Many of you are a bit apprehensive about the prospect of upgrading from a shared hosting plan to a VPS. This is usually because the upgrade inevitably results in higher hosting fees.

A VPS will always be more expensive than a shared account, but if you think about it, the need to upgrade means that your website is growing and the entire project is headed in the right direction.

If this is to remain the case, you need to make sure you pick the right VPS and configure it correctly. Today, we’ll see what this entails.

Why VPS?

VPS hosting is a relatively new addition to the providers’ portfolios. In the past, people who had outgrown their shared plans had no other option but to go for a dedicated server.

A dedicated server is an incredibly powerful machine, and providers invest a lot of money into setting it up and maintaining it. Since you have no one else to share it with, getting one doesn’t come cheap, and when there were no other alternatives, many people were struggling to cover the price difference between shared hosting and a dedicated server.

The arrival of VPS hosting bridged the gap. On the one hand, it gave users a powerful solution equipped with guaranteed hardware resources, a dedicated IP, and a completely isolated environment where their websites can thrive.

On the other, it meant that hosting providers could situate several virtual machines on a single physical server. The more efficient use of the hardware resources let them price VPS hosting plans much lower than the costly dedicated servers.

If you’ve just outgrown your shared account, you’re much better off going for a VPS rather than a dedicated server. There are many plans to choose from, but picking the right one may not be as easy as it sounds. Let’s take a look at some of the things you need to consider.

How to Choose the Right VPS?

A virtual private server is designed to act as a standalone machine. It’s completely isolated from the hosting provider’s other clients, and it comes with its own hardware resources and IP. You are responsible for the machine, and you need to ask yourself whether you can handle it on your own. The answer will help you decide what type of VPS you need.

Hosting providers know that some of their clients have more knowledge and technical skills than others. That’s why there are two types of VPS hosting.

Managed vs. Self-Managed VPS

Setting up a correctly functioning VPS is not necessarily the easiest thing in the world. Many factors affect its security and performance, and there’s an extensive to-do list that needs to be ticked off if you’re going to reap the benefits of a virtual private server. The question is, who is going to take care of this list.

With a managed VPS, you get the machine already set up and optimized. Your host deploys the VPS and configures it to give you a hosting environment that suits your website perfectly.

The idea of a managed VPS is that you can start work on your project right away, and you don’t need to bother with the complexities of configuring the VPS and all its security and performance-enhancing systems.

A managed VPS is undoubtedly the more user-friendly option, but it may not necessarily be the perfect solution for your personal project. If your website needs a custom environment, and you have the technical skills to create it, you’re much better off getting a self-managed VPS.

If you opt for a self-managed virtual server, your hosting provider will deploy the machine, install its operating system, and it may also set up a web server or a web hosting control panel. The rest of the work falls on your shoulders.

It’s up to you to configure the server for the performance levels you’re after. If you have the skills to set everything up on your own, a self-managed VPS gives you all the freedom in the world. However, remember that you’ll also need to invest quite a lot of time in configuring everything to your exact specifications.

Hardware specifications

When you figure out what sort of VPS you’ll use, you need to ensure it has enough power to give you the speed and performance you’re after. Your requirements for CPU cores, memory, and storage space depend on many different factors, and determining exactly how much hardware power you need is not exactly easy.

It’s best to consult with your hosting provider’s support specialists before choosing your plan.

The good thing about a VPS is that it’s easily scalable. Even if you get a virtual server that is not quite powerful enough, you can upgrade the machine with relative ease. If your hosting provider allows you to individually add CPU cores, RAM, and storage space, you have the added advantage of only paying for the hardware resources you use.

Nevertheless, when you get a new VPS or upgrade an existing one, you’re better off getting more hardware resources than you think you’ll need. This way, you can guarantee good performance even during unexpected traffic spikes.

Web hosting control panel

Even if you run a self-managed VPS, you’ll still need the tools to manage your entire project, including the website’s files and databases, email accounts, individual profiles for the people accessing the virtual server and their access levels.

Hosting providers offer a variety of solutions when it comes to web hosting control panels. Picking the right one will significantly impact how you perform everyday tasks and how easy it will be to grow your project.

In addition to comparing ease of use and features, make sure you don’t forget to check the individual panels’ prices. Many of the popular options are sold under the subscription model, and they could have a significant impact on your project’s budget in the long run.

Configuring a New VPS

Three factors influence the exact steps you need to take to configure your server:

  • The type of VPS you have (managed or self-managed)
  • The operating system
  • Your project’s specific requirements

For example, if you have a managed VPS, you’re pretty much ready to start work on your new website, whereas a self-managed machine requires a lot more attention before web development can begin.  The nature of the website you want to launch should be taken into consideration, as well, and how you’ll go about setting everything up depends on the server’s operating system and control panel.

Access the server

Your host will likely tell you what you need to do to log into your server and start managing it. The tools and communication protocols you’re going to use obviously depend on the operating system. With Linux, you’ll use SSH, while the most common way of logging into a Windows server is via RDP.

Think about the server’s security

This is where most of your effort needs to go if you’re using a self-managed VPS. There’s no shortage of things you can consider.

Linux administrators, for example, could do worse than change the default SSH port to beef up the server’s defenses against a brute force attack. Creating a new user and disabling root access may not be a bad idea, as well.

All server owners must close any services they don’t use to minimize the number of potential entry points.

Installing all security patches is just as important, and you shouldn’t forget that managing updates is an ongoing task that should be high on the priority list of any server administrator.

The same goes for the proper configuration of the virtual machine’s firewall. Installing and properly configuring the server’s firewall is essential in protecting you against all manner of cyberattacks.

Log into your control panel and create your account

A web hosting control panel is the management platform you’ll use to control all the different projects hosted on your server. It will be readily available on a managed VPS account, and some hosts offer to install it for you on your self-managed machine.

In addition to all the tools you need to manage the websites hosted on the server, you’ll also get options for controlling how you and the rest of the people who have access to the virtual machine interact with it.

Conclusion

The advantages of using a VPS over a cheaper, less powerful shared hosting account should be evident to anyone who knows how the two types of hosting work. In addition to the performance, security, and reliability benefits, VPS plans’ reasonable price makes them a cost-effective solution for website owners who don’t have the budget or the need to move their projects to an expensive dedicated server.

The only thing stopping some people is the belief that they are far too complicated to be handled by less experienced users. The truth is, if you opt for a self-managed VPS, there will be plenty of things to think about.

Luckily, if you don’t feel like you’re up to the job, you can always get a managed virtual server and leave most of the work to your hosting provider.