Shared Hosting vs VPS: When is it time to Move?

The accommodations we live in are more reflective of the situations of website owners than most of us would think. As we live and expand our families, there are times when where we stay simply isn’t large enough to accommodate the family. Likewise, websites often grow to consume more resources than are available and there may come a time when you need to move.

Yet moving a website is just like moving in real life – there are a ton of things to consider and the move is often messy. That’s why most of us usually don’t move our websites unless we absolutely must.

The question that remains though, is when is the right time to move?.

The Difference Between Shared and VPS Hosting

Shared hosting means that the website you own resides on a server alongside a ton of other websites. Most shared hosting plans will cram between 200 to 300 shared hosting accounts onto a single server – all competing for a slice of the same amount of resources like CPU time and memory.

VPS hosting, on the other hand, isn’t a dedicated server of your own – but it gives you the impression of being one. It is a nice middle ground between shared and dedicated server hosting that allows you to get more resources and start learning to manage an entire server at the same time.

Difference between web hosting architectures (image credit – Technomiz)

Your website goes onto a private space on a server that is guaranteed a minimum amount of resources that won’t be shared with other users – even if they are on the same physical server. This means that the resources are available more reliably and when you need them – they will always be there.

All VPS accounts are isolated, meaning that aside from dedicated resources there is also increased security. You can also customize the environment your website is hosted in exactly the way you want it without affecting other users’ websites.

Finally, there is (almost) ultimate control over your environment. Rather than having to rely on technical support to do server-related tasks for you such as carrying out an environment reboot, you can do it yourself.

Whether you are a blogger who’s making a small living online or run a full eCommerce site, choosing the best type of website hosting for your small business is important.

Price Difference Between Shared and VPS Hosting

As with everything hosting-related, the price difference between the two vary based on host and technical requirements. The general rule of thumb though is that VPS hosting will cost more than shared hosting plans, even though the price has come down over the years.

Take for example the case of SiteGround. Their shared hosting plans range in price between $3.95 per month to $11.95 per month. Their Cloud hosting plans (which are like VPS hosting) range in price between $80 per month and $240 per month.

Of course, the large discrepancy in pricing here is because their Cloud plans are very powerful, but the general idea is the same.

When to Move to VPS Hosting

Although the exact timing of moving your website to VPS hosting is debatable, one of the key indicators is often the easiest to spot – your site traffic. Most website owners tend to keep an eye of how many visitors their site gets per day. If over time you’ve noticed that your traffic is continuing to increase, it might be time to consider a move.

More visitors mean that your site is consuming more resources. If the hosting plan you’re on is unable to allow you access to those resources because of high consumption volume, your visitors might start facing problems with site performance such as slowdowns or even intermittent unavailability.

That situation is what I consider as a forced move – you have no choice, move or be made to move by your host. There are however other considerations.

Veteran site owners know the importance of SEO to website ranking. Now, shared hosting means that literally hundreds of accounts all use the same IP address. If one of those other accounts runs a site that is getting a bad reputation, your SEO might end up getting affected.

Moving to a VPS account not only helps overcome that issue but it also means that because of increased, dedicated resources, it is likely that your site will benefit from better load times and be less likely to slow down because of other processes. A faster site will also influence your search engine rankings.

Here is a quick reference list of indicators that you may need to move;

  • Your site starts slowing down
  • You encounter increasing downtime
  • You feel the need for better security
  • Your host starts sending you warnings

Here I would like to add an extra thing to consider. If you’re serious about the viability of your websites, don’t wait until these factors bite you before considering a move. Look at the rate of increase in traffic your site is getting and plan for a future move right now.

Conclusion: VPS Offers Long Term Value

When we start off, all of us use shared hosting plans. They are cheap, easy to manage and often the web hosting companies help us to do so many things to make life easier. The choice is also very simple to make – after all, we’re basically just comparing line items between hosts and doing a tiny bit of research.

Yet when facing issues in the performance of your website you are not saving money and effort, but on the other hand, adversely affecting your business. By spending a little more money and moving to VPS hosting you will see benefits beyond the few extra bucks you pay per month.

After all, increased traffic is a sign of the popularity of your site, which translates into revenue, either from your core business, advertising or sales conversions. Technology advances have also driven down the cost of VPS hosting, so you aren’t going to pay as much as you would probably expect.

If things are looking tough and your site is struggling to serve its visitors, it’s time to seriously start looking towards a VPS hosting plan.