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VDS vs Shared vs Dedicated vs Cloud. What is The Best Option for You?

VDS vs Shared vs Dedicated vs Cloud. What is The Best Option for You?
10 min read
Hostman Team
Technical writer

There are many technologies used to deploy projects on the web. Some are cheap and simple to configure. Others are more complex but capable of many things.

Let us take a closer look at them. VDS versus Shared versus Cloud and Dedicated servers. How they are different and which is the best.

What is a hosting?

Hosting is a platform that provides developers, webmasters, and administrators with a special combination of software and hardware (this combination is also called a "server") that is used to publish applications and websites on the internet (this process is called "deploying").

What is shared hosting?


This is a very affordable solution which allows many beginners to host their websites on the Internet fairly easily. Functionally they’re restricted but essentially quite close to more powerful servers so you’ll be on par with most of the developers and webmasters out there. You will have a database, a domain name, access to a FTP-server to deploy files on your site, and everything else that is necessary to host a fully functional website.

But there are two massive caveats. First of all, you won’t have any control of the apps and services you run on your "kinda server". Moreover, you don’t get robust performance using sharing-hosting because of its technical nature.

How does shared hosting work?

Shared hosting is not real hosting (and is not even close to a fully-fledged server). That is why people sometimes call it "virtual". When you rent Shared hosting you get a certain amount of space on SSD and a piece of software running on a remote computer and emulating workspace for website deployment. And your website will be on the same hard drive as many other websites. Why is this considered a problem?

  1. Even on best shared web hosting the hardware power is noticeably restricted because you share it with others. Also, when one user’s site from one virtual hosting is "stress-tested" by a big chunk of an audience, your website will be affected too.

  2. Moreover, webmasters renting Shared hosting have no control over the used server. It is managed by an administrator provided by the host. So, there’s no real privacy.

What is shared hosting used for?

The technology itself has no specific purpose. You can deploy any type of website on Shared hosting.

In most cases, it is used for publishing static pages (portfolios, landing pages, etc.) and has limited performance and functionality. But some webmasters successfully use it to maintain large projects based on a popular (and resource-demanding) site builder called WordPress.

It can’t be used to run complex web applications because you need a lot of tools to launch them and hosts will never let you install them on shared hardware.

How to choose the best shared hosting?

Shared hosts are usually not so different from each other. When considering what is the best solution for your project you should pick a host with a good reputation. Something big in terms of the user base.

This approach guarantees the safety of files stored on the server and qualified help from the host’s support team.

Also, you should rent a server with enough space and a fast CPU, so visitors of deployed sites do not experience constant performance drops.

Best shared web hosts are:

What is a VPS hosting?


VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. You might notice that we are once again talking about virtual servers but there is a difference that lies deep inside a technological implementation of VPS.

An alternative way of configuring such servers opens many new opportunities for anyone who rents a VPS. You can deploy it on fully functional web applications, databases of any size, and even operating systems like Windows and work with it remotely. Anything you want. And in most cases without performance drops and privacy issues.

And at the same time, such hosts are not too pricey, so they become one of the most common solutions for any developer or webmaster.

How does a VPS hosting work?

Under the hood of VPS, a curious person might discover technology called virtualization. As is the case with shared hosts you have a piece of software that imitates a server. But more advanced software makes it possible to create a totally isolated workspace for every developer and it feels and works like an actual computer even though it is not.

There are different tools to virtualize PCs but the most common are OpenVZ and KVM.

The first one works on Linux and lets webmasters quickly add or remove hardware components from virtual servers adapting it to the ever-changing criteria of an actual server. The last one gives you extremely profound access to system components. Even BIOS. And lets you use a Windows Server.

What is a VPS hosting server used for?

For anything you would like. A tremendous amount of exaggerated corporations and small online shops use VPS’s to host their projects online. You can deploy on it WordPress-based sites and their counterparts like Drupal or Joomla. It is possible to publish Node.js or Flask applications. Also, webmasters might avail themselves of VPS’s to access remote databases.

Whatever you can do with the real thing, you can do using a Virtual Private Server with KVM technology virtualization utilized.

How to choose the best VPS hosting

First of all, you have to choose what virtualization technology to use. If you need something cheaper but less functional and secure, it would be better to rent a server with OpenVZ-hypervisor preinstalled. If you need something more robust, performant, and functionally unrestricted, you should choose a server with KVM- or VMWare-hypervisor preinstalled.

Characteristics like the reputation of the host and hardware are also important.

