5 Best VPS Web Hosting Providers of 2018
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) has all of the functionality of a dedicated server but exists as an isolated partition of storage space to which a certain amount of system resources are allocated under a wider framework of platform management. Many VPS platforms allow for the dynamic adjustment of the amount of RAM, CPU resources, or storage space dedicated to a particular virtual machine (VM) instance, while others do not. Unmanaged VPS platforms allow complete user flexibility in choosing and installing the operating system with server extensions. Some Cloud VPS platforms allow choice of the OS and stack software from provided snapshots, while Managed VPS approaches usually only provide a pre-installed software stack without any choice over the VPS operating system at all. Because of this it is important to understand which virtualization platform is being implemented by the web host to create and manage their individual VPS hosting plans before signing up for an account. The primary instances which lead to the use of VPS hosting in web development are:
- When a website requires more server processing resources than provided by a shared web hosting plan;
- When user traffic to a website exceeds what a shared web hosting plan will support;
- When the development of a website requires specific server extensions, programming languages, or database frameworks not supported by a shared web hosting plan.
This article will review the five best VPS hosting companies that we have identified for web development on the basis of web server hardware performance, platform features, quality of customer support, included software tools, and the affordability of each plan. Read on to learn more:
Our Top 5 Favorite VPS Hosting Providers:
|Web host:||Price range:||CPU:||RAM:||Learn more:|
|InMotion Hosting||$29.99 to $74.99/mo||Unlocked||4 to 8 GB||View Plans|
|A2 Hosting||$32.99 to $65.99/mo||4 to 8 vCPUs||4 to 8 GB||View Plans|
|HostGator||$19.95 to $39.95/mo||2 to 4 vCPUs||2 to 8 GB||View Plans|
|Bluehost||$19.99 to $59.99/mo||2 to 4 vCPUs||2 to 8 GB||View Plans|
|iPage||$19.99 to $79.99/mo||1 to 4 vCPUs||1 to 8 GB||View Plans|
1. InMotion Hosting
InMotion Hosting uses Parallels Virtuozzo Container as a virtualization platform but will currently only support CentOS Linux as an operating system, providing a number of different configuration options for each VPS hosting account using stack software installation snapshots. The company runs a unique, cloud network optimization system in their data center for their VPS hosting plans which is based on “high availability,” scaling system resources according to the momentary dynamics of the particular web traffic requirements present at any given time. InMotion Hosting’s VPS platform utilizes web server network arrays (3-10+ active nodes) rather than a single server system. Their VPS servers are based on 24-core multi-processor units of which 4 GB to 8 GB of system RAM is dedicated to each VPS account. The company keeps three copies of each website online at a single time, and then routes network traffic to the server that can manage the request most optimally. This cloud-optimized VPS platform includes SSDs on every server to establish one of the best overall website performance standards in the industry. View all VPS hosting plans
2. A2 Hosting
A2 Hosting offers three different types of VPS hosting plan to customers: Managed VPS, Unmanaged VPS, and Cloud VPS. Both the Managed and Unmanaged VPS plans run on the OpenVZ virtualization platform. The main difference between the two is that the Managed VPS plans are pre-configured with CentOS Linux as the only operating system choice, and also include the licensed use of cPanel to manage domains and server settings. The Unmanaged VPS plans use snapshots for the OS and stack software installation with the choice of CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Slackware, Ubuntu, or Gentoo available. The Cloud VPS plans from A2 Hosting are based on KVM and CloudStack software for the virtualization framework, and offer the choice of CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Slackware, Ubuntu, Gentoo, or FreeBSD as the operating system. The configuration options for A2 Hosting’s VPS plans range from 512 MB of RAM to 32 GB of RAM, 20 GB of storage to 250 GB of storage, 1 CPU core to 12 CPU cores, and different monthly bandwidth rates. SSD storage is standard across all of the A2 Hosting VPS plans. View all VPS hosting plans
