VPS Hosting 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Virtual Private Servers

The Beginners Guide To Virtual Private Servers

  1. What is a Virtual Private Server (VPS)?
  2. The Difference Between Shared, VPS Hosting & Dedicated Server
  3. 7 Signs That you Need to Upgrade to Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
  4. How to Choose the Best VPS Hosting Provider?

When it comes to web hosting, you have three main choices: shared hosting (the cheapest and most popular option), a dedicated server that is entirely yours, or a crossbreed of the two that allows you to have all the power of a dedicated server at a lower cost. This solution is called a virtual private server (VPS).

What Is a Virtual Private Server (VPS)?

A virtual private server (commonly abbreviated to VPS) is created when a physical server is divided into smaller, virtual compartments. Just like a dedicated server, a virtual private server has its own operating system, dedicated storage, and dedicated RAM and CPU resource but it costs much less than a dedicated server.

The Difference Between Shared, VPS & Dedicated Server Hosting

Shared hosting is like staying in a dorm with a group of other friends. You all fit into one dorm, and because you’re all splitting the cost between you, it’s cheap and affordable. However, because of the number of individuals sharing a space, your security can be compromised, and you only have a limited amount of space.

Most website owners use a shared hosting service, which is when your site shares a physical server with many other websites. Shared hosting was created for smaller sites because it’s cost effective and easy to use. You don’t need technical skills to manage your hosting because your hosting provider takes care of your server’s maintenance.

However, if a bad user shares your server with you, they can threaten your security and allow hackers to easily reach your content and critical data. Furthermore, because you’re all sharing the same resources, if any of the users that you’re sharing your server with use a lot of memory or their site has a lot of traffic, your website’s performance is likely to suffer.

Shared Hosting

Shared Hosting

VPS Hosting is like living in an apartment complex. You have a few other people living in the same building as you, but you have an entire apartment to yourself with more room and fewer restrictions than you’d have in a dorm room. If a neighbor living in another apartment is misbehaving, you won’t usually have to deal with them.

Although a number of VPS users share a server, they’re isolated from each other, so even if a bad user shares the same physical server as you, they’ll have no impact on your VPS service. This is because your data is secured and isolated from other customers. Each VPS user has their own server resources to use.

A VPS will only cost a fraction of an entire server, so it’s perfect if you need the benefits of a private server, but don’t want to pay a lot.

VPS Hosting

VPS Hosting

A Dedicated Server is like owning a house – you’ve got as much room as you could possibly need. But now you have more bills to pay and an expensive mortgage, too.

Dedicated server hosting is when you rent an entire server that’s not shared with anyone else. You have full control over the server including choice of operating system, hardware etc. This is the most expensive choice and is mostly used by users who have high­ profile websites or higher data needs than the average user.

Dedicated Server Hosting

Dedicated Server Hosting

The key differences between Shared Hosting, VPS Hosting, and Dedicated Server Hosting

Comparison of FeaturesShared Hosting VPS HostingDedicated Server Hosting
Number of websites that can be hostedAccording to shared plan you purchase.Unlimited websites and each of them with control panel access.Unlimited websites and each of them with control panel access.
IP address Your website’s IP address is shared with hundreds of other websites.Your website’s IP address is shared only with websites hosted within your VPS.Your website’s IP address is shared only with websites hosted within your server.
Capability to run own Operating SystemNo.VPS can run its own Operating System.Dedicated server has its own Operating System.
Hosting support By default Fully Managed.Based on VPS plan, it could be Self Managed or Fully Managed.Based on server, it could be Self Managed or Fully Managed.
Hosting control Limited control.Users have full administrative access to VPS.Users have full administrative access to dedicated server.
Remote access to serverNo, only FTP connections are allowed.Yes, via SSH or Remote Desktop.Yes, via SSH or Remote Desktop.
Custom software installation No.Yes.Yes.
Server resource utilizationWebsites can utilize limited server resources offered with plan.Websites can utilize full VPS resources.Websites can utilize full dedicated server resources.
Cost$3 to $10 USD /Mo.$10 to $150 USD /Mo.$80 to $1000+ USD /Mo.
Skill required to manage accountBasic hosting skills.Basic server administration and troubleshooting skills are required.Basic server administration and troubleshooting skills are required.

7 Signs That you Need to Upgrade to Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

Being a web hosting provider, we have had many customers over the years who found that they needed to upgrade to VPS hosting. Below are the most common situations which led to an upgrade. If you can relate to any of them, you’re probably ready to switch to VPS hosting.

1. Your Website is Running Frustratingly Slow

The more content you add to your website over time, the slower it will run. There are often a few causes for this common problem, but there’s a good chance that your site is slow because you’ve finally hit your shared hosting limits. In order to boost your site’s speed, it’s a good idea to upgrade from shared hosting to VPS hosting to decrease page loading times.

2. You Have a High Amount of Traffic

When your website starts to gain more popularity and web traffic to your website increases, your current web hosting plan may no longer be capable of handling such large amounts of traffic. A virtual private server will be able to handle much higher levels of traffic than shared hosting.

