Shared Hosting or VPS?

VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting has become very popular in recent years. Partly because the prices have fallen significantly, and partly because some online projects demand features that are not always available for shared plans. And also partly because it’s simply fashionable. But what do you and your website really need?

Most websites like blogs, personal websites, company websites, bulletins and magazines would hardly ever need anything else than a shared plan on a quality host. Even when traffic numbers do increase, if the website is well optimized and cached, serving mostly static content, there is still no need for VPS.

If you do not optimize and cache, 1500 visitors a day may already be enough (even one third of that in extreme cases) for your host to offer you an upgrade to VPS. Once your website starts using too much server resources, your host has no other choice than to move you away from a shared server.

On VPS you are strictly limited to the resources given to you. If you choose a cheap plan with too little RAM and CPU power, it’s only your site that’s not working properly, while on a shared environment you affect all of your neighbors on the same server as well.

BalanceNow, if you optimize your website, and install a caching system that most CMS-s have in one way or the other, you can still live happily on a shared environment even if your site receives tens of thousands of visitors a day. Good hosting companies have websites on shared plans that receive million visitors a month and more! A non-optimized website, however, with no cache files would need a very powerful dedicated server or even several of them to handle all that traffic.

On the other hand, if your website needs to build up individual pages all the time, needs to communicate with the database(s) and run different PHP scripts, you cannot cache these pages. Online stores where visitors search for suitable products, membership sites and forums fall into this category, just to name a few.

In this case you can use shared plan only in the beginning when the overall traffic to your website is quite low. Once you start getting more visitors it’s time to move. At this point better don’t choose the least expensive VPS plan. These are intended for sites with low traffic (maybe still under development) that just require special features that VPS plans offer. Moving a website from shared environment because of increased traffic would make it snail-slow on such inexpensive VPS plans. Choose a plan that offers at least 1 GB of RAM, especially when using cPanel.

In conclusion, if in principle you could serve your visitors with a static HTML website, with no CMS, in all probability you do not need VPS. You don’t need to go back in time and start using MS FrontPage editor either. All you need to do is to add a plugin or module to your WordPress, Joomla or other CMS that would make the static files automatically, erase them automatically, and replace them when the original content gets edited, either by you or by your visitors if you allow commenting. But if your visitors receive individual pages, and your traffic volume is high enough, you should order VPS.