Cheap VPS Hosting vs. Semi-Dedicated Servers

When considering cheap VPS hosting versus semi-dedicated servers there are a few key differences that a webmaster needs to understand before selecting the type of hosting that will best meet his/her individual needs. In this cheap VPS hosting vs. semi-dedicated servers article we will compare and contrast the similarities and differences. When a webmaster reaches a point that his/her web hosting account has outgrown a regular shared web hosting plan, he/she may not be ready, or able to afford, to switch to a dedicated server and will begin looking at cheap VPS hosting and semi-dedicated servers.

Defining VPS Hosting and Semi-Dedicated Servers

First, we will take a look at what VPS hosting and semi-dedicated hosting is. Understanding the basic differences will give a webmaster a better idea as to which type of hosting will better suit his/her web hosting needs. VPS (virtual private server) hosting essentially provides the functionality of a dedicated server on a limited scale. One server is essentially partitioned off into several mini servers. Each account has full root access and the ability to customize his/her portion of the server with the operating system, applications, and software desired for the account. In contrast, semi-dedicated servers are more similar to a shared web hosting account in the sense that they do not provide root level access for the account owner. With a semi-dedicated server the webmaster will not have the ability to control any server configurations. Similar to a VPS hosting plan, semi-dedicated servers do drastically limit the number of accounts per server providing dedicated resources to each account holder but all of the resources are still shared. Both cheap VPS hosting and semi-dedicated hosting are designed to provide a controlled environment for web hosting accounts that are in need of more resources than a shared web hosting plan generally provides. In a nutshell, semi-dedicated is really no different than shared hosting, the web host simply limits the number of accounts on one server to provide better functionality for higher usage

Pros of Cheap VPS Hosting

There are a number of pros of cheap VPS hosting, let’s take a look at some of the basics:

  • Pricing: VPS hosting plans vary greatly starting out at very cheap, similar pricing as what one would find with a regular shared web hosting plan around $5 per month, to $100 or more per month. Average pricing for cheap VPS hosting with some of the big name web hosts range between $15 and $40 per month (a very rough estimate) for an entry level VPS hosting account. VPS pricing will vary depending on the amount of resources needed for the account. Naturally, more resources cost more money. While you will be paying more than a regular shared hosting plan, this is still significantly less than what you would pay for a dedicated server.
  • Control: for the webmaster that is familiar with server configuration and wants root access with the ability to choose the operating system, reboot that portion of the server if needed, and install the software and applications specifically needed on the web hosting account. VPS hosting not only provides control but a lot of options and flexibility that is not available on a regular shared web hosting account.
  • Protection: using a VPS hosting account provides protection from other web hosting accounts on the same server that may be abusing the service. If one or two accounts are overusing the resources, your web hosting account will be negatively impacted. Using a VPS gives you dedicated resources for your web hosting account.

Cons of VPS Hosting

  • Limitations: most VPS hosting plans have a dedicated amount of resources for each account; these limits are of course set forth by the web host that operates the server. If the web host isn’t honest about the amount of resources they provide or if they put too many accounts on one server you may still run out of resources.
  • Pricing: this is both a pro and con of VPS hosting. VPS hosting is much cheaper than a dedicated server and generally not a lot more expensive than shared web hosting but be careful of hosts that charge for additional services like managed hosting, control panel access, server backups, dedicated ip address, and other services that can quickly add up to as much or more than you would pay for a dedicated server.
  • Responsibility: with VPS hosting you may be the one responsible for making sure that your account has all the upgrades, patches, and security required to keep the account secure. On a shared web hosting account this is usually taken care of by the web host but because you are given so many more privileges and flexibility you are also given much more responsibility. If you don’t want this responsibility, there are web hosts that provide managed VPS but again you will pay more for the service.

Pros of Semi-Dedicated Hosting

In comparison, let’s look at the pros and cons of semi-dedicated hosting:

  • Functionality: because the number of accounts is limited on each server, performance is vastly improved for each account. The amount resources will vary from host to host and plan to plan depending on the limitations of the actual hardware and the limitations set forth by the web hosting service provider.
  • Fully Managed: semi-dedicated hosting plans enjoy all the protection and management that a webmaster is used to on a shared hosting plan. The web host provides all the hardware maintenance, software updates, security features, etc. Some web hosts will provide “priority” support options for those on a semi-dedicated plan because you are paying more.
  • Pricing: similar to VPS hosting you do have some benefits akin to a dedicated server but still at a much lower price than actually paying for a dedicated server. Pricing for semi-dedicated plans vary depending on the web host offering the service, but are similar to what you would find with a cheap VPS hosting plan.

Cons of Sem-Dedicated

  • No root access: in comparing semi-dedicated plans to VPS hosting, semi-dedicated plans do not provide root access. The webmaster cannot reboot his portion of the server, choose the operating system to be installed or change any of the server configurations.
  • Pricing: semi-dedicated hosting is more expensive than shared hosting, less expensive than a dedicated servers and competitive with VPS hosting. While it is cheaper than dedicated hosting and you do get more resources than shared hosting, you don’t have many of the permissions and rights that come with a VPS hosting plan and you are paying about the same price.
  • Limitations: with semi-dedicated hosting you are still on a shared server so your account will be affected by other web hosting accounts on the same server. If one account is hogging all the resources, your account will be negatively impacted. You are limited by the web hosts management of the account. If they say they only allow 7 accounts on a server, you have to trust they really do and you still have to worry about what the other 6 accounts on the server are doing. If one gets in trouble for hosting illegal content, all accounts on that server face the risk of being shut down.

Comparing cheap VPS hosting and semi-dedicated servers reveal some basic differences that can help a webmaster decide which type of web hosting is the best for his or her needs. For the webmaster that wants all the functionality of a dedicated server but can’t afford a dedicated server and doesn’t yet need all the resources of a dedicated sever, VPS hosting may be the best solution. A webmaster that just needs more resources than a regular shared hosting account but doesn’t need root access and doesn’t want to worry about server maintenance or paying the web host to manage a VPS hosting account may want to look into a semi-dedicated server. Finding the best web hosting plan for the individual needs of an account is always a personal decision. Do some research and then talk with your top web hosting provider picks to find the one with the history, business management, and business ideology that best fits with your needs.