Switching to VPS Hosting

The most basic websites start off with a shared hosting plan – which is cheapest and requires the least technical knowledge/ability to start.

Advantages and disadvantages of a shared web host (source: WHSR).

Shared hosting accounts shared a pool of server resources assigned by hosting companies – if one of the shared hosting accounts gulps a large share of resources – other websites hosted on the same server will suffer slow load time or even outage. This is a common problem for a web host that practices overselling.

An article on Winning WP says that:

You should almost definitely consider moving away from shared hosting if you’re running a serious online business

I beg to differ. As long as your website is working alright there is no reason to switch to a VPS. But if you need a hosting environment with better security, flexibility, and reliability – a VPS host is your next move.

Here’s when you should consider switching –

  • Getting high incoming traffics – you need to upgrade your server capacity. Sometimes you will get notified by your shared hosting provider when you are pulling too much resources from the shared server.
  • When you need a stable stream of server resources for better reliability.
  • To implement better backups, advanced monitoring, and security features (secure shell access – SSH).
  • When you need complete control over your web host – to install a custom software or custom configuration, for examples.
  • To manage multiple clients’ website hosting on your account – for example if you are a web developer who help your clients to design and host their websites; and you want to give server access to your clients.

A comprehensive guide to VPS hosting

Comprehensive guide on VPS hosting (source: HostPapa)

On Choosing A Web Host: My Best Is Not Your Best

There are 1000 hosting companies in the world and they all claim they are the best.

And majority of them are, in fact, correct.

Because “Best” is relative.

What’s best for me is best for (well) me. What’s best for you might not be right for me.

If I am hosting my school projects that I only need the site to be alive for the next 6 months, a free web host with limited features like 000 Web Host or Award Space would be *the best* for me.

Not only that your “Best” hosting provider – like this one, that gives ultra fast network, excessive server resource,  and spoon-fed customer support that charges $200/month is not best, it’s not even in my first 100 consideration list.

Truth is – those looking to emerge on the internet have a slew of options and an abundance of hosting providers.  You have got your free web hosting services – as mention earlier. Then there’s shared, VPS, dedicated, cloud, as well as managed cloud (something only seen recently).

It really depends on what you want and need; and how much you are willing to pay. Different websites have different needs – you should select a host that suits your budget and requirements.

Knowing your needs before signing up the “best” hosting

So what does your website need from its host?

Can you answer that question in clear-written bullet points? Some basic questions to ask yourself include:

  • What kind of website or blog are you building?
  • Are you going to build and host just one website; or multiple?
  • Do you need to park a lot of unused domain names with this host?
  • Do you want something common (a WordPress blog, perhaps) so it’s easier to get help?
  • Do you need Windows applications?
  • Do you need support for a specific programming language (like Java or Python)?
  • How much your website traffic is going to grow for the next 6 months?

Hosting Reviews and Best Lists?

Don’t rely too much on what you can find on Google – 9 out of 10 of these “best hosting listing” are heavily biased and manipulated by affiliate commission. There’s a reason why people nowadays all push for iPage, SiteGround, BlueHost, Hostgator, and so on as the “Best” web host. Because these are the companies that pay the fattest commission.

Look for lists that rank a web host based on performance data and real user reviews. Usually this means the list consists of both popular and less well-known names. Check site owner’s credibility before trusting their reviews and advice.

If a deal sounds too good to be true – very likely it is.

Here are three best hosting list I found useful – there are data-driven, comes with clear earning disclosures, and their authors are out from the dark (known for their reputation). If you were looking for a web host, start with the brands mentioned in these guide.

Characteristics of a good web host

To say any hosting service is best (or even good), they should perform exceptionally well in following aspects with consistency:

  1. Server performance – How often your host goes down? Is your host loading quick? Does the company provide SLA on server and network uptime? What is the compensation if your server goes down?
  2. Hosting upgrade options – Is there room to grow? Can you upgrade your host easily?
  3. Numbers of addon domain – How many domains and websites can you host in one account? Domain names are so cheap these days – you WILL own more than one website.
  4. Costs – Simple question, can you afford the host?
  5. Email hosting – Can you host your own email?
  6. Site backup – How often is your account backup? Can you restore your backup by yourself easily? Does your host charge restoration fee?
  7. After-sales service – Can you get help easily?

Again – when you are choosing a hosting solution, bear in mind that what you want is to select the one that suits you the best. It’s not about finding the best web host in the world, it’s finding the best web host for your website and business.

Hosting Operating System (OS): Unix & Windows

Operation system, or normally known as OS, is a platform for your computer to work. An OS has to be installed on your computer before any other software. The operating system is so important that it takes care of almost all the basic operation on your computer: from shutting down the PC to handling the memory to coordination among hardware.

Now in case you not know, not just that your personal computer needs an OS.

Your hosting server needs one too! (surprise? duh…) In the world of web hosting OS, there’re two major players, namely Unix and Windows.

Unix (Linux & FreeBSD) Hosting

While there are more than 80% of the PCs runs on Windows; there aren’t so much running on servers.

Instead, web hosting server are normally runs on Unix base.

Note that Unix is not a single operating system. It offers many modern variants also referred to as flavors, types, distributions, or implementations, which branch from its origins in early 1970s mainframe computing.

Reason Unix-based OS is so popular is because that the OS is an open source operating system – thus free to use.

The 2 most popular variations are Linux and FreeBSD.

Windows Hosting

On top of personal computer OS Windows 10, 8, Vista, XP, etc; Microsoft do have their own operating system designed specifically for servers.

One of the well-known server OS from Microsoft is Windows Server 2003, and in case you’re familiar with Windows, you should be aware that Windows Sever 2008 is already in the market.

Unix > Windows?

Unix is developed in the Universities for the purpose of research and has been focusing more on networking and speed. Windows is a commercial product developed and targeted to the home users. Unix is built to be more powerful, secure and fast while Windows is built to be more user friendly and easy to use.

Most webmasters and developers lean over Unix systems as they are  generally better, in term of stability and security, Windows OS.

(* I didn’t find hard proof on this claim though).

After so many years of development, Unix has been evolved into a very stable, secure and powerful platform for the servers. On the other hand, Windows (Microsoft Corporation) is still consider to be a new comer to the server market.

What you need to know: Unix or Windows?

You should always go for a Unix web host unless you have some specific requirements that require Windows platform.

Not only Unix is more powerful and secure in networking but it is also cheaper because Unix is *FREE*! If a web host setup their servers to run Windows 2003, he will need to purchase the license from Microsoft and this will increase the hosting price.

You will need a Windows host if you want to use some Windows-only features. The most common are ASP, ASP.NET, ColdFusion, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, etc. If you have never heard of any of these application, you most probably won’t need a Windows host.

Cut it short, ASP.NET and ColdFusion are scripting language. Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Access are databases.