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What’s the difference between a VPS and a shared server?

Posted on in Cloud Server , Hosting , IT Infrastructure , Virtual Private Server , VPS

What’s the difference between a VPS and a shared server?

As basic as this question may sound, in our interaction with both hosting providers and clients, we’ve discovered that many don’t really understand the differences. To really get it, you have to dig into how true cloud servers are built from the physical to a virtual architecture. Understanding that alone will make a huge difference in breaking down specific elements of the infrastructure being shared. What exactly is being shared?


What’s shared hosting? 

To illustrate how shared hosting works,  we would like to tap into a Chicago delicacy : Pizza.

Imagine ordering a fine looking piece of pie as pictured above after a long workday. As soon as the pizza arrives at your table,  the restaurant makes this announcement: ” Due to unforeseen circumstances, we no longer have any pizza left “.  What do you do? Do you quickly package your Pizza as a carry-out or do you sit through all the glaring eyes and devour your pie? After thinking it through, you get this brilliant idea to share the pizza with those who can afford to pay $9.99 by the slice. The pizza originally intended for just 1 person is now shared with multiple individuals. If we relate the above scenario to hosting, every person who was able to get a piece of your pie is then using  shared hosting. 

Shared hosting  is when a single physical server is shared among multiple users. Many users utilize the resources on a single server, which keeps the costs low. Users each get a section of a server in which they can host their website files. Each customer using the shared hosting platform’s server has access to features like databases, monthly traffic, disk space, email accounts, FTP accounts and other add-ons offered by the host.

Key benefits for using shared hosting: 

  • Cost effective solution for startups and Dev teams.
  • Usually managed by the provider.
  • User friendly control panels with preloaded modules.
  • Can be used as a Disaster recovery site for non-critical applications.
  • Migration ease into a better server package within the same network.

Disadvantages of  using shared hosting: 

  • Resource limitation with no path to scale.
  • Poor performance due to network overload.
  • Hosting providers overselling resources while using deceitful terms like “unlimited “and “unmetered”.
  • Due to low monthly pricing, many plans tend to force customers to prepay for multiple years.
  • Huge attraction for malicious practices: Spam & attacks.
  • Unsecure and non-compliant
What’s a virtual Private Server (VPS). 
Ask  your provider what a Virtual Private Server is and you may get a definition close to what a shared server is. Some define a VPS as a virtual machine that reside on a single dedicated server. The only difference for them is that on a  VPS,  virtualization is used.  Using CPanel/WHM on a single dedicated server to sell hosting is the same concept as using HyperV on a single dedicated server to create multiple guest OSes. The belief that an hypervisor exist therefore it’s a VPS is misleading at best. A Virtual private Server should not be dependent on a single node otherwise it starts to simply be a shared server.
Our definition of a VPS is a virtual machine that resides on a Cloud infrastructure : Multiple servers that are clustered with a true SAN  backend tied together via hypervisor. Such Virtual machine is not dependent on a single server but draws resiliency and strength across multiple servers. A virtual Private server is an independent instance with its own Operating System, RAM allocation and Storage fully dedicated to handle the workload at hand. Our virtual Private Server is redundant and self-sufficient.
Many cheap hosting providers would venture to call this a dedicated server. Are they wrong? Not really since it has all the features you would expect on a dedicated hardware appliance. Ask your provider if you are getting “bare metal” for that $25.00 /month dedicated server you just scored and you will realize you just got sold a VPS!
Slowly, we are losing the true meaning of a dedicated server as a device, an appliance (like a Dell Poweredge R series) to virtual instances that actually derived from them. Here at Cloudfitters, we will continue to follow that strict definition of a VPS and never give-in to misleading  concept and marketing tactics.
Key Benefits of using  a VPS 
  • Low cost alternative to a dedicated server
  • Ease in scalability to higher resources
  • Better security due to isolation in relation to other servers
  • Fully independent with its own operating System & Resources
  • Excellent web hosting platform compatible to both Linux or Windows distributions