So, your site has outgrown shared hosting, or you’re looking to set up a reseller operation, and you’re now trying to decide between a VPS or dedicated server. Both will give you dedicated resources and better performance than shared hosting
, but there are some key differences you should consider.
Most dedicated servers offer better performance than a VPS.
They also usually give you more control over your server configuration, though there are some VPS hosts that let you adjust individual resources.
But the cost for that control, performance, and room for growth is expensive, and price is one of the main differences between VPS and dedicated servers. While you can get some VPS plans for less than $10 a month, most dedicated servers start at over $100.
Thus, the most important things to think about when choosing between a VPS and dedicated server are: what are your resource and performance needs, and what is your budget?
Read on to see my in-depth VPS and dedicated hosting comparison, decide which is right for you, and find out which providers make our list of the best VPS and dedicated server hosts on the market.
The Case for VPS Hosting
VPS gives you many of the advantages of a dedicated server at a much lower price. It’s an ideal next step if you’ve outgrown shared hosting or want guaranteed resources but don’t have the budget for a dedicated server
, or the extensive resource needs.
How Does VPS Hosting Work?
A common analogy you’ll find is that VPS is like renting an apartment: you have your own space and utilities (water, electric, etc.), but you’re part of a shared building. With VPS you get a piece of a shared server with guaranteed resources.
You can customize your virtual server to suit your needs (to a degree), much like you can decorate an apartment to your taste.
A traditional VPS splits one physical server into multiple, individual virtual servers. Cloud VPS works similarly, but the difference is that instead of having an individual portion of one physical server, you get guaranteed resources on a cluster of shared servers. This allows for redundancies that help keep your site up and running while also allowing for traffic surges.
You need technical knowledge to manage a VPS yourself
. Some hosts do offer managed VPS hosting, but you may still be required to do some of the work to configure and maintain your own security and install software, updates, and patches.
What Are the Advantages (and Drawbacks) of VPS Hosting?
- Guaranteed resources
- More configuration control than shared hosting, usually
- More scalable than shared hosting (with cloud VPS)
- Better performance than shared hosting
- More reliable than shared hosting
- Dedicated IP address (depending on host)
- Less expensive than a dedicated server
- Technical skills required, if unmanaged
- More expensive than shared hosting
- Shared server(s)
- Possibly less secure than a dedicated server
Is VPS Hosting Right for You?
Beyond simply hosting your mid-to-high-traffic website, here are some situations where you might want to consider a VPS:
- You have a busy e-commerce store. If customer transactions are what make your world go ‘round, you’ll love the performance and reliability VPS offers. It provides enough guaranteed resources for mid-to-high-traffic online shops, and when your sales and promotions draw more site visitors than normal, cloud VPS plans will auto-scale to accommodate the traffic surge.
- You want to run a gaming server. Whether you’re looking to set up a server for you and your friends to play Minecraft or you want to monetize a gaming server with ads, membership fees, or product sales, VPS hosting is a great way to do it. The overhead cost is less than a dedicated server, yet with many hosts you can still scale up your resources to accommodate more players as your game gets popular.
- You need in-house email and messaging. Using a VPS to set up a private email and messaging server for your company is a good alternative to software as a service (SaaS) options if you want more privacy at a potentially lower cost. Even an entry-level VPS plan gives you the resources to handle private email and messaging, and it can still serve as your web hosting server at the same time.
- You’re managing a large project. Licensing costs for project management software can be expensive, and self-hosting on a VPS using an application like Jira Cloud or GitLab can save you money. A VPS will also give you space to create a wiki for storage of reference materials, training guides, and more.
- You’re a foreign exchange trader. VPS is a great option for forex traders because it’s faster than shared hosting and provides more reliable uptime, which is critical when you need to be online 24/7. There are VPS hosts that specialize in forex trading, but just about any VPS will be better than shared hosting.
6 Best VPS Hosting Services – We’ve Tested Them All
There are a lot of services out there that offer VPS hosting, but after much testing and comparing, these are the ones my colleagues and I determined to be the best:
Kamatera gives you the most control and scalability of any VPS host
, with nearly 1,200 server configurations available. It has 13 global data centers and delivered fast page loading speeds and perfect uptime in our tests. Kamatera’s unmanaged entry-level plan has the lowest starting price
of any host on this list, but upgrading to managed hosting is expensive.
- Instant scalability. You can increase or decrease individual resources like CPU, RAM, storage, load balancers, and firewalls with the click of a button to meet server demands, even for high-traffic sites.
- Pay by the second. While some VPS hosts charge for resource usage by the hour or month, Kamatera charges by the second, so you only ever pay for what you use.
