Choosing the best hosting for your website is a tough and often all too confusing process in general. It’s even tougher considering that when you are evaluating a VPS hosting provider. The fact that you are looking for VPS means that you’re already working with much higher traffic & data than most website owners. You likely know that there is no such thing as an absolute “best VPS hosting company” – there is only the hosting that is right for you considering all the tradeoffs – speed, bandwidth, service, customer support and of course – price.
Based on my experience working with many hosting providers, there are a few that are a good starting point for most people.
Best VPS Hosting Providers Summary
|Name||Best if you want…||Features!|
|InMotion||…great overall value, high resources w/ great customer support.||Explore.|
|DreamHost||…unlimited bandwidth w/ affordable pricing tiers.||Explore.|
|HostGator||…great pricing w/ brand name network.||Explore.|
|LiquidWeb||…developer-focused platform w/ fast, global deployment.||Explore.|
Considerations for Choosing The Best VPS Hosting
Hosting companies all have different strengths and weaknesses. The core product of a Virtualized Private Server (VPS) is straightforward. It’s basically leasing a dedicated part of a dedicated server. The upsides are that:
- You get a lot of dedicated resources for your website.
- You get plenty of freedom & ownership compared to a managed hosting provider.
- You don’t have to pay the rates of leasing a dedicated server.
- You get cloud backup options without cloud-based problems.
- You have a dedicated IP address and options to use the highest SSL security.
The downsides are that:
- You need more technical wherewithal than a shared server or managed server.
- There are dozens if not hundreds of different options for VPS servers.
- You are much more tied into the success the your hosting company than you are with shared hosting.
- Higher traffic levels inherently mean more expensive mistakes.
Here are some of the considerations that are factored into the quiz.
Speed & Performance
One of the main reasons to switch to a VPS is to get better performance than you can get with a shared hosting provider. There are tons of variables that go into website speed, but a VPS provider should provide plenty of resources & features to handle high-traffic websites quickly.
Type of Company
Do you want an established brand that is part of a large company? Or do you want a smaller, independent company? There is no right answer. Usually large companies have more resources for discounts and more support channels. Independent companies usually have a more personal touch and are focused on investing over cost-cutting. And newer, cloud based providers have simply interfaces and quick deployment.
Bandwidth is how much data can be transferred to and from your server. Think of it like the size of the pipe running to your server. Your server needs to be fast, but if it’s sending & receiving many files (ie, many website visitors), then it’s also going to need plenty of bandwidth to serve visitors.
Every one wants good customer service. But providing solid customer support costs money. If you are a DIY type who is comfortable troubleshooting and Googling, you might value pricing and performance more than having several channels of support. Also think about what support channels you want. Do you want to be able to talk on the phone? Do you want chat & email? Do they need to be responsive on Twitter? What about a self-help knowledgebase?
RAM & Resources
Random Access Memory (RAM) does not necessarily determine site speed & server performance, but it is a primary variable. The more RAM that you have, the more files the server can serve – and the more code it can crunch. Think about what applications you are running & how they behave under traffic.
A large ecommerce site or web app will require more RAM than a publishing site with few plugins.
How many files do you need to store on your server? This may or may not be a huge issue if you are storing your largest files with a media provider (ie, audio or video files). But if you have a lot of imagery and internal resources, you’ll need to consider this number in your budget.
cPanel & Account Features
cPanel is the industry-standard “backend” of a server. It’s very common among shared hosting providers. It allows easy access to the server for non-developers. While it’s bundled with nearly all shared hosting plans, it’s usually an add-on for VPS servers. Be sure to consider it (along with other features) to get “apples to apples” pricing.
Discounts & Pricing
How important is getting a good deal? Sometimes it’s worth paying more if performance or customer support is a priority, but sometimes pricing beats them both.
How long are you willing to sign on? Many VPS providers offer deep signup discounts if you can commit for a year or more. Some charge per hour of use. Some create a hybrid.
User-friendliness & Server Management
Some customers value a clean, well-designed account area. Some customers do not really care what the buttons look like as long as all the features are there. And some customers don’t really care compared to other factors like price or performance. And some want a developer-friendly setup with staging and integrated developer tools.
Guide To Increased Website Speed – my guide that looks at strategy rather than random tools.
Best Shared Hosting Providers – if you don’t think you’ll need a VPS, here’s where to start for shared servers.
What is VPS Hosting? – an explainer that I put together.
Web Hosting, Explained – a short guide explaining the ins and outs of hosting.