VPS Hosting – What You Need to Know

In this article I’ll start with a break down of the different types of hosting environments. Then I will focus on VPS hosting, explaining why it’s an ideal solution, who it is for, and which company your should look to for quality VPS hosting.

Break it Down

When it comes to hosting your website, you have several options of where and what to choose from.

The where, or number of hosting companies seems to grow yearly and the competition between the most well known is ever increasing.

However, the what type of hosting you should choose is the more important decision.

You get that wrong, and it could cost you a lot more than the savings you think you’ll get by choosing the “cheaper” optioin.

The Types of Hosting

To keep this really simple.

There are two types of hosting, Shared and Dedicated.

Whether or not a hosting plan is classified as shared or dedicated has to do with the access level and the distribution of the server resources.

Let me explain…

Shared Hosting

The simple explanation.

With shared hosting you have one single server with a large amount of resources that are divided up to support tens maybe hundreds of thousands of websites. And you have no access to or control of the server itself.

Let’s say you have a server that has the following resources:

  • 2TB of storage
  • 16 CPU
  • 132GB of memory

Ignoring the complicated aspects of how this is done. You can take those resources and divide them up to make several hosting environments that have the following resources:

  • 50GB of storage
  • 1 CPU
  • 2GB of memory

With this setup, if you had 100 websites with “1 CPU”, notice the server only has 16 CPUs, so each shared environment isn’t actually getting a full CPU. CPU simply refers to processing power.

Hopefully you can see how 100 websites using the same processing power at the same time could cause things to run slowly.

You can test this on you own computer.

Open a web browser, then open 50 tabs with 50 of your favorite websites and see how fast your browser crashes and your machine freezes up.

Shared hosting tends to be problematic for anyone with a website that really matters.

Dedicated Hosting

The simple explanation.

With dedicated hosting you have one server with a set amount of resources that are dedicated to one user. You have full control of and access to the server.

Let’s say you have a server that has the following resources:

  • 2TB of storage
  • 8 CPU
  • 32GB of memory

When you have a dedicated server, all of those resources are dedicated to you!

You could use those resources for hosting one or many websites. You could use them for hosting software or web applications.

A huge advantage to dedicated resources is that you never have to worry about the actions of another user or their traffic effecting your website.

Within the Dedicated space there is another type of dedicated server, called a Virtual Private Server (VPS).

VPS Hosting

The simple explanation.

With VPS hosting you have a dedicated server (like explained above) that is broken up into virtual, isolated environments that provides the users with dedicated resources and contained access.

In a VPS environment, you have complete control over your virtual server. Each of the environments runs their own operating system, each has it’s own dedicated resources.

A VPS gives you the benefits of a dedicated hosting environment, with a more affordable price tag.

Read more about the differences of Shared, VPS, and Dedicated hosting here.

Benefits of VPS Hosting

There are a few key benefits to a VPS that essentially combines the best of shared hosting and the best of dedicated hosting into one solution.

  • Reliable Performance: Because a VPS is isolated, each environment has it’s own dedicated bandwidth and storage and since you are not sharing these resources with other users, you don’t have the performance issues caused by resource hogs, like you would in a shared hosting environment.
  • Value: Shared is always going to be the cheaper solution. However, VPS is always going to be more affordable then dedicated solitons. The value you get from these VPS benefits listed here, is well worth the extra cost of using a VPS host.
  • Control: With a VPS you have SSH and root access. With this type of access, you are in full control of what software you run and how it is configured. In shared hosting you don’t have an say or access to add software or adjust the server configurations.
  • Customization: Essentially, a VPS is designed for you to configure it exactly how you want it. Which includes controlling which operating system you use.
  • Security: Isolation is the key here. Since VPS environments are isolated each is protected from the other. The potential security risk to one VPS does NOT put another VPS at risk. Additionally, with the customizable benefits of a VPS you can make your environment as secure as you need it to be. In a shared environment, everyone user is a risk due to the security vulnerability of another.
  • Data Protection: Having the ability to backup your data regularly is really important. We are talking about technology, which means something is bound to go wrong at some point. You want a company that does their own backups, but that allows you to implement and manage your own backup solution.
  • Growth: If you have a growing business or expanding service offering, you want to have the flexibility to quickly and easily make the changes necessary to support that growth, and with a proper VPS, you have the ability to scale.

*Source Credit: Benefits list taken from Liquid Web resource guide.

Who Needs VPS Hosting

This hosting solution is not for everyone! I want to make that very clear.

If you’re hosting a very simple website, or have a very tight budget and no technical experience, VPS is NOT for you!

If you want a VPS solution that has the shared experience, check out Flywheel.

You might want to consider using a VPS hosting solution if you currently do or want to start doing any of the following.

  • Host one or multiple websites with significant usage requirements (i.e large storage, high levels of traffic, advanced security, etc.)
  • Storing company data, that needs to be shared and accessed remotely from different users in different locations.
  • Hosting your own email.
  • Host several databases or one large database (i.e for a mobile app).
  • Hosting your own software application product, or a 3rd party self-hosted application like Quickbooks.
  • If you’re a website service provider and want to provide shared web and email hosting for your clients.

VPS User Qualifications

Simply put, if you could not understand any of my “simple explanations” above for each of the different types of hosting environments then you’re not currently qualified to use a VPS.

Using a VPS will require working knowledge of a server environment. The usage of a VPS goes beyond logging into cPanel, pleas, phpMyAdmin, and FTP for example.

You may have to use SSH (secure shell) to access the server to find over sized files that need to be removed, or to tighten security firewalls, and a number of other reasons.

If none of this makes since to you, then you need to stick to a managed shared solution like WP Engine.