HostGator uses Virtuozzo to create the virtual containers used on their VPS plans. The HostGator VPS platform provides WHM for an initial install of CentOS, and charges an extra $10 per month for a cPanel license. The VPS management tools include the Virtuozzo Power Panel for control over the settings on the container, monitoring account resource usage, or installing new software. HostGator does not offer SSD storage on their VPS plans, but they are available as part of their cloud hosting platform. Instead, HostGator implements RAID-1 arrays for VPS storage with 1.8 TB of HDD storage per partition and a total of 7.2 TB in each array. The underlying server hardware for the HostGator VPS plans is Intel Xeon E5-2630 v3 processors with 32 cores and 128 GB of installed DDR4 RAM per unit. The configuration options on HostGator’s VPS plans range from 2 to 4 CPU cores, 2 GB to 8 GB of RAM, 120 GB to 240 GB of storage space, and 1.5 TB to 3 TB of monthly bandwidth allocation for data transfer. HostGator offers a huge 75% discount off the regular price for new customers signing up for a VPS hosting plan. View all VPS hosting plans
The VPS hosting plans at Bluehost are based on KVM and the OpenStack software platform for virtualization. The company uses 16-Core AMD Opteron servers for the VPS plans with 4 processors per unit, 256 GB to 1 TB of DDR3 RAM installed, and RAID 60 storage drive arrays configured with 12.8 TB partitions. CentOS with a licensed version of cPanel is pre-installed with instant activation of accounts under a managed VPS framework. Bluehost VPS hosting plans do not allow for the installation of any operating system other than CentOS, but the company does manage all of the security updates and software patches required to keep the environment secure, as well as the firewall. The configuration options on Bluehost’s VPS hosting plans range from 2 to 4 CPU cores, 2 GB to 8 GB of RAM, 30 GB to 240 GB of storage space, and 1 TB to 4 TB of monthly data transfer allocation. Bluehost does not offer SSD storage on their VPS hosting plans. They include a free domain name registration with every account as well as dedicated IP addresses for https encryption of personal data on websites. View all VPS hosting plans
iPage also builds their VPS platform on OpenStack and KVM virtualization technology. This allows for website owners to change the amount of RAM, CPU cores, or storage allocated to an account without restarting the server or taking the websites hosted offline. Administrators can monitor VPS resource usage live in a browser-based control panel, upgrading to a different iPage hosting plan whenever the website requirements necessitate adding more power. The configuration options on iPage’s VPS hosting plans range from 1 to 4 CPU cores, 1 GB to 8 GB of RAM, 40 GB to 120 GB of storage, and 1 TB to 4 TB of monthly data bandwidth. iPage does not provide SSD storage facilities on their VPS plans. They do offer a free domain, dedicated IP address, and cPanel license with all VPS accounts under a managed approach to platform management. iPage’s pricing structure includes a 20% discount for new account sign-ups, and starts at $19.99 per month for a VPS plan with 1 CPU core, 1 GB of RAM, 40 GB of storage, and 1 TB of data transfer. The iPage VPS plans are pre-installed with all of the stack software required for LAMP development. View all VPS hosting plans
What to Look for When Purchasing a VPS Hosting Plan
Across the top VPS web hosting companies, most of the VPS platforms we reviewed were based on different virtualization software deployed on similar network hardware in the data center. As each of these platforms have similar functionality but different technical features, it can also be beneficial to understand the virtualization frameworks used by web hosting companies in creating and managing virtual machines or VPS containers when evaluating services and signing up for a new account. The main virtualization platforms deployed by the top companies in their VPS hosting plans are:
- CloudStack: CloudStack was an early virtualization platform purchased by Citrix in 2011 and donated to the Apache Software Foundation in 2012 for further development. The open source software project uses KVM as a hypervisor for virtualization, though it will also support platforms such as VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, and XenServer. CloudStack manages file storage, network services, user account separation, and stack software snapshots so that web servers can be deployed in a cloud framework as “Infrastructure as a Service” (IaaS).
- KVM: KVM has been part of the Linux kernel since 2007 and is used in virtualization software applications to multiply the kernel of the Linux OS installed on a computer as a hypervisor to enable the creation of virtual machines on the same hardware. KVM virtualization emulates the CPU, RAM, and other hardware components of the host machine, as well as the drivers, integrating with other software for VPS platform management. KVM can also be used with Windows, FreeBSD, and OS X.
- OpenStack: OpenStack began as a joint project between Rackspace and NASA in 2010 to advance cloud computing standards. OpenStack has options for the use of KVM, VMWare, Hyper-V, and Xen as the hypervisor technology used for virtualization. OpenStack works with Apache Server to manage the IP addresses for the VPS networks used in web hosting. The platform employs a modular approach with different options available for file storage, network traffic, and user management systems.
