Understanding VPS Hosting

12 Facts You Need to Know to Understand VPS Hosting

To understand VPS hosting, you basically need to know what hosting is and what a virtual private server (VPS) is. This piece briefly explores both of those topics as a series of facts.

 

#1. Web hosting gives companies the servers they need to get online.

 

Web hosting is the service of providing Internet-related infrastructural plans to businesses and others. Organizations that do not have their own datacenters, want to move quickly to get started on a project, or do not want to manage servers themselves will use a web host for server space, file maintenance, and online services.

 

#2. Web hosting is split into three major categories.

 

Web hosting is, generally, also sometimes called website hosting or simply hosting. However, people will talk about hosting in terms of the individual category – the major ones of which are:

 

shared hosting: many accounts on one physical machine with a single operating system and unguaranteed resources. (lowest cost)

 

VPS hosting: a smaller number of accounts per machine, each of which has their own operating system and guaranteed resources. (slightly higher cost than shared)

 

dedicated hosting: one account per machine. (significantly higher cost than shared)

 

Related specifically to our topic of VPS, as you can see above, VPS hosting is fundamentally an effort to find “the best of both worlds” – the middle-ground between the flexibility and power of dedicated hosting and the affordability of shared hosting.

 

#3. Many people come to web hosting companies for speed.

Often, companies use web hosting providers for access to their fast web connections. If an organization were to host its own servers, it would be costly to get access to similarly strong data networks. Basically, the business that buys hosting services is leveraging the shared cost of a speedy Internet connection to store and serve its files both internally and externally.

 

#4. Web hosting is an industry that was originally created by the Internet.

 

When the Internet first became publicly available as a mass-market service (the early 1990s), those who were interested in creating websites had to have their own servers. Since servers are costly, and the maintenance of them can be highly technical, there was a potential business need for web hosting. However, the first step was to build servers and create web hosting packages that would meet the needs of many users at the lowest possible cost.

 

#5. Web hosting became prominent for meeting a common business need.

 

Web hosting grew as a business when it became clear that (unsurprising to us now) not everyone wants to host a server themselves. The basic business idea, in the early days, was that it would be a good business to buy servers and rent out the resources of them at a reduced cost to customers that want to run a website – regardless of (and, in a manner, completely irrelevant and separate from) the technical aspects related to hardware.

 

#6. Web hosting demand was minuscule in the beginning, and key statistics show us why it has grown exponentially.

 

Demand was initially not high for web hosting for three basic reasons:

  •  * the amount of people online was low;
  •  * web hosting was an emergent field that was below the surface of public awareness (“farther below,” really, since many people are still unfamiliar with the field); and
  •  * web hosting was costlier because there was less competition.

These figures from The Next Web give us an immediate sense of how mammoth the Internet really is now in size. In turn, these numbers, from January 2017, tell us why web hosting companies have become of ever-increasing use to business. [source]

  •  * There are 7.476 billion people on the planet (with 54% of us in urban settings).
  •  * The total population of Internet users worldwide is 3.773 billion, a 50% penetration of the possible market (so, in a way, it’s only half as ubiquitous as it seems globally).
  •  * Active social media users are a smaller population – at 2.789 billion people, that’s “merely” 37% of everyone in the world.
  •  * Interestingly, the number of mobile users, at 4.917 billion, is higher than the number of Web users.

 

#7. The business world was revolutionized by web hosting.

 

Everyone talks about the disruption of the Internet. That digital disruption that has changed our lives in so many ways for the better would not have been possible without web hosting – which supplied the convenience to allow businesses to get online in a structured and trusted manner. The changes were really business-wide and impacted almost every industry.

 

Specifically, a major aspect of that disruption was in marketing. Marketers had to completely change their approach as websites became increasingly critical platforms for the branding of businesses. What used to be print became digital – following the same basic pattern of magazines and newspapers.

 

#8. A virtual private server (VPS) gives hosting customers greater control.

 

A VPS is a virtual server that is experienced as its own server and has its own unique operating system (OS). For better costs than dedicated hosting, while still offering a significant technological upgrade from shared hosting, a hosting company divides one physical server into guaranteed sets of resources for a number of different VPS hosting customers.

 

Typically this scenario is described as a virtual private server (VPS). However, the term virtual dedicated server (VDS) is also sometimes used.

 

#9. A VPS is a similar concept to having your own private computer.