Simplified Server Management

If you need a VPS hosting solution, but don’t have the technical expertise to manage the server yourself, there is one way to still make this solution work for you.

With a Fully Managed VPS you can take a hands off approach and let your hosting company take care of the technical stuff for you.

A Managed hosting solution should include:

  • Configuration Support
  • Server Maintenance (i.e software updates)
  • Troubleshooting Assistance
  • Software Installation
  • Website Migration Support

While a Managed VPS will increase the price, you can ensure your server is functioning at peak performance, secure, backedup and you can focus on running your business.

I have seen more people, with little to know server experience and knowledge destroy their entire VPS and have to completely rebuild and at a loss of their data, because they failed to properly maintain their backups.

Managed hosting is the solution for peace of mind.

Liquid Web Managed VPS

Read more about the pros and cons of Managed VPS vs. Unmanaged VPS hosting here.

*Source Credit: Managed VPS scope taken from Liquid Web resource guide.

VPS Hosting Providers

As mentioned above, there are several hosting providers in the marketplace and that number seems to grow yearly.

For the past 15 years I’ve been working in this industry, and over that time I have used a majority of the hosting companies on the market, worked for one of them for 3 years, and as a website support provider I have had to worked with several hosting companies while supporting our clients websites.

Yet there are still some I have probably never heard of!

I’m sharing my resume of experience simply to provide validation that my recommendation(s) in this section is/are credible and yes probably bias.

Recommended VPS Solution:

Why Liquid Web?

I am NOT personally using any of Liquid Web’s hosting solutions, and our company does not currently use them for hosting our clients websites.

The reason I am writing this article is because I have experience with VPS solutions and have used Liquid Web’s platform while providing support for a couple of our customers.

That experienced combined with all the research I did about the different VPS hosting solutions, I have chosen to highlight Liquid Web for a few key reasons.

  • How they compare to the competition
  • The level of support they provide
  • 100% Uptime SLA
  • Customer reviews

Liquid Web and the Competition

“The CPU has a large impact on application performance and is a critical component to measure when analyzing the overall performance of a server. The faster your CPU performs, the faster your server can process tasks. As seen in the graph below, Liquid Web outperforms everyone in our tests for CPU performance – we are, core for core, faster than all of our largest competitors. Our score of 3,881 for a single CPU, according to the GeekBench 3 Utility run by CloudHarmony, is considerably higher than comparable servers at Rackspace, Digital Ocean, and AWS.“

You can read the full article here.

To out perform AWS is saying a lot about the solutions Liquid Web offers. And as the chart shows, to out perform all the top competitors is incredible.

Liquid Web’s Support

Having supported websites hosted with Liquid Web, I have had the privilege of interacting with their support staff over the phone and via chat and was very impressed with their experience and their ability to help address the issues.

Additionally, it does appear that they are going above and beyond the level of support I have come to expect from hosting companies.

If you know anything about Southwest Airlines and how much people rave about their support, this chart should impress you.

Liquid Web Support

You can read more about what this score is and how it is achieved, by reading this article.

Uptime SLA

I have never seen a hosting company guarantee a uptime service level agreement of 100% until I researched Liquid Web.

Other hosting companies might say 99.6% or 99.9% uptime. Which still gives them a margin of error to fall back on.

I interpret the Liquid Web SLA as a company willing to take 100% ownership of any issues directly related to their hardware and software.

I mentioned I use to work for one of the largest (if not largest) hosting company in the market, they had a 99.6% and now up to a 99.9% uptime SLA, but there were times we would have servers crash and be down, completely unavailable, for days. And it seemed that no body really cared (aside from the sometimes hundreds of customers affected).

Liquid Web Uptime SLA

Liquid Web Customer Reviews

Reading reviews is new for me. My wife is actually the one who has convinced me of the value in reading reviews before purchasing a product or service.

But in my research I did read several reviews and a really good case study, which is specifically about how Liquid Web support has helped a specific company many times.

You can read that case study here, You don’t know how many times Liquid Web has saved us with their support.

The Liquid Web Control Panel

This is one additional benefit I want to address regarding the benefits and features of using Liquid Web VPS hosting.

Most hosting providers license the popular control panels like cPanel and Plesk (for windows OS).

Liquid Web does offer cPanel and Plesk, however, they have their own product called interWORX.

There are two reasons I wanted to address this additional benefit.

  1. Based on the chart below, you’ll get a lot more out of interWORX then you will with either of the other two options.
  2. If you’re plan is to use your VPS to provide hosting for your clients, this control panel gives you a suite of tools for server configuration and customer management tools.
Liquid Web Control Panel

If you’re currently on a shared hosting platform?

You might want to consider an upgrade to VPS if you answer yes to any of the statements below.

  • Does your website currently experience any performance issues?
  • Has your site been hacked?
  • Has your site experienced down time because of another users site being hacked on your shared account?
  • Do you need more storage?
  • Do you want more control of your hosting solution and have the budget to go with a Managed VPS?

The Wrap Up

If you want to go deeper on VPS hosting, comparisons between dedicated and shared, the pros and cons of managed vs. unmanaged, I recommend you read this comprehensive guide, What is VPS Hosting.

VPS hosting solutions are a powerful approach to hosting a website, software applications, databases, email, and much more. But the biggest key to getting the most out of your VPS, is to partner with the right company.

That’s why, after all of this research and these 2200+ words in this article, I highly recommend you work with Liquid Web. At the time of this writing they are offering 50% off for the first 3 months (code available on their site). With that savings it’s worth giving them a trial run!

If you have questions, or need additional information, feel free to use the comments below, or the chat to the right. But I would highly recommend using the chat for presale questions at liquidweb.com, their support is amazing!

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