What’s best for your website won’t always be obvious. As your website grows and evolves, you’ll need to adapt your approach and technology to ensure that it continues to thrive.

Many website owners initially opt for VPS hosting due to its flexibility and cost-effectiveness, but it may not be able to offer you all of the resources you need, especially if you have a high-traffic website.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the main differences between VPS and dedicated hosting, the pros and cons of each, and when you should move from a VPS to a dedicated server. This will help keep your website running smoothly and eliminate avoidable performance issues.

What is a VPS?

Before we get started, let’s have a quick look at what a VPS is, then later compare VPS to dedicated hosting.

A VPS (virtual private server) is a physical server that’s split into separate virtual compartments for different web hosting customers. Generally, VPS hosting is seen as the middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated servers, and although you’re sharing a server with other websites, you get your own allocated resources and full root access, allowing you to customise your part of the server by installing your own software and applications.

VPS hosting is generally seen as more appealing than shared hosting because – as the name suggests – you don’t share resources with other websites on the same server, which means you’re much less likely to run out of storage and bandwidth, or experience poor performance. Plus, VPS hosting isn’t much more expensive than shared hosting, so it’s a great option for small and medium-sized websites.

Learn more: What is a VPS?

What is a dedicated server?

If you’re not into sharing, a dedicated server is the right choice for you. With a dedicated hosting plan, you rent an entire physical server from a web hosting provider. This will give you all of the resources, storage and security you could possibly need.

Like VPS hosting, dedicated server hosting gives you full root access to your server, enabling you to manage your own updates and software installations. This means you can customise your server to your specific needs, although this will require some technical expertise.

The biggest downside of dedicated hosting is the cost. Dedicated hosting plans are more expensive than any other hosting services, so they’re only really feasible for large businesses and high-traffic websites that definitely need a larger amount of resources.

To learn more about different web hosting plans, read our guide to the six main types of web hosting.

VPS vs dedicated server: what are the main differences?

To recap, here are the main differences between VPS hosting and dedicated hosting:

1. Cost

VPS hosting is much cheaper than dedicated hosting. VPS hosting is typically cheaper because it involves sharing the same physical server (but having your own private virtual partition of it), while dedicated servers are pricier due to exclusive resource access.

2. Resources

You don’t need to share resources with VPS hosting as they’re allocated to you, but you need a dedicated server if you want an entire server and all of its resources to yourself.

With VPS, a physical server is partitioned into multiple virtual servers through a process known as server virtualisation – with each virtual server running its own operating system (OS). These virtual servers share the resources of the physical server, such as CPU, RAM, and storage, but each virtual server has its own allocation of these resources.

On the other hand, dedicated servers provide exclusive access to all the resources of a physical server, which includes the full processing power, RAM, and SSD capacity.

3. Performance

Although both VPS hosting and dedicated hosting have a lot of power, a dedicated server offers optimal performance because you can use all of the resources on the server. This is because you get full control over the server's resources, resulting in consistently high performance levels, especially for resource-intensive applications and websites with lots of traffic.

4. Customisation

Both hosting plans offer full root access, but a dedicated hosting plan will give you the most control over your server and will allow full customisation because you’re the sole manager of your server.

5. Security

Since you don’t have to share a server with dedicated hosting, you get more security and data privacy.

6. Scalability

VPS hosting is very easy to scale – allowing users to easily upgrade their plans to access more resources as their requirements grow. This can be done fairly quickly by your hosting provider.

While dedicated servers are also scalable, it often involves more manual intervention and may require hardware changes. This can lead to downtime, which for some businesses just may not be affordable.

If you have to make a choice in the near future and you’re just starting out – VPS hosting is a great starting point for small and medium-sized websites due to its accessible cost and allocated resources. However, high-traffic websites will benefit from the full access to resources and full customisation you get with a dedicated server.

When to move from a VPS to a dedicated server

Most web hosting providers will allow you to upgrade your hosting plan as your website grows. For example, you’ll be able to add extra resources to your VPS, such as more storage or RAM. Fasthosts allows you to easily upgrade your VPS from your control panel – read our previous helpful post to find out more about upgrading your virtual private server.

However, you can only upgrade your VPS to a certain point. Eventually, your website may gain so much traffic that you outgrow your server and need a plan with a lot more power.

