Web Server: Shared, Dedicated and Virtual Private Servers

When selecting a web host for your business, one of the earliest questions you’ll need to ask is whether you want a shared web server, dedicated web server or vps web server plan.


The main difference between VPS and shared web hosting is how the web server is utilized. In a shared environment, the web server is shared with many different websites. With a VPS web server environment, there is only one client per server configuration

You might sign up to a shared web server for about £2-20 per month (that may or may not include setup fees) for about 2,000 MB of web disk space and 20 GB of bandwidth. A VPS web server might cost £20-40 per month, but you get exponentially more web disk space and bandwidth plus greater stability and service.

Consider shared web hosting similar to living in a house with several roommates during your college days. The rent is less because you’re sharing the cost with others, but you don’t have unlimited room to yourself. You’re often impacted by other people in the house and when there is trouble in one of the rooms, you’re often impacted because of your proximity. If each of the roommates is relatively quiet and cooperative, everything can work smoothly. If one of the roommates begins take too much space or get too loud in the house, the other roommates can become cramped and unhappy.

A shared web hosting environment is often similar. If you are simply looking at cost, a shared web server environment is the way to go – but you also get less space and less bandwidth and may be risking your site’s uptime.

If downtime is not an option, your best option will be either a dedicated or VPS.

A dedicated web server is akin to a single-family home – it’s more expensive than living with college roommates, but you have the space all to yourself. With a dedicated hosting plan, a business gets a different quality of product and a different level of service. Dedicated servers provide a business with a larger amount of uptime, greater server access, the guaranteed ability to use custom applications, greater bandwidth and owners of dedicated servers often receive superior technical support.

If your company has multiple ecommerce businesses on several shared web hosting sites, it may be cheaper in the long run to have all those sites on a single dedicated web server where you have the entire ‘house’ to yourself. Before leaping to a dedicated environment, an ecommerce owner should consider if a virtual- dedicated server would meet his/her needs. Thomas Gorny, president and chief executive officer of IPOWER, Inc. (ipower.com) encourages serious ecommerce businesses to look at a virtual-dedicated server.

Unlike sharing space with college friends or owning a single-family home, a VPS web server could be likened to a hotel where a person has his own defined space, own bathroom, etc., within the confines of a larger facility that has other rooms with their own finite space. Gorny said such an option gives ecommerce operators stability, a higher level of security, storage capacity and bandwidth similar to a dedicated server at a cost between shared and dedicated.

A VPS is likely to come with the easy-to-use control panels and management functions of a shared server making it a viable option for business owners needing more stability and security than a shared server can offer. If you’ve outgrown a shared plan and aren’t ready to jump into the deep waters with a dedicated server, a virtual-dedicated server plan may be a great intermediate step.

Most web hosting companies provide an opportunity for a business to graduate from a shared to a VPS environment if their business needs change, but be sure to inquire about the ability to upgrade when you’re doing your research into hosting companies.