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Complete Guide to Virtual Private Servers (VPS Hosting)

Complete Guide to Virtual Private Servers (VPS Hosting)
March 07
15:44 2012

In my travels to various web hosting and internet marketing conferences I run across people with popular and profitable web sites. It is always interesting to learn more about how they began and created such popular sites.

Eventually the conversation turns towards their current and past web hosts.

Each person has a very similar story!

Why A Virtual Private Server?

During the conventions I get ample time to pry a bit deeper and find out the specifics about the web hosting solutions these internet entrepreneurs use.

Usually they tell me they are now on a dedicated or virtual private server after going through a painful process of manual migrations from shared while trying to find the right hosting solution. Upgrading from shared was a necessity due to their success. Their sites became popular and were driving consistent traffic not designed for a shared environment.

To a person, their web host had told them it was time to upgrade. Each one eventually migrated, but reluctantly.

When I asked them why they didn’t want to upgrade even though they knew they had outgrown shared, they had one answer….. no time. To be honest, the Web Hosts are 100% right, these people had outgrown a shared environment and needed to upgrade.

Shared is not scalable, and popular websites run the risk of being forced to migrate to more powerful solutions inevitably.

Migrating though is a real pain and it DOES take a LOT of time!

Not every website owner has the time or skills to migrate databases, emails, forms, scripts, cron jobs, etc.. Paying a professional to migrate is expensive.

What is a Virtual Private Server?

I always like to get the definition of technology from Wikipedia. Wikipedia usually provides a concise message such as the following:

Virtual private server (VPS) is a term used by Internet hosting services to refer to a virtual machine. The term is used for emphasizing that the virtual machine, although running in software on the same physical computer as other customers’ virtual machines, is functionally equivalent to a separate physical computer, is dedicated to the individual customer’s needs, has the privacy of a separate physical computer, and can be configured to run as a server computer (i.e. to run server software). The term virtual dedicated server or VDS is used less often for the same concept, however it may indicate that the server does not use burst/shared ram through multiple machines, as well as individual CPU cores.

In addition to reducing hardware and power expenses, virtualisation allows businesses to run their legacy applications on older versions of an operating system on the same server as newer applications.

Each virtual server can run its own full-fledged operating system and can be independently rebooted.

In a nutshell, a Virtual Private Server (VPS Hosting) is a flexible, scalable, and economical hosting solution that can fit the needs of almost any kind of website.

Do I Need a VPS?

YES! If you plan on growing your website, you need to be prepared in ADVANCE to handle that growth.

Preparing in advance means choosing a scalable solution in advance. Shared hosting is great, but it is limited. Most web hosts have thresholds on performance. Once your site exceeds that threshold, they will suggest you migrate to another solution. Most likely it will be a VPS.

To avoid having a migration at a time when your site is busy, I suggest going with a VPS in advance.

A dedicated server at this point would be overkill. In addition, a dedicated has certain drawbacks on maintenance. Most dedicateds do not include backups (available at extra cost). In addition, dedicateds can be costly for a site just taking off. Once you are more established, a dedicated server makes perfect sense.

If your site is made up of static, HTML-based content, then you don’t need a VPS package.

If you have a large amount of files, dynamic content, multiple sites, and the possibility of DIGG effect traffic (major traffic hitting at once that exceeds shared capabilities) then you need a VPS.

VPS is a powerful server that allows you to have the power of a dedicated server at a very affordable price. Furthermore, as you grow, it can be upgrade on the fly with ZERO downtime.

A VPS Means No More Migrations

Every website owner wants to grow their site to thousands and millions of visitors per day. As your website grows, you need to be able to scale easily. By scaling, I mean virtually and without the pain of manually migrating from one server to another. Press a button and wham, you have more RAM (corny rhyme I know).

I recommend starting out with a low plan if you are new to virtual private servers. The beauty of VPS hosting is that you can easily add more RAM, Disk, and Processing at the touch of a button or phone call.

No migration needed. It just magically happens.

VPS Versus Other Web Hosting Technology

A VPS (Virtual Private Server) is a flexible solution that lands in a sweet spot between shared and dedicated hosting. A VPS performs exactly like a dedicated server, but at a much affordable price point.

Sites hosted on a dedicated server get their own RAM and disk space; however, like a shared server, it uses the same processing capacity (CPU) as a certain number of other sites.

The table below shows how Wikipedia breaks down the differences between shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting plans:

Differences by Technology

 

Shared VPS Dedicated
RAM, Disk Space, and CPU, all shared by every customer on the server. Dedicated RAM and Disk Space, Shared CPU. Can be upgraded on the fly without rebooting and without migrating to a new instance. RAM, Disk Space and CPU, Dedicated but must be taken offline for upgrades if you wish more processing, RAM or Disk space.
NO Root Access Root Access Granted Server and Root Access Granted
All Server level Software Pre-Installed, custom applications varies from host to host. Server Level Software (OS, cPanel, LAMP) pre-installation varies by provider Server Level Software (OS, cPanel, LAMP) pre-installation varies by provider
$ $$ $$$

Burstable RAM

Burstable RAM is a good thing! Depending on the provider, some VPS plans offer burstable memory. Burstable RAM is a pool set aside for use when your server is being hit with massive amounts of traffic. These traffic spikes are known as the DIGG effect. Back when DIGG was still popular, a post or link could become very popular and lead to a large amount of traffic influx.

Burstable RAM helps keep you online through this effect which can last a short time. It’s important to note your web host will require you to upgrade your plan if you continuously maintain an overstretch of your resources.

Upgrades of processor, RAM and disk are pain free with a VPS.  With shared you are stuck with what you have. On dedicated, adding RAM requires taking the server offline and physically adding RAM (which leads to downtime).

Keep in mind though, not all VPS providers offer burstable RAM.

Key Ingredient – Quality Support

Many website owners do not have endless budgets or a dedicated IT department. Not to worry, you can find quality support included with many web hosting providers today.

In fact, you will receive a much higher level of support from VPS providers than you will with shared providers. The reason is simple, a VPS commands a higher cost per month for the web hosting company. As such, they want to keep you happy!

Some companies bundle in high level support, and others charge additional:

Levels of Support

Un-managed Semi-Managed Fully Managed
Hardware and network support included. Hardware and network, plus software that was pre-installed. Full support, however, most custom coding is still not included.
No Support available concerning troubleshooting, setups, etc. No support on custom software or third party applications. Custom installations included and some basic third party app support.

We Recommend:

One such host who offers a lot of these features you need is myhosting.com. myhosting.com has been in business since 1997 and provides telephone, ticket, chat, and even email support. Customers in Mexico, Canada, Turkey, Australia, United States, UK, Germany and South Africa even have dedicated phone numbers so they do not incur any long distance charges.

myhosting.com also offers a wide selection of Linux Virtual Private Server solutions as well as Windows Virtual Private Server offerings.

Best yet, myhosting.com is an Approved Web Host which means they have undergone extensive testing from the actual hosting to someone picking up the phone when you call. myhosting.com comes with the highest grade possible from FindMyHost.com with all A+’s! Click to View our Web Hosting Review of myhosting.com.

myhosting.com is also a Guaranteed Web Host which means any purchases through the FindMyHost.com network are guaranteed. If you run in to any sort of trouble at all, we have inside contacts that can help get your problems resolved to your satisfaction.

Christian Henning
Editor @ FindMyHost.com

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