10 nuances to pay attention to when choosing a VPS hosting

In Russia, more than a hundred companies offer VPS hosting services supplementing them with management and support services, security, software licensing. Previously, the “right” hosting company was determined by the storage capacity, CPU power and network bandwidth that it provided for a certain amount of money. Now the emphasis has shifted somewhat: among the most important factors is high availability. For example, Forbes magazine recommends that it intends to launch and constantly develop its website, to use a comprehensive approach when choosing a VPS provider, that is, take into account a whole set of criteria. Of course, the optimal choice of a web hosting service provider largely depends on the type of site hosted. However, there are some common but very important factors to consider when choosing a VPS provider.

The differences between VPS hosting and the growing popularity of cloud hosting are worth explaining in more detail. A VPS user receives a virtual environment with allocated space on a disk or SSD drive and bandwidth, but the computing resources and RAM of the host system are evenly distributed among all VPS. Cloud hosting is a virtual machine in the cloud. With such a hosting (in essence - IaaS, infrastructure as a service), physical servers are combined into a cluster, and storage systems - into a storage area network (SAN). As a result, cloud hosting uses a distributed server infrastructure. This makes the process of resource allocation more flexible and increases the fault tolerance of the service, but the freedom of users to choose hosting options is more limited than in the case of VPS, а конфигурирование может потребовать определенных знаний.

So how do you choose a truly reliable and quality service? What to look for? Here are some suggestions.

1. Level of availability

Using servers with insufficient computing power and unstable network connections can often block access to your site. This not only makes it impossible to browse the web or stops selling in the e-commerce system, but also leads to a low ranking of the site in search engines such as Google and Yandex. Usually a guaranteed level of reliability of 99.5% is sufficient, but sometimes 99.9% and higher is required. The work of your site can be monitored using the appropriate tools.

For example, financial transactions based on a hosting company require choosing a provider with high uptime, preferably above 99.5%, is the key to the success of your site. Avoid companies with uptime rates below 99%.

High availability and fault tolerance of servers is guaranteed not only by the use of a Tier III data center provider, but also by several high-speed communication channels and independent power sources in conjunction with a reliable backup system and load balancers.

2. Customer service

How efficiently and quickly fix technical issues? How does a support service work? VPS hosting is preferred, which offers ongoing support to its customers - 24/7. Also pay attention to those who provide support through chat rooms and social networks, and not just rely on emails. Priority is given to companies with their own customer support and certified specialists. They better understand the essence of the client company and the specifics of its business compared to outsourcing support services.

3. Data protection and availability of backup sites

The current wave of cyber threats has led to an increase in the number of sites targeted by various types of attacks and ransomware. Such actions often lead to irreparable losses, inability to recover data encrypted by the ransomware. Therefore, regular backup of data becomes very important. You should choose a hosting service that provides for regular backups, which will allow you to restore your site if it still suffers from hackers or other unpredictable events.

4. Registration and maintenance costs

Usually web hosting offers attractive hosting services for a certain period after registration or after the first payment or even a free trial period. However, subscription renewal fees are often more than three times as high. To avoid surprises at the end of the discount period, check how much later you will have to pay to renew the selected package.

5. Ability to add domains

You can start with one website and a domain name, but then there is a need for several sites, domains and subdomains. Therefore, before concluding an agreement with a specific service provider, analyze the different packages, paying close attention to whether they allow the use of several websites on the same account.

Typically, hosting providers allow unlimited use of subdomains. If to create several sites this option does not suit you, and you need top-level domains, you will need an appropriate tariff plan.

Find out the price of a package with an unlimited number of websites and subdomains. Choose a web hosting service that provides tariff plans that allow you to add new domains and scale over time.

6. E-commerce and mail

You can get more feedback and increase the number of subscribers if there is an email associated with your domain name. Choose a web hosting service that provides mail for the primary email address of your website. If you want your hosting provider to process email addresses, you need to make sure that email support is included in its tariff plan. If so, you need to find out how many email accounts you can get, is this enough for your tasks.

7. Security Level

In addition to ensuring the availability of the site and data, you need to use a secure hosting solution. Any site requires security, but in some cases, enhanced protection is required. For example, the site may store personal user data or process bank card data. Pay attention to firewalls, malware detection tools, protection against DDoS attacks, whether servers are monitored for unusual activity, etc.

