This is a loaded question, and the best answer is “Maybe.” It’s like asking if virtual private server/VPS hosting is the best avenue for retailers. It’s definitely better than a basic shared plan, but if your agency is big enough you may want to go with dedicated hosting. It also depends on the kind of information on your website. For example, you don’t want a bank running anything but dedicated hosting! Some government agencies are small, others are massive, like the Department of Defense (DoD). You simply can’t compare a local, rural agency with a federal agency.
That being said, what really needs to be considered is what the website entails, the traffic, security needs, and growth potential. Compare basic shared plans with VPS hosting and there’s no choice: You easily go with VPS options. VPS gives you the benefits of a dedicated host, but nowadays costs the same as a basic plan. You get faster speed, more security, and more control. However, you don’t quite get the same amount of security that you can with a dedicated plan.
The biggest government agencies, such as federal departments, not only have dedicated hosting, but they have their own data centers. This gives them total control over their websites, without the threat of a third party dropping the ball. If an agency has the kind of sensitive, valuable data that the DoD has, there’s no question about it—you need dedicated hosting. You also need stellar hardware and servers, as well as your own data center. This is very feasible since you have deep pockets and (when it comes to security) nearly limitless funds.
Now let’s compare that to a local chamber of commerce in a small town of 300. You probably don’t have very high traffic, and the information on your website is likely static. Furthermore, you probably don’t collect very sensitive data on your website. At the most, you might collect names, addresses, and email addresses for those who want to get your newsletter. Simply put, you’re not at the core of a cybercriminal’s wildest dreams.
In this case, VPS hosting is more than enough. Your low-traffic, static site will be mobile ready and work at lightning speed. Still, your budget is much smaller and you can easily afford VPS hosting.
Making the Call
Ultimately, there’s going to be a lot of red tape no matter the size of your agency. If you have an IT department or director, they’ll probably be making the hosting call and getting approval from higher ups. If that’s the case, present your pitch about why a VPS upgrade is critical. Include price comparisons, and try to go with a local, US-based host for added security. This not only gives you peace of mind, but can also help with PR. Everyone wants to support US-based businesses, and with transitions from basic to VPS being such a breeze, nobody outside the agency will even know about the change.