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I am currently on shared hosting, and have been recently looking at the idea of switching to a VPS instead. From what I have gathered, a VPS allows you more control over your server setup. But at the same time you have to set it up yourself, and maintain it. This is the bit I am asking about...

Despite the power and flexibility you get from using a VPS, you have to take care of it yourself. Is it worth it?

Some context: I am primarily a Windows user, but have been tinkering with various Linux distros off and on for several years. I know enough about Linux to get by, or to be dangerous - take your pick. I've also done some tinkering on my current host, but have no serious sysadmin experience. There's always a first time!

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I've selected an answer, thanks to all who responded. I have set up a Linode VPS, per Entity_Razer's response, and will be working to configure it and get it running. Have lots of reading ahead! –  Grant Palin Apr 11 '10 at 23:48
    
I will probably set up one site at first to get the configuration worked out, then will probably looking at migrating my sites over time to the new setup. It's not that my current host is constraining, but I want more room to grow, and more control. –  Grant Palin Apr 11 '10 at 23:52
    
+1 very clever answer! –  Marco Demaio Aug 6 '10 at 15:19

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Defenitly worth it. I'm running a debian Lenny VPS myself, and I'll say, I came in with a "basic" understanding of *nix based systems, but I've learned a lot.

So, if you want to learn and sharpen your skills a bit, then by all means YES ! go for it, it's fun, it's a learning experience and it's something to be proud of.

If on the other hand you "just" want stuff to work quick, easy and without pain, then keep your current hosting / get a managed VPS.

PS: I don't know if it's allowed or not but if your going to be going for a VPS solution I can reccomend Linode.com.

I've got my VPS there as well, and they are a pretty good company, lively community, good support, I've had no downtime what so ever since joining, except one reboot thus far, and that was it.

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I appreciate your feedback. Your comment is the one that convinced me, so you get the accepted answer. You hit on the right points to make up my mind! –  Grant Palin Apr 11 '10 at 23:43

As opposed to shared hosting it is worth it, since you know you have dedicated resources. If you're not really experienced with managing your own VPS you'll be encountering problems trying to copy paste tutorials from the Internet, since when the first error pops up during that copy-paste, which doesn't let you progress, you're screwed.

There are some VPS providers that offer to manage the said VPS for you, though it will likely cost extra, so I guess it depends if you'd rather save a couple of bucks and start learning system administration or spend a bit more and be worry-free-ish.

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I'll be following some tutorials, but doing the typing myself - important for the learning experience. The learning process is part of the value for me. –  Grant Palin Apr 11 '10 at 23:45

It depends on the quality of your hosting provider and your skills. Owning/Administrating a VPS is in essence the same as owning/administrating a dedicated box. (with minor subtle differences). Typically hosting providers overload their shared hosting boxes (with more than 400-500 virtual hosts), so you should see an increase in speed. VPS tend to be more secure, because you do not have the liability of 400 other accounts being compromised in the system. Having said that, your are in charge of maintaining the security of that server through proper configuration/updates.

It all depends on what you want to do with your VPS. In my case I had to setup some custom perl daemons, so VPS/dedicated was the only option. Using a VPS for a low-bandwidth brochure site might not be cost-effective.

A quick pros/cons of the top of my head of VPS vs. Shared Hosting

Pros:

  • Increased security
  • Flexibility, more Control
  • Speed and Resources

Cons:

  • Steep Learning Curve if you are inexperienced with server administration
  • More expensive
  • You cant "Fire and Forget" as you would in shared hosting. You have to maintain it
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I am aware of the implications of moving to a VPS setup, the good and the bad. But good of you to mention them. Ultimately I would have at least a few sites running, all of which are more than brochure-type sites. –  Grant Palin Apr 11 '10 at 23:40

Let's start with the obvious. You have already stated that you are a Linux tinkerer, not an expert. It is therefore unwise to use an Internet facing machine as your plaything. You would do far better learning in a contained environment.

If shared hosting is meeting your needs then you would be well advised to stay with it. Only if you need something that the shared hosting doesn't provide should you be looking at a VPS. The extra management, not least of which is looking after the security of the system, should not be discounted lightly.

  • Shared hosting: Maintenance and trouble free, albeit with limited flexibility
  • VPS - Great flexibility but everything is your responsibility

Do your really need the extra work?

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Extra work, ehhhh...Extra learning? Absolutely. The knowledge to be gained is an important goal for me. If I'm a web developer, I should have at least some sysadmin capability. –  Grant Palin Apr 11 '10 at 23:47
    
@Grant Palin, the tinkering and learning is most certainly worthwhile. Doing so on an Internet facing machine as a starting point is ill-advised, to say the least. I do my tinkering on virtual machines in a closed network. –  John Gardeniers Apr 12 '10 at 0:37
    
A good point about jumping on a fresh net-connected server. I've downloaded the same Linux server distro that I chose for my VPS, and will run that locally on VirtualBox to learn what setup and configuration needs to be done. Then I will be better-equipped to do the same for the VPS. –  Grant Palin Apr 12 '10 at 2:17
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Not only safer but more forgiving. Take snapshots at key points. Then if/when things go wrong just restore to that snapshot and have another crack at it. When you reckon it's all good you can copy everything up to the VPS. –  John Gardeniers Apr 12 '10 at 2:59
    
+1 for the answer (I totally agree with you) and +1 for the clever suggestion in your last comment. Thanks! –  Marco Demaio Aug 6 '10 at 15:24

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