8. Storage capacity and network

The required VPS storage capacity depends on the site traffic, file size / number. The larger the size and number of files, the greater the storage capacity and network bandwidth required. For example, if a site works with databases, it stores high-quality images or videos, then a large capacity of data storage will be required. If the amount of data is large, and you know that there will be a lot of traffic, then you need to find out what bandwidth you have been allocated and whether you will exceed it.

9. Managed hosting

In the case of managed hosting (managed hosting), most of the tasks are performed by the provider. He is also responsible for optimizing the speed and performance of VPS. This option may be useful, for example, in the case of processing personal and financial data. However, this hosting is more expensive and usually allows the creation of fewer sites. It is usually offered for sites of a specific type.

10. Special conditions

Each hosting company has a set of conditions, violation of which leads to additional costs for the client, and even temporary or permanent termination of the hosting. For example, some hosting providers prohibit excessive use of processor power to perform intensive computing and scripting. Take the time to study all the conditions and discuss the requirements. Most importantly, you should avoid hosting companies without clear terms of participation, when “limiting and suspending an account is left to the discretion of management” of the hosting.

VPS configuration

Your server configuration - especially if you are on a regular VPS hosting - plays an important role in the performance of your site.

What kind of processor power you get, how much RAM and disk capacity will be allocated - everything matters. In addition, it is useful to find out on which hardware platform your VPS is created. To create a convenient and high-quality service, you need the equipment of a well-known vendor of the Entreprise class and a data center of the Tier III level.

  • RAM and storage capacity: how much RAM and disk space is offered and included in the plan? You will need at least 1 GB of RAM and 20 GB of disk space. Of course, the exact needs will vary depending on the traffic of your site, storage requirements, etc.
  • Data transfer (traffic): Are there any restrictions on data transfer? If so, what are the options if you exceed these limits? Most VPS providers have some limitations. You need to know what they are and what happens if you need to surpass them.
  • OS distribution: What is the choice in terms of the VPS operating system? Will your site run on a specific Linux distribution (or depends on the latest version of the distribution) or does it require Windows? It is important that the VPS provider regularly updates the OS.
  • Backup: What are the backup options? How is your data and site architecture protected?
  • IP addresses: how many IP addresses are included in your service? If there is a limit, what is the cost of additional addresses?
  • CPU cores: Web servers tend to use little CPU power unless you use a game server or mine a crypt. But still, it’s better to find out how many cores are allocated to the VPS account.
  • The speed of the storage system. If the requirements for the I / O subsystem are high, then you can use productive SSD eMLC-class with a speed of more than 100k IOPS. Some hosting providers provide these features.

Virtualization environment

VPS is often used by small companies and is suitable for web hosting (including highly loaded sites) and application hosting, testing and software development, server consolidation, and virtual desktop deployment (VDI). All this at an attractive price, without buying physical servers and capital investments in infrastructure.

VPS services can use different types of virtualization, for example, OpenVZ (at the operating system level) or KVM (hardware). In the first case, one common core of the system and the OS type selected by the provider are used. With full virtualization (based on Xen, KVM, or Hyper-V), the physical separation of the OS kernel occurs, and each tenant can install the required OS. It is considered more reliable, because virtual servers are completely isolated from each other, a wider choice of OS is offered.

Hyper-V VPS - A complete analogue of a physical server in terms of administration and configuration. You can install any OS, Windows or Linux, install any additional software, configure it, configure the capacity of RAM or disk space, IP addresses. Microsoft Hyper-V provides the ability to scale resources without stopping the service. Such a VPS can be used as a database server, terminal server, DNS, FTP or as a remote workstation. The VPS management process can be fully automated.

Virtual data center or virtual server?

Using virtual servers allows you to solve a number of important business problems. The service can significantly save time due to the rapid deployment of IT infrastructure with the necessary parameters and with the possibility of further expansion. No need to invest in your own IT infrastructure, which minimizes CAPEX. And finally, ongoing costs for the development and maintenance of IT infrastructure are significantly reduced.
To create a complex IT infrastructure, you may need a virtual data center - a set of virtual resources (servers, disks, networks), which is a set of elements for storing, processing and transmitting data.

The answer to the question posed in the title is not as obvious as it seems at first glance. The virtual server and the virtual data center have a lot in common. Choose a virtual server if you have a small project (simple website or web page) that does not require complex IT infrastructure, if you previously worked only with a virtual server or with shared hosting, there is no experience in OS and network administration, you do not want to deal with NAT rules (in the virtual data center you will have to configure them to access via RDP or SSH) and other settings.

