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How to Choose a VPS Hosting Provider

How to Choose a VPS Hosting Provider

In Moldova, there are several companies offering VPS hosting services, such as like AlexHost, PQ.Hosting, Tophost, Fast.md, and others. complementing them with management and support services, security provisions, and software licensing. In the past, a “good” hosting company was determined by the storage capacity, CPU power, and network bandwidth it provided for a certain price. Now the focus has shifted slightly, with high availability being among the most important factors. For example, “Forbes” magazine recommends that those planning to launch and continuously develop their website should take a comprehensive approach when choosing a VPS provider, considering a whole set of criteria. Of course, the optimal choice of a web hosting service provider largely depends on the type of website being hosted. Nevertheless, there are some common but very important factors to consider when choosing a VPS provider.

It’s worth explaining the differences between VPS hosting and the increasingly popular cloud hosting in more detail. VPS users get a virtual environment with dedicated disk space or SSD storage and bandwidth, but computing resources and RAM of the host system are evenly distributed among all VPS. Cloud hosting, on the other hand, involves virtual machines in the cloud. In this type of hosting (essentially Infrastructure as a Service – IaaS), physical servers are clustered, and storage systems are networked (Storage Area Network – SAN). As a result, cloud hosting uses a distributed server infrastructure. This makes resource allocation more flexible and increases service fault tolerance, but it offers users less freedom in choosing hosting parameters compared to VPS, and configuration may require certain knowledge.

So, how can you choose a truly reliable and quality service? What should you pay attention to? Here are a few tips.

  1. Availability Level (Uptime): Using servers with insufficient computing power and unstable network connections can often block access to your website. This not only leads to the inability to view web pages or halt e-commerce sales, but also results in low rankings in search engines like Google and Yandex. Typically, a guaranteed reliability level of 99.5% is sufficient, but sometimes 99.9% and higher may be required. You can monitor your website’s performance with appropriate tools.For instance, financial operations based on a hosting company require choosing a provider with high uptime rates, preferably above 99.5%, as it is crucial for your website’s success. Avoid companies with uptime rates below 99%.High availability and server resilience are guaranteed not only by the provider’s use of a Tier III data center but also by multiple high-speed communication channels and independent power sources in conjunction with a reliable backup system and load balancers.
  2. Customer Support: How effectively and swiftly are technical issues resolved? How does the customer support service work? VPS hosting with constant customer support, available 24/7, is preferred. Additionally, consider those who provide support through chat and social media, not solely relying on email. Priority should be given to companies with their own customer support department and certified specialists. They better understand the client company’s nature and the specifics of its business compared to outsourced support services.
  3. Data Protection and Website Backup Availability: The current wave of cyber threats has led to an increase in the number of websites targeted by various attacks and ransomware. Such actions often lead to irreparable losses and the inability to recover encrypted data. Therefore, regular data backups have become crucial. Choose a hosting service that includes regular data backups, which will allow you to restore your website if it is affected by hackers or other unpredictable events.
  4. Registration and Maintenance Costs: Web hosting typically offers attractive hosting services for a specific period after registration, initial payment, or even a free trial period. However, the subscription renewal fee is often more than triple the initial cost. To avoid surprises at the end of the discount period, check how much you will have to pay for renewing the selected package.
  5. Domain Addition Capability: You may start with one website and domain name, but later, the need for multiple websites, domains, and subdomains may arise. Therefore, before entering into an agreement with a specific service provider, analyze different packages, paying close attention to whether they allow the use of multiple websites on one account.Usually, hosting service providers allow unlimited subdomains. If this option does not suit your needs for creating multiple websites and you require top-level domains, you will need an appropriate pricing plan.

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

  1. E-commerce and Email: You can get more feedback and increase the number of subscribers if you have email associated with your domain name. Choose web hosting that provides email for the main email address of your website. If you want your hosting provider to handle email addresses, make sure that email support is included in their pricing plan. If it is, find out how many email accounts you can create, and whether this is sufficient for your needs.
  2. Security Level: In addition to ensuring the availability of the website and data, it is important to use a secure hosting solution. Any website requires security measures, but in some cases, enhanced protection is necessary. For example, a website may store user personal data or process credit card information. Pay attention to firewalls, malware detection tools, protection against DDoS attacks, and whether server monitoring for unusual activity is performed, among other security measures.
  3. Storage Capacity and Network: The necessary VPS storage capacity depends on your website’s traffic and the size/number of files. The larger the size and number of files, the more storage capacity and network bandwidth you will need. For example, if your site works with databases, stores high-quality images, or videos, you will require significant data storage capacity. If the data volume is large, and you anticipate high traffic, find out what bandwidth has been allocated to you and whether you will exceed it.
  4. Managed Services: In the case of managed services, most tasks are performed by the provider. They are responsible for optimizing the speed and performance of the VPS. Such an option may be useful, for example, when dealing with personal and financial data. However, this type of hosting is more expensive and usually allows for the creation of fewer websites. It is typically offered for specific types of websites.
  5. Special Conditions: Every hosting company has a set of conditions, violating which can result in additional costs for the client or even temporary or permanent suspension of hosting. For example, some hosting providers prohibit excessive use of processor power for intensive calculations and scripts. Take the time to study all the conditions and discuss the requirements. Most importantly, avoid hosting companies with vague participation conditions where “limitation and suspension of the account remain at the discretion of the hosting management.”

