The issue of web hosting can be an intimidating one for some and yet for all website owners, it’s an integral part of their site. Rest assured though that you don’t really need to be terribly tech savvy to compare between hosting plans.
Knowing those differences can be a big help when it is time for an upgrade. Most sites are usually on free or shared hosting plans to begin with, so the next logical step up would be towards VPS hosting. VPS hosting offers more power to your site while not costing as much as a full, dedicated server.
The question though, is when do you know it’s time to upgrade? Better hosting plans are usually more expensive and the move itself may involve quite some time and effort, especially if you are considering moving to an entirely different host for the plan you want.
When to Consider Upgrading Your Hosting Plan
To mitigate any issues a shift in hosting plan may cause, it is advisable for you to plan for an upgrade before it’s time to make the move. First, let’s go through some of the indicators which may show it is time for that upgrade;
1. Performance Issues
Normally your site is zipping along smoothly but suddenly, you notice it start to slow down on occasion. Your page load times increase, and you notice visitors start to encounter errors on occasion when loading your site.
Site performance is one of the key things that let you keep visitors happy and an unreliably website can cost you dearly. Most visitors expect sites to load quickly and if it doesn’t, they will just look for an alternative.
To keep an eye on this, test your site performance regularly with tools such as Pingdom or WebPagetest and ideally, keep some records. This not only helps you monitor for sharp performance drops but if you use your records right it may even help you to fine-tune site performance.
2. Increased Security Requirements
Your site has been running for a while and your audience is expanding. You’ve started getting more users subscribing for information or even join your user database for example. This means that you’re now responsible for safekeeping their data and security is coming to the fore of your mind.
While nothing can be 100% safe in terms of security, better hosting plans do usually offer better security features as well. Aside from peace of mind, this also helps you with better accountability should anything happen.
3. Resource Shortages
One you’re really tipping the limits in visitors, you may notice that your site starts cutting visitors off sometimes. This may also be followed by warnings from your host that you are hogging too much resources.
Take these warnings seriously as some hosts will not hesitate to cut off sites on shared hosting which take up too much resources. Remember, all the resources on shared hosting plans are exactly that – shared. If you take up all the time, other sites will suffer as well.
4. Exceeding Allowed Bandwidth
Some shared hosting plans place limits on the amount of bandwidth that your site can use per month. As a rule of thumb, the more visitors you are getting, the more bandwidth is taken up. Of course, there are exceptions such as if you host a lot of multimedia content as that consumes bandwidth as well.
If you see that you are using up your monthly allocation well before time, you urgently need to find a better hosting plan!
5. Your Needs Change
Shared hosts often restrict a lot of things you can do and sometimes, you may find that you need to run some applications that your host just won’t allow on shared plans. If you’re lucky, you may find an alternative that is supported on the plan but more likely than not it is time to upgrade.
Because VPS plans are often more flexible in this, you can opt to upgrade to one which will allow you to run the application you need. VPS hosting is also often better if you want to run a site with specialized needs.
Of course, there are many more reasons to look towards a better hosting plan, but these are some of the core ones. Now that you know what to look out for, let’s examine some of the differences between shared hosting and VPS hosting.
Shared vs VPS Hosting: General Differences
Shared hosting is often cheap and lets you occupy the same server as possibly hundreds of other websites. All of them use the same set of resources, which are allocated according to certain schedules your host defines.
Shared hosting plans do not require much technical knowledge to manage since most administrative and maintenance tasks are handled by the web host.
These are the lowest tier of hosting plans available except perhaps for free web hosting. They are often very limited in the scope of service and provide you the basics and nothing else. It is ideal for smaller websites or those which have static content since they are the most cost-efficient.
VPS hosting still sees you sharing space with other sites, but generally fewer of them. Sites on VPS hosting are given dedicated virtual resources such as CPU and memory and are guaranteed a minimum amount of resources per plan.
VPS hosting plans need a little more experience and expertise to manage than shared hosting plans, but you are often given full support by the host in this.
These plans are better if you have outgrown the resources that shared plans can offer and are the next logical stepping stone for growing websites. They are more expensive than shared hosting plans but much cheaper than what a dedicated server would cost you.
These plans are great for higher volume sites or those which are on a growth trend but whose numbers are not yet able to justify the resources that a dedicated server would offer.
Now that you’re familiar with the basic concepts, you can examine the feasibility of moving hosting plans from shared to VPS hosting. By planning and monitoring your site, you can be ready to move at a moment’s notice and not panic if you suddenly face the potential issues I have mentioned.
Take your time and list down all the activities you may need to carry out a migration, be it with the same provider or a new web hosting service entirely. Remember, choosing the right host, not just the right plan, is also a vital factor when it comes to hosting.
About the author: Jason is a technology enthusiast, marketer, and a full-time dad. He loves