Small Business Sunday: Dedicated Server vs. VPS

Dedicated Server

If you’re running a small business, there’s a good chance that your business isn’t quite as small as it was when you first started. While many businesses start with a shared hosting account, if your business grows, and your traffic grows, you’ll soon outgrow your shared hosting account.

There are really two ways to upgrade from a shared hosting account, a VPS or a Dedicated Server. The difference between the two is important to understand as changing servers multiple times is no fun. A VPS is essentially a virtualized Dedicated Server, it pretends like it’s a dedicated server and you can do fun things like pick your processor speed, RAM, bandwidth, etc. When you access a VPS it looks just like you have your own server, however in reality you are sharing a server with other people.

Like shared hosting VPS’s have their drawbacks since another user on your server could cause problems that could impact your performance. That being said, most VPS providers do guarantee the specs they offer so as long as they don’t overcrowd the servers, you’re in good shape. I personally recommend HostGator, which I use myself for this blog and a number of other sites.

The problem with a VPS is that you’re still sharing one computer with other people. So while you might think you get your own little slice of heaven, your slice could still be impacted by other people on your server. The only way to truly make sure you get a computer all to yourself is to use a Dedicated Server.

A Dedicated Server is exactly what it sounds like, a server dedicated for your business. This means that the spec you are given is exactly what you get and with nobody sharing with you, you’ll have the server all to yourself. Of course this also means that you’ll be paying more as dedicated servers typically cost over $200/month whereas you can get a VPS going for as low as $40/month.

If you think you’re really going to see your traffic grow quickly, you may want to start with a Dedicated Server rather than having to make the switch when you’ve got tons of visitors on your site. It’s always easier to make infrastructure changes earlier-on when there are less eyes on your site, once you have hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of users any small change, usually becomes a big one.

I would also suggest that you take a look at Web Hosting Talk which is the go-to forum for hosting. There you can find lots of reviews from real people about their experiences with dedicated hosting providers. My top three options that I’ve found to be the top choices from asking around are:

  1. HostGator – along with shared and VPS hosting, HostGator does have some great dedicated server options.
  2. Codero – dedicated server pros, you can get the lowest price here, but it’s unmanaged so you’ll need to know what you’re doing
  3. LiquidWeb – these guys are all over the place, one of the biggest companies in the hosting space and very active in the community.

As always please feel free to comment below and share your own recommendations or ask any questions that you might have!

(Photo Credit)

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Prince Harry March 12, 2012, 6:44 am

    Morgan,

    At what point would you say a dedicated server is better, visitor figure wise?

    Thanks,

    Anthony

    Reply
    • Morgan Linton March 12, 2012, 11:12 am

      Great question Anthony! I would say it all depends on how much bandwidth you are currently using. Once you start to see performance becoming an issue that’s really the time to move.
      A site with lots of video content or Flash will probably need to move to dedicated sooner than a text-only site.

      No matter what you should always be monitoring your sites and making sure they’re loading quickly and you’re not hitting a bandwidth wall on the server side. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  • AndyO March 15, 2012, 3:31 pm

    For those not ready to progress from shared hosting or a VPS to a dedicated server, CloudFlare is an attractive option that provides a good performance boost by ‘reverse proxying’ your website, caching it on SSD powered farms closer to your visitors.

    Reply

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