 

A virtual private server is fundamentally about separation. It takes the form of a virtual machine to meet the needs of each individual hosting customer just as an independent PC can be dedicated for use by a single person. This type of server gives a business the same capabilities (including full root access from some providers) as a dedicated server, with several VPS machines, all with separate operating systems, running on the same machine or set of machines.

 

#10. A VPS gives a user much greater freedom than they’d have with shared hosting.

 

A VPS will usually include basic components such as web server and mail server programs; file transfer protocol (FTP) software; and possibly additional applications for e-commerce, blogging, and other core features. Since a virtual private server has its own operating system, the customer takes on the role of a super-user of the OS. In turn, they are able to install whatever software they choose that can run on that particular OS (typically a Linux distribution).

 

#11. VPS plan management creates a major distinction.

 

As virtualization technology has progressed, companies are now able to provide VPS hosting affordably. One of the most important features of VPS plans is the determination of the responsible party to manage the server. In an unmanaged setting, the user bears the responsibility to manage and monitor the server. In a managed VPS hosting setting, the hosting company is responsible.

 

#12. Virtual private servers are of use to small and large companies.

 

A typical example scenario in which a VPS is useful is when a startup or other small business wants to create and run a site but does not want to have to make an investment in a dedicated server. However, an enterprise might use VPS hosting as well. The VPS setup is helpful in those cases because it allows one user to control various servers; one might be designated for the production-level website and another for a sandbox server (so that a false version of the site can be used for testing updates, changes, and new software or plugins).

 

*****

 

Hopefully, the above facts are helpful in understanding web hosting, the virtual private server, and VPS hosting. Do you think a VPS might be right for your business? At KnownHost, you are scalable on demand, without any downtime: no migration of files or databases are required, and there are no changes in your settings. Compare plans.

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Powerful Hosting for WordPress

Why WordPress Might Need More Powerful Hosting Than You Think

When deciding on the backend environment of a site that will serve as the place where you’ll make all changes to content and functionality, there aren’t any wrong or right answers. While there are some specialty cases, like e-commerce, where you’ll probably want to help yourself by choosing an e-commerce specific CMS at least as a base, you can use any solution you’d like. While coding a site from scratch is a perfectly suitable solution, many people opt for a CMS for a variety of reasons.

 

For those who aren’t web developers by trade, or business owners who just prefer simplicity when it comes to making site changes, the use of a CMS is a popular choice. Though content management systems vary, the benefit of using them is that they are relatively easier to use due to being broken down into logical “fill in your content here” sections rather than intimidating users with a wall of code that they have to accurately edit.

 

The most popular CMS in the world, by far, is WordPress. Current estimates have WordPress powering more than a quarter of all websites on the internet. It’s easy to see why so many think of WordPress as synonymous with CMSes, like Xerox and copy machines. WordPress is fairly straightforward, it can be modified to do nearly anything, and the cottage industry of plugins and themes that has developed around it means the combinations are nearly limitless. But, while using WordPress is simple to a degree, it is not a simple software. If you’re just starting out with a website, there’s a good chance you’ve opted for the combination of WordPress on a shared hosting plan.

 

While this set up will probably work for you in the very early days of your venture, don’t be surprised if you quickly outgrow it, especially if this website is for your business. There are two things to keep in mind here: increases in traffic and the demands of WordPress as a software. Sooner or later, you’ll see that you’re going to need to migrate to a managed VPS in order to get the performance a professional site needs.

 

Migrations aren’t fun, so it’s best to set things up initially with an eye on your future needs. That’s why you should skip the shared hosting and go straight for a managed VPS when launching a site on WordPress. Here are some characteristics of WordPress to keep in mind and why you may need more powerful hosting than you realize.

 

Keep Traffic in Mind

 

Many of the factors that can make a WordPress site feel like it’s running slow or performance isn’t what you’d expect comes down to the software itself, not necessarily your hosting. What this means is, upgrading to a managed VPS isn’t necessarily a magic bullet. Rather, it gives you more room to work with to offset some of the characteristics of WordPress that can make it sluggish. The only thing your server is primarily responsible for in this equation is handling traffic loads.

 

Between the information presented in cPanel and Google Analytics (which you really should set up on your site) you’ll be able to extrapolate if you’re seeing notable increases in bandwidth usage and traffic. If these metrics are higher than they have been historically and you’re noticing that your page load time is exceeding three seconds, you probably need a more capable server. Google themselves have said two second load times should be the target.

 

If external factors are affecting site performance, a VPS should be something you look into.

