If you’re looking to buy a VPS hosting plan but unsure about what plan would be the right one for you, then this article should help you clear things out about Virtual Private Servers.
In this article, I will discuss with you about the various factors to consider before buying a VPS hosting plan from a provider.
With his article, you should learn what server resources should be given priority when getting a VPS plan. So if you know how to choose the right server resource for your VPS, then you will probably know how to put up the best web hosting service, either for your own use or for resell.
Before you continue with this post, I need you to know that you could use the Jump Links below and skip to other section of this post. Also read what a VPS is before digging further in this post.
- What is a VPS
- List of VPS Providers
- Virtualization Softwares
- Server Resource
- Managed VS. Un-managed
- Operating System
- Support / Trustworthiness
- 10 Dollars VPS
- ISO enabled VPS
- PBX VPS
- WordPress Managed VPS
- Managed VPS
What is VPS
First of all, VPS or Virtual Private Servers are Virtual Machines (VM) hosted on a physical machine, and act as a server and performs various task and act as; web server, database server or game server. These machines are then offered for rent my hosting companies and price range depends on computer resources allotted to the VM.
A Virtual Machine is an application that mimics a physical computer. It gets its resources (like; memory, cpu, storage and network) from the Host computer (the physical machine) and let’s you run particular Operating Systems like Windows, Linux Ubuntu, FreeBSD and other Unix-like OSes. It runs as a separate machine on top of the physical machine.
The hosting provider let the user utilize a web-based control panel or a GUI to control several aspects of the server or VM like; creating a new VM, restart/reboot, shutdown, create/delete a snapshot, increase server resources, update kernel or rebuild the whole server.
So a VPS is not like a shared web hosting service where server resources are shared from other tenants on the server or node.
Essentially a VPS is a Virtual Machine, and there are various virtualization software out there (OpenVZ, Xen, KVM), that are being used by VPS hosting companies when creating a VPS. Each software has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, so you need to know some of them so you could decide what VPS type you need for your business. You also need to know the factors to consider when choosing the right kind of VPS to buy.
1. Virtualization Software
When choosing the right plan for your VPS, you should have at least a clue about the various types of virtualization software and techniques used by a VPS provider.
Such software/techniques are OpenVZ, Xen and KVM.
VirtualBox and VMWare Workstation are also examples of this software, but we’ll only cover the three (OpenVZ, Xen, KVM) mentioned software above as they are commonly used by hosting companies.
Open Virtuozzo or OpenVZ
OpenVZ shares the same kernel version and architecture (32bit or 64bit) with the host’s os, only thing is, it is a patched kernel. This means that you cannot run a separate container using Windows, you could only use Linux-based OSes with the same kernel version and architecture as the Host.
So if you’re looking for Windows VPSes, OpenVZ would not be the right one for you.
This is one disadvantage of it, but it also has an advantage when it comes to performance. It does not have much ongoing running processes just to run a single container, in other term… it does not have the overhead and it should be efficient and run fast.
OpenVZ is a Type-II virtualization software which means, a virtualization software that runs on top of Linux-based operating system (RHEL or Debian based systems).
NOTE 1: Type 1 Virtualization on the other hand is a technology that doesn’t require an operating system to run on. It runs directly on the physical machine, just like Windows or Mac. Examples of this type are VMWare ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V.
OpenVZ enables a physical machine to run a separate isolated operating system instances called Containers. And each container is given two types of resources, burst and dedicated. These are the ones offered by hosting companies as Virtual Private Servers based on OpenVZ with burstable memory.
For instance, a VPS offered to have a dedicated memory of 512MB, burstable to 1024MB which is hosted on a server with a total memory of 2048MB. Let’s say the server hosts 2 VPS with the same resource allocation. Should VPS A needs more memory, it could borrow another 512MB from the server/host’s memory. And if at the same time, VPS B also needs more memory, it could borrow the remaining 512MB from the server’s remaining memory, and the whole 2048MB has been used.
In this sample scenario, a hosting company could oversell the server and slice it to 4 containers (VPS), each having a 512MB of dedicated memory and burstable to 1024MB, though the server only has a total RAM of 2048MB. Not all of the 4 VPSes could have the chance to use the full 1024MB burstable memory at the same time.
Let’s say VPS A, B, only consumes 256MB each while VPS C and D peaks at 512MB each. Overall, the memory being used in the server should be 1536MB with remaining 512MB. Now, should VPS D needs additional memory, it can borrow the unused 512MB topping it up to a total of 1024MB. But that should only be temporary. Because by the time VPS A and B needs their dedicated memory back, which is 512MB each, the Host server will begin killing some of VPS D’s processes to free up some memory so it could give back to VPS A and B.
