VPS vs. shared hosting is a common debate when trying to choose a web hosting plan for your website. Here’s the deal: neither one is inherently better than the other. Each type of hosting has its own set of pros and cons, so the deciding factor is your website’s unique requirements. In this guide, I’ll break down the key differences and share a methodology to choose the right web hosting that gives you all the features you’ll need.
The Top Rated VPS Hosting Servers
If you plan on scaling your website, chances are you’ll pick a VPS host. Here are our top picks to consider:
- Hostinger — Best value VPS hosting
- Kamatera — Best VPS hosting for instant scaling
- InMotion – Most reliable uptime
- Bluehost – Easiest upgrade from shared hosting
- Liquid Web – Best VPS hosting with high memory and storage
- Scala Hosting – Best for customizing VPS resources
- HostGator – Best VPS for hands-on customer support
- A2 Hosting – Best unmanaged plans for developers
- iPage – Best VPS hosting for when you’re starting from scratch
- IDrive Compute – Best for edge computing
Read our detailed reviews for each VPS hosting provider.
The Top Rated Shared Hosting Plans
If you have a brand-new website or simply a tight budget, shared web hosting would be more suitable for your needs. Here are our top picks to consider:
- Hostinger — Best web hosting for tight budgets
- DreamHost — Best shared hosting that leaves room to grow
- Bluehost — Best for creating your first website
- A2 Hosting — Best shared host for sites with a need for speed
- InMotion — Best for 24/7/365 support
- HostGator — Best for building your first ecommerce store
- SiteGround — Best shared host for when your audience gets big
- iPage — Most affordable shared hosting for a customizable online store
- GoDaddy — Best shared hosting for bundling domain and email
Read our detailed reviews for each shared hosting provider.
What is VPS Hosting?
A VPS or virtual private server is a form of multi-tenant cloud hosting that uses virtualization technology to provide users with dedicated (exclusive) resources on a server with multiple users.
This gives you a best-of-both-world solution where you get more stable and secure hosting (compared to shared hosting) without renting an (expensive) entire server.
What is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting, also known as virtual hosting, allows multiple websites to host on a single physical web server. The shared hosting provider sets a limit on the total amount of resources each website can use, and users generally don’t know who or what websites they share server resources with.
Naturally, shared hosting is the cheapest and most economical type of web hosting service. While the cheap price comes with limitations, it’s adequate for websites operating on a small scale.
The Basics of VPS vs. Shared Hosting
Simply knowing the definitions isn’t enough to compare VPS hosting and shared hosting.
Here are the key differences to help you determine the better fit for your needs:
Server Resource Allocation
To understand this difference, you’ll need to know about another hosting type called dedicated hosting.
You get an entire server exclusive to your website‘s needs under dedicated hosting, whereas you’ll have to share server resources if you opt for shared hosting. VPS hosting is in the gray area between the two—you still have to share resources but have a greater say over your website’s personal limits.
You’ll face certain limitations when sharing server sources. For instance, they’ll be a maximum available CPU, disk space, and memory/RAM. You cannot use resources beyond the maximum limit allowed by the web host provider. The good news is this won’t be a big deal if your website doesn’t need lots of space or processing power.
With VPS hosting, you get greater private space and higher overall resource availability. This lets you easily expand operations and offer customers a user experience that goes beyond the basic level of shared hosting.
VPS hosting grants you root access to the server, so you’re more in control of your resources compared to shared hosting.
A VPS host lets you install the OS, software panel, and software of your choice to optimize site performance and security. In contrast, a shared host limits you to only standardized server setups. This actually makes the latter the more convenient option for those who don’t want to take up the added responsibility of server management.
The best websites are high-performing and easily accessible.
With Google aiming for a half-second load time, you can imagine how high visitor expectations are when it comes to website loading time and the importance of choosing the right web hosting service.
VPS hosting is always faster than shared hosting because your visitors don’t have to queue up with other website visitors to access the website. It offers you more computer resources and processing power, helping boost the speed of your website(s).
As with any share plan, other websites can potentially affect your website performance. It’s the risk you run by choosing the more economical shared hosting plan. However, if your website is relatively smaller, you get enough resources to run just fine.
In a shared hosting environment, things are typically riskier in terms of security. You face a greater threat of security breaches because there are more sites, and more websites equal more opportunities for attackers.
Shared hosting users usually don’t have much experience following web hosting precautions, too. If your hosting neighbor isn’t careful (for example, neglecting to update their WordPress website) they can leave your shared website vulnerable to hacking.
