When starting a website, many people turn to a basic shared web hosting service – but as your website grows, so will its needs.
That’s when it’s time to start looking at using a virtual private server (VPS).
A VPS is a step up from shared hosting. You still share a server (the computer that makes your site available to visitors online) with other websites, but there are far fewer websites residing on that server.
VPS providers usually make more system resources available to subscribers, which means your website should be faster and more responsive. On top of that, if you experience traffic spikes during, say, a sales event or after favorable coverage from a major news outlet, VPS system resources typically expand to meet the demands of all the new visitors to your site.
The thing is, there are tons of VPS providers out there, and choosing the best VPS hosting provider is a tough call. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve done the research for you to figure out which VPS services are the best.
How do we know which VPS provides are the best?
We took a look at a wide range of VPS hosting providers, the services they offered, and what set them apart. What kind of hosting plans do they offer, what’s their performance like, and do they provide good help and support?
Ready for a spoiler? Hostgator wins – but there are some other top providers snapping at its heels.
Our top five are:
The best VPS hosting providers are the ones that meet your needs. That may sound silly, but it also happens to be true.
Finding the best VPN provider is a combination of a lot of factors, including the price that’s best for you, the services you need (and perhaps the extras you don’t), and the complexity of the service overall. Based on those considerations, we’ve concluded that HostGator is the best choice for most people, while Bluehost, GoDaddy Hosting, A2 Hosting, and InMotion are solid picks too.
Before we jump into the details, here’s a brief overview of our pick of the best VPS hosting providers:
HostGator is best known for its reliability, excellent overall service, and as a great place to start for novices and beginners.
HostGator offers three different VPS plans dubbed the Snappy 2000, 4000, and 8000, which are priced at $29.95, $39.95, and $49.95 per month respectively. All three plans include two internet protocol addresses, full root access to a 64-bit server, DDoS protection from trouble makers, and a secure firewall.
HostGator says its data centers offer Gigabit uplinks with a guaranteed 20 megabit connection, multiple bandwidth providers, and network redundancy – all of which keeps HostGator going with a claimed 99.99% uptime.
For the actual servers, the specifications change based on the plan you choose, with increasing amounts of processor power, RAM, disk space, and bandwidth. The basic Snappy 2000 offers a dual-core CPU, 2GB of RAM, 120GB of disk space for files and images, and 1.5 terabytes of bandwidth, plus two internet protocol addresses.
Going up to the 4000 keeps the same dual-core CPU, doubles the RAM to 4GB, and offers 165GB of disk space and 2TB of bandwidth. Finally, the 8000 offers a quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, 240GB of disk space, and 3TB of bandwidth.
HostGator offers 24/7 support including live chat, phone, and email ticket support.
All told, HostGator hits the sweet spot for price and performance.
|Low introductory pricing||No free domain with hosting|
|Good amount of bandwidth||No SSD storage|
Another popular service for beginners, the main appeal of Bluehost’s VPS servers is their use of SSD storage, which makes its physical servers much faster and more responsive than machines using hard drives.
Similar to HostGator, Bluehost offers three service levels for VPS – standard, enhanced, and ultimate – priced at $19.99, $29.99, and $59.99 per month respectively.
All three include an SSL certificate for HTTPS encryption, which is a key requirement to remain in Google’s good graces these days. You also get 24/7 support and a 30-day money back guarantee.
Bluehost’s storage is much smaller than HostGator’s, maxing out at 120GB – HostGator’s minimum offering. That’s to be expected, however, given the more expensive SSD drives.
Everything else is pretty similar to what we’ve already seen. The processor cores and RAM counts are the same as HostGator’s. Bluehost includes one domain for free, which is nice if you haven’t grabbed a web address yet.
Bluehost says it can get your new server up and running in seconds (though you’ll still have to fill it with content), and there’s 24/7 support via live chat if you need it.
|Free domain included||Less disk space than HostGator|
GoDaddy prides itself on being a one stop shop where you can have all your web hosting needs met, from its extensive domain registration service to its DIY web design tools.
For VPS hosting, GoDaddy takes care of the day-to-day drudgery of applying security patches and backups. This frees up time for its customers to focus on their sites. Realistically, this kind of activity doesn’t take much time – still, it’s a pain to do it, and many people only take care of it sporadically. On most days, failing to carry out an update doesn’t really matter: until, that is, some random hacker strikes, and then you’ve got a real problem. For that reason, managed updates are great.
Unlike any of the other top choices we’ve looked at so far, GoDaddy offers servers using either Windows or a Linux-based operating system. Most people should opt for Linux, as it’s the most common type of web server (unlike on the desktop, where Windows dominates). Still, for those with specialized needs, the option of using Windows is nice.
GoDaddy offers four Linux-based VPS plans – Economy, Value, Deluxe, and Ultimate – priced at $29.99, $39.99, $69.99, and $139.99 respectively.
As we’ve seen with the other companies, you get more capabilities in your GoDaddy virtual server as the price goes up. Compared to HostGator and Bluehost, however, you’re not getting as much for the base price, with only 1GB of RAM and 40GB of storage. The Ultimate plan gives you 8GB of RAM and 240GB of storage, but at $139.99, you’re really paying a lot.
GoDaddy doesn’t distinguish processor cores like other providers do. Processors are a key indicator of how fast your VPS will be (along with RAM), so presumably, access to processor resources is about the same for all pricing tiers.