- 30-day free trial. Kamatera is the only host on this list that offers a free trial. You can try its VPS service 100% risk-free for 30 days, with no commitment.
InterServer is competitively priced and has data centers in LA and New Jersey, so it’s a great option if your target audience is in the US
. It offers Linux and Windows plans and supports all major control panels. If you use Webuzo or pay for cPanel or Plesk, setting up a WordPress site is almost as easy as with a shared hosting auto-installer.
- VPS slices. InterServer sells its resources by the “slice.” Each slice includes 1 CPU core, 2GB of RAM, 30GB of SSD storage, and 2TB of bandwidth. You can easily add slices as your resource needs grow, and you can buy up to 16 slices in total.
- Managed support. If you buy four or more slices, you get free managed support. That includes help with diagnosing service failures, fixing issues with your control panel, and installing security patches.
- Self-healing hardware. Though it doesn’t actually “self-heal,” as the name suggests, this AI technology detects system failures and automatically redirects the problem away from your website to give the InterServer team time to fix it without affecting you.
What you get with Hostinger VPS is solid performance, enough resources for mid-traffic websites, and low prices
. But the plans are unmanaged.
So while Hostinger’s VPS control panel makes it fairly easy to use, you need to be tech savvy and comfortable working with root access to your server.
- Wide global presence. Of all the hosts on our list, Hostinger has data centers on the most continents, and it’s the only one with a data center in South America.
- Minecraft VPS. You can set up a Minecraft server with other VPS hosts, but Hostinger is the only host on this list with VPS plans pre-configured for Minecraft.
- 30-day guarantee. Not many VPS hosts offer a money back guarantee, but Hostinger gives you 30 days to decide if its service is right for you. If it’s not, it will refund your entire payment.
4. A2 Hosting
You can get cheap managed or unmanaged VPS from A2 Hosting, with generous resources on entry-level plans
, including triple the storage (150GB) of any other host on our list. You do have to pay for a higher-tier plan if you want the best performance and features. But even then, A2 Hosting is missing some basics, like automatic backups.
- “Turbo” servers. On A2 Hosting’s higher-priced plans you get more-advanced AMD EPYC servers with NVMe SSD storage, which offers faster read and write speeds than standard SSD storage.
- Free cPanel. If you purchase a managed VPS hosting plan, A2 Hosting gives you cPanel to make administering your website a breeze. You have to pay for cPanel with most other VPS hosts.
- Anytime money-back guarantee. You can get a full refund within 30 days, but what sets A2 Hosting’s guarantee apart is that it will give you a prorated refund even after 30 days. So signing up for a long-term plan is risk-free.
5. Liquid Web
Liquid Web offers managed VPS hosting
, and its plans give you some of the best value for money on the market. Liquid Web’s plans include more features and security options than VPS plans from other hosts, and provide solid performance
backed by a 100% network uptime guarantee. It’s data centers are based in the US and Amsterdam.
- Free automatic backups. With VPS hosting you usually have to pay extra for backups. Not with Liquid Web. Even its entry-level plan includes 100GB of free automatic backups.
- Top-notch support. I experienced it firsthand and so did my colleague who tested its service – Liquid Web has some of the best VPS support in the industry. It gives you 24/7 expert personal assistance and guarantees to answer your call in under a minute.
- Extra services available. While Liquid Web’s plans are already quite comprehensive, you can pay to add remote off-site backups, extra cloud storage, and managed firewalls.
Like Liquid Web, FastComet VPS offers managed hosting
. Its plans are more expensive than Liquid Web’s, but it has a broader global reach, with data centers in Asia and Australia in addition to the US and Europe
. It offers only four plans, and you can’t adjust resources individually, so it’s not as flexible as some VPS hosts.
- FastGuard security. Not all VPSs come with built-in security options. FastGuard is included with all FastComet VPS plans and gives you security tools like free SSL, firewalls, and protection from bruteforce or DDoS attacks, and a range of malware.
- RocketBooster optimization. FastComet’s out-of-the-box enhancements are designed to improve performance, but to get a maximum boost you can pay more for faster LiteSpeed technology and advanced caching.
- 7-day money-back guarantee. 7 days isn’t a lot of time to decide if FastComet is for you, but at least it offers some sort of money-back guarantee. Not all VPS hosts do.
The Case for Dedicated Hosting
Dedicated servers are expensive, but give you total control over your very own physical server and offer excellent potential performance
How Does Dedicated Hosting Work?
Going back to that common analogy, if VPS is like renting an apartment, a dedicated server is like owning a house: you don’t share it with anyone and you can do whatever you want with it.
A dedicated server allows you to build your hosting infrastructure from the ground up. Many hosts offer server images with standard OS and hosting software, but most allow for complete customization.
