Comparing Shared Web Hosting to VPS Hosting

One of the first decisions you will need to make when choosing a new web hosting plan is the type of plan.  You can choose from a dedicated server, VPS hosting or shared web hosting.  In this article, we will discuss the main differences between VPS hosting and shared hosting.

Virtual private server hosting, or VPS hosting, is similar to a dedicated server in which it has its own software, operating system and many of its own resources.  Though technically, VPS hosting accounts share the same physical server, there are “virtual” walls that keep each account separate, allowing for many independent features.

By contrast, shared hosting hosts numerous websites within the same server.  Unlike a VPS server, they are not partitioned and all websites on the server share an IP address.  Individual websites that share an IP address are recognized by their exclusive host name.

Each subscriber on a VPS hosting plan is guaranteed to have a minimum amount of the shared resources.  With a shared server, all accounts use available resources, and there is no guarantee that the resources will not be used by another subscriber when your website needs to use those resources.    The resources are not distributed equally among subscribers.  In the event that a single user exceeds their available resources frequently or for a long period, the administrator can suspend the account and ask the account holder to upgrade to a plan with more resources or to a different type of hosting.

By their nature, shared web hosting and VPS hosting have many differences.  Furthermore, web hosting companies can also offer different options and levels of the two plans.

Differences In Email Accounts

With VPS hosting, each account has its own mail server that only handles email from a particular domain name.  This gives greater security and performance, as well as more control for the website owner.  Each email also has its own IP address, which helps ensure that it reaches its destination.  Since website owners can install software on a VPS plan, a more sophisticated email software with tracking can be added.

Since shared hosting plans all share the same mail server, if one web host uses their account for spam, all accounts with that IP address can be affected.  If you do choose shared hosting, ask the web host what policies they have to reduce the risk of your mail being blocked as spam and how the situation will be resolved if it does happen.

Platform Control

On a VPS hosting plan, you have your own software and operating system.  You can install and upgrade software as needed, unlike on shared hosting.  If you do choose to add new software to your VPS, your web host may not provide support for that software.

Shared servers usually do not update to the newest software version until the update has been released long enough and proven to be stable.  This is to protect account holders, but if you want the latest software version for new features, VPS hosting might be a better option.

Firewalls and Email Security

Firewall configuration is determined by the hosting company on a shared server plan.  With a VPS hosting plan, each account holder has control of their firewall and can customize it to fit the needs of each website.  A website owner can set different services and parts of a website to be accessible by certain IP address.  For example, by only allowing certain IP addresses to access the cPanel (control panel), this heightens prevention against hackers.

On a shared hosting plan, email can be accessed through a non-secure connection.  VPS hosting lets you make email only accessible through a secure socket layer (SSL) connection.  Using a SSL connection ensures that log in information, including passwords, are encrypted.  This added security can help keep hackers from accessing private emails.

Scanning all incoming emails for viruses can use a lot of resources, so it is not usually done on a shared server plan.  With a VPS plan, you are given the option of scanning incoming mail for viruses.

Performance and Speed

With all other variables equal, VPS hosting is generally faster than shared hosting.  Since you have control over software settings, you can tweak settings for the best performance and speed.  If you will be using a high level of bandwidth or have a lot of email going in or out, a VPS plan is a more sufficient choice.

No matter what type it is, any server can become overloaded, or you may outgrow your current hosting plan.  With a shared server, each database and file must be moved to the new server.  This is not only time consuming, but also leaves room for human error.  With a VPS, it’s easier to upgrade or downgrade with no website downtime.  Simply change a configuration setting to upgrade to your needs and it is done immediately.  If you are expecting a large amount of growth, a VPS plan will be much easier to maintain as your website grows.


VPS hosting offers many advantages over shared hosting.  The account owner has greater control over their website and software.  VPS hosting also provides better security for the website and for email. In addition, it has better performance for larger websites that use a lot of resources.  VPS hosting is usually a good investment for small to medium sized companies, and it provides a better value with its added security and room for growth.

On the other hand, shared servers remain popular because they are more affordable.  Small businesses typically have smaller budgets, and shared hosting may be the best option that fits within the budget.  Shared hosting is also a good choice if your website does not require a lot of customization or does not use a large amount of bandwidth, disk space or RAM.

Brian Flores is a  blogger for InMotion Hosting, one of the top providers ofdedicated servers in the United States. 

Aug 4, 2011 by
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