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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Wang

Hosting Basics: Shared vs VPS Hosting

Introduction

Trying to find the right type of hosting for your new website, but keep getting confused by all the different options on the market? Not sure how much power your new site is going to need and what sort of hosting will provide it?


Here, we aim to help you understand your options better by taking a close look at two of the most popular types of hosting, shared and virtual private server (VPS). Both are viable options for beginners entering the website development space, and both are offered by most leading web hosting providers.


So let’s have a closer look at exactly what shared and VPS hosting are and which one might be right for your needs.


What Is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is the simplest type of hosting. It involves numerous websites and clients sharing the same physical server.


With shared hosting, your website will be using a portion of the resources from the server. You won’t have any dedicated resources, and the performance and reputation of your site can be affected by those of other sites on the same server. Worse, a security breach on any of the websites on your server can have major implications for your site.


On the plus side, shared hosting is the cheapest option. It’s generally targeted at beginners, and little technical knowledge is required to use it. However, it also tends to be low-powered, which means that your site might not perform well if you add too much content or have too many visitors.


But that’s not to say that shared hosting isn’t useful. The shared hosting packages offered by leading hosting providers such as GoDaddy are well suited to small business websites, personal blogs, and portfolios. They are also a great option if you’re operating on a tight budget and want a simple, beginner-friendly hosting solution.


Pros of Shared Hosting

  • The most affordable hosting option

  • Usually well suited to beginners

  • Requires little to no technical knowledge

  • Usually Includes technical management


Cons of Shared Hosting

  • Performance can be poor

  • No root access for advanced configuration

  • Limited storage and bandwidth with many plans

  • Security can be an issue


What Is VPS Hosting?

VPS is similar to shared hosting, as it involves numerous websites sharing the same physical server. However, the similarities end there, as VPS hosting uses software to isolate each client. This means that you will have access to a dedicated amount of bandwidth, storage, RAM, and processing power that no one else can access.


You also won’t be affected by any other clients or their actions, and you will usually be able to add your own dedicated IP address for extra security. VPS hosting often comes with root server access as well, which enables you to install your own operating system or control panel and configure your server however you want.


Another plus of VPS hosting is that it’s generally quite scalable. Most hosting providers enable you to add and remove resources from your subscription as required, ensuring that you’re only ever paying for what you’re using.


On the downside, VPS hosting is usually more expensive than shared hosting, although there are budget-friendly options out there. It also requires more technical knowledge to use, especially if you want to take full advantage of the server configuration tools on offer.


Pros of VPS Hosting

  • Highly scalable

  • Dedicated server resources

  • Root access for advanced configuration

  • Not affected by other websites


Cons of VPS Hosting

  • More expensive than shared hosting

  • Usually requires more technical knowledge

  • Server management can take some time


Shared Hosting vs VPS Hosting

To help you understand more about the main differences between shared hosting and VPS hosting, we’ve delved a little deeper. Some of the main differences have to do with price, scalability, performance, security, and server admin features.


Price

In general, shared hosting is much more affordable than VPS hosting. This is because hosting providers can have numerous clients squished onto a single shared server, while VPS usually requires more space and dedicated hardware.


But in saying that, even the prices of different types of shared and VPS hosting can vary significantly. For example, GoDaddy’s shared hosting plans range from $8.99 to $24.99 per month (discounts are available). All except the cheapest come with so-called unlimited storage and bandwidth. However, this is somewhat misleading, as you will be asked to upgrade to a more powerful subscription if your website uses too many resources.


Meanwhile, GoDaddy’s VPS plans start at just $4.99 per month. However, this option is rather underpowered, even compared to the shared packages. More powerful plans range up to $99.99 per month, four times the price of the most expensive shared plan.


One thing to note here is that VPS hosting is usually available at the advertised price with a simple month-to-month payment. But to access the best prices on shared hosting, you will often need to sign up for 12, 24, or even 36 months in advance.


Scalability

If you’re planning to grow your website over time, it’s a good idea to ensure that your hosting package is at least somewhat scalable. Basically, this means that you need to be able to add and remove server resources as required.


Usually, shared hosting is rather rigid and difficult to scale. It’s rarely possible to add extra storage or bandwidth to an existing plan. The only way to scale in this case is to upgrade to an entirely separate hosting package—and hope that your provider gives you some sort of refund on your existing one.


On the other hand, VPS hosting is known for its scalability. Often, you will be able to configure the exact package you require from the beginning. Many providers also enable you to add and remove bandwidth as required. In some cases, you will even get hourly billing so you truly only pay for what you use.


Security

As long as you use a reliable hosting provider, you should be safe from online threats. However, security breaches do happen, and shared hosting is known to be much more vulnerable than VPS hosting in general.


This is because shared hosting involves numerous websites on the same server. If one webmaster isn’t following the correct security procedures or decides to launch a malicious website, your site may become vulnerable to attack.


Because VPS hosting effectively lets you have your own mini server, it’s much more secure. Even if your neighbors (other VPS users) aren’t doing the right things, you can implement your own security measures to protect your site.


Speed and Performance

The differences between the ways resources are shared on VPS and shared hosting servers can lead to major performance differences. Overall, shared hosting is significantly slower than VPS hosting. Since you’re sharing resources with other sites, a traffic spike at another site on your server can slow your site even further.



Plus, many shared hosting plans have limited bandwidth. This means that your site may become unavailable if you have too many visitors in a single month.


On the other hand, VPS hosting will usually leave you with more bandwidth (and the option to scale up if required) and dedicated server resources. Since your site won’t be affected by other sites, you can optimize your performance and rest easy with the knowledge that it should remain consistent.


Server Admin

With shared hosting, you usually won’t have to perform any technical maintenance or administration tasks. Most plans come with a pre-installed control panel, a one-click app installer, and in some cases, even a drag-and-drop website builder. This will make websites built on shared hosting easy for beginners to run on their own.


But at the same time, this means that you will be limited with how much you can customize your server. You won’t have full root access, and this will constrain you to standardized server setups.


VPS hosting often comes with the choice of unmanaged and managed support. With a managed plan, you will get much the same technical support and service a shared hosting customer would.


An unmanaged plan, however, will require you to perform technical maintenance, updates, and many security tasks yourself. Most unmanaged plans (and some managed options) come with full root access, which enables you to install your own operating system, control panel, and other software.


Conclusion

Both shared and VPS hosting present as viable entry-level hosting options. However, they are very different, and it’s important to understand them before deciding which to use.


Shared hosting is usually cheaper, with technical support and a beginner-friendly interface. However, it tends to have worse performance than VPS hosting, and scaling can be difficult. VPS hosting, on the other hand, offers advanced server admin tools, dedicated server resources, better scalability, and improved security. But it’s more expensive on average, and it generally requires a little more technical knowledge.


At the end of the day, we’d recommend sitting down and thinking about your needs before deciding which hosting option fits them best.

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