In this case, you’ll need to switch to a dedicated server. If you’re wondering whether you need to make the switch, here are the main things you should look out for:

1. Your website is growing

The most obvious sign that you need to switch to a dedicated server is that your website is growing rapidly and needs more bandwidth, storage and memory than a VPS can provide. If you’re gaining more traffic and suffering from poor performance, such as slower page speeds and server outages, this is a clear sign you’re due an upgrade.

2. You need better performance

Different websites will have different resource requirements. If you have a complex website that needs a large amount of resources in order to run, you may have to opt for a dedicated server to give you the level of performance you and your customers need.

3. You need more security and data privacy

One of the downsides of VPS hosting is that you’re sharing a server and an IP address with other websites, which means your data may not be as private as you’d like. You could also be vulnerable if other websites on your server fall victim to cyber attacks. To keep your website and your customers’ data as safe as possible, you may need to switch to a dedicated server if your security and privacy needs increase.

4. Your website is expected to grow quickly in the future

Migrating to a new dedicated hosting plan before you need to could be a great strategy for avoiding performance issues if your website’s traffic rapidly increases out of the blue. If your website is projected to grow in the near future, it may be best to prepare ahead of time by switching to a dedicated server before you encounter any problems.

5. You want to host an operating system or application that doesn’t support virtualisation

Not all operating systems or applications are compatible with a VPS. If you want to be able to use any operating system (OS) or install any software you’d like, you may prefer the greater control and customisation you get with a dedicated server.

6. You’re trying to run a lot of untested applications

Again, a dedicated server will give you the greatest amount of control. So, if you want to run a lot of untested applications, it may be better to switch to dedicated hosting as you can do anything you want with your own server. You can run tests on a VPS, but there’s a small chance that your web hosting provider may suspend your service if the application has a negative effect on the rest of the server.

Is it too early to switch to dedicated hosting?

On the other hand, could you be considering an upgrade too soon?

If you experience a surge in traffic, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to upgrade to a new hosting plan. Traffic surges can result from recent promotions, advertising campaigns or seasonal changes in consumer habits. Worse yet, it could be a DDoS, and you’ll need to take steps to prevent a DDoS attack from happening again.

To get a better idea of whether you need to upgrade your hosting plan, you need to monitor your website’s traffic over a longer period of time. Are surges in traffic transient or is there consistent growth? Refer to the points above to help you decide when you need to switch to dedicated hosting, or upgrade your existing VPS plan first before shopping around for new hosting plans.

How to migrate to a new server

If you’ve decided to take advantage of the superior performance, security and customisation offered by a dedicated server, you’ll need to migrate your website carefully to avoid data loss or lengthy outages.

Migrating to a new server can be a nerve-wracking process, but following the right steps will help you get everything across quickly and safely. Generally, the steps will involve:

VPS to dedicated server migration step-by-step

  1. Selecting a web hosting provider and plan.
  2. Backing up your data to prevent data loss during the move.
  3. Making no changes to your website during the migration process, as these changes could be lost during the move.
  4. Setting up your new server by installing software and applications.
  5. Transferring all of your website’s files to the new server.
  6. Update your domain's DNS settings to point to the new dedicated server's IP address (so that visitors land on your website hosted on the dedicated server instead of the VPS)
  7. Testing your website to ensure everything is working properly.
  8. Cancelling your old hosting plan once everything is set up.

Frequently asked questions about VPS vs dedicated servers

Is a dedicated server better than VPS?

One isn’t necessarily better than the other, as the use for each type of server comes down to your needs. A VPS may be seen as “better” if you’re just starting out and have a decent level of traffic coming through to your site (or none at all, and you’re hoping to build). However, dedicated hosting have the edge because they offer faster loading speeds and advanced security while handling high web traffic. So a dedicated serverc can sometimes be the better choice if your current hosting solution can’t manage the level of traffic and resources required.

Which one is cheaper between dedicated server and virtual private server?

A VPS is generally seen as cheaper compared to a dedicated server. This is because a VPS setup involves multiple users sharing the resources of a single physical server, allowing for more cost-effective hosting. While that’s a big plus cost-wise, a dedicated server provides exclusive access to all server resources, but it does mean higher costs for hardware, updates and maintenance.

For more help with choosing a new web hosting plan and migrating to a new server, get in touch with our expert support team. We can help you choose the best hosting package for your website and ensure that all of your data is transferred safely, removing the stress of migrating to a new dedicated server.