Are you looking for a comparison of a VPS vs dedicated server? Well, then you’ve come to the right place. By the end of this article, you will have a foundational understanding of the two hosting solutions, how they differ, and the benefits that each offer.
Off the bat, you may be wondering just what is a VPS and dedicated server? Glad you asked. We’ll be covering that in more depth here in a moment. But to get us started, here are the basics to know.
Virtual private servers (VPS) and dedicated server hosting are two of the more higher-tier hosting options that are very similar in many ways, but also quite different in others. And though both VPS and dedicated servers provide users with their own resources, the means by which they do so is different. In addition, there is quite a significant difference in cost when it comes to VPS vs dedicated server hosting.
So, just how are you supposed to make a decision on the option that is best for you? This is the question that’ll we’ll be trying to answer in this post. To help, we’ll look at some of the key differences between the two hosting solutions, as well as what you can expect with each option.
Right, so let’s get started.
What is the difference between VPS vs dedicated server hosting?
One of the best ways to understand the differences between VPS and dedicated server hosting is to start by defining each hosting type. So, let’s start there.
What is a VPS?
VPS is an acronym that is short for virtual private server. But, this alone doesn’t tell us enough about what exactly it is or how it actually works. For that reason, it’s a good idea to first look at shared web hosting as a reference point to get a better understanding of VPS hosting and how it works.
Well, why it that? The main reason is that VPS hosting works in a similar fashion to shared hosting in terms of resource management and allocation.
Okay, so what does that mean?
Think about it this way in terms of the way shared web hosting works. With shared hosting, you have multiple accounts, or users, all sharing the same resources of a single server or computer. Because of this, all of the users that are hosted on that server are constantly leveraging and sharing resources from that server at any given time. Server resources include items such as RAM, bandwidth, and CPU storage.
So theoretically, if one user or website is using more resources, this could slow down or affect all the other websites that are also hosted on that server because fewer resources consequently become available to everyone else.
Right, so how does that make shared hosting similar to VPS hosting?
Shared hosting compared to VPS hosting
The way that shared hosting is similar to VPS hosting is that VPS hosting plans also share server resources among its users. The difference is that rather than having to share a server’s complete resources among its users, VPS hosting provides users (or tenants) dedicated resources from a server in an isolated hosting environment.
That is to say, though multiple websites are still being hosted on a single server, a VPS ensures that resource usage doesn’t encroach with other users that are hosted on that same server. This way, performance is not affected from one user to the next when using more server resources than others.
To make this concept more practical, let’s use it in an example. So, say hypothetically a server has a total of 10 GB of RAM available. On that server, there are 10 sites that are being hosted, including yours. Because of this, you might get 1 GB of RAM of the total 10 GB of RAM available on that server. The other 9 GB of RAM are then allocated to the other 9 sites hosted on that server (1 GB per site).
Now, here is how this differs from shared hosting. Under a shared web hosting plan, all 10 sites would be sharing all 10 GB of RAM available on that server. You would not have the 1 GB of RAM dedicated solely for yourself. Rather, all 10 GB of RAM would be shared among all 10 sites as community property, so to speak.
With VPS hosting, the 1 GB of RAM that is dedicated to you is yours solely. In other words, 100% of the 1 GB of RAM that is dedicated to you can only be used by you and is therefore never shared with any other sites that are hosted on that same server.
This same concept applies to other types of resources that servers provide to its users, such as storage and bandwidth.
So, to tie this concept up neatly in a bow, with VPS hosting you are essentially being allotted a dedicated portion of a server that is shared with between multiple users. With shared hosting, you are not allotted dedicated resources and therefore, share all of the resources of a server with all of the other sites that are also hosted on that same server.
How does a VPS provide dedicated resources?
The way that VPS hosting is able to provide dedicated resources to its users is through something called a hypervisor.
So, what is a hypervisor?
A hypervisor, also known as a virtual machine monitor or VMM, is essentially a software that creates virtual machines for each user on a server. This is what allows for users on a VPS hosting plan to be in an isolated hosting environment aside from other users on the same server. In addition, this allows for users to configure their portion of the server as they see fit.
