A virtual private server (VPS) is a virtual machine sold as a service by an Internet hosting service. You can think of a VPS from a host as a mini computer that gives you (mostly) unlimited freedom to do as you want with your own section. Whereas a shared host often has many restrictions, with a VPS, you can do almost anything you want (within your resource limit). This site is currently hosted on a VPS. I have been running websites since 2009, and definitely prefer using VPSes. This article will discuss 8 reasons to use a VPS to host your website.
1. With a VPS, you have complete control over your section of the server and can install anything you want.
You control the security as much as you want. It is basically like having your own remote mini computer that you can do whatever you want with. In fact, you could actually have better security than what a shared host offers. If you have ever hosted a site from your own home, having a VPS will be very similar only probably much more professional in terms of uptime, power surge protection etc.
2. Guaranteed amount of resources
Your provider will explicitly tell you how much resources you will get. For example, my package includes 512 MB of RAM, 20GB SSD disk, 3TB of bandwidth, and 1 core processor CPU. The resources will be 100% for your own use. The marketing gimmick “unlimited storage” is almost never true with shared hosts, and often turns out to be maybe 10 GB.
3.With a VPS, You Get Your own IP address
You will probably get an IPv4 IP address like 126.96.36.199, but you could get an IPv6 like address 2001:db8:a0b:12f0::1
With a shared host, often you won’t really know how much actual resources you get. You will probably get a static IP address which means the IP address never changes.
4. No annoying or restrictions (other than resource limits)
Some shared web hosts create lots of artificial restrictions like for example only allowing 20 mySQL databases. With a VPS, you could create unlimited databases in theory. Some hosts don’t allow you to unzip zip files on the server, which means you have to unzip a zip file on your own computer, and then transfer all the files via FTP. If you want to have a WordPress site, it can be very annoying having to transfer hundreds of files via FTP to your site on the shared host when you could have just downloaded the zip file from WordPress.org and unzipped it directly and saved all that time. I have a friend who is a professional blogger and writer, and he transitioned over to a VPS for more reliability and to avoid restrictions from shared hosts which were quite annoying.
5. Some things could actually be cheaper with a VPS than with a shared host
For example, if you know how to setup HTTPS by yourself (like with Let’s Encrypt which this site uses), it could be cheaper to setup the SSL certificate than just buying an SSL certificate from them. We wrote about how to setup an SSL certificate with Let’s Encrypt here.
6. Your VPS can be so much more than just a web server
You could make your VPS an email server, a Tor server, a VNC server (controlling the VPS via a GUI), chat server, gaming server, or whatever you want. With a shared web host, you are usually just limited to using the service as a web server.
7. Potentially better uptime
With a shared web host, you have no control over whether or not your site is up, unless you deliberately take the site down. The company can do maintenance, but you don’t have control over when they do it. With a VPS, you could potentially have your site up literally up 100% of the time (say for a period of 1 month). I have scripts that check various websites of mine every 5 minutes or so, and there have been months where a site was only down for 5 minutes during a period of an entire month, at times up 99.95% and have had times where my site was up literally 100% of the time. A VPS having better uptime though is assuming you aren’t overusing your resources. Like if you are running out of RAM, a WordPress site could crash due to not having enough memory.
8. A VPS can be great for hobbyists who love to play around and learn more about computers.
As I previously mentioned, having a VPS is basically like having your own remote computer. Through sheer necessity, my Linux and scripting skills got much better since using VPS’s now for a few years.
Although I wouldn’t recommend a VPS for someone who is a complete beginner to having a website or isn’t very knowledgeable with computers, I think using a VPS is well worth the time to learn. There is a learning curve, but I think the investment will payoff big time. You can have a much more professional website.