VPS (virtual private server) hosting is designed for small business sites that have outgrown standard shared hosting. It involves the allocation of a dedicated amount of server resources, including storage and bandwidth, to your site, so that your website won’t ever be affected by other sites sharing the same server.
Dedicated servers offer a more advanced hosting option that’s best for large, high-traffic websites. They provide a set amount of server resources and involve the use of a single physical server. In general, dedicated servers offer better security, and their generous resource allocation is great for large, content-rich sites.
In this guide, we compare the differences between the two in terms of their prices, performance, scalability, and various other features.
Dedicated servers vs VPS: What we compared
In order to compare dedicated servers vs VPS hosting, we analyzed various aspects of both services.
Dedicated servers vs VPS: Pricing
Price is an important consideration when selecting the right hosting for your business, and it plays a big part in comparing dedicated servers vs VPS. On average, VPS solutions are significantly cheaper than dedicated servers. However, these lower prices tend to come with fewer features and fewer server resources, so you will need to find a balance.
Popular host Liquid Web, for example, offers high-quality VPS and dedicated server solutions. Its VPS plans range from $59 to $189 a month for fully managed hosting. Linux and Windows operating system options are available, and you will be able to add extra server resources if required. The most expensive VPS plan comes with 16GB of RAM, 200GB of SSD storage, and 10TB of bandwidth.
On the other side of the equation, Liquid Web’s dedicated servers range from $199 to $499 a month. The cheapest dedicated server plan is comparable to the most expensive VPS option, with 480GB of storage, 16GB of RAM, and 5TB of bandwidth. The amount of resources you get obviously increases with the more expensive plans.
The bottom line: VPS hosting is best for those on a budget, but a dedicated server may be the right option for those who are happy to pay slightly more for extra resources.
Dedicated servers vs VPS: Performance
Both VPS and dedicated server hosting are high-performance options when compared to cheaper, and often poorer-quality, shared hosting. Average business users will find more than enough power in a low-end VPS plan, but dedicated servers are undoubtedly more powerful.
To illustrate this point, we compared InMotion Hosting’s base VPS plan with its base dedicated server plan. The cheapest VPS plan comes in at $29.99 a month, and includes two CPU cores, 2GB of RAM, 45GB of storage, and unmetered bandwidth.
In comparison, the cheapest dedicated server option starts from $99 a month. It includes four CPU cores, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and 15TB of bandwidth. It’s clear that this correlates to significantly more power than the corresponding VPS option offers.
Note, though, that even a basic VPS subscription will offer great performance for the vast majority of websites. If you’re a small to medium business owner, VPS hosting should be more than good enough. Dedicated servers are usually only required for very large websites with millions of visitors a year.
Dedicated servers vs VPS: Security
Both VPS and dedicated server hosting are very secure options. In general, though, dedicated servers offer higher protection.
This is due to the way VPS and dedicated servers are set up. With VPS hosting, you will receive your own virtualized server, which involves an allocated number of server resources and amount of processing power. However, you will still be sharing the larger physical server with other websites, which can leave you vulnerable if they aren’t following the correct security best practices.
As the name suggests, you will be the only person or organization using a dedicated server. This means that there’s no risk of security breaches through third parties. Of course, both dedicated servers and VPS hosting enable you to install and manage your own security software. Since you will still have a high level of control over your security, there’s really nothing to worry about if you do decide to use a VPS.
Dedicated servers vs VPS: Scalability
As your website grows, you may need to add more storage, bandwidth, RAM, or other resources to deal with increased visitor and transaction numbers, along with a possible increase in the amount of content on your site.
VPS hosting clearly stands out as easier to scale, as you can usually add or remove resources with the click of a button. On the other hand, dedicated servers have a fixed amount of resources, and adding extra can be difficult or even impossible without migrating to a new server.
As an example, Interserver offers leading scalable VPS hosting solutions. Its flexible, cloud-based hosting starts at just $6 a month. This gets you one “slice,” which includes one CPU core, 2GB of RAM, 30GB of storage, and 1TB of bandwidth. Additional slices can be added for $6 each a month, enabling access to up to 16 CPU cores, 32GB of RAM, 480GB of storage, and 16TB of bandwidth.
Dedicated servers vs VPS: Configurability
VPS and dedicated servers both offer excellent configurability, but there are a few small things to mention here. For starters, the majority of VPS hosting solutions come with preinstalled software, and at least some level of technical management by the provider. This can be constraining if you would like to install certain types of software or configure things in a specific manner.
On the other hand, many dedicated servers come as what’s known as bare-metal servers. These are basically empty servers without an operating system or any pre-installed software. You can install anything you require, and the configurability on offer is excellent.
It is worth noting that VPS and dedicated server hosting are both available in managed and unmanaged forms. Managed solutions will generally be less flexible, especially if they don’t come with full root access.
For maximum configurability, ensure you go for an unmanaged VPS or dedicated server option that offers full root access. But at the same time, note that you will need a decent level of IT skills to work with unmanaged hosting like this.
Dedicated servers vs VPS: Conclusion
Dedicated servers and VPS hosting are both great options for businesses. The difference lies in the size and style of business they are suited to. VPS hosting is significantly cheaper, much more scalable, and comes in both managed and unmanaged forms. This makes it better for small, growing businesses with tighter budgets.
Dedicated servers are much more expensive. However, they tend to come with significantly more server resources and are usually more configurable than their VPS counterparts. Dedicated servers are also slightly better for security and performance, although they lack scalability. They are best for established businesses looking for an advanced hosting option for a large and/or high-traffic website.
Further reading on web hosting
Read our longform reviews of both InMotion Hosting and Liquid Web, to find out more about both web hosts. Check out our guide to managed vs unmanaged hosting to find out which is best suited to your needs, and discover the best VPS hosting or best cloud hosting services.