If you are looking to put up your own website for the first time, you might be confused with all the different options offered by hosting providers. The two most popular hosting plans are shared hosting and Virtual Private Service (VPS) hosting. The difference between shared hosting and VPS hosting will be explained below.
A hosting account can be best understood as rented space on another computer. When a website is accessed, the browser attempts to connect to another computer, the hosting account server, and access the files containing the web site itself. Shared hosting and VPS accounts differ in the amount of resources that a person has access to.
A shared hosting account is the cheapest hosting account that one can buy. Generally a shared hosting account is getting access to their own directory on the server. They cannot set up their own programs. They can only use programs and scripts that the server is set up to use. The vast majority of scripts that most people would use such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal will work on these servers, and usually can automatically installed through the control panel.
VPS servers are essentially virtual computers. The webmaster of the server installs a virtual operating system on the server. The virtual operating system is allocated resources such as disk space, memory, and CPU cycles and essentially works like its own computer. When you get a VPS, you are getting access to the entire virtual computer. You have root access to the operating system, and can install just about any software you want.
Both shared servers and VPS servers share resources with other users. However, since each VPS user gets access to an entire operating system, each user gets more of the server’s memory and CPU cycles. Shared servers usually have many users on them, most of which do not need a lot of CPU cycles. Because VPS users get a higher share of computer resources, they usually cost several times more than shared hosting.
For most people shared hosting will be adequate. If one plans on running a large number of domains with high traffic, a VPS might make some sense. This is because even though some shared hosting plans have “unlimited bandwidth,” the processor resources of the server are much more limited. Thus if you have too many websites, they will run considerably slower or even become unresponsive. People who use CPU intensive scripts should also consider getting a VPS, especially if you have a high traffic WordPress Site.