The Complete Guide to VPS Hosting: From Beginner to Advanced

InterServer Web Hosting and VPS

VPS hosting can be a great solution for newbies just starting out. It’s simple to use and comes with a wide range of features, which is why it’s such an important choice for anyone looking to build their business. Plus, VPS hosting is often cheaper than traditional options, so it’s the perfect way to get started in the tech world.

The Complete Guide to VPS Hosting: From Beginner to Advanced

Web hosting is a tricky business – there are a wide variety of options out there designed to fit a wide range of needs, but like with most things, there are trade-offs. Shared hosting is usually cheap and easy, but the resources are limited. Dedicated servers are powerful and customizable, but a certain level of technical knowledge can be required to run them, depending on the hosting company you choose.

What happens, then, when your site is too big and gets too much traffic for a shared hosting plan, but doesn’t require the resources (or expenditure) of a dedicated server? If you find yourself asking these questions, then you should look into VPS hosting. Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is a flexible, scalable, and economical hosting solution that can fit the needs of almost any kind of website.

It’s a perfect solution for those who have outgrown their shared hosting plans but don’t really need to move to a dedicated server. One thing to note before we dive in to examining the features and benefits of a VPS –  the specs on a VPS vary widely from host to host. To see if a certain host offers a certain feature, make sure to ask the provider.

So What IS VPS, Anyway?

In answering this question, maybe it’s better to examine how VPS hosting fits in to the overall offerings of most hosting companies. Shared hosting is just that – your site is hosted on a machine with a bunch of other sites, and each of you share the same resources, including RAM, disk space, and CPU.  Your site uses what it needs if it’s available, and if it’s not – well, that’s the limitation of shared hosting.

Likewise, a dedicated server is also self-explanatory –  your site is the only one hosted on server, and you have all the aforementioned resources available at your beck and call. Dedicated hosting is therefore  for those large sites with big databases and lots of traffic, whereas the limitations of shared hosting’s usually prevent it from housing that kind of site. Dedicated servers are also relatively expensive, while one can get a shared hosting plan for under $10 per month.

A Look at VPS Resources

So that’s it, then – a VPS is for everything in between, right? Well, yes…and no. A VPS (Virtual Private Server) is a flexible solution that falls between shared and dedicated hosting, not only in price but also in how9 it functions.

Like a dedicated server, a site hosted on a VPS gets its own RAM and disk space; however, like a shared server, it uses the same processing capacity (CPU) as a certain number of other sites. So, while your site’s performance isn’t reliant on shared RAM and disk space, it is dependent on a shared processor. Moreover, the distribution of processor share varies from provider to provider.

As you can see, a VPS can be the perfect middle ground for many – enough flexibility and resources for those who need more access or control than on a shared server but without the cost of a dedicated server.

If you need root access, you can’t get that on a shared server, but you can get it on a VPS. If your site experiences unpredictable swings memory usage, and your host provides it, then the presence of burstable memory will be attractive. And, if you’re a fan of customization, then the fact that you can customize server-level software such as PHP, MySQL, and Apache will perk your interest.  In short, choosing a VPS will allow you to have many of the same characteristics of a dedicated server but in a more affordable and manageable package.

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Do I Need a VPS?

The answer to this question is a definitive “maybe.” Since you’re looking at this site, you might be a Web designer who has a few sites, an online portfolio, and a couple of long-standing clients whose sites you manage. Is a VPS for you?

Well, you’ve most likely outgrown a shared platform, and as a professional, it won’t do to have your site run poorly because another site that you share a server with is using more than its fair share of resources. A dedicated server could be overkill – if you don’t need all the resources on a consistent basis, you may not be able to justify the expense. Essentially, here’s the criteria I would use to judge things – if your site is made up of primarily static, HTML-based content, then you probably don’t need a VPS package.  However, if you have a large amount of files stored, multiple sites, dynamic content, and the possibility of major traffic from time to time, then you might consider upgrading to a VPS.

It’s a powerful package that allows you to do more than you could with a shared hosting plan, but requires less investment than a dedicated server. What is your hosting set-up, and why? Have you considered using a VPS?

Advantages of VPS Hosting

Root Access

Root access that we have mentioned earlier opens a number of possibilities to a VPS owner.

