What to look for when shopping for a VPS hosting? Basically there are five main consideration points when choosing the right VPS hosting, namely – pricing, RAM allocation, customer supports, control panel, and hosting plan flexibility. I’ll get into the details one-by-one.
1. VPS Hosting Pricing
Money is always the main factor when we are purchasing something. When comparing the price of VPS hosting, do not aim for the cheapest deal, go with those with a reasonable price tag instead. The reason behind this is because we do not want our host to run on a thin profit margin. Yes I know it sounds crazy but it’s true. Think about it – we want stability when it comes to web hosting and shifting web host is certainly the last thing we want to do after settling down. A hosting company running on a thin profit margin is simply… unstable (the risk of going out of business due to deficit accounts). So again, if you are serious about your website, go for those with a reasonable pricing but not the cheapest.
2. Server Memory Capacity (RAM)
In my opinion, memory capacity (RAM) is the most important features in a VPS hosting. In fact, how well (or bad) your VPS hosting performs depends greatly on how much RAM you have on hand. The memory capacity simply influences everything in your virtual server – from server efficiency to speeds, and to power consumption. It’s so important that in many cases, RAM allocation actually serves as price determiner of the entire VPS hosting package. Here’s rough idea on how much RAM you need. In brief, for a single website operation, you need at least 512 MB of RAM in order to run cPanel and Plesk on your VPS. Though cPanel states that it only needs 256 MB but as it is with other applications, 512 MB will ensure everything runs smooth. In case you are operating multiple websites on a single VPS, higher RAM is a must. Expect to go up to 2 GB if your websites are heavy trafficked. Another term you should take heed of is the ‘Burstable RAM’, or in certain cases, the backup RAM. Burstable RAM is the temporary backup resources over your standard memory quota. Burstable RAM is extremely important to protect your website from sudden traffic-surge (for instance, a Digg- or Stumble-effect). Generally for starter, a VPS plan with 512 MB RAM plus a burstable RAM of 1 GB should be more than enough.
3. Customer/Technical Supports
You should always communicate with the web host before making any purchase (especially when you are new). It’s not about checking which web host provides the fastest response; it’s about getting to know the people working inside the hosting company and check if you are comfortable to deal with the support staffs. See, VPS hosting is unlike shared hosting where 90% of the operations are standard case. In VPS hosting, most of the things are ‘non-standard’ thus a technical support department that really cares about their customers (and with the right knowledge) is extremely important.
4. Server Control Panel
VPS providers will normally offer you several options of control panels where the normal ones are either Plesk or WHM/cPanel. These control panels offer similar functionality where they enable you to edit files on the server for a web interface rather than manually and both are equally good. A user-friendly control panel as it makes day to day server management easier – tasks such as adding domains, debugging, and setting up email accounts.
Do not go with VPS provider that has limited sets of hosting plans. As mentioned, VPS hosting is unlike shared hosting – where most of the operations are similar. Before purchase, you should check if the web host allows you to customize your VPS hosting plans. For example, if you need 500 MB disk space and 5 GB monthly data transfer (something relative small), and 512 fixed RAM – it really makes no sense to sign up for an 80 GB disk space, 1000 GB monthly data transfer, and 512 fixed RAM for $74.95/mo. I mean, why settle with high server specs that you will never use when all you need is some extra memory capacity?
So go for high customizable VPS and your first purchase should not be more than a month or 10 $. Take some time to learn how VPS work and then go for that. For a newbie, i recommend VPS dime or OVH, because of their high service and low price.