I read recommendations every day from web hosting providers on various forums that the accepted upgrade path from shared hosting is to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) and then to a dedicated server, but factors other than server specifications have to be considered.
With a dedicated server, you get extremely powerful, reliable and dedicated resources, vs a shared environment on VPS servers. VPS accounts are set up on dedicated servers, and those accounts share the resources of that server. I’ve seen where a dedicated server with 8 CPU cores could have up to 60 VPS accounts set up on it. Certainly how those VPS accounts are provisioned determines if they can be oversold, but how would a prospect recognize one from the other?
Dedicated servers have long been viewed as more complex, but launching a dedicated server is a no brainer today. They can generally be provisioned and ready to go in a little as 15 minutes up to less than an hour for customized solutions. With a VPS, you really don’t know the specifications of the dedicated server that’s been divided up into multiple VPS accounts. Is the provider using XEN, KVM, VMWare or another hypervisor? Is it being oversold? Some providers will tell you that XEN can’t be oversold, but it certainly can be using a method calling ballooning.
With a dedicated server, you know the model of the CPU, the type and amount of RAM, the capacity of the hard drive, the amount of bandwidth you’re allowed and the speed of the uplink port. On a VPS you’re told the amount of guaranteed RAM you’ll receive and how many cores are provisioned for your package. Since most VPS clients use less than 20% of their allotted CPU resource, providers oversell that resource hoping for the best. When your VPS starts to choke, maybe that’s the reason. With a dedicated server, you know upfront what your limitations are.
What type of hardware is used to provision VPS servers versus dedicated servers? With a VPS package, you don’t know if the provider is using an old CPU, a SATA or SAS drive or desktop hardware. There is a difference. The majority of dedicated servers are leased to clients who are generally very hosting literate and as such those servers are normally provisioned with server grade hardware, in either Dell or Supermicro variety. Most are now provisioned with SSD or PCIe NVMe drives to maximize performance. RAID 1 is also commonplace; however, we still recommend a true backup solution as RAID is not a backup solution.
It’s also not all about the specification differences between a VPS server and dedicated server. Any perceived mismatch to your actual hosting requirements could prove disastrous. Knowing what questions to ask of a prospective VPS or dedicated server provider is important. You need to lay out in very specific terms what your realistic expectations are and what you intend to do with that server. And that means not only your current requirements, but also your anticipated requirements one year, five years and further down the road. You owe it to yourself to start off with a workable solution.
Managed services are available for both VPS and dedicated server solutions, if you’re not technically competent to manage stuff like firewalls, applications and the such. Most folks go with VPS because they perceive the cost to be less, but sometimes the cost of management exceeds the costs of the VPS itself. If you’re in doubt whatsoever, it’s best to allocate those functions to the experts.
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