You can usually adjust the amount of RAM, storage, and allocated bandwidth.
Like VPSs, most dedicated server plans are unmanaged, so you have to take care of all the configuration and upkeep yourself. They require the most technical savvy of any type of hosting.
But many hosts offer managed plans or managed service add-ons.
What Are the Advantages (and Drawbacks) of Dedicated Hosting?
- No shared resources
- Total control over your configuration
- Private and secure, if configured properly
- Excellent potential performance, if configured properly
- Requires the most technical knowledge
- High prices
Is Dedicated Hosting Right for You?
Beyond simply hosting a high-traffic website, here are some situations where you might want to consider a dedicated server:
- You work with sensitive data. A dedicated server provides more privacy and security than a VPS. It allows you to encrypt data, limit and control access, and install security measures as you see fit, or as required for compliance in your industry. And since there’s no sharing of these servers, there’s less risk of your data leaking.
- You want to host a mobile app. If your mobile app requires faster execution speeds, more memory, or better reliability, you may want a dedicated server. Dedicated servers can meet greater resource demands than most VPSs, and you can put redundancies in place to keep your app up and running 100% of the time.
- You want to host a gaming server. Like a dedicated mobile app server, a dedicated game server can deliver superb, uninterrupted performance.
- You need a backup server. Let’s face it: stuff happens – natural disasters, power outages, jerks with computers sitting in their mom’s basement trying to steal your data. A dedicated server can give you a secure, off-site backup for cases where you need to restore your data to keep your organization’s wheels turning.
- You host and stream video. Rendering and transcoding video requires a lot of resources, which is exactly what a dedicated server can provide. You also get more control over features and can configure your server specifically to accommodate the use of video.
5 Best Dedicated Hosting Services – Tried and Tested
Not every provider offers dedicated servers, but we tested the ones that do and these are the best dedicated server hosts out there:
InterServer’s starting prices are very low, and each dedicated server includes a generous set of features and resources, as well as managed support.
Though you still need the ability to maintain your own server, or to hire someone who can do this for you.
You can choose from more than a dozen base server configurations with varying types and numbers of CPU and CPU cores. You can then customize your operating system, storage, bandwidth, and more to fit your needs. Some plans have a set amount of RAM, but for many you can customize your memory, too. You can provision your server within four hours.
- 150TB of bandwidth. Every InterServer dedicated server comes with 150TB of bandwidth. That’s a massive amount – far more than any other host on this list. You can upgrade to unmetered 10Gbps bandwidth, but it’s expensive.
- Free DDoS protection. InterServer includes free DDoS protection on all its dedicated servers. And if an attack occurs, it will identify the source and destination and take care of it for you.
- NVMe storage available. Most dedicated server hosts offer SATA HDD or SSD storage. InterServer is one of a few hosts that give you the option for more-advanced NVMe storage, which is faster and consumes less power.
2. Liquid Web
Liquid Web has some of the highest starting prices on the dedicated server market. But what you’re paying for is a fully-managed server with high-end performance configurations and some of the best support in the industry
There are three plans to choose from for each of Liquid Web’s three data center locations (two in the US, one in Amsterdam). If you choose a US data center, you can purchase a value bundle that includes hosting and extra features, like more backup and DDoS protection.
On all but the entry-level plan, you can customize all aspects of your server and add things like a control panel, security, and more bandwidth. But if you need more resources or features than the set plans allow, you’ll need to create a custom configuration.
- Backup disk. In addition to your primary storage, each Liquid Web plan provides you with a backup disk for additional storage space. The standard backup disk utilizes SATA HDD storage rather than faster SSD storage, but this shouldn’t matter much in practice.
- 100% uptime guarantee. Liquid Web guarantees 100% uninterrupted power and network access, or it will credit you 10 times your downtime. So if your service is down for an hour, you’ll get 10 hours worth of credit.
- IPMI access. An Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) lets you use a network connection to remotely access your server without any security risk. It’s ideal if you need to manage your server while off-site, or on business travel or vacation.
A dedicated server from Hostwinds can handle high-traffic sites, but it’s more of a mid-range option in terms of resources, performance, features, and price.
It costs more than InterServer, and the hardware on some of its plans is less advanced. But you can customize any configuration to change your OS and add more and/or better storage, RAM, and bandwidth.
Like many hosts on this list, Hostwinds provides fully-managed support,
and it even has server monitoring to help it identify and fix server issues for you. Its data centers are in the US and Netherlands, so it’s a solid choice if your target audience is in North America or Europe.
