We get asked a lot of questions about web hosting
As one of Europe’s longest running web hosts many clients and potential customers ask us a lot of questions about our servers, web hosting products, and services on a daily basis.
We’ve been keeping track of those questions and we’ve decided to start answering them in this multi-part series on how to choose the right hosting products for your business.
Today we’re going to start with the basics, with a brief introduction to the most common types of web hosting available with most Web Hosts. So if you’re not sure whether you need shared hosting or a VPS, or if you’re wondering whether a managed dedicated server is right for you – this is the place to be.
We’re just scratching the surface, so if you’re hungry for more info be sure to check back later for our upcoming posts.
What is shared hosting?
Shared hosting is when many clients share the resources of a single server and is the most common form of web hosting. Shared hosting is also cheap, but usually lacks a lot of the bells and whistles that normally come with having full control over your own server with root access. This is because the server’s settings cannot be changed for a single client without affecting all the accounts hosted on that server.
Who is shared hosting ideal for?
Shared hosting is an ideal solution for people with simple requirements for their website performance and who’s websites don’t get much traffic. It’s also ideal for customers who are looking for a set it and forget it solution, where they don’t have to worry about tweaking individual settings.
In other words, it’s great for simple blogs, basic e-commerce and other small websites that aren’t geared towards a large audience.
How long does it take to set up a shared hosting account?
Shared hosting accounts can be deployed in minutes – the server is already up and running so it’s just a matter of creating an account.
What’s the difference between shared hosting and reseller hosting?
A shared hosting account is an account with a single control panel intended to be used by one client for their own websites. Usually there’s a limited number of domains that they can host on a single account using a single primary domain and a handful of “add-on domains.”
On the other hand, Reseller hosting is designed for clients who want to sell hosting to third parties and act as web-hosts themselves. Depending on the type of plan, these hosting packages usually allow the account holder to activate multiple control panel accounts (i.e. not just one for the primary domain.)
How fast is shared hosting and will it be fast enough for my websites?
Every shared hosting plan will come with a description of the resources that are allocated to that account.
Generally speaking the higher the resources allocated to the plan, the better the performance of the websites hosted on that plan. However, whether a shared hosting plan will be fast enough for your websites really depends on your website.
If your website regularly gets even moderate traffic (50-100 concurrent users), the performance of a shared hosting plan may not be up to scratch. The coding of your website will also play a big role in how it performs on ANY hosting plan.
Also, the performance of a shared hosting account will depend heavily on the behaviour of your neighbours on the server. If you have noisy neighbours, their resource usage may put a strain on the host server and affect the performance of your websites.
This is why a lot of web hosting companies will put limits that cap the number of operations allowed by any single account on a shared server.
Web hosts can also protect the performance of an individual account by being conscientious of the number of users sharing a single server.
This is generally the policy we take at EuroVPS and it allows us to ensure that every server is able to handle small fluctuations in the demands being asked of it by its tenants.
Should you get shared hosting or a VPS?
If you’re not sure, it’s likely better to start off with a shared hosting account because you can always upgrade to a VPS later.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I need advanced configurations for my website(s) to run optimally?
- Do the sites that I host experience at least moderate amounts of traffic?
- Do my sites generate at least a moderate income that I rely upon?
- Do I need to run heavy plug-ins on my CMS that require more than just basic resources?
If you answered yes to at least a couple of these questions then it may be time to consider moving to a VPS.
What is a VPS?
A Virtual Private Server or VPS for short, is a virtual server that is run on either a single or multiple physical servers. A VPS is sort of the half-way point between shared hosting and a full, bare-metal dedicated server.
A VPS infrastructure that is run on multiple physical machines is often called a “cloud” VPS, and is the type of VPS that we offer here at euroVPS.
Cloud VPS’s offer the distinct advantage that they do not face the risk of a single point of failure, and an ease of scalability since there’s always a pool of resources in the “cloud” that are available to add on to the virtual server.
Who is a VPS ideal for?
A VPS is ideal for clients who have more complex needs than a basic website owner.
A VPS customer is someone who may require custom settings for their platform which is built on a unique software stack. Because of the restricted configurability of a shared hosting account, a VPS makes perfect sense for the more advanced client that doesn’t necessarily need the bare metal performance of a dedicated server.
These servers are also ideal for companies that are still growing, or who’s resource requirements may expand or shrink at any time. In fact, a virtual server is the most easily scalable hosting solution available for retail clients.
VPS hosting is also ideal for customers who are looking for performance but aren’t quite ready to commit to the financial cost of a full-blown dedicated server or cluster of servers.
How long does it take to deploy a VPS?
The short answer is, it depends.
A VPS can be deployed quickly within 10-15 minutes if the configuration requirements are simple.
But the more customized the server has to be, the longer that a hosting company’s system administrators will need to work to configure it.
For example, control panels such as cPanel can take up to three hours to install on a freshly deployed virtual machine.
How quickly can a VPS be upgraded?
