Essentially, here’s the criteria I would use to judge things – if your site is made up of primarily static, HTML-based content, then you probably don’t need a VPS package. However, if you have a large amount of files stored, multiple sites, dynamic content, and the possibility of major traffic from time to time, then you might consider upgrading to a VPS. It’s a powerful package that allows you to do more than you could with a shared hosting plan, but requires less investment than a dedicated server.
Shared hosting is cheap and allows you to install any gallery platform you wish if a hosting plan meets its requirements. But be careful and study your hosting provider’s Acceptable Use Policy thoroughly. The truth is, that even if they claim unlimited storage with their plans, they don’t want you to use much of it. On the contrary, they secretly hope that you will use less and they can host many other clients on the same server. For that reason, hosting providers usually put limitations on their policies (e.g. “no more than 10 GB for images,” etc.). So don’t be convinced that you have unlimited storage without first checking your shared hosting provider's policies or you will find your account suspended someday.
Think of a shared server as a large apartment complex, and all of the individual apartments are rented by other website owners. All of you need a place to live — just like your website’s files — but going out to buy a huge family home would be too expensive for your needs. Sharing common areas and utilities in an apartment block helps keep costs down. And the same is true for shared hosting.
The great news for VPS customers these days is that most web hosting companies offer managed VPS hosting. Here, not only will they set up your server environment, but they’ll also take care of tasks such as software upgrades, security patches, etc. Also, provision time is now greatly reduced and you can be up and running with your VPS hosting much more quickly.
You’re paying more, so there SHOULD be a minimum uptime guarantee and better server speed. Look for a host that offers 99.5% at a very minimum, although ideally, I’d rather go with someone who offers 99.9%. Search through some reviews as there are many who have put this to the test. For example, any of WHSR’s many web host reviews include an uptime record as one of our key tests.
A VPS doesn’t just have more RAM, disk space, and a proprietary share of CPU than a shared account. Depending on the provider, some VPS plans offer burstable memory, which is a pool of RAM set aside for extraordinary events. This is the stuff that can help counter the so-called “Digg-effect,” that much-whispered about occurrence that’s the simultaneous hope and fear of everyone who runs a web site. When you have an unexpected high traffic event, burstable memory will call on a pool of reserved, shared memory to satisfy the needs of temporary high traffic. This is not available on shared servers and, while the necessary memory is available on a dedicated server, your site might not get the kind of traffic on a daily basis to justify the expense of a dedicated server. Again, not all VPS plans have burstable memory, so ask your provider if their VPS plans do.
With our dedicated servers, you rent an entire server. This is optimal for people that have very high traffic to their websites or need to setup their server in a very specific way. Not everyone needs to have a fully dedicated web server however. If you’re just getting started with your website, you can save quite a bit of money if you rent a small portion of the server. Shared hosting is when you share a portion of the server with other users rather than rent an entire server to yourself.
A VPS runs its own copy of an operating system (OS), and customers may have superuser-level access to that operating system instance, so they can install almost any software that runs on that OS. For many purposes they are functionally equivalent to a dedicated physical server, and being software-defined, are able to be much more easily created and configured. They are priced much lower than an equivalent physical server. However, as they share the underlying physical hardware with other VPSes, performance may be lower, depending on the workload of any other executing virtual machines.
VPS, on the other hand, is an isolated playground specifically for you. You will be able to install and use any professional software you need. It also provides more opportunities for caching the content. Imagine that you implement caching tools to provide your users with better experience and reduce the loading time of your website. Caching means that the part of requests to your website will be processed using RAM instead of a hard drive. Eventually, RAM will be filled with these requests. Since VPS deals offer more RAM then shared packages, you will get better performance using caching.
Dedicated: True to its name, a dedicated server is entirely yours to utilize. This is usually an option for those with a high volume of traffic or those who choose to customise their website in a specific way. However, it’s an expensive choice that might not be right for you if you’re just starting out or if your requirements aren’t too advanced. VPS offers you the same luxury of privacy and dedicated resources with a small space to rent. It offers you one piece of the whole server which is exclusively yours.
Similarly, in a real dedicated server, you will pay for the entire server that is not shared with anyone else. You will get complete control over all services. Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive hosting option and needs some technical expertise to manage. It is commonly used by those who have websites with specific scenarios, most commonly extremely high traffic and tight security requirements.
With a dedicated server, you can install any operating system. Cloud VPS offers a limited selection (at Liquid Web, it’s CentOS 6, CentOS 7, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Debian 8, Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, and Windows Server 2016 Standard Edition.) Otherwise, both options give you full root access with control over the OS and all the software in the environment.