Should I Upgrade from a Shared Hosting Plan to VPS?

27 Jun 2016 / Freeparking Team / Website Hosting Shared Hosting VPS Server

This is a common question among website owners. It’s not surprising really, because many small businesses start their website on a shared hosting plan before upgrading to other plans. It’s much like moving homes as your family grows.

I’ll start this post with the features of a shared hosting plan, followed by those of a VPS and conclude with when you should upgrade. Most hosting providers offer both plans, so it all depends on when you think it’s time to move. In general, the decision is determined by your website functions and business purpose.

Features of a Shared Hosting Plan

When describing hosting plans, I like to use the home analogy because it makes it a lot easier to understand. The shared hosting plan is like living in an apartment complex, all residents reside in the same building and must share the available resources with one another. These may include such things as the swimming pool, parking space, waste disposal area and the gym. Similarly, in the shared hosting plan, web accounts must share the available resources with other accounts on their server. These include CPU time, server RAM and disk space.

A shared hosting plan is mainly selected by customers who don’t have a technical background and want a low-cost hosting package. Its advantages include:

  • Suitable for accounts with a small number of blogs and smaller websites.
  • Since it is basically the cheapest plan, it is economical
  • It does not require technical maintenance of the server; therefore, it is quite attractive to users with limited tech background.
  • Users can add more storage space to their plan
  • Virtualised software packages and other kinds of software programs can be installed.

Upgrade to VPS

The disadvantages of the shared hosting plan are obvious, as you may have experienced them yourself. Due to the fact that you share resources with possibly thousands of other accounts:

  • Your website performance is easily affected by the activities of other sites
  • Increased levels of security risks

Some hosting providers strive to reduce these issues as much as possible for their customers.

Features of a VPS hosting Plan

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. Back to our home analogy: think of upgrading to a VPS plan like moving your growing family into semi-detached townhouse. You get to personalise your home and decorate it to your own taste; however, you still need to manage your own part of the building. Companies that work with resource heavy applications and highly-secured data usually adopt the VPS plan.

They also have a significant amount of web traffic that can’t be supported by resources of a shared hosting plan. Websites that contain sensitive data like customer details are better off on a VPS plan.

Advantages of a VPS hosting Plan

  • There’s plenty of space and bandwidth to support your heavy applications
  • It is flexible enough to upgrade or downgrade a subscription anytime you wish
  • It can be configured to your preferences.
  • There’s a lot of room to scale your hosting as you grow
  • User partitioning allows you configure your firewalls according to your preferences.

Like other plans, the VPS has its demerits. However, it is nothing you can’t handle if you are careful.

Upgrade to VPS

Disadvantages of a VPS

  • It requires a dedicated systems administrator to manage the server. If you choose to appoint someone on your team, it may take up time from core responsibilities.
  • It is quite expensive so beware of cheap offerings from providers.
  • Some applications may not run in a virtualized environment. Check with your vendors first.

The major differences between a shared plan and VPS plan

Resources: Shared hosting provides users with resources that they need to share with often hundreds of other users on the server, while the VPS plan offers resources which are dedicated to your use only..

Security: The VPS plan is a lot more secure than the shared hosting plan.

Platform: The shared hosting plan offers a basic range of file system/compartmentalization, while the VPS plan may offer OpenVZ and Xen Linux Virtualization.

When can you upgrade from a shared plan to a VPS plan?

  • Your website is using up all your current disk space
  • Your website is consuming large amounts of CPU and RAM
  • You need unrestricted control of your resources
  • You need to send more emails to business and customer contacts
  • You need more web security/firewall
  • You are fed up with server downtimes and want improved performance
  • Your business is about to scale

If your business falls under any of the categories mentioned above, it might be time to upgrade.

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