First of all, root access offers independence from the hosting provider in terms of software. While the hosting provider still manages the server’s hardware, a choice of software is on the user. It’s you, not your hosting provider, who decides when it is the right time to upgrade, for example, cPanel or MariaDB. We cannot say that this freedom is absolute, though, compared to the dedicated hosting plan. If a bare-metal server has hosted hypervisor installed, its OS must be compatible with a guest OS. For instance, if a physical machine runs Linux, it’s impossible to install Windows as a guest OS. A native hypervisor is compatible with any OS. Apart from that limitation (and apart from illegal activities, of course), VPS users can install whatever software they want.

More than that, with root access a user has full information about the server’s performance, knows exactly when to upgrade or downgrade, and can check server logs of different kinds without reaching out to their hosting provider.

Good Neighborhood

Do you remember those times when you were living on a college campus with very noisy roommates? Or maybe they were super quiet and you enjoyed every day? The point is, it was a gamble – you never knew whom you ended up with. This is pretty much the same as having shared hosting account – you haven’t the faintest idea who is your roommate on a server. The analogy may sound funny but if someone on a shared server becomes a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack target or get blocked for mass mailing, other accounts on the server will be affected as well. Also, if a shared account abuses server resources, the whole server will be impacted. Using a VPS is like owning a house with a 9 foot privacy fence. You won’t be bothered no matter what your neighbors are doing.

Scalability

VPS hosting is a very scalable solution by its very nature. Virtual machines don’t depend on their physical server; as we have said, they don’t even recognize it exists. If a VPS needs to be upgraded or downgraded, all a hosting provider needs to do is to adjust the limits for this VPS in a hypervisor. After reboot a guest OS will work like nothing happened, using new hardware quotas. This comes in handy if you are not able to estimate the technical specifications you need before you run some tests. Also, if you have a seasonal business (e.g. you sell beach equipment), you can choose to have a more powerful server during your peak demand season and a cheaper one for the rest of the year.

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Snapshot Support

A great advantage of VPS, compared to both shared and dedicated solutions is snapshot technology support. A snapshot is a state of a system at a certain point in time. It works like game saves in your favorite computer game. If a game is not going well, you can exit and start from a checkpoint. A snapshot works the same way; if you need to go back in time, your system can be restored from a snapshot to its previous state. It is extremely useful in case of a system failure or simply if you run complex tests and wish to save your progress. Unlike a backup option that copies the whole system each time you run it, a snapshot contains only changes. This means that a snapshot takes less space than a backup and can be created/restored quicker. It does not mean that you do not need backups though. Backups are still life-savers in case of operating system failure. Don’t forget to store them externally.

managed vps hosting

The best managed VPS hosting plans are a lot like the Peter Parker principle made famous in Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Moving to a virtual private server gives your online business more computing resources, control, and stability.

However, all those improvements typically require you to know how to configure each setting. Managed VPS hosting means you don’t have to worry about the technical aspects of your site.

1. Liquid Web: Best Fully Managed VPS Hosting

Backed by around-the-clock assistance from the “Most Helpful Humans in Hosting,” Liquid Web seemingly holds universal appeal and respect.

Nuanced server configurations and attention to detail lead the way with Liquid Web, which concentrates on complex cloud, VPS, and dedicated environments.

The company touts its industry-leading Net Promoter Score, which measures the frequency with which customers would recommend the company to others — a score that edges out the likes of Rackspace, Bluehost, and many others.

As the first provider so far on this list to also offer fully managed Windows VPS plans, Liquid Web is amply prepared to meet any customer’s specific needs with 100% network and power uptime guarantees.

You can choose from among Interworx, cPanel, and Plesk for your control panel for a small fee, or otherwise enjoy hands-free hosting that includes configuration for a content delivery network, firewall, and DDoS protection.

2. Cloudways: Best Managed Cloud VPS

Providing hassle-free access to the world’s top cloud hosting providers, Cloudways gives customers limitless scalability and global resources.

Many affordable cloud VPS hosts, such as Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Linode, are notoriously hard to set up, deploy, maintain, and secure. Cloudways offers tailored environments on each platform — fully managed by the company’s easily accessible team of hosting experts.

Cloudways offers incredible scalability and computing power for large-scale projects with high traffic demands.

Three levels of around-the-clock managed support ensure a peaceful hosting experience and promise readily-available tech experts via live chat.