So in that example, that 1024MB burstable memory promised by your Hosting Company wouldn’t be granted if all VPS in that particular server consumes their dedicated memory, leaving no extra memory.
A hosting company could oversell it more by slicing the server again to 8 VPSes with memory allocation of 512MB each, assuming not all of the VPS uses more than 256MB of memory.
You see, this is one great disadvantage of getting an OpenVZ-based VPS from unreliable and crappy hosts.
If you have some serious business and critical stuffs, I would rather not use OpenVZ based VPS.
But for testing purposes or not so critical stuffs you have, you could choose OpenVZ, it is more cheaper than KVM and Xen-based VPSes, just my two cents.
OpenVZ-based VPSes are not that bad, it’s not the type of virtualization that counts What counts is… a good and honest provider or host.
FYI, I used OpenVZ-based VPS with my own setup of OpenVPN Access Server
Xen (an Open Source Software) is a Type-1 hypervisor which means, a virtualization software that doesn’t need other operating system to run under it. Type-1 are also called “bare-metals” because, just like any other operating system like Windows or Linux, you install it directly to a physical machine. It’s serves as an OS and at the same time a “virtualizor”. It runs directly on the host machine (physical computer).
Unlike OpenVZ, Xen does not share kernel version with the guest machines (virtual machines), therefore you could run several Operating System like Windows, BSDs and Linuxes. So if you’re looking where to buy a Windows VPS, then look for a Xen-based or KVM-based VPS plan like this one from servermania.com.
There are types of virtualization which Xen uses, HVM and PV.
Para-virtualization (PV) – is a technique used by Xen to create a virtualize environment by using a patched specialized kernels and drivers on the host and guest. Read more about this topic on this page.
Hardware-assisted virtualization (HVM) – uses the benefits provided by modern hardware (Intel VT-x and AMD-V processors), and it doesn’t require any kind of custom kernel or patches. Xen call this a full virtualized virtual machine.
One advantage of Xen from a customer’s point of view is that Xen cannot be over-sold since each Guest VM’s resources are allocated all the time. No extra RAM that you could borrow from neighbor VPS (in case of OpenVZ).
FYI, Amazon AWS uses Xen with it’s hosting services.
Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) is a virtualization technology that converts a Linux kernel into a hypervisor. A Hypervisor is a software that creates and runs a virtual machine.
KVM requires assistance from a modern computer hardware like the (Intel VT-x and AMD-V processors) that has a hardware virtualization extension. So in essence, it is similar with Xen’s HVM virtualization technique.
KVM is called kernel-based since it is built into Linux’s kernel. Which further means, it comes shipped with every Linux since kernel version 2.6.20.
To use KVM as a host or VPS provider, you need to have a management tools or control panel like these.
FYI, this site (
chubbable.com) is hosted by Digital Ocean. They use KVM with their droplets or VPSes and their control panel or web GUI is built in-house or proprietary.
Most KVM-based VPS providers could run Windows on their VPSes, but not unless they offer it. Some providers offers a custom ISO feature that let’s you use your custom bootable ISOs, whether it be Linux, Windows or BSD-based. You could use your own ISO like PFSense, FreePBX or Elastix and run it from your KVM-based VPS.
For the customer’s advantage, using a KVM-based VPS let’s the user enjoy it’s allotted resources from the host server or node. So if a VPS is given a dedicated memory of 512MB, then it should get the 512MB whether the server is loaded or under-loaded. And when your server is idle, of course you should get a free memory. That is… used memory less total available memory is equal to free memory.
By the way, you won’t get the full 512MB on your VPS. Video memory is sharing with your system’s memory. Therefore, your actual total available RAM would be…
Total Available RAM = Dedicated RAM - Shared video memory
With my VPS host, typically each VPS is given a 16MB of video memory.
Reference Image: total-memory.png
2. Server Resource
Another factor you should know about is server resources. In order for you to choose which VPS plan is best for your application or service, you need to know about server resources.
Server resource includes; RAM or Memory, Processor, Storage and Bandwidth. Other VPS hosts bundles some extra feature like; DDoS Mitigation, Unlimited downstream bandwidth or use-your-own-iso feature.
We’ll run through these server resources and learn for yourself which VPS plan would be the best one for you.
Random Access Memory or RAM is one factor to consider when choosing the right VPS for your service or application.
The general rule for this is… the more number of programs running simultaneously on your VPS, the more RAM your server needs. So the more RAM your server has, the more performance you could get from it.
