Shared Hosting, VPS, Dedicated Servers: What's The Difference?

Differences of shared, VPS and dedicated hosting

When you are looking for a hosting service for your web and email services there are three main options to choose from, Shared, VPS, and Dedicated. They all work for different circumstances and have varying degrees of cost associated with them. You can either have a lot of technical knowledge or a little, for all of the options.

Shared hosting is the lowest and most economical of all the options. Don’t automatically jump to the assumption that low cost is bad though, this fulfills a lot of requirements that are wonderful for businesses that are just starting out, or small businesses with not a lot of web traffic. Shared means that you are sharing the server with other businesses, it does not mean that they will see your information or that they are using your space. You have an allocated amount of disk space, web traffic, databases, etc. You can find yourself going over that amount, which will amount to a penalty fee. It also is a managed host, meaning you will only have power user administrative rights and will not have total freedom to mess with the server or operating system. If you stream a lot of videos or have a lot of web applications, this may not be the choice for you. There are a lot of benefits to this option though. The server maintenance fee is shared by all and therefore economical. It is managed, so you have someone taking care of your web suite for you, software patches are uploaded on a regular schedule and the hardware is monitored regularly to combat any hardware failures. The host will also have security measures in place such as firewalls and proxy servers to protect you and your web suite from intrusion. All of these features equal time for you to focus on the actual business rather than worrying about the technical aspect of things.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is the medium option, and slightly more expensive than shared hosting. It is the happy medium between the limitations placed on you in shared hosting and the complete freedom of do-it-yourself dedicated hosting. A virtual server is a part of a server farm that is split up by software to give the feel of a dedicated server. The benefits of this option are that it is customizable to your needs, and you can choose a degree to which the host manages your server. While you may not be able to have the operating system you desire, you are given superuser access to your virtual server. This means that you can run scripts and programs that are usually not able to be run with a shared host. There are still limitations on disk space and bandwidth but it’s scalable, so you can start out small and grow as your business grows.

Dedicated hosting service is the high-end option and the most expensive. You are leasing a server, you are not sharing the server with anyone, it’s all yours to do with as you please. With lots of freedom, comes lots of responsibility though. Setup, repair and maintenance on hardware and software are all your job, which can be quite easy for some. A primer in networking is also a must have as you will be dealing with IP addresses, routers, and proxy servers. You have unlimited bandwidth to use and you are only limited to the disk space of your server, which is wonderful to not worry about when building several web sites and running various applications and databases. This is a great option if you have a lot of web traffic and a dedicated technical member of the team. You are, of course, able to contract technical management out for a fee.