VPS Configuration

The configuration of your server plays a crucial role in the performance of your website.

  • CPU Power: What processor power will you get, how much RAM will be allocated, and what disk space will be provided – all of these are important. Additionally, it’s helpful to know on which hardware platform your VPS is built. To create a convenient and high-quality service, you need equipment from a well-known Enterprise-class vendor and a Tier III data center.
  • RAM and Storage Capacity: How much RAM and disk space is offered and included in the plan? You’ll need at least 1 GB of RAM and 20 GB of disk space. Of course, the exact requirements will vary depending on your website’s traffic, storage needs, and more.
  • Data Transfer (Bandwidth): Are there any restrictions on data transfer? If so, what are the options if you exceed these limits? Most VPS providers impose some limitations. It’s important to know what they entail and what happens if you need to surpass them.
  • Operating System (OS) Distribution: What choices are available for the VPS operating system? Will your website run on a specific Linux distribution (or depend on the latest version of the distribution) or require Windows? It’s important that the VPS provider regularly updates the OS.
  • Backup Options: What backup options are available? How are your data and website 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 typically use minimal CPU power unless you’re running a game server or cryptocurrency mining. However, it’s still good to find out how many CPU cores are allocated to your VPS account.
  • Storage System Speed: If I/O (input/output) requirements are high, you can use high-performance SSDs of the eMLC class with speeds exceeding 100,000 IOPS. Some hosting providers offer such capabilities.

Virtualization system

Choosing the right VPS virtualization is essential for the smooth operation of your website and to ensure it can handle your specific needs, whether they involve performance, storage, or data transfer.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are often used by small companies and are suitable for various purposes such as web hosting (including high-traffic websites), application hosting, software development and testing, server consolidation, and deploying virtual desktops (VDI). All of this is offered at an attractive price point without the need to purchase physical servers and make significant infrastructure investments.

VPS services can employ different types of virtualization, for example, OpenVZ (operating system-level) or KVM (hardware-level). In the first case, a single shared OS kernel is used, and the OS type is chosen by the provider. In full virtualization (based on Xen, KVM, or Hyper-V), there is physical separation of the OS kernel, and each “tenant” can install the required OS. Full virtualization is considered more reliable as virtual servers are completely isolated from each other, and a wider range of OS choices is available.

VPS based on Hyper-V is essentially equivalent to a physical server in terms of administration and configuration. You can install any OS, whether it’s Windows or Linux, install any additional software, configure it, adjust memory or disk space capacity, and manage IP addresses. Microsoft Hyper-V allows for resource scaling without service interruption. Such a VPS can be used as a database server, terminal server, DNS server, FTP server, or as a remote workstation. The management process of a Hyper-V VPS can be fully automated.

Virtual Data Center or Virtual Server?

The use of virtual servers allows for solving a range of crucial business tasks. This service enables significant time savings through the rapid deployment of IT infrastructure with the necessary parameters and the possibility of further expansion. There is no need to invest in your own IT infrastructure, which minimizes CAPEX. Additionally, ongoing expenses for the development and maintenance of IT infrastructure are significantly reduced.

To create a complex IT infrastructure, a virtual data center (VDC) may be required, which is a collection of virtual resources (servers, disks, networks) representing 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 may seem at first glance. Virtual servers and virtual data centers share quite a few similarities. Choose a virtual server if you have a small project (a simple website or web page) that does not require a complex IT infrastructure, if you have only worked with virtual servers or virtual hosting in the past, lack experience in OS and network administration, and do not want to deal with NAT rules (you will need to configure them in a virtual data center to gain RDP or SSH access) and other settings.