- OpenVZ: OpenVZ is the free, open source version of Virtuozzo. Both platforms provide OS-level virtualization frameworks for the creation and management of VPS containers on network servers. With OpenVZ, system administrators can create disk storage partitions for VPS instances, establish memory limits for each VPS installed, limit the number of I/O operations permitted to each container, and maintain network isolation for VMs on the system.
- Virtuozzo: Virtuozzo is an operating system virtualization platform originally developed by Parallels but spun off into an independent company. Virtuozzo works with both Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS specifically. Virtuozzo was one of the first commercial platforms for VPS management, with much of the code involved in the project open sourced as OpenVZ in 2005. The major difference between Virtuozzo and OpenVZ is the hypervisor technology, the control panel, VPS memory management features, and software license requirements.
The underlying server hardware (CPU speed, DDR3 vs. DDR4 RAM), type of storage used on VPS platforms (HDD vs. SDD), and inclusion of cloud optimization facilities like load balancing or advanced page caching on the network have been found to be the most significant factors relating to website performance on VPS hosting plans across all of the companies evaluated. Website owners should consider both the server hardware and the virtualization platform installed when evaluating VPS hosting plans for high-performance web and mobile applications.
Some of the most important features to look for when deciding on the purchase of a VPS web hosting plan are:
- The Virtualization Platform – the VPS platform software will determine the type of hypervisor, network optimization tools, monitoring utilities, & OS choices available
- Managed vs. Unmanaged Plans – choose a pre-deployed VPS with full software stack management by the webhost or install a custom operating system and development environment
- Snapshots Used for Deployment – look for VPS plans that support the use of snapshots to install custom stack software and save a full system portrait for website backups
- Hardware Basis of the Account – solid state storage drives (SSDs) provide the best website and database performance, especially when combined with faster CPU server cores
- Inclusion of Burstable RAM – the ability to exceed account limits temporarily to meet the processing demands of traffic spikes can help keep a website from going offline
- Server Traffic Monitoring – advanced VPS platforms include real-time server resource usage monitoring with the ability to allocate more RAM, CPU cores, & storage to accounts
- Scalable System Resources – elastic cloud VPS system resource allocation that scales with web traffic and can be scheduled with different configurations at peak times
- Included Software Licenses – VPS plans with free cPanel, WHM, & CloudLinux licenses included in the cost can save a lot of money vs. independent purchase of the software
The main choice between VPS plans resolves to the differences between managed, unmanaged, and cloud platforms. Unmanaged VPS plans offer the most freedom for customization of the software environment. Users will be required to install the operating system and server stack software when setting up a new account. Thereafter, unmanaged VPS clients will need to be responsible for all aspects of platform security, which includes the download and application of security upgrade patches to all installed server software and extensions. Unmanaged VPS accounts require more knowledge in systems administration, but are ideal for those who prefer to run different distributions of Linux that are not supported by web hosting plans. Managed VPS platforms normally do not allow the user to change the operating system. Most web hosting companies offer their managed VPS plans with the same software stack as their shared hosting servers. These plans can be excellent for those who prefer to run cPanel and CentOS, especially when the webhost provides a free included license for the software. Installing cPanel on an unmanaged plan independently will cost an extra $20 per month just for the VPS license. The other advantage of managed VPS plans is that the technicians at the hosting company data center are responsible for platform security and will apply all of the updates required for the installed software.
Cloud VPS plans represent the latest developments in virtualization platform technology. Cloud VPS plans often include the ability to choose from a number of different operating systems using snapshots to set up the server stack software environment. Users can also capture snapshots of live deployments which can be saved and used to restore websites or test different configurations in web development. Cloud VPS plans are also more apt to have advanced real-time monitoring software with the ability to schedule system resources to meet various rates of web traffic during peak hours of operation. Some cloud VPS plans offer elastic solutions, using virtualization to scale single server instances into clusters to meet extremely high levels of user activity. Burstable RAM can be found as an option on any of the different types of VPS plan. After the decision is made as to which platform features best fit the requirements of a web development project or production website launch, then the appropriate amount of RAM, CPU cores, and storage capability can be dialed in for the account. VPS plans that allow system resource allocations to be altered without restarting the server or migrating to a new account provide greater flexibility. Website owners can use a price to value ratio based on VPS platform features and hardware options when making a final purchasing decision between hosting plans.