Furthermore, if you are happy with the price for renting your chosen VPS, you might find options with a free domain name and better support for different control panels, etc.

Some of them, like Hostman, offer machines with preinstalled software (gaming servers, databases, analytics systems, etc.) and without any need to manually configure the remote OS.

Best VPN hosts are:

What is VDS hosting?

What does VDS stand for? Virtual Dedicated Server. Another virtual server? I would say the same because it is actually identical technology overall. But some webmasters for an unknown reason decided that VPS are servers that use OpenVZ (and similar software) exclusively and dedicated virtual servers are ones that use KVM, XEN, VMWare, and more similar technologies.

If you are more comfortable with such a definition try to imagine VPS as a Linux-based virtual server with more flexible hardware settings but less control and VDS to be the one with unprecedented control and the opportunity to choose any OS to install on a rented remote PC.

What is a dedicated server?


Here we finally have an actual computer. No virtualization, no shared hardware. It is a server in its pristine form. You just ask the host to rent you a PC with all the components inside belonging to you when you pay.

The good thing about dedicated servers (or bare-metal servers) is that they are completely independent. You are protected from other's mistakes and your server will not shut down because webmasters and developers broke stuff using the same piece of SSD that was rented by you.

You get as much power as a rented PC can give, and the same thing goes for privacy.

How does a dedicated server work?

There is no reason to implement technologies like virtualization to manipulate dedicated servers. It is a computer, so the only application you need is some kind of utility that helps access the rented server remotely.

In the case of a Linux server, you might want to use a built-in OpenSSH client. This is a program used by developers and webmasters to pass commands to the terminal inside the Linux system running on a remote computer through a secure protocol that protects the connection between you and the host.

In the case of Windows Server or macOS Server, you need to find proprietary software (first-party or third-party is not so important) that can establish a connection between two PCs from different networks.

What is a dedicated server used for?

It is a much more powerful type of hosting than VPS so you can naturally deploy any kind of site or application that is supported by a virtual server.

But usually developers rent such powerful hardware platforms to deploy especially resource-demanding projects. The first thing that comes to mind is gaming servers. Virtual worlds where the success of skilled players depends heavily on a strong network connection and overall stability of the gaming platform.

The best choice for those who need a lot of power without any limitations.

How to choose the best dedicated server?

Choosing a dedicated server is like choosing an actual computer for your needs. A lot of attention should be paid to the hardware itself. If you know that your app needs about 16 GBs of RAM to run smoothly, consider renting a more powerful server so it will not falter after launching.

Try to find a host that not only gives you a capable machine but also offers a security certificate and a free domain name. Also, good hosts can boast of a proactive and effective support team.

Best dedicated servers are:

What is Cloud hosting?


The last solution in our guide is cloud hosting. Think of it as a VPS but on a larger scale. They are quite close to each other in terms of usability and even technical aspects. The main difference is the potential performance of both.

Cloud hosting has no limits in terms of power and capability. It is such a flexible structure that you can adapt it to be the best platform for a website or application of any type. And this one will be easy to operate and profitable as well.

How does cloud hosting work?

This one is similar to a VPS because cloud hosting is an ephemeral segment of virtual resources but Shared hosting, VPS and VDS do not come close to matching the flexibility of clouds.

When you rent a VPS you get a certain amount of "power" accessible once you buy more on the same or another physical server. Cloud is different because it is not a server at all but a vast number of computers around the globe that together form a network of available resources to deploy and maintain an application or database of any scale and purpose.

And what is also important, one provider can offer cloud hosting for thousands of clients but they never affect each other’s projects in any way. You get complete isolation.

What is cloud hosting used for?

The effortless scalability of cloud-hosted servers makes them perfect for any type of task. Any developer or webmaster can set up a unique configuration of his own cloud to meet the renter’s demands. And the cloud itself will be altered so the hosted application always works best for any user trying to access it.

The other good thing about clouds is you get the benefits of capabilities of physical devices. You can use the system components of many of them.

And that is why cloud hosting is just an uncompromising solution to create virtual workspaces, large archives of data, dynamically changing apps, giant gaming servers, etc.

How to choose the best cloud host?

There aren’t that many providers of clouds that are considered good. You should probably look at solutions from the best cloud hosting providers like Google, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft as the most reliable and functional.

All four corporations offer amazing solutions for any kind of project.

That is it. Now you know what the difference is between different types of hosting and what type to choose for your individual project so there will be no reliability issues.


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