3. You Often see the Dreaded ‘50X’ or ‘Internal Server Error’ Message

Has your website ever displayed a 50X error (508, 503, 504, 507)? This could mean that your site has maxed out it’s allocated resources available on your shared server. For access to more resources, you can either try to upgrade your shared hosting plan or switch to VPS hosting

Insufficient Resource Error 508

508 ‘Insufficient Resource’ Message


4. Your Site Contains Data Sensitive Information

A website containing highly sensitive data, payment processing functionality and custom requirements should be hosted on a virtual private server or dedicated server to keep information isolated and safe, as hackers find it much easier to target websites on a shared hosting plan that all share an IP address.

5. You run an Online Store

Most eCommerce websites that store or process credit cards on their website need a PCI compliance certificate. According to a statistics, 89% of shared hosting plans fail to pass a PCI­ Compliance test. On a VPS, you have a dedicated operating system for your website, so you’re more likely to pass PCI test in comparison to shared hosting.

6. You need to Install Custom Software or Applications

Shared hosts don’t allow you to install your own software. Therefore, to host custom software like Game server, Forex Trading Software, Radio Station, Database Server, Streaming Server, File Server, etc., you’ll have to choose between a virtual private server and a dedicated server.

Some custom applications like Collections MAX, FreshBooks/QuickBooks, Billing Software, etc. demand 24×7 availability and high­ speed internet connection. To run these applications, you will need VPS hosting.

A dedicated server with moderate specification may cost you more than $100 per month, so VPS hosting is generally a sufficient and more pocket ­friendly option.

7. You Often see the “Service Unavailable” Error on your Website

The 503 ‘service unavailable’ error means that your server is temporarily unavailable to fulfill the web requests. It occurs when your site exceeds the allocated application pool memory in Windows hosting, or reaches to its maximum concurrent connections limit in Linux hosting.

Error 503 Service Unavailable

Service Unavailable Error 503


How To Choose the Best VPS Hosting Provider

There are thousands of VPS hosting providers out there, so how do you know which is the best one? The following points will help you pick the right VPS hosting service.

Managed Service/Unmanaged Service

If you are familiar with hosting control panels, shell commands, and you have basic server administration and troubleshooting skills, then unmanaged VPS is the way to go. Note that while you purchase self­ managed VPS, you should be capable of managing applications, software, services installed on your VPS. Also, you must know installation/un­installations, resource monitoring, server performance tweaking and troubleshooting of any technical issues.

If you think you are unable to manage such things on your own, or you don’t have such time to manage VPS, then choose managed VPS hosting.


If you are going to host websites with Windows­ based technologies such as ASP.Net and Microsoft SQL Server, you should choose the Windows VPS hosting. For PHP and MySQL based websites, a Linux­ based VPS is a perfect choice.

24/7 Live Customer Support

Your VPS host should have 24/7 support over live chat or phone along with a most comprehensive knowledge­base, so that when you face difficulties with your VPS in the odd hours, your web host’s technical team will help you to fix them.


Determine the VPS resources that you require to serve your websites, and then find the host who can offer you the best price. You should also make sure that your host offers a full money back guarantee so that you can assess the quality of support and VPS performance during the money back guarantee period.

Uptime And Reliability

Check how much uptime your web host offers. 99.5% and above is the recommended uptime score, but anything below 99% is unacceptable. You should also check the VPS provider’s past uptime records, and reviews on various forums, blogs, and third­ party trustworthy review websites.


The main Hypervisor where your VPS resides must be configured with brand new and high­end hardware components. You can ask your web hosting provider’s sales executive about server configuration of main HyperVisor node.

Backup Service

Imagine that your VPS is infected with shell scripts and you don’t have a recent backup on your local computer. If your host takes regular backups of your VPS, then you can easily restore back your VPS to the previous state within a few minutes. If your host doesn’t take backups at all, you may end up losing hours of work.

AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) And T&C

You should take a look on the AUP or T&C as well before making the final decision. Some of the service providers follow the local state laws against the data protection and offensive/abusing activities.


So there you have it, our complete guide to VPS hosting. If you’ve had your site up and running for a while and it’s had some measure of success, you may have already experienced some of the issues mentioned. If you want your site’s performance to keep pace with its growth, you should consider upgrading to a VPS.

Many find that the benefits of having a virtual private server far outweigh the costs. How has your experience been with virtual private servers? Have you switched or thought of switching to a VPS or dedicated server? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Rahul Vaghasia

Rahul Vaghasia

Rahul is CEO at AccuWebHosting.com. He shares his web hosting insights at AccuWebHosting blog. He mostly writes on the latest web hosting trends, WordPress, storage technologies, Windows and Linux hosting platforms.
Rahul Vaghasia
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Latest Comments
  1. Machina says:

    I find it non-sense for the hosts to put anything less than 99% uptime on their pages, even if they have to lie. People will simply turn away if they write anything less than that. Some of my friends and I had experienced several down times on hosts who claimed the 99% uptime. I conclude that these numbers are just formalities without any serious meaning. Is that too heartless?

