Most sites go through phases of development, beginning on shared hosting and gradually growing into VPS and dedicated hosting. This is the path that lets webmasters make the most of limited budgets and scale up as their needs evolve.
Sometimes, though — especially if you have more to invest — it does make sense to start with VPS or dedicated hosting instead of going through the different options sequentially. There are some advantages to starting with more advanced hosting:
- You’ll generally get better performance, including better speed and storage.
- Your site won’t have to go down as you switch from one type of host to another.
- You’ll conquer the learning curve faster and interact with your host efficiently.
Let’s assume that you have the resources to “take the plunge” and go straight for VPS or dedicated server hosting at a reasonable price. Which should you choose? Well, that all depends on what you’re planning to do with your website.
Four Scenarios Where VPS is Perfect
You Need Developer Hosting for a Small Team
Both VPS and dedicated hosting can provide you with great developer hosting. In either case, you get the ability to select your own operating system and implement whatever applications you need. However, if you only have a small group, you don’t need to splurge on a dedicated server. Generally, dedicated servers are best for public-facing applications.
You Have a “Light and Fast” Site That Needs to Run Quickly
If your site is especially light and streamlined, a dedicated host might not be necessary, even if you get a lot of traffic. If you don’t have any bandwidth-heavy content, you can stand up to a lot of requests without exceeding VPS bandwidth. Try using file compression widgets to accelerate your load times. Plus, look for VPS hosts that use high-speed SSD hard drives.
You’re Testing Out a New, Unproven Idea
Both dedicated hosting and VPS can provide a professional-grade Web experience for users from all around the world. Dedicated hosting is great for a “sure thing” that just needs to scale up. If you have a completely new idea you’re not sure is viable, however, start with VPS. This will save you money while giving you time to see how things work out.
You Have Limited Technical Expertise but Plenty of Time to Learn
You should expect great technical support from both VPS and dedicated hosting. However, for the money you’ll spend, VPS is probably best if you don’t have the knowledge or staff to dive deep into server configuration. VPS hosts will provide you with the help you need while you expand your knowledge. Move up to dedicated hosting when you can afford managed services or an IT team.
Four Scenarios Just Right for Dedicated Hosting
You’re Collecting Important, Valuable Information
While e-commerce sites can do well on VPS for a while, bigger ones should make the move to dedicated hosting as soon as reasonably possible: A data breach can cost millions and drive customers away for years to come. Likewise, medical enterprises and others collecting lots of private information would be best served by dedicated hosting.
You’re Using Unusual or Proprietary Enterprise Solutions
You can implement enterprise software on VPS, but this is one area where the few limitations of VPS can show up clearly. Complex enterprise software should be run on a dedicated server whenever possible. If you’re developing a Fortune 500-focused project, it’s a good idea to test and maintain it on a dedicated server so you can anticipate potential hosting issues.
You’re Hosting Multimedia or Viral-Focused Content
Bandwidth is the most expensive of all server resources. VPS can offer you bandwidth up to the low tens of terabytes; if you need more than that, dedicated hosting is the way to go. If you’re hosting videos, just one evening where your content goes “viral” could burn through a month of bandwidth. This can be profitable in the long run, but it’s a major short-term cost.
You Have a Dispersed or “Blended” Team
If you have IT team members or others who are logging in from all over the world, a dedicated server makes it easiest for them to do their job without exposing your data to security issues. If you are using a blend of internal team members and contractors, a dedicated server will make it simple for you to manage “permissions” effectively.
If in Doubt, Learn from “Budget” Webmasters
If you’re not sure which option will be best for you, approach the project the same way you would if you had very little to spend on hosting. This can help you discover opportunities to maximize your hosting that might not be obvious otherwise.
When looking for hosting on a budget, most webmasters:
- Analyze what kind of hosting solution they’ll need now and a year from now.
- Closely compare the different options, including talking to a host directly.
- Delve deep into the best review sites and customer forums to get information.
- Look for coupons and other opportunities to trim monthly hosting expenses.
Also look for ways to save time and monetize your site faster, improving profit:
- If you have an existing site, a free site migration service can save you days.
- Automated site archiving and restoration can get you back on track after crashes.
- Built-in server analytics can save you a significant amount in licensing fees.
Remember, both VPS hosts and dedicated servers offer “major league” hosting. With creative thinking, you’ll find ways to maximize your results with either type of host!