A full virtual data center (VDC) may be necessary if you have a medium or complex project (an online store, an accounting or corporate information system) that requires the creation of multiple VMs in one local network, necessitates load balancer configurations, firewalls, and other network services, if the capabilities of a standard VPS are insufficient, and you want to create virtual machines with your own OS.

However, this requires an advanced level of OS and network administration, experience with VMware or OpenStack products, and a high level of proficiency in information security. VDC is a good choice when there is a need for test environments or when it is necessary to activate multiple VMs during peak periods with the option of dynamic billing based on resource consumption.

When it comes to the capabilities of these two services, the virtual data center offers significantly broader options. It includes the ability to change configuration and quantity, connect to VMs with different types of storage (HDD, SSD), install your own OS, create your own VM templates, import/export custom templates and VM ISO images, establish network infrastructure with a firewall, NAT, DHCP, load balancer, VPN (SSL, IPSec).

By using a virtual data center, the customer gains a wide range of functions, including the creation and configuration of an unlimited number of VMs, the setup of network parameters, and the creation of the required network topology with full control over cloud-deployed services.

A virtual data center provides a secure environment and scalability of resources. However, for a small budget, VPS hosting is recommended. Essentially, a virtual server is similar to a dedicated server—you have full control over it, can reboot it, and it is much more cost-effective. VPS hosting is preferable for personal use and SMB customers, while a virtual data center is more suitable for larger clients requiring 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 among small businesses that may not have the budget for purchasing or renting physical server hardware in a data center. Creating a virtual server can be done within minutes, and the process can be automated. VPS is suitable for those interested in hosting a website. However, it does not guarantee the uninterrupted operation of your website in the event of heavy traffic or technical issues. It’s important to remember the limitations because the resources of one dedicated server are shared among multiple virtual servers that use a common communication channel with virtual servers operating on the same dedicated server.

Overall, the pros and cons of different types of hosting can be summarized as follows:

Hosting Type Pros Cons
Resource Shared Hosting (Virtual) Inexpensive, easy to start. Relatively low performance, limited control and management capabilities.
Dedicated Server Maximum control, high performance. Relatively high cost. Requires IT expertise.
VPS Hosting Full root access. Secure environment. More expensive than resource shared hosting.
Cloud Hosting Scalability, cost-effectiveness. Not always the highest level of security.

Typical Use Cases for a Virtual Server

If you need to host your website or multiple websites, then VPS hosting is the optimal solution. Installation and setup are simple and clear even for beginners. In most cases, VPS is acquired for website hosting, providing the opportunity to organize a workspace according to your needs (choice of CMS, databases, and site control panels). If you have a large number of websites, it is much easier to manage them with a single control panel and settle accounts with a single service provider.

Another option is a VPN server. VPN is an encrypted channel between your device and a remote virtual server. There can be various reasons for creating a VPN tunnel, such as transferring payment data or other commercially sensitive information that has strategic importance or is intended for internal use only. For example, you can use Wireguard: https://mangohost.net/blog/setting-up-wireguard-vpn-on-linux-server/

Based on a VPS, you can launch your own secure phone server with the ability to create multiple internal numbers. Cloud PBX on VPS is a replacement for physical office PBX with its virtual counterpart. What do virtual (or cloud) PBX systems offer businesses? It provides availability beyond the workplace, the ability to use a single office number, flexibility in configuration and management, the use of additional features that are difficult to implement on a classic small PBX, such as video communication or integration with a CRM system, call information is stored in a digital database, providing more opportunities for activity analysis and data utilization for marketing purposes.

A proxy server based on VPS allows you to protect the client’s computer from some network attacks and helps maintain client anonymity. Many providers offer IPv6 addresses, and proxies can be used to replace your address with the provider’s address if necessary.

VPS can also serve as a remote computer. It’s a computer that’s “always with you,” and you have access to it from anywhere.

On a virtual server, you can install a mail server familiar to users (Outlook, The Bat, Thunderbird, and others). You gain full control and extensive administrative capabilities. VPS can be used to organize work with applications for supporting collaborative activities. It is excellent for applications where a large number of employees work simultaneously, such as project management systems, accounting, and CRM systems. Thanks to daily backups, you don’t have to worry about data loss.

Based on VPS, it’s convenient to create custom websites. In this case, you can immediately host completed projects on your virtual server and later charge customers a monthly fee for hosting and site maintenance. And of course, an online store. Depending on the allocated resources, it can accommodate a large number of visitors and maintain a product database.

Finally, stock trading. In the Forex market, VPS is used for round-the-clock operation of Metatrader terminals, on which trading Forex advisors are launched. There are many other useful examples you can think of.

 


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