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Jenni McKinnon  — · No Comments

There are probably two main reasons why you might be thinking: “VPS vs. dedicated hosting – which is better?”

Either you’ve outgrown your current shared hosting service in terms of performance needs.

Or you want to keep your site as safe as possible from the get-go and not share server space with anyone else.

While every website is different, we can’t unquestionably determine which one works best with your unique site. However, we can help you in making that decision by bringing you this web hosting comparison of Virtual Private Server (VPS) and dedicated server hosting.

We’ll go over the basics of both hosting methods, break down the pros and cons, and give you a few examples of the types of sites typically used with VPS and dedicated hosting.

So, take a look at our definitive comparison and find out if your site is better off with VPS or dedicated hosting.


TLDR:

VPS hosting (usually) means having a shared server. Dedicated hosting means that a server is dedicated to your use. One dedicated server can run multiple VPS servers, sharing its resources between them. VPS is a bit easier to manage and maintain, as you can move a VPS from one dedicated server to another – in case of a hardware failure for example. Dedicated generally has better performance than VPS.


VPS vs. Dedicated Hosting

Before you can truly decide whether to choose VPS hosting or dedicated hosting, it’s crucial to first understand the differences between a dedicated server and a virtual private server.

To that end, VPS and dedicated hosting are detailed below including what they are as well as their pros and cons.

Once you’re familiar with both options, we’ll cover how to choose between VPS and dedicated hosting.

What is a VPS and VPS Hosting?

As previously touched upon, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a type of server configuration, available as a web hosting service.

A VPS is created by installing virtualization software onto a physical server. This segments the server. Each section of the server can have its own operating system and other essential software, as well as components, installed.

Then, when the VPS hosting provider has made the newly set up VPS available to users, websites can be built and hosted in each segment.

Each of these sections of the physical server is called a virtual server.

The idea behind doing this is that each user of the VPS has their own part of the physical server that mimics having a whole physical server to themselves.

But instead, the server is shared by several customers. And to ensure that absolutely no data is collected and transmitted between each segment of the server, the hosting provider applies security measures. So, each virtual server remains private.

That’s where the name “Virtual Private Server” comes from.

A physical server is segmented into virtual servers with their own operating systems and websites installed on each of them.
A VPS is a physical server that’s segmented so multiple customers can use it privately.

Virtual Private Servers in Plain English

Here’s an analogy: A VPS is like renting a two-bedroom apartment in a building. Each tenant gets their own private space with quite a lot of room.

They can make their own decorating choices and they can choose certain major amenities they want to have. But, they can’t remove or build new walls.

It’s similar to shared hosting because each customer has to share the physical server in both cases.

The biggest difference between the two is that a VPS has a lot more allotted resources for each user than with shared hosting. VPS’s are also a lot more customizable. These added features also mean a VPS is more expensive than shared hosting.

In keeping with the same analogy, shared hosting would be like renting a studio apartment where you can only decorate and you can’t make any other changes or even choose the amenities you want.

The Pros of Choosing VPS Hosting

Before taking a look at what dedicated servers are, it’s essential to consider what the pros are for choosing VPS hosting.

Here are the pros of choosing a VPS service:

  • It’s more affordable – Since you’re sharing a physical server when you choose VPS hosting, you’re able to get quite a lot of resources for less than the cost of dedicated hosting. Prices range from around $20 to $100 per month depending on the hosting provider.
  • Access to settings and options – Even though you’re sharing a server, you still have access to a lot of essential developer settings and options. This includes root access, viewing hidden files, choosing the operating system for your VPS, and more.
  • Optional managed hosting – You can choose to go with a hosting provider that offers managed VPS hosting. This means a lot of the deeply technical aspects of running a VPS are taken care of for you by the service provider. This can include the setup and configuration of the VPS as well as features such as additional security measures, regularly scheduled backups, and specialized technical support.
  • Greater potential for scalability – Since a physical server is segmented into virtual servers, if you suddenly realize you need better performance, your host can give you more of the finite resources available from the physical server. But keep in mind that the resources are still finite. You can only scale a certain amount before you hit a wall and you have to migrate your site to a different server, host, or plan.

The Cons of Choosing VPS Hosting over Dedicated Hosting

Now that you have a pretty good idea of what the major benefits of VPS hosting are, let’s also consider the cons of a VPS service.

Here are the reasons why a VPS may not be a good fit for your site:

  • Less secure – Because a VPS is a segment of a physical server, many users share a single server. This means that the security risks increase when you choose to go with a VPS. This is because if one website gets hacked on the server, other sections of the shared server can be infiltrated as well. Incidentally, your website could still get hacked even if you take extensive security measures.
  • Less resources – With a VPS, you’re sharing a physical server so there are limited resources available to each user and everyone has to share them. It’s like a cake – there’s only so much to go around, but everyone can have a slice. While you can ask for a larger piece, there’s a point where there’s no more cake left and you need to order another one.

