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When to step up from web hosting to VPS, dedicated or cloud/clustered ?

Shared Web Hosting

Shared Web-hosting is the cheapest, bottom of the barrel hosting for wordpress out there. You get a single cpanel account, no support, and poor performance. Shared Web hosting often has 1000:1 contention ratio or worse. There is 1000 other websites trying to compete with you for server resources. I say ‘no support’ in a serious fashion – if anything goes wrong, they suspend or delete your account.

If you have a few websites, that only get occasional visitors, and your website is more like a brochure, then perhaps web-hosting is reasonable. But here is the catch – for the unwary, for the unwise, for the naive , anything goes wrong you lose your entire website. Most first timers won’t keep their own backups, relying on the hosting company. With web hosting, you are your own support, you are your own backup.

With shared web hosting, you kind of abdicate all responsibility and leave it up to someone else. You pay them $4-$10/month. They do the bare minimum and hope they can bill you for as long as they can.  If it all goes awry, they just delete you and sometimes offer you a small refund …. lovely …

The hosting company only do backups for their own recovery purposes and not yours (this is a tough to explain distinction but important) – the backups are only if their break the entire server, and need to recover the 2500 websites on there at once.  They can’t really recover just your site from a hack.

The case for VPS hosting

A few reasons you might move to a VPS
– VPS hosting gives you more resources (CPU, RAM, disk speed), and less contention ratios, often around 10:1. Sites generally run faster.
– You have more flexibility in installing more software, like memcached and redis, tweeking the mysql database. Now this is all a double edged sword, you have more options and flexibility, and now you need to learn/own/manage all those new toys.
– Another upside of the VPS is it is central to all your sites, and it easier to backup in one foul swoop.
– price. Once you add up 20 or so ‘web hosting’ plans, entry level VPS becomes cheaper. The designer/developer can make a margin by buying a VPS, and selling webhosting on it.
– performance.  if you have 1 or a few web sites with a lot of hits – and you really notice how bad shared web-hosting performance is. You run your first ‘web performance test’ against shared web hosting and see the poor performance. You get forum responses like use w3 total cache, use varnish, tweek the database – all of which require a VPS.

The darkside of VPS, that no-one talks about

– Each site contained on the VPS is managed and support by the VPS owner – you can’t contact the hosting company and say site xyz.com.au is broken, that is your job to fix.
– you are responsible for backup
– you are responsible for ‘noisy sites’ – 1 big web site with loads of hits, can swamp everything.
– you are responsible for performance. OK, you might bung on varnish, and it makes some things go fast, but an occasional hit website will really suffer as it doesn’t have enough hits to prime the cache.
-you have to manage all the complexity (see above)

Why dedicated hosting ?

its sort of old school. You know the contention ratios – 1:1. You definately support yourself, do the backups, own the operating system, need to have a bare metal recovery plan, understand hardware support times, monitor failed hardware components, etc.
They are faster than VPS, but not a lot. A VPS can be faster if it is given more resources.
It sounds cool.
You don’t trust VPS guys, and hate contention ratios.
You bought it a few years ago, finding it hard to move, and are still justifying your decision a few years ago.

Why cloud/clustered hosting ?

Only those that have suffered VPSs will really  understand a few things
1. you need your wordpress website to go fast. But you don’t want to manage the technology, software, hardware, plans and support
2. you want better security. The cloud wordpress hosting knows security is mission critical. They don’t make it your problem to go find a plugin.
3. you want better relability. The cloud guys are running your wordpress site on several servers at once.
4. you want better scalability. A sudden increase in hits are spread across a cluster of many servers.
5. you are dealing with teams that understand how to engineer infrastructure. This is no ‘one-click’ install, and a web designer running the hosting.
6. support is with real ‘rubber hits the road’ techies.
7. the cloud wordpress hosting guys often modify and tune the core wordpress code.
8. they know and measure the performance of the sites, servers, databases, disks.
9. they are responsible for all layers – there is no middle man, there is no hiding. They are responsible for the wordpress website running, security, the web server, the database, the backups, performance, scaling.

By on January 23rd, 2016

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