  2. Santino says:

    I have used shared hosting for over 7 years before I finally decided to upgrade to a VPS server. When I was using shared hosting, I had so many problems with malware, slow loading time, brute force attacks and so many other issues. Now, my life is so much easier with VPS. What amazes me the most is the support team; they simply exceed my expectations and they are ALWAYS available to answer my questions.

    • Machina says:

      It’s kind of ironic that you have to upgrade to VPS before getting reliable support from the team. I also appreciate that some hosts truly provide 24/7 support, while others are simply lip service. I understand that those attacks are not easy to solve, though.

    • Marie says:

      Actually, what you mentioned about customer support is my main reason for wanting to move from shared hosting to a VPS. My current hosting company doesn’t take that seriously unfortunately.

  3. Blood says:

    I was on a shared hosting plan when my host went down. The staff said they didn’t have the backup files for my website when I requested it, so I had to restart the site from scratch. I was also at fault because I didn’t back it up often enough, though.

  4. Marie says:

    I am really glad I stumbled upon this article, because I am thinking of upgrading all my websites to a better hosting service and I was considering a VPS. There are so many things you have explained here and it really helped me a lot, thank you.

  5. Frank says:

    I have been using a VPS for the past 2 years now and I couldn’t be happier with everything. I have also suffered from brute force attacks before, but after upgrading to VPS and making a few customer changes, all my website are safe now.

  6. Miss.S says:

    A friend once recommended me to choose a VPS server closer to my target audience to improve user experience. Is that true? Sometimes internet connection is limited based on country/location, even with proxy, so it may be hard for me to manage the website.

  7. Mike says:

    VPS prices are high, but they are totally worth it. When I moved from shared hosting to VPS, I started paying triple the price. However, I am so glad I upgraded.

    • JJ says:

      I agree, Mike. What you pay extra in money, you get in customer satisfaction and quality of service. It’s really worth every penny if you ask me.

  8. Ronnie says:

    If you have a blog that you own just for fun, shared hosting is okay; however, if you are building an online business and are serious about it, you definitely need a VPS.

  9. JJ says:

    In my opinion, having a VPS has become a necessity for any person who owns a website for the purpose of growing their business. Shared hosting just doesn’t cut it anymore.

  10. Sid Megapolis says:

    Nice read Rahul ! While you compare all hosting types, I would like to point out one important thing related to shared hosting. Undoubtedly, VPS hosting has become the most popular hosting type in short span, but shared hosting has its own benefits. First and most important one is – Shared Hosting is by Default Fully Managed, that means you don’t have to worry about security of your website, server updates, software update, spamming from your mailboxes, etc.

    Shared web servers are equipped with high-end paid security tools, which will identify if any spamming occurs from your account or any malicious script is uploaded on your website. Your web host will take care of it as soon such mishaps take place. With VPS hosting, you cannot enjoy this freedom unless you pay for managed services.

    • Rahul V says:

      Thank you for your opinion, Sid !! Undoubablty, for a small website, shared hosting is the best option.It is fact that shared hosting servers are maintained with a great care. However, you always have a small number of resources of disk, bandwidth, memory on it.

      I can’t say it as a disadvantage of VPS hosting because many of our VPS hosting customers have server administrator to manage their VPS and they manage it in very efficiently manner. But this doesn’t everyone must have server administrator, we have content-rich knowledge base on VPS hosting for our self-managed customers.Also, a managed service option at very affordable price.

  11. Cloudia says:

    Very concise and accurate post on VPS hosting, Rahul !
    I am shared hosting customer and I am thinking to switch to VPS hosting but I have heard that VPS hosting causes many slowness issues due to RAM,VCPU high usage. I am not sure about the facts about it.

    • Rahul V says:

      Thanks, Cloudia! Great choice. Well, it can happen if you overload your server. You should first see the resource requirement of your site. Based on that select the best VPS plan for your site and you are good to go. If you still face any trouble, don’t sweat it. Just contact our sales team to find the best plan for you.

  12. Herrick says:

    Rahul, perfect inside scoop on VPS hosting. I see the great impact after moving from shared server to my own VPS. I have my VPS with so-called known Web host. But, I am not satisfied at some extent. My server freezes for 30-40 minutes on daily basis in pick hours. The host says there is no issue. But, I assume they have oversold VPS on the host server. I am planning to move my site from their server to VPS that I am purchasing from you. I have a concern of data migration. I have a single site with one MSSQL database. The total size of files and databases is less than 1 GB. Will your support team assist me in migration?

  13. Chiraz says:

    I was on a shared hosting plan when my host went down. The staff said they didn’t have the backup files for my website when I requested it, so I had to restart the site from scratch. I was also at fault because I didn’t back it up often enough, though. My question is do you provide free backup for VPS and if yes how many copies will be available.

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