The premium support package delivers the fastest response times and pairs you with a dedicated account manager, a private Slack channel, and direct phone support.

3. ScalaHosting: Best Managed VPS with Unlimited Bandwidth

ScalaHosting is one of the most transparent managed VPS providers, promising to never oversell server capacity. We especially love recommending this host to beginners or first-time VPS renters because the company offers a complimentary consultation call — with none other than the Scala CTO — for any prospective customers.

4. InterServer: Best Cheap Managed VPS Hosting

For more than 20 years, InterServer has taken an impressive approach to providing affordable, high-powered hosting services backed by hands-on support.

The team owns and operates its own datacenter, meaning talented and experienced system administrators and engineers are mere feet away from your VPS environment. In fact, the company’s two Founders still respond to support tickets and repair hardware each day.

5. Kamatera: Best Managed Linux VPS Hosting

An increasingly popular provider of self-managed and managed virtual servers, Kamatera gives customers ultimate configuration control straight out of the gate.

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Spin up a default Ubuntu server in seconds, or take a few extra clicks to customize your ideal combination of processing power, RAM and SSD storage allowances, bandwidth expectations, control panel add-ons, and, of course, your choice of operating system. RockyLinux, AlmaLinux, CentOS, and Ubuntu servers are featured on the Kamatera VPS menu.

Best vps for developers

Web developers need somewhere to host their projects, and when looking for hosting, there are several options. Shared hosting, where you share a server with lots of other users and have very limited control over the server. Dedicated hosting, where you have complete control over a server; a very flexible option, but requires you to manage the whole server, worry about hardware failures and backups, and is typically expensive.

1. VPS.NET

Another UK VPS provider is VPS.NET with a price point that starts at $20 for a VPS with 376MB RAM and 10GB of storage. They have UK and US datacentres, and their cloud storage allows automatic failover and scaling.

2. Prgmr

Prgmr is a VPS provider that doesn’t “assume you are stupid,” implying that their services are geared towards developers that know what they are doing (or have the desire to learn on their own). Their 64MB instances start at $5 a month, and a 256MB instance will only set you back $8. Debian, Ubuntu or CentOS are the only officially supported OSs, but they’ll let you install your own, if you want. They even let you build your own kernel, which isn’t something you can do with most of the other VPS providers.

3. Linode

Linode is a popular VPS provider, and they’ve recently added a UK-based datacentre so users now have the option of a US or European-situated server. The cheapest plan starts at just under $20 a month and includes 360MB of RAM and 16GB storage. There are no setup fees, no contracts, and a slew of 32 and 64-bit Linux operating systems are offered.

4. Slicehost

Built for developers, Slicehost has no contract period or setup fees. “Slices” start from $20 with 256MB of RAM and 10GB of storage. You can upgrade or downgrade your hardware at any point with minimal downtime.

They currently only offer US datacentres.

5. RIMU Hosting

A truly global VPS provider with datacentres in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand is RIMU Hosting. Prices start at around $20, and you can opt for billing in the local currency of the datacentre you chose. If you’re an open source developer, RIMU Hosting will discount your subscription as a way of giving back to the community.

They also offer a discount of 10% if you require multiple servers.

6. Bytemark

Bytemark is a UK-based VPS provider with datacentres in London. Prices start at £15 (around $22, American) for 256MB and 10GB of storage. Bytemark boast some impressive features that come as standard, such as redundant disks for fault tolerance, free server monitoring and IPv6 connectivity.

7. XLS hosting

A cloud VPS provider, XLS hosting is based in the Netherlands. They have an extremely good value with their entry level VPS offering that starts at about $15 a month for 128MB RAM and 10GB storage.

8. Gandi

Self-described as “hosting for geeks”, Gandi gives you great bang for your buck, and even offers a free trial. Prices start at $13 for 256MB RAM and 8GB storage. Hardware upgrades are automatic, and they provide emergency support services.

Conclusion

VPS Hosting can be a great way to increase efficiency and grow your business. By choosing the right server type, setting up your accounts, and updating your environment, you’ll be able to get started with VPS hosting quickly. Additionally, using VPS hosting to improve your website’s security and performance can help you reach a larger audience. With all of these benefits, it’s no wonder that VPS hosting is one of the most popular options on the market today.

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