Most websites start out with shared hosting plans because it’s the cheapest and most beginner-friendly option out there. However, sometimes VPS hosting is the better pick for your site. While upgrading from a shared to VPS plan is relatively easy, making the switch and keeping your site online can be a bit of a headache.
So what exactly is VPS? Meaning Virtual Private Server, a VPS hosting plan provides you with your own dedicated virtual machine. While you’re technically sharing the same physical server with other users, that server has been broken up into multiple independent servers that function in complete isolation. You’re essentially purchasing a dedicated server, but for a fourth of the price of buying your own physical server. As such, VPS hosting gives you access to a lot more resources, a lot more privacy, and a lot more administrative control over your hosting environment than a shared hosting plan. That being said, it’s still a bit more expensive than a shared plan, and it can be overwhelming for inexperienced website owners. To help you decide if you should pick VPS or shared for your site, below are the three situations in which it’s best to be on a VPS hosting plan.
VPS is in your budget
No matter how big or popular your site is, the fact of the matter is that VPS is more expensive than shared hosting. This is the number one reason why most sites start out on shared plans. Whether it’s right for your site or not, it’s often the only thing most new sites can reasonably afford. However, if you have the extra money and you expect your site to grow relatively quickly, then it may be best to just take the plunge and start right out on a VPS plan. Yes, it’s more administrative work in the beginning, but it also means that you will never experience the uncomfortable period when it’s clear your site is too big for your shared plan. As your site grows, it will also be lightning-fast, since it’s a small site enjoying the resources of an entire server.
Your site needs a lot of resources
There are basically three reasons your site would use up a lot of resources – it’s a big site, it’s a high-traffic site, and/or it’s a content-rich site. If you have a big site with many different pages, the sheer size of the site will require a lot of resources to maintain. Databases, social media platforms, and eCommerce sites all tend to be “big” sites. Since the site by itself requires so much power, even a marginal increase in traffic will cause your site to crash on a shared hosting plan. Conversely, you could have a tiny, one-page blog, but if you’re getting millions of visitors a day, you’ll also be facing a lot of downtime if you’re on a shared plan. Either way, it’s probably best to bite the bullet and start right out with a VPS to guarantee that your site has the resources it needs to function properly. The same is true if you have a content-rich site, with lots of images or audio/visual files. You can compress your images all day long, but at some point, it makes more sense to just purchase your own server with the resources to load a file-rich site at a reasonable speed.
Your site experiences dramatic surges in traffic
Some sites find it difficult to determine whether or not they’re “high-traffic.” A football blog, for example, might be “high-traffic” in the winter, but that stream may slow down to a trickle in the middle of summer. Ecommerce sites might see large upticks in traffic during sales events or just before a holiday, but then watch their traffic levels fall back down once the sale is over. Dramatic shifts in traffic like this can be extraordinarily difficult to manage on a shared hosting plan. If you’re posting a sale on your eCommerce site, you don’t want to be worried about “too many” people participating in the sale! An increase in traffic should always be a good thing for your site, so if traffic surges put your site in danger of crashing, you should definitely make the switch to a VPS.