You’ve heard about all the upsides of virtual private server/VPS hosting, and you made the switch. You’re covered, right? Not necessarily. A package is only as good as the host allows it to be, which means you still need to comparison shop. Go with a subpar host, and the results might be so dismal that you’re better off with a basic shared plan from someone else! VPS hosting is just part of the overall package to consider. Considering who your host is, the server, the hardware, updates, and more also play a role. While you’ll often get better hosting with VPS, it’s not automatic.
Unfortunately, there’s no guaranteed fast track to getting the best hosting. Take a look at reviews, the history of the host (you don’t want a company that’s brand new!) and ask plenty of questions. Your host should offer and revere transparency. Explanations of the server(s) they have, maintenance, security, and upgrades should all be on the table.
What to Look For
Fortunately, if you’re getting on the VPS bandwagon, a lot has already been narrowed down for you. In the US, the majority of web hosts don’t even offer VPS hosting. That automatically nixes a lot of options. Now that you’re only considering hosts with VPS, it’s time to dig deeper. Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to make sure they’re complaint-free. Look at unbiased third party review sites. It’s unusual to have 100 percent glowing reviews, but you should aim for a host with at least 95 percent positive reviews.
Next, take a look at their hardware and software. If it’s not listed on their website (which is common), call up customer service and ask. This is also your time to gauge how professional and attentive they are. You deserve a host who’s available 24/7. Any less, and you’ll be in trouble if you have an emergency in the middle of the night. Think about how you’d like to reach your host, and make sure they have that option available.
Questions to Ask
Explicitly ask your host what physical server you’ll be using, how it’s maintained, and if/when they plan to upgrade it. When they do upgrade, will that impact your service? Ask about guaranteed uptime, how it’s reported, and what compensation you’ll get if they don’t deliver. You need over 99 percent uptime, even if you’re “just a small business.” Every second your site is offline, profits and traffic are lost.
Finally, go with your gut instinct. You’ll be able to tell by the layout of their website, the responsiveness of customer service, and how the shopping around goes whether or not this is the host for you. Don’t settle for a lesser host just because the costs are a little lower. Ultimately, VPS hosting should be similar to basic shared plans. A couple extra dollars per month is worth it if you’re getting superior service. Also keep in mind that, as a business, web hosting is a tax write-off—just make sure to save any invoices.