VPS Hosting vs Shared Hosting Condominium Analogy
There’s an analogy that you might come across after researching this topic for a bit that is used to compare different types of web hosting. It goes something like this.
So, let’s pretend that a condominium building represents one entire server. VPS hosting would be comparable to owning one condo unit in the building. You’re free to decorate it and configure it as you please and no one else can use your condo except for you. You have your own bathroom, kitchen, parking space, electricity, etc. However, you don’t own the entire building.
Because of this, the building has other tenants as well. Each tenant has their own dedicated condo unit (or piece of the server, so to speak). In that regard, users of VPS hosting are all sort of like individual tenants in a condominium building.
On the flip side, shared hosting would be as if there were no dedicated units in the building. Everyone would be free to stay in any room they wanted to, use each other’s electricity, running water, and parking space.
This analogy is a bit exaggerated, but it does help to illustrate the point of how shared hosting compares to VPS hosting.
Okay, so now that we have covered, let’s move onto dedicated server hosting.
What is a dedicated server?
Using the previous example, if VPS hosting is like owning one condo unit in the building, dedicated server hosting is like owning the entire building. With that being said, with dedicated server hosting, you are allotted 100% of the resources of a physical server for your site, or sites. With VPS hosting, you only get a dedicated portion of a server. Dedicated servers are also commonly referred to as bare metal servers.
Dedicated servers create many advantages for its users due to the sheer fact that all of the resources of the server are made available to a single user (tenant) only. Because of this, users are able to have most control in terms of management and configuration of their server. In addition to having access to all of the resources of the server, users are also able to select the equipment and physical hardware of the server, as well as the software it runs on. This creates huge advantages for customers who require the highest levels of control, power, and configuration.
Whether you prefer to have Intel or AMD processors, you have this option with dedicated server hosting. And it’s not just hardware that you have the ability to tailor, but software as well, specific to your needs.
In addition to the fact that dedicated servers offer full allocation of resources to users, there are a number of other benefits that come along with this type of hosting option. More on that in moment.
But first, let’s cover one other important concept when it comes to VPS vs dedicated server hosting. And that is the difference between self-managed and fully-managed VPS and dedicated servers.
Self Managed vs Fully Managed VPS and dedicated servers
Whether you decide to move forward with a VPS or a dedicated server, you will need to make a decision between how you want your server to be managed. With both VPS and dedicated server hosting, you have the following options to choose from:
- Self Managed
- Fully Managed
So, let’s cover each option.
The most straightforward way to think about this concept is this: With self managed hosting, you are in charge of the management of your server. With fully managed VPS or dedicated server hosting, the management of your server is taken care of for you.
There are pros and cons to each, but a good rule of thumb is if you have technical server administration skills to manage your server, or have someone who can handle your server management for you, then a self managed hosting plan could be the better option to go with. However, if you don’t have these prerequisites in place, or simply don’t have the time to keep up with the tasks commonly associated with server management, then fully managed hosting is almost certainly the better option to proceed with.
Okay, so with that being said, what’s the difference between the two?
Self managed VPS and dedicated servers
With both self managed VPS and self managed dedicated servers, you’re given the hardware, and are then responsible for the set up and configuration. In other words, you’re given the tools, but how you set everything up and maintain everything about your server is completely up to you.
To some, this may sound like music to the ears, particularly if this is what you want – complete control over your server. To others, this may not sound like something they would enjoy handling. It may even sound downright intimidating.
So, what exactly are you responsible for with self managed VPS or dedicated server hosting?
With self managed VPS or dedicated hosting, you’d be responsible for basic tasks such as WordPress installation (if you were building a WordPress site), but also more complex tasks such as installation and upkeep of the technologies that your server will be running on.
So, say for instance you are building a WordPress site. This means that you would also have to install PHP modules and a web server of sorts, whether Apache or Nginx, as an example.
With self managed VPS and dedicated server hosting, you are granted root access which gives you more control over your hosting environment and how it is configured.
As mentioned, some people love this. Others, not so much. But, this is essentially the level of technical knowledge you’re looking at needing with a self managed hosting plan.