A whole virtual data center (VDC) may be needed if you have a medium or complex project (online store, accounting or corporate information system) that requires the creation of several VMs in one local network, you need settings for load balancer, firewall and others network services, if you lack the capabilities of a typical VPS, and you want to create virtual machines from your OS.

However, this requires an advanced level of OS and network administration, there is experience with VMware or OpenStack products, a high level of ownership of information security issues is required. VDC is a good choice when there is a need to use test environments, or you need to activate several VMs during peak periods with the possibility of dynamic billing upon the fact of resource consumption.

If we proceed from the capabilities of these two services, then the virtual data center they are much wider and include changes in configuration and quantity, connecting different types of drives (HDD, SSD) to the VM, installing your own OS, creating your own VM templates, import / export of native VM templates and ISO images, creation of a network infrastructure with a firewall, NAT, DHCP, load balancer, VPN (SSL, IPSec).

Using a virtual data center, the customer receives a wide range of functions, in particular, creating and configuring an unlimited number of VMs, setting up network parameters and creating the required network topology with full control of the services transferred to the cloud.

A virtual data center is a secure environment and the freedom to scale resources, but VPS hosting is recommended for a small budget. In fact, a virtual server is similar to a dedicated one - you have full control over it, you can reboot it, but it costs a lot less. VPS hosting is preferable for personal use and customers from the SMB segment, and a virtual data center is preferable for larger customers who require more customization and scalability. If you want high reliability and powerful features, then a virtual data center is a good choice.

The VPS service is popular with small companies for which the purchase or rental server in the data center (physical equipment) is often not affordable. You can create a virtual server in minutes, and the process itself can be automated. VPS is suitable for those who are just interested in hosting a site. However, it does not guarantee the uptime of your site in case of high traffic or technical failure. You just need to remember about the restrictions, because the resources of one dedicated server are distributed among several virtual ones, a common communication channel is used with virtual servers running on one dedicated server.

In general, the pros and cons of different types of hosting are as follows:
Type of hosting
Resource Sharing Hosting (Virtual)
Inexpensive, easy start.
Relatively low productivity, control and management capabilities.
Dedicated Hosting
Maximum control, high performance.
Relatively high cost. IT qualifications required.
VPS Hosting
Full Root Access. Protected environment.
Costs more than shared hosting.
Cloud hosting
Scalability, profitability.
Not always high security.

Typical Virtual Server Usage Examples

If you need to place your site or several sites somewhere, then VPS will be the best solution. Installation and configuration is simple and understandable even for a beginner. In most cases, VPS is purchased specifically for hosting sites. This makes it possible to organize the workspace according to your needs (selection of CMS, database and control panels for the site). If you have a large number of sites, it’s much easier to manage them using one control panel, as well as settle accounts with one service provider.

Another option is a VPN server. VPN - An encrypted channel between your device and a remote virtual server. The reasons for creating a VPN tunnel can be different. For example, for the transfer of payment data or other information of a commercial nature that is of strategic importance or intended for internal use only.

Based on VPS, you can run your own secure telephone server, with the ability to create many internal numbers. Cloud PBX on VPS - replacing a physical office PBX with its virtual counterpart. What do virtual (or cloud) automatic telephone exchanges give to business? This is accessibility outside the workplace, the ability to use a single office number, the flexibility to configure and manage, the use of additional functions that are difficult to implement on a classic PBX, for example, video communication or integration with a CRM system, information about calls is stored in a digital database form - more opportunities for analyzing activity and using information for marketing purposes.

VPS-based proxy server protects the client’s computer from some network attacks and helps to keep the client anonymous. Many providers provide IPV6 addresses, and proxies can be used to replace your address with the address of the provider, if there is such a task.

VPS can also act as a remote computer. This is a computer, "which is always with you" and to which you have access from anywhere.

On a virtual server, you can install a mail server familiar to users (Outlook, The Bat, Thunderbird, and others). You get full control and extensive administration capabilities. VPS can be used to organize work with applications to support teamwork. It is perfect for applications in which a large number of employees work simultaneously, such as project management systems, accounting and CRM systems. Thanks to daily backups, you can not be afraid to lose data.

On the basis of VPS it is convenient to make sites to order. In this case, you can immediately post the finished projects on your virtual server and subsequently take monthly payments from customers for hosting and site maintenance. And of course - an online store. Depending on the allocated resources, it can receive a large number of visitors and maintain a base of goods.

Finally - exchange trading. On the Forex market, VPS are used for the round-the-clock operation of Metatrader terminals, on which Forex trading advisors are launched. You can come up with many other useful examples.