Adding resources to a VPS is as easy as having the resources assigned to your server by the web host and then rebooting the server, which takes around 10-20 minutes.
This generally means that a VPS can be made as fast as you need it to be whenever you need it to be.
Do VPS’s have any disadvantages?
There is a price to pay for having a server that is virtualized and that’s the resources that are consumed by the software that allows for the virtualization to happen in the first place.
However, unless a customer is looking to squeeze every ounce of performance out of their server, this performance drop is as close as makes no difference to unnoticeable.
Further, the advantages of scalability and high availability far outweigh the tiny drop in performance for most web-hosting clients.
What should I look for in a VPS?
Of course, resource allocation is important – the more RAM the more CPU Cores assigned to a server, typically the better it will perform given a similar task.
But hardware is pretty standard across many web-hosts in today’s marketplace. The differentiating factor is then services.
These are important questions to answer before you purchase a VPS:
- Is the VPS supported by a team that’s able to assist you with your requests?
- Does the web-host have the know how to recommend non-default setups that will work best for your usage requirements?
- Is support available to customers 24 hours a day?
- Is there a limit to the number of support requests you can submit per month?
- What is the scope of support?
- Do you have the time & expertise to manage your server in-house or do you need a host that can take care of that for you?
- If not, then does the web host offer managed services?
Unmanaged or Managed VPS?
An unmanaged VPS is exactly what it says on the box: Specs, an IP address and a Starting Configuration – that’s it. If you’re with a decent host you’ll have access to some tech support but in most cases, you’ll be charged on a per hour basis for any work that needs to be done on your server.
If you’re a tech wiz or you have an in-house system administrator who’s capable of managing the ins-and-outs of a server then an Unmanaged VPS is a more affordable option for getting a powerful hosting solution.
A managed VPS is a server that comes with management services priced into the monthly hosting subscription.
These services will vary from web host to web host, but it generally means that the company themselves will assist you with things like server updates, configurations, performance monitoring, backups and things of that nature.
Managed hosting often comes at a premium, but in many cases, good web-hosts can leverage economies of scale which allow them to manage an individual server much more effectively and cheaply than an in-house system administrator.
Not to mention, they know their servers better than anyone, so they’re likely to be more efficient at identifying and implementing server-side optimizations and bug-fixes than an external sysadmin.
One of the largest benefits of going with a Managed VPS for businesses is cost predictability. When all services are priced into your plan, all you have to budget is a single periodical subscription that doesn’t fluctuate over time.
EuroVPS is an example of a managed hosting provider. All of the hosting options we provide include migration assistance, software updates, proactive monitoring, daily backups, security hardening, server optimization and more.
What is a dedicated server?
A dedicated server is a single physical server that a web host will keep powered and connected to the internet for a single client.
Since physical space in a datacenter is a valuable commodity, there are often minimum configurations that clients can request for a dedicated server that make it “worth it” for the web hosting company to store, power and maintain it for you.
Why choose a dedicated server?
Customers select a dedicated server so that they can benefit from 100% of the performance of a single machine.
Choosing a dedicated unit also often means that the server can be configured EXACTLY as you want it from a hardware perspective.
You have total control over things like:
- The processor model and the number of processors.
- The quantity and configuration of hard drives (RAID-1, RAID-6, RAID-10 etc.)
- The network infrastructure around that server (firewalls, uplink etc.)
- The configuration of backup storage and how backups are taken.
Clients may also choose a dedicated server because there’s no barrier between the software they want to use and the processing power of the CPU – a dedicated server is the go-to for uncompromising performance.
Are dedicated servers scalable?
Yes, but not as easily as a VPS.
To change the resources allocated on a dedicated server you’ll need to power down the machine and then physically connect or remove hardware to/from it.
This takes time and the expertise of people that know their way around a server (hopefully, this is your web host.)
So it takes time to scale a dedicated server.
This is why businesses that absolutely HAVE to be online 24/7/365 rarely ever rely on a single dedicated machine, but instead deploy clustered solutions so that they have the freedom to perform changes on parts of their infrastructure without having to take their website down for any amount of time.
Will my website perform better on a dedicated server?
It very well could.
It’s important to discuss whether a dedicated server is the right solution for you with your web host.
No one is more familiar with the loads that your websites/applications are placing on a server than the people that host them.
That being said, a lot of the time performance issues can be resolved by making sure that the coding of your website/application is optimized and the server settings are similarly well optimized to handle that load.
So there are a lot of things to consider besides just raw power before making the shift to a dedicated server.
Hosting is the foundation of your online business
Choosing the right type of web hosting solution is an important step on the journey to building a successful online business.
Your web host and the services they provide can either be an asset for or a burden on your business and knowing what questions to ask and what to look out for is key in making sure that you’re focused on the right issues.
We’ve put together this series to help inform you about the types of solutions that are available and give you a broad idea of the applications they’re best suited for.
If you need help finding the right type of hosting solution for your business, connect with one of our customer success representatives and they can help you narrow down on a hosting product that meets all of your requirements.