GoDaddy offers HTTPS encryption for one year with each plan, which we’ve also seen with Bluehost. GoDaddy also gives you unmetered bandwidth, which is a key feature if you plan on growing your traffic as quickly as possible; however, “unlimited” still has its limits, and if your site gets too big, GoDaddy will require you to move to a more robust plan.
In addition, each VPS plan also gets three dedicated IP addresses, which may be necessary for certain features you add to your website.
The Windows-based VPS plans use the same basic structure as the Linux plans. You have Economy, Value, Deluxe, and Ultimate, with slightly higher prices: $39.99, $59.99, $79.99, and $149.99. The lower level Windows plans generally have more RAM than their Linux counterparts.
|Windows and Linux server options||Lower pricing plans aren’t as powerful as competitors|
Although not as well known, A2 Hosting says its services are as good – if not better – than the bigger web hosting services, with a promise of 20 times faster web hosting. Similar to GoDaddy, A2 Hosting offers both Windows and Linux VPS plans.
On the Linux side, A2 offers three different types of price plans. The first is called Unmanaged VPS, which costs as little as $5 per month, but is all about DIY. For the base price, you get root access to your server, the choice of your favorite Linux operating system, 20GB of storage, 2TB of data transfer, 512MB of RAM, and a single core processor.
That’s pretty light on resources, but as long as you’re not running an Amazon competitor, it should be fine to start. You can also go up from there by paying for increases in core count, memory, bandwidth, and disk space. These are all à la carte options from the checkout menu: if you paid the maximum, for example, you’d get 250GB of disk space, 12 CPU cores, 32GB of RAM, and 9TB of bandwidth for a total of $371 per month.
The next option is Managed VPS, priced at $49.99 per month. For this, you’ll get 75GB of SSD storage, 2TB of data transfer, 4GB of RAM, four processor cores, free HTTPS, and an anytime money back guarantee.
Next is what A2 calls Core VPS, which is exactly the same as Managed VPS. The only difference is that Core gives you root access to the servers, while Managed does not. Managed, then, is better suited to anyone who’s not interested in updating their server or tinkering with lots of features behind the scenes. Core, meanwhile, allows greater freedom for website development for expert users.
Neither Managed nor Core allow for modifications in computer power the way the Unmanaged plan does.
For its Windows plans, A2 offers three different plans – Power+, Prestige+, and Pinnacle+ – priced at $54.99, $74.99, and $104.99 respectively. As with other plans we’ve seen, the more you pay, the more RAM, storage, bandwidth, and processor strength you get. However, once again, Windows plans are not ideal unless you specifically need a Windows server. Otherwise, stick with Linux.
|Windows and Linux plans||No free domains|
|Unmanaged plan allows for high degree of customization|
Rounding out our top 5 is InMotion, a company that prides itself on offering simple managed VPS hosting, and another service which doesn’t differentiate its processor cores for the various plans.
InMotion offers three VPS plans – VPS-1000HA-S, VPS-2000HA-S, and VPS-3000HA-S – priced at $39.99, $79.99, and $144.99 respectively. InMotion often has sales that reduce these prices, as do other VPS providers.
InMotion’s base price includes 75GB SSD storage, 4GB RAM, and 4TB of data transfer. All plans also get a free domain if you pay for six or 12 months, two free hours of assistance with InMotion’s SysAdmins, dedicated IP addresses, and an unlimited number of email accounts.
The key advantage here is what InMotion calls the Free Launch Assist, i.e. those two hours of free one-on-one time with the company’s systems administrators to get your server up and running. This is a huge bonus, but keep in mind that InMotion’s overall speeds are some of the slowest among the top five based on our assessments.
|One-on-one personalized support||Slower servers based on our assessments|
|Unlimited email||Higher prices than competitors at lower pricing plans|
The best VPS hosting providers out there are:
We based our judgement on the essential qualities businesses need to consider from a VPS provider, including pricing, speed, responsiveness, support, and any value added extras. From our assessment, we concluded that HostGator was the best option for most people, but there may be features the other providers offer that appeal to your individual needs.
There are also a wide range of providers beyond just these five, including Host Papa, iPage, and Siteground. While some of these providers have attributes which may appeal, we’d strongly recommend sticking with one of our top providers, who have enough variety of services to satisfy most user cases.
What’s the difference between a VPS and shared hosting?
Both a VPS and shared web hosting mean sharing dedicated hardware with multiple customers. The big difference is that with a VPS, fewer accounts are making demands on the actual hardware resources. You also get guarantees of better performance with a VPS compared to shared hosting.
What’s the difference between a VPS and a dedicated server?
A VPS is a virtual environment running on dedicated hardware, and has to share this hardware with a number of other customers. A dedicated server, meanwhile, provides sole access to the hardware. This latter option is only necessary for very popular websites, as the cost is significantly more than shared hosting or virtual private servers.
What is a virtual server?
A virtual server is essentially a pretend computer running inside a physical computer. Since servers are so powerful and the demands on them are different than a desktop PC, it works out quite well to run multiple virtual servers on a single piece of hardware.
What can you use a VPS for?
The most obvious and popular reason for a VPS is to run a single website, or multiple websites. However, you can use them for pretty much anything that requires access to the internet – such as a web application like Nextcloud to run your own Dropbox alternative – or to create your own virtual private network to better secure the internet connection of your PCs and mobile devices.