VPS plan. For example, if you need to set up a particular development environment – the choice is up to you.
You can even create separate accounts within your VPS, each with their own environments, rules, and control systems in place. This kind of flexibility isn’t something you’ll find on shared hosting.
Knowing When to Make the Move
Since there can be a big difference between the capabilities of shared hosting plans between various providers, let’s consider some more general guidelines instead.
One metric that website owners always need to keep an eye on is volume of traffic. Each visitor takes up resources. The more you have, the more of everything you’ll need. If you note a steady increase in visitor volume – it’s time to start planning a move.
If you’re monitoring your volume and do notice an uptick trend, make sure you prepare for a move in advance. Don’t wait until problems crop up on your site before shifting. Have a plan in hand, update it a little when the time comes, and you’ll be good to go.
Another indicator that your plan isn’t able to cope with traffic is if you are starting to get regular warnings from your host. Shared plans have some measure of elasticity, but when you exceed limits, the host will send you a warning.
This is something that you actually want to avoid happening since hosting companies deal with it in different ways. There are some who may be a bit more tolerant, while others may shut down your account after the first warning!
Site Performance Drops
If you notice your website slowing down significantly or often coming up with error messages, that’s another indicator that things might be tough. When a server cannot handle the volume it is receiving, performance will fluctuate.
In a worst case scenario, you might even get hit by ‘508 Resource Limit is Reached’ errors. That’s the automated system of your host taking notice that you’ve gotten resource-hungry on your plan and is limiting it accordingly.
Need for Specialized Services
As your site develops, it may have more specialized needs. Some web hosting providers may not cater to these on shared hosting plans. In these situations, instead of seeking out another shared hosting provider you should consider a VPS plan instead.
Even if you can get certain extras on shared hosting, they often don’t advertise it and deliver on a case to case basis. Regardless, you’re at the mercy of the support team in these cases. For VPS you can do it yourself, or ask the host for help and it’ll be given.
If your business is growing or you’ve decided to expand digital operations, you may need to move to VPS as well. With more visitors your website you’ll need the increased capacity and reliability that come along with VPS plans.
Remember, any down time that your website suffers can have significant repercussions. Even if you are not selling products online, a site with dodgy performance can result in reputational damage – something not easy to rectify.
Starting on eCommerce
If you’ve decided to move some of your sales online to your website, then shared hosting isn’t the right solution for you. As long as you’re going to be accepting payments online then you need the increased security of a VPS plan.
In fact, in many cases your site will need to be PCI compliant in order to process payments. It is almost impossible to achieve such compliance with a website that is run on shared hosting.
Starting the VPS Journey
Once you decide to make the step on to VPS, there are a number of things you need to be aware of. Decisions you’ll have to make include the host you go with, how much you need in resources, location for your server, and more.
Whether you’re happy with your existing host or not, moving to VPS is the right time to conduct a re-assessment. One of the things that you cannot change once you’ve moved is improving the response speed of your host’s web server.
The amount of resources that you’ll need is a lesser concern since those are scalable. Just buy into a starter VPS plan and then scale up whatever resources you need. In almost all cases, scaling resources on VPS plans is very convenient and mostly instantaneous.
Location is also important, depending on the nature of your web traffic. The closer your web server is to your target traffic source, the faster your site will be for them. Keeping this in mind, web hosts that have a good geographic spread of locations are better.
You will also need to decide what kind of control panel you want for your account. This is important because depending on your site, it can end up costing you significantly more. Take the case of cPanel’s price hike for example.
Because of that increase in price, there have been many who turned to alternatives. One popular alternative is SPanel. It’s cheaper on licensing and also highly compatible with cPanel as well.
Another thing to consider will be the choice between Managed and Unmanaged VPS hosting. Although usually more expensive, Managed VPS plans have many advantages over unmanaged plans, especially for those new to the environment.
Of course, all the choices you make along the way are likely to affect the price you pay for your VPS plan. You need to be able to balance what you need so that everything sits within your budgeted amount.
Actually Making the Move
Once you’ve chosen your plan, actually moving your site is usually a very straightforward process. Some web hosts actually offer migration services for free. If you want to do it on your own, the general process will involve the following:
1. Create backups. This is just in case anything goes wrong. Remember that you need to backup not just your website and configuration files, but your database as well.
2. On your new host you have to set up your VPS server and make sure the environment is ready to use. Once this is ready, it’s time to move your files.
3. Moving files can be a time consuming process since you need to download and then upload everything again (both files and your database). Use a FTP client like FileZilla to make your life easier.
4. When everything has been moved you’ll still need to make the final tweaks for compatibility. It is unlikely everything will work at once, so this is where your troubleshooting comes in as well.
5. If everything is good to go, you can then start shifting your Domain Name Server (DNS) to point towards the new hosting account.
Conclusion: It’s Not as Scary as it Looks
If you’re serious about the growth of your website, a VPS plan is definitely something you want to plan for. Moving to one at the last minute can be a recipe for disaster. Always consider it in advance so you can draw up a game plan.
Take the time to look for various resources in advance. This will help you smoothen the process and take into account other factors, such as ‘what ifs’. Trust me on this, you’ll be grateful you did.