10 nuances that you need to pay attention to when choosing a VPS hosting

Hundreds of companies are currently offering VPS hosting services, complementing them with management and support services, security, software licensing.

Previously, the "right" hosting company was determined by storage capacity, CPU power and network bandwidth, which it provided for a certain amount of money. Now the focus has shifted and high availability became one of the most important factors. For example, Forbes magazine recommends to those people, who are launching and constantly developing their websites, to use an integrated approach and analyze wide set of criterias. There is no doubt that optimal hosting provider selection substantially depends on the type the site to be hosted. Nevertheless, there are some common, but very important criterias, that needs to be taken into account while selecting a VPS provider.

The differences between VPS and increasingly popular cloud hosting worth be explained in more detail. A VPS user gets a virtual environment with allocated space on the HDD or SSD drive and dedicated network bandwidth, but computing resources and RAM memory of the host system are evenly distributed among all the VPS servers on this particular physical server. The cloud hosting gives you virtual machine in the cloud. With cloud hosting (which in fact is IaaS, infrastructure as a service), multiple physical servers are combined into a cluster, and multiple storage systems - into a storage area network (SAN). As a result, a distributed server infrastructure is used for cloud hosting. This makes the resource allocation process more flexible and increases the resiliency of the service, but users’ freedom to select hosting options and configuration is more limited comparing to VPS, and configuration itself may require more technical expertise from the administrator.

So what is the right way to choose a truly reliable and high-quality service? What to look for? Here go several tips.

1. Level of availability

Using servers with insufficient computing power and unstable network connections can often block access to your site. This not only blocks access to your web-pages or stop sales in e-commerce system, but also leads to a lower ranking of the web-site in search engines such as Google and Bing. A guaranteed level of availability of 99.5% is usually sufficient, but sometimes 99.9% or more is required. The uptime of your site can be monitored using relevant tools.

For example, hosting of financial transactions based service requires the provider with high uptime, preferably above 99.5%. Uptime is the key to the success of your site. Avoid hosting providers whose uptime falls below 99%.

High availability and fault tolerance of servers is guaranteed not only by the use of a Tier III data center provider, but also by running multiple Internet service providers connections, a reliable backup system and load balancers.

You can check HostingHub.eu availability here:

2. Customer Service

How efficient and fast are technical issues solved? How does the support service operate? Best option is to look for VPS hosting, which offers continuous support to its customers - 24/7. Also pay attention to those who provide support through chat rooms and social networks, and not just rely on emails. Priority should be given to the companies that have their own customer support department and certified specialists. Direct contact to the support specialist helps to better understand the issue and accelerates finding of the solution. As HostingHub.eu invites - let’s bring back HumanToHuman IT.

3. Data protection and availability of backup copies

The current wave of cyber threats has led to an increase in amount of sites targeted by various types of attacks and ransomware. Such actions often lead to irreparable losses, inability to recover the data encrypted by the ransomware. Thus, making regular data backup becomes critical. You should choose a hosting service that provides regular backups, that will allow you to restore your site if it will be attacked by hackers or fail due to other unpredictable events.

4. Registration and maintenance costs

Usually, web hosting offers cost-attractive hosting services for new customers during initial contract term, or a certain period after first payment, or even a free trial period. However, the renewal fee for the subscription is often more than three times more expensive for the same service. To avoid shocking surprises at the end of the discount period, always check before you become a customer, how much you will have to pay when you need to renew.

5. Ability to add extra domains

You can start from one website and domain name, but then there is a need for several sites, domains and subdomains. Therefore, before entering into an agreement with a specific service provider, analyze different packages, paying close attention to whether they allow you to host multiple websites under the same account.

Usually, hosting providers allow unlimited use of subdomains. If this option does not suit you and you need to create several sites in top-level domains, then you will need a relevant subscription or package.

Find and check the cost of a package with an unlimited number of websites and subdomains. Choose a web hosting service offering service packages or subscriptions that allow you to add new domains and sites and to scale your services when needed.

6. E-commerce and mail

You can get more feedback and increase the number of subscribers, if there is an email associated with your domain name. Choose a web hosting operator which provides mail service for primary email address of your website. If you want your hosting provider to operate your mail, make sure that email support is included in the package or subscription. If this is the case, then you need to find out how many email accounts you can have and whether it is enough for your needs.

