Switching from another host (shared) to VPS - advice please

Melissa Benson

New Member
Hi all, I hope you can give me some clarifying information and advice. Basically, I'm wondering if the lower VPS plans would be okay to switch to from a shared plan. Here is some background information..

I have been a KH customer for a year or 2 and I've had great customer support and no known issues. I purchased the VPS-2 plan. I have a client who is running a v1.9.5 Moodle site on a different host. We currently use the Power Plan there. I am the admin and maintain that site.

We are going to install a new instance of Moodle, version 2.6 or higher. A huge jump and I've heard it takes a lot more resources in regards to server specs. So, long story short..I was going to install it on the same shared host site the 1.9 Moodle site is on....well, php and mysql versions needed to upgraded..they moved me to another server, then problems with the current Moodle site were happening. It was a MESS. I finally resolved some issues and that site is okay - for now.

I came to the conclusion we need to upgrade from that Power Plan. However, I want to take my client and move her to KH because the customer service at the other host was terrible.

I thought going from that power plan to VPS-1 would be okay because it should be a big step up, right? But I look at the RAM and it's only 512. Moodle recommends 1 GB and says:

The general rule of thumb is that Moodle can support 10 to 20 concurrent users for every 1GB of RAM, but this will vary depending on your specific hardware and software combination and the type of use. 'Concurrent' really means web server processes in memory at the same time (i.e. users interacting with the system within a window of a few seconds). It does NOT mean people 'logged in'.

The Moodle site I work with sometimes only has 3-4 people logged in at a time. In the future I can see 15-20 people every once in awhile.

I asked around in the Moodle forums and looked online and I got responses that said a shared server plan might be faster than a VPS-1 plan. Is this true? Summarizing they said that it depends on who else is on that shared server...if there are sites that don't take much RAM then you may be lucky and you're able to take advantage of the total amount of RAM. Where, on a VPS I only have 512 and that's it...so technically I could have more on the SHARED server! Is this true and how often would that happen? They were advising me to get the VPS-3 at the minimum! I can't imagine going from a shared plan ($11/month) to a VPS-3 ($45/month). I then got nervous that switching to a VPS-1 will actually be slower!

I've been looking online all afternoon and can't really get a straight answer and people are suggesting other hosts that cost less and have better specs but I can't really trust them. It's like they were saying the KH VPS-1 and 2 might be slower than my shared host so I'd need 3 or higher :/ Can anyone expand on this anymore?

We will basically only have the one Moodle 2.6 site and maybe a small wordpress blog. The shared host now seems okay speed wise but Moodle 2 needs more resources and the amount of traffic will only go up. We also will be working on theming and design work.

We will be running the current 1.9 Moodle site and the new Moodle 2 site at the same time but I don't feel comfortable running them on the same server because of mysql and php version compatibility. So, I think we'll leave the one now on the other host for awhile while starting a new plan with KH for the new Moodle site.

What do you guys suggest for plans? What do you think about going from the power plan (shared) to VPS-1? What about these other hosts which have a lot more RAM for the same amount of money at a KH VPS-1 server?

Thanks so much in advance. I know it's a long post but I don't want to make my friend/client switch, pay more and the site is slow. I really have tried to do a lot of research on this, so this isn't my first stop but I figured to get info about KH server, this is the place to go.

Here are Moodle requirements.
@Melissa Benson

You've got a pretty loaded post here, so I'm going to take each question one at a time and try to cover them all.

I would suggest sticking with the VPS-2 to start. Here's why:

VPS-1 with 512MB of RAM is designed as a very entry-level system and can't handle much concurrent traffic, especially not if Moodle is as intense as you're saying. cPanel and other services of your VPS will use 2-300MB just at idle, thus not much is left for web applications.

VPS-2 with 1GB of RAM is a good starting point. Upgrades if more RAM is necessary are seamless and near-instant. The people telling you "shared hosting might be faster blah blah" are pretty incorrect here. The speed of the VPS should be much faster, however with RAM shortage being the concern, this won't cause a slow down, but error pages. If you exceed your RAM your sites won't slow down, you'll see things like "Internal Server Error", etc. The only way they might can get off thinking shared could be faster is if you were to go with a shared host which is specifically optimized for Moodle. This can be remedied by letting us help you optimize settings on your VPS for Moodle in both Apache and MySQL, as well as PHP. Introducing caching options such as APC will help significantly as well.

There's a pretty big jump going from shared to VPS, and it may not seem worth it at first, but that gap has, and always will exist. Part of the resources you pay for on a VPS now have to support their own OS and entire control panel whereas on shared the resources you bought didn't have to support it. That's where that "gap" comes into play. Once you get above that though (ie any further upgrades past VPS-2) you'll be seeing basically 100% of the purchased resources being put right into your site. A VPS is the better move as it does offer more security as well as control from a shared environment as things are much more isolated.

I think that covers your questions. Let me know if you have any more :)
Jonathan, Thank you very much for your response. Eases my mind a little :) And help with optimizing php and stuff on the server was actually going to be my next question. It's good to hear that support is able to help out with this!

And it does make sense that with a VPS some resources need to go towards the other stuff producing that "gap."

Another quick question, in other host's plan I see something about "1 GB of burstable RAM". What does this mean? Is that something KH provides in VPS?
Burstable RAM refers to the amount you can go over your guaranteed allocation. Burst RAM is not guaranteed, so if the system (node) needs that RAM elsewhere it won't give it to you.

We don't offer burstable RAM - all of our resources are guaranteed.