Beginner’s Guide to Virtual Managed Servers
So, you’ve decided to build your new website; you have the design and the content, but now you need to decide where you going to host your shiny new site. There are various options out there and thousands of hosting companies to choose from but in general there are three major hosting options:
- Shared hosting: The cheapest option, popular with most smaller sites and startups.
- Dedicated hosting: You get an entire server all to yourself.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS): A hybrid version of the two options above. You get the features of dedicated hosting but at a much lower price.
In the past few years, there has been an upsurge in interest in Virtual Private Servers, with the hosting industry reporting increased demand for the service. As performance of VPS hosting improves and the costs of virtualization drop, this trend is set to continue.
If you do not know what a Virtual Private Server is, and whether it is a good choice for your business, this article offers an extensive run-through of the technology.
What Is A Virtual Private Server?
A Virtual Private Server, abbreviated as VPS, is an online hosting solution designed so that you can share the resources offered by a single physical server with the web host’s other customers, without having to pay for a dedicated hosting solution.
With VPS hosting, all users on the server are offered back-end access permissions so that they can allocate resources required to run their website or online application efficiently, such as processing power, memory and disk space.
When in use, a VPS provides you with a hosting environment that offers the services you would expect from shared hosting, but using dedicated server-style management and resources.
Why You Should Consider A Virtual Private Server
With the technological advancements seen in the fields of cloud computing and virtualization, the popularity of shared hosting is waning, even among entry-level businesses and startups. There is a very simple reason for this phenomenon – you enjoy much better features from a VPS hosting environment at just a fractionally higher cost than that of shared hosting.
If your business or application is still being run on a shared hosting plan, there are a few tell-tale signs that you should consider upgrading to a virtual private server:
- Your website is slow: This could be that you may be approaching the limits of your shared hosting plan’s resources or other sites sharing the server are bogging it down.
- Your website requires you to install and run custom applications for it to run efficiently that are not possible in a shared environment.
- Your website or application struggles to handle greater loads during peak hours.
- Security: you want to store and protect sensitive business or customer data online.
- If your ecommerce site collects sensitive financial information, such as customer contacts and credit card details. You may need to upgrade to a VPS in order to comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security (PCI DSS) standards.
- You need a dedicated IP address either for your SEO efforts, to install an SSL certificate, or to segregate your site from the “bad neighborhood” sites on the shared server.
- Plus many other possible reasons.
Managed or Unmanaged Virtual Private Server?
Hosting a website requires that you consider much more than the resources offered. There are other services you need to think about including software patches, virus scans, automated backups and performance monitoring. As its name suggests, a managed virtual private server service provides all these auxiliary services, although the extent of coverage you receive will depend on the managed hosting plan your service provider offers.
Managed VPS hosting is an excellent option if you are just getting started with an e-business, and are not familiar with the technical aspects of managing a web server. With managed VPS hosting, all you have to be concerned with is creating content for your website, since someone else will handle the back-end work for you. The only catch is that this assistance comes at a price.
On the flip side, unmanaged hosting comes with little or no additional support, since the service provider works on the assumption that you have the necessary technical knowledge to manage your server environment, install your applications and carry out maintenance tasks, by yourself. However, it is important to note that most unmanaged virtual private server service providers will offer emergency support if you run into any glitches.
A Managed VPS Offers Increased Reliability
Because many shared hosting service providers oversell space on their servers, often adding thousands of websites onto a single server, it greatly affects their reliability and speed. A managed virtual dedicated server offers a much greater improvement in both reliability and stability when compared to shared hosting.
In addition, managed VPS servers are isolated from one another, with very few virtual servers on each node. The fact that there is a professional server admin at hand also ensures that you enjoy optimal performance and maximum uptime.
Instantly Scale Your Resources
If you are just getting started with a brand-new website but hope to develop it into something larger in the future, it is essential that you are able to scale up your VPS hosting resources with little or no downtime or technical issues.
When you use a managed VPS hosting service, your website or online application is hosted in an environment known as a container. Depending on the hosting package you purchased, your container will have a certain amount of server resources allocated to it.
The great thing with managed VPS hosting solution is that generally with a few clicks of your mouse you can increase your CPU, memory and disk requirements with zero downtime and almost instantly.
Total Control of Your Server Environment
One of the reasons many owners of busy websites and high-traffic web applications choose a managed VPS hosting over shared hosting is the availability of full root access. When you have root access, your server admin has greater control of the hosting environment and can therefore tweak and optimize it to your exact needs.
This is important because if you require installation of a custom software package or need to open a port, apply specific firewall rules, etc – your managed virtual private server hosting admin can easily make the necessary changes, unlike a shared hosting where you have no control over these aspects.
Customer Service Is Available to Help
Use of a managed virtual server hosting plan also comes with certain customer care benefits. With this type of hosting, you will always have someone to turn to if you need help. Whenever you have concerns or any questions regarding your hosting plan, you will always have someone to chat with, email or consult over the phone.
Your managed VPS server admin will normally be able to help you right away by adding more resources, or configuring your server almost immediately, as they have intimate knowledge of the server setup and hosting environment. For a small business, trying to impress new clients with the speed and efficiency of their service, being able to resolve system issues quickly, with a minimum of downtime, is vitally important.
Once you have decided to sign up to a managed virtual server, it is unlikely that you will ever look back. However, you need to find a provider with a history of reliability and a high level of customer care, and who offers an easy upgrade path when you need to scale up.