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Virtual Servers

Most sites start out using shared hosting. This is fine, as far as it goes, especially for sites that are simple or updated infrequently. Eventually, though, the site grows beyond the capacity of shared hosting. At least, you’d like it to grow that much, because that means you’re doing something right. So what are your hosting options now?

Dedicated Versus Virtual

For more hosting resources, you have two options: dedicated servers, or virtual private servers (VPS). A dedicated hosting service requires the purchase of a physical server, which then has to be maintained either on site or in a separate facility.

VPS is, as the name implies, not a physical server at all, but rather multiple virtual servers which all share a physical CPU. Because there is less equipment involved, this is the cheaper way to go.

Conventional VPS versus Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is similar to VPS because both use a virtual hosting server. However, typical VPS has far more restrictions than cloud hosting, which is one reason that cloud servers are becoming the favored technology among forward-looking businesses. Typically, the limitations involved with VPS are due to the providers, and are not a limitation of the technology itself. There are a couple key exceptions, though.

Downtime Differences

With VPS, your site’s availability is related to the uptime of the physical server. If that server goes down, so does your VPS and you’ll have to perform a backup recovery. Data and time are both lost, plus you win some downtime.

Cloud servers, though, are designed to switch seamlessly to new resources if their server goes down. This eliminates downtime, because there’s no scramble to get things up and running again.

Resource Consumption

Although VPS is better than shared hosting as far as resources go, there can still be issues. A VPS provider fills the server until it’s nearly full, and then migrates to a new server. Once a server is full, no more upgrades are available. If you’re one of the users who need lots of resources, your load time will be impacted until you can be moved (or until others can be moved).

Cloud servers are much faster to move between, so there’s no lag time waiting to move to a new server. Resources are virtually unlimited because they’re... well, virtual. You’re not directly sharing resources, so the same limitations just aren’t there.

Which One?

There’s no definite answer as to which virtual server will work better for you. Cloud hosting is gaining in popularity by leaps and bounds, but VPS is a strong and reliable technology which services most sites just fine. A good rule of thumb? If you’re concerned about your server not keeping up with you, start shopping for hosting alternatives before you get too many complaints about your site’s performance.

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