 

The Nature of WordPress

 

Now we’re going to get into how WordPress in particular can be a bit sluggish. Since we are speaking in terms of literal seconds, sluggish is a relative term. But the difference between three seconds and six seconds when it comes to user behavior is significant. Pinpointing ways to shave down fractions of seconds is something you’re going to want to do if you’re looking to make money with your website.

 

When it comes to issues of WordPress itself, your host can only act as a buffer. With a more powerful hosting solution like a VPS, the added CPU and RAM provides more leeway when it comes to more bloated themes or plugin usage. The hardware in a shared hosting plan will begin to suffer under the load of a heavy site sooner. But, ultimately, it’s about striking a balance between necessary functionality, good design choices, and having a reliable host. Here are some of the aspects of your WordPress build where things can bottleneck.

 

Your Theme

 

The theme you choose doesn’t just contain the design of your site. Themes that have a bunch of bells and whistles have functionality hard coded into them. That means more elaborate PHP. This makes for heavier code that can bog down your site. When possible, go for the most lightweight theme possible. Chances are you won’t use all of the features coded into the theme. It’s better to add functionality yourself via plugins you select yourself. This leads to the next point about plugins.

 

Plugins

 

One of WordPress’ biggest selling points is the ability to easily add functionality with plugins. The downside to this convenience is you can get a little plugin happy and find yourself with many installed in your WordPress build. While plugins are necessary to get the site you want, it’s important to know that each plugin can add a fraction of a second to your page load time because the browser has to process them. It’s also important to note that not all plugins are equal. Some can be significantly heavier than others with similar functionality. That’s why you should test and evaluate to see which to keep and which to get rid of.

 

Image Optimization

 

Rarely, if ever, should you be keeping images on your site that measure in megabytes. Large images can be a culprit behind slow load times. These images add up, so a long post history with large images can absolutely cause performance issues. Get around this by installing a plugin that automatically optimizes images as you load them into the CMS. This takes the responsibility of going through and editing every image off of you for convenience.

 

Caching

 

You can help your site load quicker with a caching solution. W3 Total Cache is a popular plugin for this . It makes a variety of behind the scenes changes without actually altering your theme or plugins. It was designed to work in any hosting environment, including your VPS. Check out its long list of features. It makes many small changes to how certain content is cached in order to improve the user experience.

 

Conclusion

 

Your website depends on reliable hosting to get the results your business needs to thrive. Don’t accept slow performance and erratic uptime. A managed VPS is a great investment for businesses of all sizes. The combination of a managed VPS and WordPress could be the ideal environment for yours. If you’ve grown frustrated with your current hosting plan or you want to start fresh, contact the team at KnownHost today. We’ll help you choose the hosting solution that makes the most sense for your business.

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Why Your Hosting Could be Affecting Your SEO Efforts

Search engine optimization is one of the facets of digital marketing that provokes a love/hate response. It’s obvious that having an SEO plan is a necessity. After all, there is a lot of value in organic traffic. On average, just over half of the traffic coming to a site is via organic search. That means avenues like social, paid ads, email, referrals, etc. combined equal the traffic that Google or Bing bring to your site. While having more visitors is nice, what does that actually mean for your bottom line? Organic search traffic also brings in the most revenue across most industry sectors. While some visitors might just be researching or “window shopping” many are deliberately performing searches so they can make a purchase.

 

The frustration of an SEO campaign usually lies in how nebulous it can sometimes be. That’s because search companies, especially Google, are notoriously secretive about the factors that go into their ranking algorithms. That’s why tactics that used to work don’t necessarily work quite as well a few years down the line. This means reevaluating your tactics, dealing with the ups and downs of rankings or penalties, and investing more into a new strategy. The frustration lies in not being entirely confident that the action you’re taking is the best course. Luckily, the whole thing isn’t a shot in the dark. There are definite correlations marketing professionals have parsed in order to determine how to best get higher search results. It turns out, many factors go into your search rankings. And some pretty significant ones actually relate to your site’s hosting. That’s why if you’ve been trying to save money by staying on a shared hosting plan, you could actually be giving up on revenue that would more than pay for your, say, VPS instead.

 

Surprised that your hosting company might be affecting your SEO efforts? Let’s break down what is known about search algorithms and how hosting can play a substantial role.

 

Search Ranking Factors

 

We know some of the major factors that make up Google’s algorithm through both trial and error and some guidance from Google themselves. Content plays a big part. In fact, it’s become possibly the most heavily weighted piece of signaling of the value of a site. If your site’s content isn’t determined to be “of value” then your low rankings will reflect that. Now, how does an algorithm determine the value of content? It can’t just read it like a human being would.

