If you’ve found that your website has grown way too big for your shared hosting environment, or you’re frustrated by the lack of control you have over it, then you’ve probably started looking at more private options. The natural next step from here would either be a dedicated server or a VPS (virtual private server). Most people choose to go with VPS, but why use VPS hosting when you could just purchase a dedicated server?
First off, VPS is a lot cheaper. The private server your purchase with a VPS host is virtual, not physical, so VPS hosts can still put multiple customers on the same physical server. This affords everyone the privacy and control of a physical dedicated server but requires far fewer resources on the part of the host, hence the lowered cost of service. So while you can find VPS hosting packages that will only cost you a few more dollars a month than your current shared plan, you’ll be lucky to find a dedicated server for less than $30/month.
VPS hosting offers you a great deal of control over your hosting environment, but it is true that a physical dedicated server gives you the most possible control. With a dedicated server, you’re purchasing your own physical machine, which gives you control over the hardware as well as the software. However, hardware changes are only necessary in rare cases, and with an unmanaged VPS hosting plan, you basically get 100% control over your virtual server’s settings. If control is something that you want, the only thing limiting you on an unmanaged VPS hosting plan is control over the machine’s hardware, which, for most people, isn’t necessary. Even a managed VPS hosting plan will allow you to choose your operating system and give you root access to the server, and so for many, the increase in controls afforded by any VPS host are enough to meet their needs.
Another huge plus of switching to a VPS or dedicated server is the extra security that both options provide. Technically, it’s true that a dedicated server is more secure than a VPS, simply because you are not just virtually, but physically separated from other people on a dedicated server. However, a VPS hosting plan will still come with at least one dedicated IP address, and the hypervisor software that VPS hosts use to carve out the different virtual machines ensures that each virtual server is completely isolated from all of the others on the physical machine. For example, if another server on your machine experiences a security breach like a DDoS attack, you’ll never know, because it won’t affect your server at all.
While it’s possible to find excellent customer service for either VPS or dedicated hosting, many people find that it’s much easier to find good customer support on a VPS server. This has more to do with logistics than anything else – it’s just easier for hosts to manage multiple servers on one machine than it is for them to manage several different machines at the same time. You will also never have to worry about physical problems on a VPS plan since care of the physical machine is the sole responsibility of the hosting provider. With a dedicated server, on the other hand, you’re purchasing the machine itself, which could translate to limited downtime due to hardware maintenance. You never have to worry about that with a VPS.
In short, the only reason that a dedicated server would be worth the extra cost is if you have an absolutely monstrous site, and you expect to be maxing out on RAM and supporting huge amounts of visitors. But most people looking to upgrade from shared hosting are simply seeing their website grow beyond the limits of a shared hosting environment. VPS offers most sites (even really big ones) enough dedicated resources to keep them running and growing at full capacity, and it offers most managers enough control over their servers that they don’t feel restrained or frustrated. The additional tech support that comes with a VPS host is just that – support. You still have full control over your server settings, but unlike with most dedicated servers, you still have access to a dedicated tech team.