In this article, we will discover what a Dedicated server platform, managed WordPress hosting and a VPS server hosting platform is, how they compare and differ from each other, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. These two concepts aren’t mutually exclusive, and in this article, we hope to provide you a better idea of what to look for in a hosting solution.
In today’s online world, web hosting has become a necessity for all kinds of individuals, hobbyists, artists, social organizations, schools, soccer clubs, businesses, and large corporations with hundreds or thousands of employees. All of these circles use websites to distribute their thoughts and ideas with an online presence.
Some clients decide to host their own servers on-site or select a collocation service to maintain more control. A Collocation service is a type of plan where a hosting provider, such as Liquid Web, houses customer-owned server hardware within a secured data center, mainly providing power and a connection to the internet. Similar options include a self or core managed hosting plans.
These plans are defined as models in which the customer rents the server from a provider, but chooses the level of support they require. In these cases, the hosting provider supplies the hardware, power, and internet connection, while other support options and responsibilities will vary with the plan they choose. Due to the infrastructure requirements, technical expertise needed to efficiently run a server, as well as the costs both plans incur, many prefer a Managed Hosting solution instead.
Managed Hosting is a service in which the hosting provider is responsible for the deployment, configuration, maintenance, administration, troubleshooting, and monitoring of a hosting environment. Depending on the specific hosting package, this can range from the administration of core services (i.e., web server and SSH access) to fully managed WooCommerce solutions, including application-specific support. Generally speaking, the higher the cost of a managed hosting solution, the larger the scope of support you can expect.
Managed hosting comes in different shapes and sizes to accommodate the varying needs of each customer. While the exact technologies used may vary from provider to provider, most offer some form of these hosting services:
- Shared Hosting: Shared hosting typically involves hosting individual sites in a large, shared server environment. In this case, a single server usually hosts numerous small sites belonging to different customers. One example of a shared hosting environment would be a cPanel server. This type of plan would provide access to a control panel or cPanel account, which allows for limited access to specifically defined services.
With this type of hosting, you only have access to your files, sites, and any additional services the provider has allowed, like email, for example. Websites on shared hosting have to fit within a general configuration and limitations of the account type, which is set by the provider. This is the most inexpensive form of managed hosting, but it is not without its drawbacks. It provides limited control of application-specific settings and rarely allows custom software. Another limitation is the server’s shared resources, which are divided between all the sites on the server, so the performance of each website can fluctuate.
- VPS Hosting: A VPS or Virtual Private Server is a step up from shared hosting. A VPS is a virtual server that uses a full operating system within a physical server, also known as a node or parent. There can be multiple VPSs running within a single parent. While these offerings share the parents’ resources, they are fully isolated from each other. Since a VPS is an isolated system, clients have more freedom in what applications they want to run and how they can be configured. Being separated from other customers instances also provides an extra layer of protection. Hosting providers typically offer a few different configurations of VPSs with different technical specifications and price points. This limits how customizable they are, but one of their main advantages is how quickly they can be created and scaled up or down to adjust to different resource configurations if needed.
- Dedicated Server Hosting: Dedicated hosting refers to renting a physical server, also known as a dedicated server, from the hosting provider. Dedicated servers are constructed to the specification a client selects, within what the hosting provider offers. Similar to a VPS, clients have full root access to the server and are at liberty to choose the software they want to use and how it should be configured. Unlike a VPS, you are not sharing any of the server’s hardware or resources with anyone else. The main benefit of dedicated servers is the level of customization available, especially in our VMWare Cloud which can be defined to fit the client’s requirements perfectly. For example, a server delivering media content on a single site may need a large disk for storing files. On the other hand, a server hosting a few smaller but higher traffic sites won’t need as much disk space but would benefit from more processing power and RAM.
As a side note, both VPS and dedicated servers can also be self-managed, but we are focusing on the managed aspect. On both dedicated and virtual servers, the hosting provider’s support team usually assists with troubleshooting server-related issues, installation, configuration of supported software, and monitoring critical services. Liquid Web’s approach to managed hosting is that we fully support the LAMP Stack, InterWorx, cPanel, Plesk, Windows and the core WordPress files. However, we also provide limited support for some custom applications and will cover most third-party software in what is called a “Beyond Scope” basis. For example, if you notify us that a website is down, we will immediately investigate the cause of the issue. If the problem is with server-level software or services, (PHP, Apache, or MySQL) we will quickly work to resolve the issue. If the problem turns out to be with the site’s code, or with a WordPress plugin or theme, we may be able to offer information or assist with identifying the cause, but cannot promise to provide a solution or render developer-level assistance.