7. Security Level

In addition to ensuring the availability of the site and data, you need to use a secure hosting solution. Any site requires security, but in some cases enhanced security is required. For example, the site can store user personal data or process credit card data. Pay attention to the availability of firewalls, malware detection tools, protection against DDoS attacks, whether servers are monitored for unusual activity, etc.

8. Storage capacity and network

The required VPS storage capacity depends on site traffic, amount and size of hosted files. The larger the size and amount of files, the greater the storage capacity and network bandwidth required. So if you host databases, high resolution pictures or videos a large data storage capacity is needed. If the amount of data is large, and you know that there will be a lot of traffic, then you need to find out how much network bandwidth is allocated to you, and analyze, whether you will not exceed it.

9. Managed hosting

In the case of managed hosting, most of the tasks are being performed by the provider. It is responsible for speed optimization and optimal performance of the VPS. This option will suit you if you have personal and financial data processing. However, this type of hosting is more expensive and usually allows to host only limited number of sites. It is usually offered for specific site types.

10. Special conditions and limitations

Each hosting company has a set of conditions, the violation of which leads to additional expenses of the client, and even temporary or permanent termination of hosting service. For example, some hosting providers prohibit excessive use of processor computing power to perform intensive calculations and run scripts. Dedicate your time to study all the conditions and discuss the requirements. The most important thing is to avoid hosting companies without clear conditions of service delivery, when the “limitation and suspension of the service remains at the sole discretion of the management” of the hosting operator.

VPS configuration

The configuration of your server - especially if you are running on regular VPS hosting - is an important factor in future performance of your site.

What amount of processor computing power you’ve got, how much RAM and disk space is allocated — everything matters. Besides that it is always useful to find out on which hardware platform your VPS is created. To have a convenient and high-quality service, your services needs well-known business-class equipment vendor and Tier III-certified data center.

  • RAM and storage capacity: how much RAM and disk space is offered and included in the subsription? You will need at least 1 GB of RAM and 20 GB of disk space. Of course, the exact needs will vary depending on your site’s traffic, storage requirements, etc.
  • Data transfer (Internet traffic): Are there any restrictions on traffic? If so, what are the options if you exceed those limits? Most VPS providers impose some restrictions. You need to know what they are, and what happens if you need to exceed them.
  • OS installation: What is the choice of VPS operating systems? Will your site operate on a specific Linux distribution (or depends on the latest version of the distribution) or does it require Windows? It is important for the VPS provider to regularly update the OS.
  • Backup: What are the backup options? How are your data and site architecture protected?
  • IP addresses: how many IP addresses are included in your service? If there is a limit, what is the cost of additional addresses?
  • Kernels of the CPU: Web servers, as a rule, use little processor power, unless you host a game server or mine cryptocurrency. But it’s still better to know how many cores are allocated for your VPS subscription.
  • The performance of storage system. If the requirements for the I/O subsystem are high, then you can use powerful eMLC-class SSDs with speeds in excess of 100k IOPS. Some hosting providers offer such options.

The virtualization environment

VPS is often used by small companies and it is suitable for web hosting (including high traffic sites) and application hosting, software testing and development, server consolidation, and virtual workplace deployment (VDI). All of this - at an attractive price, without buying physical servers and making capital investments in infrastructure.

VPS services can use different types of virtualization, for example, OpenVZ (at the operating system level) or KVM (hardware)It can be used as dtabase server, terminal server, DNS, FTP or as a remote workstation. VPS management process can be fully automated. Read more about types of virtualization here.

Virtual data center or virtual server?

Using virtual servers allows you to solve a number of important business goals. The service allows you to save time due to the rapid deployment of IT infrastructure with necessary parameters and with possibility of further expansion. No need to invest in your own IT infrastructure, which allows you to minimize CAPEX. In the end of the day, the current costs of developing and maintaining of your IT infrastructure are significantly reduced.

To create a complex IT infrastructure, you may need a virtual data center - a set of virtual resources (servers, disks, networks), which is a set of elements for storing, processing and transmitting data.

The answer to the question put in the title of this article is not as obvious as it seems at first sight. The virtual server and the virtual data center have a lot in common. Choose a virtual server if you have a small project (simple website or web page) that does not require complex IT infrastructure, if you previously worked only with a virtual server or shared hosting, you do not have experience in administering OS and networks, you do not want to deal with NAT rules (in the virtual data center, you will need to configure them in order to gain access via RDP or SSH) and other settings.

