There are two ways to share a server: literally and virtually. Basic shared hosting plans work by letting a bunch of clients to share one physical server. If there are only a handful of clients, and they don’t over-indulge with resources, this can work well enough. However, there is no way of knowing how much one client will use, when, or when they’ll need to scale up. Virtual sharing is the method used with virtual private server/VPS hosting. You’re still technically sharing a physical server, but that server is split up into a number of virtual servers. As such, one client can’t hog the server.
If you need to use more resources, you can ask your host for a bigger piece of the virtual pie (and pay accordingly). Should the day ever come that you need a massive amount of resources, perhaps even an entire server to yourself, you might want to upgrade to a dedicated server. This is when one physical server is truly yours (paid for and all). However, only the biggest enterprises usually need this kind of space.
Learning to Share
Some hosts won’t tell you how many other people are using a shared server, and/or won’t tell you what the cap is. If this is the case, you could be sharing a server with thousands of people. This is how some web hosts offer free or very low cost hosting packages. However, if you see a great looking free plan, don’t assume they’re overloading servers. They might be making profits in other ways and simply offer web hosting as an extra feature.
If you want to make sure you’re getting the resources you deserve, only VPS hosting will do. It’s basically the same as a dedicated server, but costs the same as a basic shared plan. However, the majority of web hosts in North America don’t offer VPS hosting—yet. Most customers are used to their basic plans, and since hosts have to charge the same for VPS and basic, it doesn’t make sense for them to add extra hardware and features. After all, their only goal is to turn a profit.
What VPS Tells You
If you do find a host that offers VPS hosting packages, you know that they care about their customers, their customer’s businesses, and their customer’s sites. If they didn’t, they would just stick with basic shared plans. VPS hosting is the hosting of the future, but not until the general public realizes that it’s the same price for many more benefits. This will take awhile, especially since the web hosting industry is notorious for not educating customers.
However, you can still take advantage of VPS hosting now, well before the competition. It’ll give you better speed and security, which will ultimately keep customers attracted to your site. When your site is loading twice as fast as the competition’s with no data breaches, it’s easy to use this as marketing fodder and attract new clients.