Virtual private servers/VPS hosting is technically nothing new, although it’s “new” in the sense that customers are finally starting to see the appeal—and ask for it over basic shared plans. However, with every in-demand product/service, there’s going to be competition. VPS offers much better service than basic shared plans, but it’s still not perfect (what can you expect from a very low cost package?). However, “close to perfection” is still fantastic for the vast majority of website owners. Just keep in mind that since you’re sharing a physical server, other tenants might be operating scripts that overload the CPU—and performance relies heavily on how burdened the host’s hardware is.
Go with a reputable web host, and you’ll be okay. Get stuck with a subpar one, and you’re taking a gamble. Your host shouldn’t be overselling, and a reasonable use policy that stops other tenants from being selfish with CPU time is key. You can bypass this entirely by going with a dedicated server, but that’s insanely expensive. You’re not just paying for the hardware, but for housing it, power necessities, and often management.
There are a few new kids on the block, including servers featuring ARM processors that were first created for products like smartphones. Do they have what it takes to compete with VPS? Here are some of the top contenders:
- Raspberry Pi: Compared to other options (like Scaleway C1), Pi is underpowered. Still, it can easily handle simpler processes such as a web server with the on-board Ethernet port. Some companies offer Raspberry Pi systems for as little as $40 per year, and it now comes with personalized boards that can piece Pi systems together in racks. It’s an evolving solution working towards efficiency, and there are currently more than 2,300 systems in the Pi datacenter.
- Scaleway C1: Straight out of France, this is a microserver featuring a quad-core Marvell ARMv7 CPU with 2GB of RAM. It costs about $3.50 per month for 50 GB of SSD storage and a single IPv4 address. However, it has its roots in smartphones. This means the heat generated and power gobbled up is very small, so you need less space/power/cooling requirements. You can use it with Linux, too (which is a big perk for many).
- HP Moonshot: This is the option that’s closest to a classic server, at least when it comes to power. You have a few possibilities, like the ProLiant m400, which uses octa-core 64-bit ARMv8 CPU power in lieu of old school platter drivers. Hewlett Packard reports that this leads to quadruple the density and twice the amount of storage, but with identical power/cooling/performance.
Each of these options certainly has a market, but they likely won’t be replacing VPS hosting anytime soon. Even now, the majority of web hosts in North America don’t even offer VPS hosting because they can still stick their clients with basic shared plans. A lack of education leads to lazy web hosts not giving their customers the best possible plans. VPS is here to stay, but these “competitors” are likely headed to niche market territory.