An entire virtual data center (VDC) may be needed if you have a medium or complex project (an online store, an accounting or corporate information system) that requires creating multiple VMs in one local network, you need to configure load balancer, firewall, and other network services, if you lack the capabilities of a regular VPS, and you want to create virtual machines on your own OS.

However, this requires an advanced level of administration of the OS and networks, where experience is required in operation of VMware or OpenStack products, and high level of information security is necessary. VDC is a good choice when there is a need to use test environments, or it is required to activate several VMs during peak periods with the possibility of dynamic billing upon the fact of resource consumption.

If we proceed from the capabilities of these two services, then they are much wider for virtual data center and include changing the configuration and quantity, connecting different types of drives to the VM (HDD, SSD), installing your own OS, creating your own VM templates, importing/exporting of your own templates and VM ISO images, creation of network infrastructure with firewall, NAT, DHCP, load balancer, VPN (SSL, IPSec).

Using a virtual data center, the customer receives a wide range of functions, in particular, creating and configuring an unlimited number of VMs, setting up network parameters and creating the required network topology with full control of services rendered to the cloud.

A virtual data center is a protected environment and the freedom to scale resources, however, with a small budget, VPS hosting is recommended. In fact, the virtual server is similar to the dedicated one - you have full control over it, you can reboot, but it costs much less. VPS hosting is preferable for personal use and customers from the SMB segment, and virtual data center - for larger customers who need more customization and scalability. If you want high reliability and powerful features, then a virtual data center is a good choice.

VPS service is popular with small companies, which often can not afford to buy or rent a server in a data center (physical equipment). You can create a virtual server in minutes, and the process itself can be automated. VPS is suitable for those who are interested in hosting the web-site only. However, it does not guarantee the uptime of your site in case of heavy traffic or technical failure. It is only necessary to remember the limitations, because the resources of one dedicated server are distributed among several virtual ones, and common network link for virtual servers running on one dedicated server is used.

In general, the pros and cons of different types of hosting are as follows:

Type of hostingProsCons
Hosting with the sharing of resources (virtual) Inexpensive, easy to start. Relatively low productivity, control and management capabilities.
Dedicated hosting Maximum control, high performance. Relatively high cost. IT qualification required.
Hosting VPS Full access with Root rights. Protected environment. More expensive than shared hosting.
Cloud hosting Scalable, cost-effective. Not always high security.

Typical examples of using a virtual server

If you need to place somewhere your website or several sites, then VPS will be the best solution. Installation and configuration is simple and straightforward even for a beginner. In most cases, VPS is purchased for hosting sites. This makes it possible to organize the workspace for your needs (the choice of CMS, database and control panel for the site). If you have a large number of sites, it is much easier to manage them using a single control panel, and also to settle with one service provider.

Another option is a VPN server. VPN is an encrypted channel between your device and a remote virtual server. The reasons for creating a VPN tunnel can be different. For example, for the transfer of payment data or other information of a commercial nature, which is of strategic importance or intended only for internal use.

On the basis of the VPS, you can run your own secure telephone communication server, with the ability to create a lot of extensions. Black PBX on VPS - Replacing a physical office PBX with its virtual counterpart. What do virtual (or cloud) PBXs give businesses? These are accessibility outside the workplace, the ability to use a single office number, flexibility of configuration and management, the use of additional functions that are difficult to implement on a classic mini-PBX, such as video calling or integration with a CRM system, information about calls is stored in a database in digital the form - more opportunities to analyze the activity and use of information for marketing purposes.

A VPS-based proxy server helps protect the client computer from some network attacks and helps to preserve the anonymity of the client. Many providers provide IPV6 addresses, and a proxy can be used to spoof your address with the address of the provider, if you are up to the task.

VPS can also act as a remote computer. This is a computer "that is always with you" and to which you have access from anywhere.

On the virtual server, you can install mail server familiar to users (Outlook, The Bat, Thunderbird and others). You get full control and extensive administration. VPS can be used to organize work with applications to support teamwork. It is great for applications that simultaneously have a large number of active users, such as project management systems, accounting and CRM systems. Thanks to the daily backup you can not be afraid of losing data.

VPS is a good way to make websites for sale under the order. In this case, you can immediately place ready-made projects on your virtual server and subsequently take monthly payment from customers for hosting and website maintenance. And of course - the online store. Depending on the allocated resources, it can receive a large number of customers and maintain a database of goods.

Finally - stock trading. In the Forex market, VPS is used for round-the-clock operation of Metatrader terminals, where Forex trading advisors are launched. There are a plenty of other useful examples of VPS application.