 

Google relies on signals that people find value in the content. A big one is social sharing. The more social media interaction there is with your site, the higher the authority and value, therefore the higher the rank. Ultimately, Google looks to approximate a user’s experience with its algorithm. That means some technical attributes of a site will factor into the ranking formula as well. Some of those attributes have to do with how well your site performs. That includes things like page load time and site speed. This is where your host comes in.

 

How Your Host Plays a Part

 

You know the reason why someone would opt for a VPS over a shared hosting plan. It’s faster. No one likes to wait for a page to load, or worse, crash. But it’s not that simple. Not only do users value site speed and load times highly, but Google does as well. First, it’s important to make a critical point. Many things factor into site speed, not just your host. Upgrading your shared hosting to a VPS will certainly be beneficial, but it’s not a magic bullet. Developer decisions play a major role in site speed, too.

 

However, you want to give your site every advantage possible. Higher performing servers will give you speed and broadband boosts. This should ostensibly increase your page load times which would reflect positively on your ranking scores. Having a higher performing hosting solution gives you a bit more wiggle room when it comes to “heavy” coding, but best practices still dictate clean code when possible. Site uptime also plays a part in your SEO efforts. Don’t settle for anything less than 99.9% service level agreements. If a search engine crawler comes to index your site during a period that it’s in downtime, that could be detrimental to your ranking.

 

What You Can Do to Improve Rankings

 

By focusing on giving your visitors the best user experience possible, you’re also going to be bolstering your SEO efforts. What does that look like?

 

Invest in a hosting solution that will help you achieve your goal of keeping your page load times to under three seconds if possible and online consistently with industry leading uptime. Cut down on things that slow sites down like complicated JavaScript or PHP scripting. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, be careful with the amount of plugins you have loaded into the site. Each plugin can add a fraction of a second to your page load time. Enough plugins combined can add crucial seconds to your overall load time which can push you over the threshold of “acceptable” to both users and search engines.

 

Outside of the realm of hosting and site performance, you also want to make sure your information architecture is sound with proper URL formatting, high quality content, plenty of social media engagement, and a focus on keyword research.

 

Planning for the Future

 

“Future proofing” as a concept is a bit dubious. No one can predict how things will go. But, there are some best practices that probably won’t ever fall out of fashion.

 

Setting up your site with the right hosting solution right off the bat is always a good idea. Many business owners start on lower tiered hosting to save money only to find themselves in a situation where they need to migrate down the line. While migrations aren’t always a big deal, things can go wrong. Information could be lost. The technicalities of a site migration could hurt your SEO rankings. Anytime you move something from one place to another, there is the possibility of search penalties.

 

Starting right away on a VPS will save you time and headaches in the long run because you’ll be set up where you need to be from the beginning. You’ll have the performance you need to handle your site’s growth from its beginnings up to having hundreds of thousands of visitors.

 

A successful SEO campaign is all about setting up strong site architecture, including content, right off the bat and then building off of that over the years. What you don’t want to do is find yourself in a situation where you’re doing complete overhauls.

 

Conclusion

 

As you can see there is a lot riding on having a reliable hosting solution that consistently offers high performance. Every part of your digital operations is interconnected, even in some not so obvious ways. That’s why it’s important to partner with the best. At KnownHost, we know how important your website is to your business. If you’re looking for a hosting company with the experience to handle any kind of project all while providing top of the line customer service, contact us today. We’re happy to answer any questions and help you determine the best hosting solution for your business.

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Why is Shared Hosting Like Taking the Bus on the Information Superhighway?

Public transportation allows people who can’t afford cars to get where they need to be, and it means you can sit down and read rather than having to focus on the road. In other words, it’s cheap and easy. Those are positive aspects of a vehicle that is structured to fit many people. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a wise idea to put your business website on the bus.

 

What’s the “bus ride” for web hosting? The similarly cheap and easy solution is shared hosting. While shared hosting is the most affordable and accessible type of hosting, it suffers in the same way a trip on public transportation can: security and speed. Let’s look at those two issues in detail.

 

Sharing a Ride Makes You Vulnerable

 

Security is kind of a boring topic to many people, so it’s critical to know why this issue generally deserves greater attention. Even back in 2013, the National Cyber Security Alliance found that:

 

  • – 20% of small businesses get hacked or digitally assaulted every year; and
  • – Of firms that do get targeted, 3 in 5 are bankrupt half a year later.

