Image Credit: TAKA@P.P.R.S
One of the most important things to take into account when getting a startup on its feet is hosting. In all but the rarest cases, you will need someone to provide you with the backbone for your website, applications, and computing infrastructure. It’s not generally something you should handle on your own, after all - most businesses lack the resources to host their own stuff.
Now, at this point, it’s worth mentioning that if you’re just looking to establish a small web presence, then shared hosting is probably all you’re going to require. Although you have little control over your hosting environment and relatively few resources to work with, most shared hosting plans are more than enough for your basic website. But what if your needs are a little bit more complex or intensive?
Say, for example, you’re running a Software as a Service company, or looking to set up VOIP. Chances are good that, in both of these cases, a shared hosting plan won’t provide anywhere near the power or freedom necessary. In short, you’re probably going to need to spring for something with a bit more punch - a virtual private server.
Truth be told, even if you’re exclusively using your host to support a website, there are some cases where you’ll need a virtual private server over a shared hosting account.
“If you have a busy site,” writes developer Chris Wiegman,“you really do need at least a VPS. In nearly all cases, they are, by design, faster and more reliable than shared hosting accounts, as well as able to handle significantly more users and greater complexity.”
What IS A Virtual Private Server, Anyway?
A VPS plan is essentially a middle-ground option between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. It’s significantly more powerful than shared hosting, with a certain volume of resources always guaranteed to be reserved for you and you alone. On top of that, it also allows you full control of your hosting environment - meaning you can tweak it to install whatever applications you require (though it’s worth noting that you have no control over the physical hardware).
VPS plans also tend to be far more secure than shared hosting - they offer a much higher degree of isolation, so you needn’t worry about your performance suffering at the hands of other clients. There’s a trade-off for all this increased power, flexibility, and security, of course. VPS plans tend to cost a bit more than shared hosting plans, although most would consider it a worthy tradeoff.
So, now for the million dollar question...if given the choice between shared and VPS, should your startup spring for the latter?
The short answer is typically yes. Unless your only goal is to host a website with fairly limited traffic, shared hosting likely won’t provide you with the resources you need to keep things running. If you are just hosting a website, shared hosting won’t necessarily keep you afloat if, say, you made the front page of Reddit. Virtual Private Servers, while they may not offer the power of dedicated servers or the elasticity of the cloud, are among the best hosting options for any startup, no matter how large or small.