It wouldn’t hurt if in case you over-bought your RAM or you added too much RAM more than what your server needs. But surely… it will hurt if your server run on little memory than what your server actually needs.
To determine the right amount of RAM needed for your server still depends upon your server roles, application or program you intend to run.
For instance a web service like mine (chubbable.com) that runs WordPress CMS script, with a small daily average traffic of 300 with 10 concurrent connections, is performing well using only 512MB of RAM.
Take note that Apache, MySQL and PHP also runs from my server.
I also have another server with 256MB, and it is sufficient enough to run my own OpenVPN server with 5 concurrent connections or clients.
If you’re into game servers with voice chat function like Team Speak, then a 512MB of RAM will not suffice.
RAM requirement depends on your service. But if you’re just moving away from shared web server hosting and want to try VPS hosting, then a 512MB RAM should be your entry point.
A 512MB VPS is commonly offered at a range of 4USD to 10USD.
Another factor to consider when choosing a VPS to buy.
Generally, it depends on your application or mode of operation. If you’re into Forum Hosting with thousands of simultaneous users posting, editing posts and sending attachments at the same, then you probably need a larger disk space with decent Disk IOPS.
But if you’re just serving dynamic web pages with no heavy read/write operation on your disk, then a VPS with RAID10 15k RPM SATA Drives would be enough for your needs. Go for SSD drives if you’re into file serving services or any other services that needs frequent read/write operation on a Disk.
If you intend to operate an online Game Server, then SSD RAIDED storage drives is a must-have.
You should also consider per Gigabyte pricing for a storage space. Typically, a 5USD to 10USD VPS already offers a 20GB SSD enabled storage space.
Essentially, storage space depends on what you really needs, what your service needs.
Like for instance, you plan of putting up an Online Store for digital downloads. You should know that selling a product for downloads would require a larger storage space and disk performance. You need big disk space to store your MP3, PDF and other media files. You also need decent disk performance especially when simultaneous users download files from your server.
Bandwidth / Internet Connection
One thing to consider when looking for the most effective VPS for you needs.
Some providers offer a Gigabit connection while others only offer a Hundred Megabit connection.
Well, connection type or bandwidth limit is of course subjected to price. The more bandwidth you need the more cost you would pay.
If you just moved away from shared hosting and jump to VPS hosting, that would mean you’re running out of bandwidth or probably you need a dedicated bandwidth of your own for your growing traffic. Then you should try a Terabyte of monthly bandwidth to see if still ran out of bandwidth.
Buying a 5 dollar VPS will typically offer a Terabyte of bandwidth using a Gigabit Internet connection.
So a VPS with price range of 5 to 10 US dollars should suffice if you just moved away from shared hosting. Or just want to try something new aside from shared hosting.
I’m not stressing on the price here, I’m just telling ya that most trust worthy VPS provider that offers a server with a price of 10US Dollars and below (un-managed VPS), would pack a VPS with 512MB of RAM, 20GB storage space and 1 terabyte of bandwidth, which should be sufficient enough for first time VPS users or webmasters that just moved away from shared hosting.
3. Managed VS. Un-managed
When choosing the a VPS for you web service, you need to understand what is Managed and Un-managed in VPS hosting.
In simple terms, managed VPS is a VPS plan or package bundled with server administration service provided by the VPS provider. With this service, you’re not just paying for the VPS itself, you also pay for the professional service rendered by the system admins in case you need it. Some companies offers 24hour response time or 2 hours response time. Response time is the length of time the tech support team will response to your request. Other providers accepts phone support while others accepts email or ticket-based support request only. Phone support means, the company accepts supports request via their hotline. For instance, you need some modules to be installed on your VPS, then you may call their hotline and request for it. Email them for support or post a ticket if that’s what they only accept.
On the other hand, Un-managed VPS is a plan or packaged where you are on your own. Meaning, the host does not provide administration support or any system administration service to you. You should be the one to provision and maintain your own server and also the websites that you host on it. In simple terms, you need to be a tech savvy in order for you you manage your own VPS.
In terms of pricing, un-managed is way cheaper than managed virtual private servers. The reasons are very obvious.
So if you’re skillful enough when it comes to servers, you could host a WordPress site with thousands of daily traffic on a single VPS worth $10.
If you know server administration, proxies, optimization, or caching, then you’ll save a lot of money by choosing to use an un-managed virtual private server.
4. Operating System
This again depends on your application or service, but mostly when it comes to web servers, you will most likely to use a Linux-based VPS like CentOS 7 or Ubuntu 14.04.