Contrarily, VPS hosting offers more robust security features that are typically managed by seasoned professionals. If you handle a lot of user data or other sensitive information, picking a VPS web host will give you greater peace of mind when it comes to securing sensitive information.
You may be wondering: doesn’t VPS hosting also involve sharing the server with other websites?”
It does, but the difference here is in the levels of security.
Suppose you’re shopping for home security. Your options include basic sensors that deter people from breaking in, as well as more sophisticated options like advanced monitoring devices that provide additional information. Shared hosting offers the former level of security, while VPS hosting gives the latter.
With shared hosting, you aren’t obligated to look after technical maintenance. The hosting provider shoulders this responsibility completely, from setting up the shared server and installing the necessary software (for example, cPanel) to monitoring servers to avoid downtime and looking after the backend.
On the other hand, VPS hosting has slightly more complicated administration requirements. You need more advanced knowledge to administer and manage your website, including customizing and configuring apps and software to enhance website performance, offer root access, and tailor the back end to your exact requirements.
Reliability and Stability
When we talk about a web host’s reliability and stability, we mean uptime; how often the server is up and running.
Uptime determines whether your online presence will be available and open to visitors whenever they look up your website. It’s typically listed as a percentage, with anything 99.9% and above being considered excellent.
Uptime issues can arise with both shared and VPS hosting for services, which is why it’s important to factor in the quality of the server hardware and software, as well as the provider’s expertise, support, and management practices.
That said, you can expect lesser reliability and stability issues if you choose a VPS plan because fewer customers exist on each server. This is in sharp contrast to a shared hosting environment with many websites that can potentially overload the server.
If you choose a VPS host, you can configure and customize your partition to the most effective settings. Plus, being in an independent hosting environment means you don’t have to worry about whether other accounts can affect access to your website.
The extra attention from the service provider also makes the VPS environment more secure and stable in general.
When we talk about scalability, we’re referring to the website’s capacity to accommodate your website’s growth. For many, this is often the make-or-break feature when deciding between VPS vs. shared hosting—but before making a choice, you need to consider several aspects of scalability, including server and storage capabilities.
A shared hosting plan may currently support your current needs. But when you scale and grow your website, it may not be able to keep up with your new requirements considering its limited availability to support an increased workload.
That’s where VPS hosting has (relatively) unlimited potential. You can contact the web host to adjust your resources to adapt to various traffic trends (for example, extra bandwidth to handle the rush of last-minute Christmas shopping).
Therefore, if you plan on scaling your website or anticipate rapid growth, it makes sense to pick a VPS host.
As you may have guessed, shared hosting is cheaper. But VPS hosting justifies its higher price point considering the greater reliability and benefits on offer.
If you have a tight budget and want basic-level requirements, shared hosting is going to be the most economical option. But if you want access to premium features like increased performance and greater customization, choosing VPS hosting is a no-brainer.
VPS vs. Shared Hosting Tools
Both VPS and shared hosting come with their own set of features, each designed to cater to a website owner’s exact needs based on their traffic and budget.
The good news is that most popular web hosts offer both types of hosting options. This means even if you choose shared hosting, you can always upgrade to VPS hosting without having to migrate your website to another web host.
Here’s where things get even better: when reviewing the top options for VPS hosting and shared hosting plans, I found Hostinger offers the most value.
It guarantees a 99.9% uptime, along with unbeatable pricing and a dedicated IPv6 block infrastructure to keep connections secure and efficient. You also get several other excellent features (under both VPS and shared hosting plans) that give you the best value for your money.
Personally, I’d go for Hostinger’s VPS 4 plan for VPS hosting and Premium Shared hosting for shared hosting. Both plans come with adequate bandwidth and RAM, ensuring your website runs smoothly.
What to Do Next
Let’s do a quick review of when VPS hosting and shared hosting make the better choice.
VPS hosting is ideal for:
- High-traffic websites that need greater and flexible bandwidth and security
- Rapidly expanding businesses that go beyond shared hosting
- Businesses planning to host numerous websites soon
- Websites that expect a substantial increase in traffic in the upcoming months
Shared hosting is ideal for:
- Small- to medium-sized websites
- Ecommerce websites that expect up to 500 daily visitors
- People planning startups
- Personal websites and blogging website
If you need more info on the fascinating world of web hosting, here are a few guides where we explore the topic in more detail: