Ah the complicated world of web hosting. It can be an intimidating field if you’re new to the topic, and you can quickly become overwhelmed by jargon and acronyms. First things first here, VPS stands for virtual private server.
A VPS is essentially a compromise between shared hosting (the cheapest and most popular option) and a dedicated server that is entirely yours. A VPS is a crossbreed of the two that allows you to have all the power of a dedicated server at a lower cost.
1. The basics
To summarize, a VPS is created when a physical server is divided into smaller, virtual compartments. Just like a dedicated server, a virtual private server has its own operating system, dedicated storage, and dedicated RAM and CPU resource, but it is a lot more affordable than a dedicated server, and therefore a lot more accessible to small business owners and entrepreneurs. So I’ve you’ve decided to go with a VPS, here are a few guidelines to follow in order to find a good service provider.
2. Managed or unmanaged
If you’re a savvy tech person and are familiar with some of the basics, such as hosting control panels, shell commands, in addition to have basic administration and troubleshooting skills, then you’ll be just fine with an unmanaged service.
Many prefer the added control of managing everything themselves, but keep in mind that you also need to be comfortable with installation, resource monitoring, server performance, and addressing any technical issues. If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, or you just don’t have the extra time this requires, skip unmanaged for a managed VPS service.
3. Uptime and reliability
Don’t be lazy when it comes to scrutinizing the details of your VPS. Check how much uptime your web host offers. 99.5% and above is the recommended uptime score, but anything below 99% is unacceptable. You should also check the VPS provider’s past uptime records, and reviews on various forums, blogs, and third party trustworthy review websites.
4. Customer support and backup services
Even if you think you have it all figured out and are good to go, you never know when you might run into some unexpected troubles. When a company invests in having great customer service support, it means they are really willing to stand behind their product and want you to have the best experience possible as a user.
Your host should generally have 24/7 support by phone or over live chat, in addition to a highly comprehensive knowledgebase that will allow the technical team to fix difficulties at any time of the day or night. Similarly, backup services can go a long way to making sure you enjoy your experience as a user. For example, your VPS could get infected with shell scripts, and if your host doesn’t take backups at all, you could end up losing hours of work.
Once you’ve figured out exactly what you need from VPS hosting service provider, you can start shopping around a bit and finding the best price. Some companies really do offer the same standard of service for a better right, so don’t be fooled by grand promises.
Also, make sure that the host offers a full money back guarantee for a certain length of time. This has become pretty standard in the industry and it allows you to evaluate the quality of support, and the level of performance during a given period before deciding whether or not you want to commit long-term.
All in all, be reasonable and trust that many find that benefits of having a virtual private server far outweigh the costs.