What is a Dedicated Server and Dedicated Hosting?

Now that you have a better understanding of VPS hosting, it’s time to consider the dedicated hosting part of the decision between VPS hosting vs. dedicated servers.

A dedicated server is an entire physical server that isn’t partitioned like a VPS is.

Dedicated hosting is the type of hosting service where you can build your website on a dedicated server that’s provided by a hosting company.

When you sign up for dedicated hosting, you’re renting an entire server on your own. You’re not sharing it with anyone. You have full reign over the server and its resources. You can make just about any change to your server that you want.

At the same time, you’re completely responsible for any errors, downtime, content, backups, software updates as well as the overall security of the server. The only thing you’re not responsible for is the physical server itself, which the hosting company is responsible for maintaining.

There also isn’t much technical support typically offered with dedicated servers. So, if you choose dedicated hosting, it requires a lot of technical knowledge. You’ll have to set everything up yourself, including installing the operating system.

Although, some hosts do offer managed dedicated hosting that can include software updates and maintenance, scheduled backups, enhanced security, and technical support.

In addition to signing up with a dedicated hosting provider, you could also choose to purchase a server to set up your own hosting for managing your website on it. But, doing so requires a great deal of technical expertise. Not to mention the fact that it would set you back several thousands of dollars.

A dedicated server with a customized operating system and website or application.
A dedicated server is a physical server where you can host only your website.

Dedicated Servers and Hosting in Plain English

To help you with your decision between VPS hosting vs. dedicated hosting, here’s an analogy:

Having a dedicated server is like living in a house where you’re the only resident. You can choose to live with others if you want, but you can set up house rules that they must follow. You can decorate your house the way you want, even take down or put up walls. But, you’re also responsible for repairs and maintenance.

When you choose a dedicated server over VPS, you can choose to let other people access your server. For example, you can grant access to developers or your team if you’re running a business.

You’ll have full control so you can adjust settings as needed to provide the appropriate level of access.

It’s important to note, though, that you should only provide access to your hosting or website to those you trust. You should also only grant the level of access that they need and no more than is necessary.

If you grant more permissions than is needed, it poses a security risk.

For example, if you grant full administrative privileges to a team member that’s tasked to only add content to your site, they’ll be able to access everything and change whatever they want. This also means they could accidentally – or intentionally – delete your site or lock everyone out.

They could also make changes that create an opening for hackers to do similar damage.

For example, they could post spam all over your website or redirect users to another scam website. They could even steal personal information and credentials. If you run an eCommerce shop, they could steal payment details of all your customers.

Keep in mind that these are only some of the possible scenarios.

The Pros of Choosing a Dedicated Server

When it comes to deciding between VPS hosting vs. dedicated servers, how do dedicated servers differ? What are the benefits of your own server?

There are many great reasons to choose a dedicated server when it comes to VPS hosting vs. dedicated hosting:

  • You’re not sharing the server – All the resources are yours and you can let only the people you want to be admins into your server. Or, you can allow others to host their sites on your server if you want.
  • Access to all settings – Nothing’s held back. You have full control over your site and server including root access and all the otherwise hidden files and advanced settings.
  • A bit more secure – While security can’t really ever be guaranteed, since you’re the only one on your server, you don’t have to worry about your site being compromised because of another customer’s actions. You can implement all the proper security measures and run a tight ship where there’s less of a chance that security is compromised because of outside influences you can’t control.
  • Optional managed hostingMany hosts provide managed hosting so you don’t have to worry about as many of the technical aspects of running a dedicated server. But, this is entirely optional and you can opt for unmanaged hosting if you want.

The Cons of Choosing a Dedicated Server over VPS

There are some great pros to choosing dedicated hosting over VPS, like the freedom that a dedicated server brings to your site. But there are also reasons why you would want to avoid dedicated hosting.

Here are some of the downsides to consider when choosing between VPS hosting vs. dedicated hosting:

  • You’re solely responsible for your server – If something goes wrong, it’s most likely your own fault and you’ll have to fix it on your own.
  • It’s not very scalable – The resources you get can’t be upgraded unless you migrate to a bigger server. You can’t suddenly create more space, bandwidth, or other resources. Some dedicated hosting providers do offer several plans, but in the end, they’re limited as well.
  • Less affordable – Dedicated servers aren’t nearly as affordable as VPSs. You should be prepared to spend more than $100 and even over $500 per month, especially for larger servers.