 

Those statistics are disturbing certainly, but how relevant are they to your situation? Some small businesses are more likely to be attacked than others. Bear this in mind, though: attackers will sometimes go after certain industries, but the key factor in why companies get hacked is not related to industry or value; rather, it’s simply the presence of vulnerability.

 

“Most small business owners still don’t get security, don’t think it’s an issue, and are pretty defenseless,” explained Think Security First consultant Neal O’Farrell. Owners and managers of SMBs often think that a hacker would have to select their company out of tens of millions of others, he said, “not realizing that the attacks are automated and focused on discovering vulnerabilities.”

 

What are the biggest security concerns related to taking the “information superhighway bus” that is shared hosting? As the numerous visitors and internal users of sites share the resources of one server, it makes sense that would be an environment in which there would be greater security risks, both from outside the server and within it.  Think about it this way: the server itself is under greater threat based on the number of sites running on it.

 

“No matter how you try to institute security measures with a shared hosting environment,” noted Web Hosting Provider List, “the fact is that, it is plainly not possible to ensure a 100 percent airtight protection.”

 

The sites on a shared server are positioned on different domains and obviously have disparate login credentials, but they are using the same operating system as other users and typically even share an IP address. Sharing resources cuts the costs of these hosting plans, so they look attractive to startups, nonprofits, and others on shoestring budgets. However, the sharing of resources in this manner means a greater likelihood that your data or services will be compromised.  Major security issues with shared hosting include:

 

  • – An attacker can use reverse IP lookup to get a list of all the sites on a shared hosting server. This method is fast and simple, actually: you can find the information through free services (example tool), the Dig command on Linux (Dig –x <ip address> +short), a search engine (Search Query: ip: <IP Address>), or using a script to automate it.
  • – The behavior of other users that share your IP will impact your online reputation and the continuing strength of your domain. If another site sharing the IP gets blacklisted for spam, your site will get blocked as well.
  • – A hacker can enumerate the CMS installations on the shared server. This tactic is often used because CMS software like WordPress includes the name and version information in the HTML. A vulnerability scanner such as WPScan can be used to gather data on the site, including a list of its plugins, themes, TimThumbs, and usernames. “An example attack would be to bruteforce the admin account of WordPress using a list of commonly used passwords,” explained a report by c0d3inj3cT for the InfoSec Institute. If you don’t have a captcha set up on your admin login page, it could actually be compromised by WPScan using brute force.
  • – Using a shared server puts you at greater risk of malware attacks. Malicious script can be uploaded to other sites, which in turn means that your site can be quickly compromised. The malware may occur because one of the other sites is vulnerable. It provides a channel through which the intruder can steal data.
  • – Customers may have PHP, Perl or shell accounts that make it possible to hit the other sites on the server with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
  • – Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks may target another site that shares your IP address. In this case, you are hit with a DDoS attack essentially as collateral damage of an effort to hit someone else.
  • -DDoS malware could be loaded onto the server, which could put the hacker in control of the entire server for launching attacks.

 

You Can’t Step on the Gas

 

Taking the bus of shared hosting isn’t just a security concern. It can also significantly slow down your site and dampen the growth of your business. When other riders on the bus have needs, the driver meets them. Just consider the stop-request cord: in this manner, every rider on the bus has a democratic ability to grind it to a halt. You see the same ability of individuals to slow down the ride on shared hosting – with resources handed out “first come, first serve” to all sites, which can lead to slow loading on your site when another site peaks.

 

Security is an issue on shared servers because, basically, there are too many accounts without enough isolated designation of resources; and the same is true of the slow speed that can occur in these environments.

 

Speed is one of the primary arguments many experts mention when they advocate for VPS over shared hosting. Speed and other benefits of the virtual private server are all related in some way to the isolation and pre-allocation of resources that VPS plans allow – versus the “first come, first serve” nature of shared hosting.

 

On a VPS, it doesn’t matter what another customer might be doing on the server; your speed is guaranteed. If you have two CPUs dedicated for your use, then those CPUs will always be there for you to use. The allotment of RAM for which you pay within a VPS are always set aside for you, no matter what other tasks might be running on the physical hardware.

 

Ajeet Khurana of The Balance noted that on shared hosting plans, the performance of a website will fluctuate throughout the day based on how much activity is shared by all the businesses using it. “This never happens on VPS services,” he said. “Your resources are dedicated to your… website.”

 

Getting into the Fast Lane with Managed VPS

 

Do you want to improve the security and speed of your website without having to worry about managing the server yourself? At KnownHost, we offer ultra-high VPS performance with unparalleled support by professionals. See our fully managed VPS plans.

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