Many businesses are looking to upgrade to a VPS in an effort to beef up their online presence. If you’re looking to find the best hosting for your website, a VPS is actually a great place to start. A VPS host will not be as expensive as a dedicated server but you’ll still get most of the same benefits by having resources dedicated to you. But VPS hosting can have many pitfalls for those customers who are new to hosting on virtualized containers.
KVM vs. OpenVZ VPS Virtualization
The two most popular types of virtualization for VPS containers are KVM and OpenVZ. KVM VPS machines allow each virtual server node to have dedicated resources. An OpenVZ virtual machine is theoretically more efficient for the hosting provider as it uses a shared kernel where all resources are shared among the tenants on the machine. An OpenVZ hosting provider can oversell its containers to the point where performance begins to degrade for everyone on the server. OpenVZ VPS nodes also have easier to resize disk sizes (up or down) should the customer want to change the size of their hard disk. A KVM VPS doesn’t suffer from the same performance hits because of its dedicated kernel. A KVM VPS is also preferred when one has a non-standard OS template that needs specific modules to be enabled.
It’s not a guarantee that an OpenVZ VPS will perform worse than a VPS virtualized using KVM. But if you opt for an OpenVZ hosting provider, you have to make sure they won’t oversell their nodes. The consequences are that you won’t have the best hosting for your website if the nodes are oversold. To be absolutely on the safe side, the best VPS experience will be opting for KVM virtualization.
Another possible pitfall awaiting a business VPS customer is data speed and connectivity. The underground fiber networks that connect the world’s computers are not all created equal. Some networks are faster than others with better peering to other networks around the world. Issues like packet loss (where the connectivity is so poor that data packets are discarded) will make it hard for you to conduct daily business on a poorly connected VPS. Here are some tips to make sure your VPS has the proper connectivity for your business’s needs:
- You’ll want to double check that your VPS is on a fast enough connection. Your VPS will generally have either a megabit or gigabit connection with the latter being approximately ten times faster.
- Make sure your VPS is on a network that peers well with other networks. You don’t want your customers across the Atlantic to have to wait on long web page load times just because your VPS provider has poor peering to the rest of the world. Ask your VPS provider if they can provide a “looking glass” view into how the traffic to your VPS gets routed around the world.
- Only sign up for a VPS provider that has a location close to your customers. Popular data center locations in the United States include Chicago and Dallas as their central locations provide optimal connectivity speeds throughout the country. Businesses that have customers in Asia should look to locate their VPS on either the West Coast of the United States or in a country like Australia. By placing your VPS in a location that is close to most of your customers, you help create a faster loading website for the majority of your customers.
The worst-case scenario of hosting your site on a VPS is that the server you’re located on goes down. An unconnectable server means that nobody can reach your website, and therefore nobody who’s online can purchase your products or learn about your services. Here are a few tips you can use when assessing how well a prospective VPS provider keeps their customers’ servers online:
- Every VPS host should have a page that lists their uptime for the past year for each of their servers. Hosts should be able to maintain a 99.9% uptime percentage for the entire year. If there are any notable gaps in the uptime graph, ask for an explanation. It’s understandable that hardware fails from time to time, but a VPS host that regularly goes down for hours at a time is going to do harm to your business.
- Ask your host if they have DDoS protection. A DDoS attack is when a malicious attacker starts bogging down your VPS with fake traffic. It helps to ask before it ever happens whether your VPS host will be able to mitigate this type of attack before you sign up for their services.
- Some VPS hosts will automatically suspend your VPS if it goes over its resources. They may decide that you’ve used too much CPU time or too many concurrent SMTP connections. A good host will reach out to you to talk about your resource utilization before suspending you. You don’t want to end up with a bad host who will suspend you first and then contact you after the fact.
Investing in VPS hosting for your business is a big step up from traditional shared hosting. The improved resources you have will allow your site to run faster. The drawback of a VPS is that it takes more technical expertise to keep running smoothly. There are many different hosting companies out there with varying standards of hardware quality and customer support. It’s best to choose one that gives you good support and peace of mind that your website is in good hands.