When building a website, there are many things to consider. There’s the design of course, plus any special features and functionality, and crucially – what many people forget – how to host it. Much like building a home, you can pick out all the lovely furniture you like, but at the end of the day you need a physical space to hold it. In the case of websites, this space is called a server.

Servers are machines – really just powerful computers – that store your content and data to ‘serve up’ the information every time someone accesses your website. You have a number of different server options to choose from, and getting the right server solution can make all the difference to your site’s success.

At one end of the scale, you can choose to host your website on a shared server. In this scenario, your content and data is on a physical machine that’s shared with other website owners, meaning you also share the server’s resources. If there’s a spike in traffic for another site on the same server, yours might slow down.

Think of it like university halls of residence. It’s a great cheap starting point, but everyone has to make do with sharing a kitchen and a bathroom. At the other end of the scale, a dedicated server gives you the server all to yourself – no more sharing. However, freedom comes at a price, and in this case you’ll be paying a premium. Think of a dedicated server as a house – all yours, but it comes with a hefty mortgage.

Enter the virtual private server, or VPS. VPS hosting sits between shared and dedicated servers, with you site hosted on the same machine as others, but without sharing those vital resources. Thanks to virtualisation technology, a VPS functions as a complete server in its own right, totally separate from others on the same physical machine. It’s the apartment block of servers – your own private space, but with the cost benefits of sharing a building.

Being such an affordable solution, VPS hosting can prove very useful for businesses. If the following situations apply to your business, a VPS might be for you.

1. If security is on your mind

Websites are open to a number of cyber threats, but having your own private space can help protect your data as well as any information you collect from your customers.

Certain VPS providers offer extra layers of security for your site. Features such as DDoS protection, intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems (IDS/IPS), and firewall management, among others, all work together to ensure better protection against attempts to overload your website with traffic, access your data, or infect your site with malware.

This is a particularly important consideration if you sell through your site. Collecting and processing financial data should bring security to the very forefront of your business priorities, and these VPS features can help prevent unwanted access, while also reducing the risk of any online threats affecting the performance of your site.

2. If you have a high level of traffic

Higher traffic levels can mean more conversions. However, humans aren’t always patient. If you expect your website to receive a fairly high number of visitors at once, or a highly fluctuating number, your site needs to be equipped to handle traffic without slowing down, or worse, crashing.

With your own VPS, you’re guaranteed a set level of performance which you can use to ensure a faster, smoother website experience – and make users more likely to stick around.

Providing quick page loading times is also key to improving your search engine optimisation (SEO) performance. Google ranks websites on a number of qualities, one being how quickly the landing page loads. The faster your website, the more likely you’ll land higher up on Google’s search page.

3. If you’re looking to scale your business

Your business has greater wiggle room to grow on a VPS. Rather than shared, the space is entirely yours to use as you wish, and if it begins to feel a bit small, you can purchase additional resources to adjust performance to your business growth as needed.

On the other hand, if you feel you don’t need all the RAM or CPU power that a VPS offers, you can just as easily downgrade your package to match the natural ebb and flow of a business. In other words, a VPS provides a flexible solution that won’t require you to faff around with long migrations if you want to switch up your hosting.

4. If you want to back it up

Things don’t always go to plan. In the unfortunate event that your business suffers a loss of data, of course you’ll want to have your information backed up.

Most VPS providers also offer cloud backup. You can schedule automatic backups of your entire site as often as necessary, meaning that copies of your data are consistently saved and stored within the cloud. Meanwhile, you can also take snapshots of your server that allow you to restore it to a previous state if anything goes wrong.

With these safeguards in place, even if your site does suffer a malware attack or another form or data loss, for example, your data is right where you need it to get back up and running as quickly as possible.

5. If you want to call the shots

On a shared server, individual users can’t get access to the underlying machine, or ‘root access’, as this could compromise the security of the other sites. With a VPS, however, you can customise your whole virtual server, install or update your own server-wide software, change any file, make backups, and much more.

If you want more control over your tech and would benefit from the option to customise the root server hosting your website, then a VPS may be for you. Fasthosts virtual servers are created on the hardware level using VMware virtualisation software – this means you can choose the operating system you want to use, rather than having to share the same OS with all other users on the machine. Put simply, a VPS can be set up with the exact server configuration you need.

If this sounds complicated and intimidating, be assured that most VPS providers offer on-call advice if needed. Expert Fasthosts support teams are available via email, live chat or phone 24/7, and are based in the UK.

The decision on how and where to host your website may sound less important than more obvious decisions such as the design or function of the site. However, just as if you purchased your dream house before carefully considering the amount of available space, neighbours and other buildings close by, and local amenities, things might get tricky down the line if your digital real estate doesn’t work for you. For this reason, you should carefully consider your business needs and budget before settling on a hosting solution. Find out more about our VPS hosting here.