- 8 IP addresses. While Hostwinds doesn’t include a dedicated IP address for free, it sells these in blocks of 8 for a very reasonable price. And you can pay for as many as 128.
- RAID technology. If you add storage drives, you can add RAID (0 through 60) to create redundancies that help prevent data loss and improve performance.
- Nightly backups. While you have to pay extra for these, you can keep Hostwinds’s automatic nightly backups indefinitely, so you can restore from any day in time if needed. Many hosts have a limit to how long you can keep backups.
FastComet offers six set dedicated server plans, and the only way to scale up is to switch your entire plan.
This can get expensive, especially if you’re paying for resources you don’t use.
But while there’s less flexibility, FastComet gives you premier performance, and its top-end advertised plan provides ample resources, with 16 CPU cores, 32GB of RAM, 640GB of SSD storage, and 7TB of bandwidth. There are unadvertised plans with higher specs as well. Because FastComet offers set plans, you can provision a server in minutes.
- Better CPUs. AMD EPYC processors are included on all FastComet plans. These processors are faster and more powerful than the Intel processors most hosts use.
- Fully-managed servers. Some dedicated server hosts only offer managed support to help with certain aspects of your server. FastComet manages every aspect of your server, so you can focus on developing and managing your website or project.
- Top choice for Australia. No other host on our list has a data center in Australia, so if you have an Australian audience, FastComet is the best choice for top performance.
5. A2 Hosting
A2 Hosting offers both managed and unmanaged dedicated servers.
You get root access with unmanaged plans, and it’s available with managed plans, but you don’t necessarily need it because A2 Hosting will manage your entire server for you.
You can usually get good discounts with A2 Hosting, so even its entry-level plans are a solid value considering they give you far more storage than any other host on our list
(2 x 1TB SSD) and similar other resources. You can adjust individual resources and add features, or upgrade plans, to get better hardware and performance.
- NVMe storage options. With its higher-tier “Turbo” plans (any one other than its entry-level server), you get NVMe storage instead of SSD, which can result in computing speed that A2 Hosting rates at “3x faster.”
- 99.9% uptime commitment. If your website goes down for more than .1% of the total time in a month due to an internal network or equipment issue, A2 Hosting will credit you 5% of your monthly fee for every hour of downtime.
- US data center. A2 Hosting has data centers in Europe and Asia for its other types of hosting, but its only dedicated server data center is in Michigan, so it’s best for audiences in the Americas. Though a CDN can help you reach a global audience.
The VPS or Dedicated Server for You
Knowing whether to choose a VPS or dedicated server from a given provider comes down to your budget and needs.
If you’re hosting a mid-to-high traffic project and need guaranteed resources and solid performance on a budget, a VPS is the way to go. If you have a deeper wallet, a dedicated server will give you better privacy and more control, and has the potential for better performance.
Kamatera is the best VPS value for money
on the market. You can get it for cheap, yet it most closely resembles a dedicated server, with its high-end performance, flexibility, and scalability. And it’s the only host that will let you take a test drive before you buy.
You can get the cheapest VPS from Hostinger
, but it’s the only host on our list that doesn’t offer managed support.
InterServer gives you the best, low-price dedicated servers
, and it also offers cheap VPS with managed support once you reach four resource “slices.”
A FastComet dedicated server is built with superior technology
for premium performance. It’s also the top VPS and dedicated server hosting option for Australia.
If you want the best managed support, Liquid Web has been awarded best-in-class support
by Customer Guru, my colleagues, and myself. Beyond just being helpful and pleasant, it will manage all aspects of your server so you can focus on your website.
Which is better, VPS or dedicated hosting?
It depends. It really comes down to your budget and needs. If your budget is limited, go with a VPS. It won’t give you the same level of resources or performance as a dedicated server, but it costs a lot less and is a big step up from shared hosting.
Is VPS hosting better than shared hosting?
Again, it depends. If you’re hosting a simple blog or other basic website with moderate traffic, shared hosting will probably be enough. But it does not deliver a minimum level of resources, whereas a VPS gives you guaranteed resources, often with more flexibility. VPS hosting costs a bit more, but there are cheap options out there. Have a look at our step-by-step guide to launching a website in 2023 if you’re looking for more detailed advice.
Which is the best VPS hosting provider?
While I like that InterServer gives you cheap managed VPS if you buy at least four “slices,” Kamatera is our top VPS hosting provider. It scored extremely well in our tests and is far and away the most flexible and scalable VPS on the market.
Do I need a dedicated server?
If budget isn’t an issue and you need top-end performance, privacy, and ample resources, choose a dedicated server. It’s the gold standard of hosting, but requires advanced technical skills. Many of our top 10 web hosts for 2023 offer dedicated server plans.