- Managed Applications Hosting: This service is an authentic, fully managed hosting solution. This is a service plan in which sites are hosted within an environment specially designed for a specific type of application, like WordPress or WooCommerce. With this type of service, a provider’s support team will assist with not only configurations but also will troubleshoot problems at the site level. An excellent example of this is Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress, Managed WooCommerce, and Cloud Sites products. These offerings do not provide clients with server-level access and usually offer less customization than a traditional VPS or dedicated server. However, the end product is a hosting environment where you only need to maintain the content of the site rather than worrying about managing servers, services, and the technical specifics related to them.
What Exactly Is A VPS?
A VPS is a full server OS that is emulated or replicated within a more substantial physical server, which is called a node or parent. There can be multiple VPS operating systems running within a single node (multi-tenancy), each running their own unique operating system and software. Those systems are wholly isolated from the other instances on the parent. These instances only share the parent node’s resources, processing power, RAM, bandwidth, and disk space.
One of the optimum aspects of VPS is the speed at which they can be created, deployed, and modified. A dedicated server setup can initially take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to build and configure. Virtual servers can be created and set up within minutes. You select your server platform, the type of operating system, a hostname, the number of IP’s you would like, hit “Create” and you are all set! In a few minutes, you have a working server to begin working on. Is your server getting too small or too slow for you? No problem! You are a few clicks away from upgrading your VPS to size or speed that anticipates your current needs. Is your website not getting enough traffic to justify a larger, more powerful VPS? Again, no problem!! Downsizing is very straightforward without the hassle of migrating to a new server or waiting for your provider to change your server’s hardware.
Depending on the configuration of the parent server and how virtualization is set up by the hosting provider, the combined maximum resource usage allocated to all the VPSs on a node can be higher than the available physical resources of the node. This can be a drawback when compared to a traditional dedicated server, as this can cause a resource-hungry instance to affect the overall performance of the other instances on the same node, which is one of the main drawbacks when compared to traditional dedicated servers.
A good compromise between a VPS and a dedicated server is what’s known as a VDS or Virtual Cloud Dedicated Server. This is basically a single-tenant VPS, meaning it is the only VPS instance running on a node. It provides all the advantages of a traditional dedicated server and many of the same scalability features of a multi-tenant virtual server.
Who Would Benefit From A VPS?
There are many situations in which you might want to go with VPS hosting rather than the other available options. For starters, it makes for a good middle ground between shared and dedicated hosting in terms of price to performance ratio. Earlier, we mentioned that multiple VPSs on the same node can possibly affect the performance of other instances on the server. These issues are not very common, but even taking them into account, you can be sure your sites will work more smoothly in a private environment rather than in a shared one.
If your web application requires an operating system or distribution of Linux not ordinarily available in shared hosting, you might opt for a VPS or an unmanaged server. Liquid Web’s Managed Hosting VPS and dedicated server infrastructure primarily use CentOS, Ubuntu, and Windows operating systems, but self-managed or core managed systems have these options as well; CentOS, Ubuntu, and Debian Linux servers. Those operating systems may be better for non-website hosting needs.
The only limitation to what you can accomplish on your VPS is only confined to the provider’s Terms of Service. This is a huge factor if you are planning to run custom software such as chat applications, VoIP servers, private game servers or even non-standard database systems like MongoDB. Many developers and end-users utilize managed VPS hosting as a flexible and affordable solution for both staging and production hosting environments.
- Isolated – Unlike shared hosting, each customer is isolated to their own server, improving performance and allowing a higher degree of freedom and security.
- Control – Outwardly, a VPS is nearly indistinguishable from a dedicated server. You have complete access to the operating system, can install the most compatible software and make configuration changes at will.
- Fast deployment – A VPS can be usually be created, cloned, or reimaged in minutes, as opposed to hours or days when dealing with dedicated servers.
- Scalability and flexibility – VPSs are easy to scale up or down within given parameters, depending on your current technical and financial needs.
- Cost-effective – VPSs provide most of the advantages of a dedicated server at a significantly more approachable price point.
- Sharing a node means the activity on one VPS can adversely affect the performance of the others.
- Costs more than shared hosting.
- Most providers offer only a few preset configurations of VPSs
Virtual Private Servers provide an excellent middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated servers, providing you with the performance of a dedicated server while remaining scalable and affordable. A managed VPS is a great way to host sites for small and medium-sized businesses, wing you to leave the technical dirty work to your hosting provider so you can focus on what matters.
Check out Liquid Web’s range of Cloud Virtual Private Servers.
If you’re looking for a more powerful and flexible hosting solution, check our Cloud Dedicated servers.
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