Fully managed VPS and dedicated servers
With both fully managed VPS and fully managed dedicated servers, all of the technical aspects of server set up and management are completely handled for you. So, in many ways, it’s almost the opposite of self managed hosting.
This is particularly attractive to users for the simple fact that they get all of the benefits of VPS or dedicated hosting, but don’t have to worry about server management. The hosting provider takes care of the configuration, maintenance, and management of the server.
Now, it’s worth noting that fully managed plans do cost more than self managed hosting plans. However, the time and frustration saved in the long run is worth it to many users who elect this option for their VPS or dedicated server.
Going this route, it’s almost as if your server is on autopilot, all without missing out on any of the advantages that VPS and dedicated servers offer. In fact, some might even suggest that fully managed is the most advantageous of all advanced hosting options.
What are the pros and cons of VPS vs dedicated server hosting?
Okay, let’s just spell it out. These are the most apparent pros and cons when it comes to VPS vs dedicated server hosting.
VPS hosting pros and cons
- Less costly than a dedicated server in terms of price
- Access to dedicated resources of a physical server
- Partially isolated hosting environment
- An easy to scale hosting plan (upgrading/shifting of resources)
- Limited configuration options with no access to server hardware
- Only partial access to the full resources of a physical server
Dedicated server hosting pros and cons
- Access to 100% of a physical server’s resources
- Total control over server configuration, hardware, and software
- Completely isolated hosting environment
- More costly than VPS hosting in terms of price
- A bit more difficult to alter resources than VPS due to physical division, opposed to virtual division
Should you choose a VPS or dedicated server?
The answer to this question is really going to be dependent upon your individual needs. But, after looking at the pros and cons for each, along with the specifics each option entails, you by now hopefully have a better idea of the option that you’re at least leaning towards.
Just remember, though VPS hosting is less expensive than dedicated server hosting, it does have its limitations. Namely, due to the fact that you don’t have your own physical server, and consequently have access to fewer resources and the ability to configure your server in the exact manner that you want.
But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, for many, that’s perfectly fine. Either way, cost is something you’re going to want to take into consideration when making a decision about whether to go with a VPS or a dedicated server.
The three main questions you want to ask yourself are:
- What will your hosting be used for?
- How resource intensive are my needs?
- What am I willing to spend?
Answering these questions should help steer you in one direction or the other.
If you need the most powerful hosting available that can meet high-traffic demands, then a dedicated server may be the right option for you. But if you don’t require the highest levels of control and power, but would still like to have dedicated resources with your hosting plan, then VPS hosting may be better suited for your needs.
Closing remarks on VPS vs dedicated server
As mentioned, both VPS and dedicated servers are among the highest tier hosting plans available. Each option with its own unique set of advantages for users. When making a decision on which route to take, consider the pros and cons of each option and evaluate how they stack up against your requirements.
To recap what we covered today, with a virtual private server, or VPS, you are allotted dedicated resources from a server that is shared with other users. However, your allotted resources are not shared with other users, which is what allows you to host your site in an isolated hosting environment. You have the option to add more dedicated resources and scale up or down as necessary.
With dedicated server hosting, an entire physical server is completed allocated to you. This means you have complete access to 100% of all the resources of that server and are able to configure your server settings to your exact preferences. You can even select the hardware and software you want to run on your server.
Since dedicated servers are allocated to single-tenants, this means that there is no sharing of resources with others.
Both VPS hosting and dedicated server hosting come with self managed or fully managed options in terms of how your server is managed. Self managed is ideal for users who have advanced technical knowledge in server management and would prefer to manage their VPS or dedicated server on their own. Fully managed is a better option for users who either don’t have the time to manage their server or the needed skills in server management.
A final thought on VPS vs dedicated server hosting
With all this being said, here is a final thought to help make a decision.
If you are unsure, start with a VPS. It’s a good starting place and introduction to hosting with dedicated resources. If you later find that you need more resources, or your site begins to experience higher traffic rates, you can always upgrade to a dedicated server. However, if you’re already there, then jump right into dedicated server hosting.
Either way, hopefully this article has been helpful in comparing VPS vs dedicated server hosting.
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