If you’re into ASP.Net web sites, then you are most probably gonna use Windows-based servers. Furthermore, if you seek for RDP or remote desktop environment using Windows, then a Windows VPS would be your choice.
5. Support / Trustworthiness
This is one factor that I usually seek when choosing a VPS provider.
Whether it be managed or un-managed VPS, a trust worthy and good VPS host or provider should promptly answer every query or request sent by their client within a reasonable amount of time.
A good VPS host should answer your query within 24 hours, regardless of your time zone and any circumstances. No excuses like not receiving your email in a timely manner or they are having some issues with their ticket support system.
About trustworthiness… A trust worthy provider could initially be assess by checking their Website and ask some of the following questions:
Is the company details correct and conforms with their “who is” record and about us page?
Read their About Us page and other company details and make sure that they match the info with their whois record. To find a companies whois record, do a Google search by typing
Is the company a registered business entity in their country of operation?
To find this out, again… use Google.
Is their website professionally made and original?
By looking closely to their website, by your own judgement… does their site looks awesome and not copied? (…but it does not necessarily means that unprofessionally made or not so cool website are not trustworthy.)
Another way of checking the trustworthiness of a host is to ask about their websites from known and reputable Forum sites and Web 2.0s (Quora or Yahoo Ask). Ask someone who actually tried the host and ask about his experience. Also, search and read some reviews about their service from trusted review sites.
Those mentioned above are just guidelines, you wouldn’t really know whether a VPS host is good and trustworthy unless you jump in and try their service even for just a single month.
With my 2 cents, price is not really a determinant when choosing the most excellent VPS for you.
What you really need to consider first is type of service or application you would offer with your VPS and then look for the right feature set and necessary resource for your server. Second is hosting support, but you wouldn’t know this upfront unless you already tried the service. So you have to search and gather information about the VPS provider you plan of subscribing to. Read some reviews and ask from ruputable Forum Sites.
List of VPS Providers
You should know by now what your service actually needs and the necessary server resources it should have. So I made a list of VPS providers for you to lookup, but I doesn’t necessarily mean I’m recommending it.
The final decision should be yours.
10 Dollars VPS
Here is a VPS list of providers that offers a VPS plan with a price range of 3 to 10 US dollars.
- digitalocean.com – Plans
- linode.com – Plans
- vultr.com – Plans
- openvz.io – Plans
- ramnode.com – Plans
- crissic.net – Plans
- ovh.com – Plans
- stablebox.com – Plans
- dreamhost.com – Plans
- photonvps.com – Plans
- gatenode.com – Plans
- amerinoc.com – Plans
- gignode.com – Plans
ISO enabled VPS
These VPS providers let’s you load your own ISO file. So you could actually used your own ISO and boot your VPS from it. Some ISO images these VPS hosts allow aside from CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu are; MikroTik, Elastix, and ZeroShell.
These are Virtual Private Servers which you can turn it into an Internet-based PBX or IP-PBX. So if you want to host your PBX on a VPS rather than on your own company premises, then these hosting providers will probably suit your needs.
Furthermore, if you you’re up to VoIP to PSTN switching or vice-versa, these hosts should be able to satisfy your requirements.
WordPress Managed VPS Hosting
These hosting providers offers a managed WordPress VPS hosting. What exactly this mean is… they handled all the headaches in managing your server. They even handpicked the most must-have plugins for a WordPress website. They handle all the dirty work for you, so you could concentrate on several aspects of your website like; content creation, SEM, and monetization.
They handle other tasks like optimization, security and updates.
Below are the list of managed VPS hosting providers for WordPress.
Fully Managed VPS
Providers that offers a fully-managed VPS hosting.
It’s a Wrap!
So there you have it!
I hope you learned something from this post, especially on how to choose the best VPS plan for your website, service or application.
I’ve mentioned above, the various factors to consider when choosing a VPS plan, so make that as your starting point when you plan of buying a good VPS plan.
Also, to make things handy… I made a VPS provider list above that you could look up. Just click on the link and review their VPS plans. Take note of the factors you need most, like virtualization technique used, RAM, storage space and bandwidth. Also look for other additional feature like FREE DDos protection and CDN, ‘coz other VPS hosts offer those FREEBIES.
And I like to mention another VPS providers before ending this post. They are Amazon AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Google Compute Engine.
AWS is Amazon’s cloud computing services while Google CE is Google’s cloud platform.
…and that’s it!
If you have something to share related to this post, feel free to share it here using the comment section. If this post helped you, then share it or maybe linked to it.