VPS vs. Dedicated Hosting: A Comparison

Now that you’re more familiar with both VPSs and dedicated servers, here’s a breakdown of when each one is generally the best fit. It should help you start considering which option you should choose when deciding between VPS vs. dedicated server hosting.

VPS Hosting Dedicated Hosting
Affordability It’s more affordable, as you’re renting only a segment of a server.
Customization You have complete control over everything on a dedicated server rather than a part of it, as with a VPS.
Scalability A VPS is more scalable, but the resources of the shared physical server aren’t unlimited. So, it’s somewhat similar to dedicated hosting. It’s not really scalable. If you need more resources, you’ll be forced to migrate everything to a new server or host.
Security While security isn’t guaranteed, you’re not sharing the server with other customers so it’s a bit more secure than VPS hosting.

When it comes to performance, no matter whether you choose VPS vs. dedicated server hosting, they’ll be pretty similar, generally speaking.

Although, performance will vary from host to host as well as depending on whether your site is well-coded. It also depends on how much of the server’s resources you’re using.

But, because you have a lot more resources with dedicated servers, they are a step up from VPS hosting, considering performance. Though, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule in the slightest.

When it comes to choosing between VPS hosting vs. dedicated hosting, performance shouldn’t necessarily be a deciding factor since they’re both similar in this regard.

VPS vs. Dedicated Hosting: Which Should You Choose?

By now, we have covered what VPS hosting and dedicated hosting are as well as what their pros and cons are. But as this topic can be a bit abstract, the previous information might not be quite enough for you to make the best decision between VPS vs. dedicated hosting.

So, let’s take a look at some specific examples to help you figure out which hosting option is the best fit for your websites.

When a VPS is the Best Fit

If you want to run one or more sites that each need to have multiple pages and scripts installed, a VPS is usually a good solution. Or, if you’re expecting medium traffic (thousands of visitors a month), then this is a good pick as well. A VPS usually has enough resources to run a medium to large-sized website or web application with some room for growth.

To give you a better idea of what kind of site you could set up with VPS hosting, here are a few examples:

  • A fairly complex business site, that you don’t expect to grow too rapidly.
  • An image-heavy photography site or blog where you’re planning on posting regularly.
  • A website that runs a few custom scripts and plugins.
  • A WordPress Multisite network with several subsites.

As you can see, there are many cases where VPS hosting might be the best choice for you. But let’s take a look at which cases dedicated hosting would be better suited for.

When Dedicated Hosting is the Best Fit

Generally speaking, dedicated hosting can be a great fit for all the types of websites that a VPS fits well, too. However, dedicated servers are mostly a better option for more complex sites that need improved security. Or, sites that have a lot of pages as well as multiple scripts installed, requiring better performance.

Here are some more specific examples:

First, dedicated hosting is a good option for running a social media site. Although, if your site grows as large as Twitter or Facebook, you’ll need to upgrade. It might take some time to reach that point, but until then, a dedicated server is your best bet.

Second, if you’re running a stable business website. You could have an extensive customer area with social media features as well as a separate team portal. However, if your business plan involves rapid growth, scalability might become an issue.

Third, a dedicated server is also a decent option for a WordPress Multisite network, especially if there is a large number of sites within the network. For example, you could host hundreds of thousands of blogs or a social media site with a similar number of members using BuddyPress.

Fourth, dedicated servers can be great for developers or companies that want to host sites of their own clients.

Ultimately, a dedicated server is a great fit if you need decent performance with plenty of security. Or simply, if your site has outgrown VPS hosting.

But keep in mind that the performance of a dedicated server still depends on its size and specifications. And once you have upgraded to the highest-tier dedicated hosting plan, there won’t be any more room for scaling.

In Conclusion

When it comes to choosing between VPS vs. dedicated server hosting, there are many similarities between the two. Both provide good separation from other users on the same server, which is not possible with shared hosting. This gives you improved security and performance.

But, there are a few key differences that could make one of them an unfit option for your needs.

The biggest difference between VPS hosting vs. dedicated hosting is that a VPS only offers a fraction of the total server space for building the website you want. Whereas a dedicated server provides you with the entirety of the physical server’s resources (which are still finite).

Now, you should be familiar with both the bigger and smaller differences between VPS hosting vs. dedicated hosting. There’s no definite answer as the best fit depends on your specific website, but we hope you have the necessary information to make an informed decision.

Have you been able to make a decision between a dedicated server vs. VPS hosting? What was your decision? Are you still wondering about something when it comes to VPS hosting vs. dedicated hosting? Let us know in the comments below.

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