So you’re thinking of hopping on to a brand new VPS server?
Shifting your site to a VPS (Virtual private Server) is a very wise decision. There are several scenarios that could have promoted this decision. If you have been on shared hosting for a long time now and your website has been raking up hundreds of thousand visitors then it’s time to switch hosting services.
Shared hosting companies make a lot of promises like unlimited bandwidth and storage. However, when you read between the fine lines you’ll see that most of those promises dissolve into nothingness.
Every shared host has its limitations and you don’t want your site to remain inaccessible just when your article is going viral. You could be missing out on hundreds of sign ups, conversions and lot more.
Page load time can cost rankings
Another scenario is when you want to optimize your site to Google’s quality guidelines but the current hosting solution isn’t just up to the mark.
One among the different on page factors that Google pays attention to for ranking your site is its speed. A site that takes forever to load may lose brownie points when it comes to determining whether it should rank high.
In a Moz case study, they created a big list of 2000 search queries. The queries ranged from consisting of single word keywords to over 5 word keywords. They then created another list, this time the top 50 ranked pages for the queries.
It was discovered in the study that Time to First Byte (TTFB) could affect how sites are ranked. TTFB is another way of saying the time that is required to for the browser to capture the first byte of data from the server hosting your website. It was a measure of latency. It measured the time it took to send the request to the web server, processing the request and then generating a response.
It was seen that higher the time required for the browser to receive the first byte, higher the correlation with lower search engine rankings. Correspondingly sites with lower TTFB, which implies sites which loaded faster showed higher correlation with higher search engine rankings. This is a strong discovery and it could very well imply that faster sites get better rankings.
There are tools available that let you optimize load times but all of that stand secondary to the kind of web host and servers you are using. A good web server is the first requirement to better site load times.
Page load time can cost conversions
Moving on to the third scenario, various case studies prove time and again that conversion rates are affected by page load times. More time it takes for a site to load, lower the conversions.
It’s especially important if you are running an eCommerce site where every second matters.
In other words faster the site, higher the conversions. Studies conducted by Gomez.com indicate that most web users expect a site to load under less than 2 seconds. If it takes 3 seconds, the visitors would rather go to some other site. The page abandonment rate could even approach 50% if your site takes 10 seconds to load.
It’s even scarier for eCommerce sites. Studies show that if your shopping site makes $100,000 in revenue/day a one second increase in page loading time will cost over $2.5 million in lost sales over the year. That’s ugly.
Now let’s move to understanding the differences between the main types of hosting services.
Differences between Virtual Private Server (VPS), Shared hosting and Dedicated Server
What is a VPS?
Also, known as Virtual Dedicated Server, this is a virtual system loaded on a server running its own version of the OS. A server that hosts a VPS/VDS may have several other versions of it running but the user sees and accesses only one which is allotted to him. This is achieved by portioning a single server into virtual components each with its version of the OS. Hence the term Virtual Private Server.
The server in a VPS is much bigger and has resources allocated to it with a much more powerful hardware. As such the OS can be either Windows or Linux.
So if it’s a Windows VPS you can typically run all applications that run on the Windows Operating system.
With VPS you get root access to the server and your site is hosted in a very secure environment. Most VPSs also come with no limitations on bandwidth, i.e. they are unmetered.
What is a dedicated server?
A dedicated server on the other hand is akin to owning a whole house. It’s fully your own; you are the admin, you get the root access, you can make the changes that you deem necessary and add customization if you want to.
Unlike a VPS where you share the computer with others here you have your very own server to host your site and other needs. The server isn’t virtual.
What is shared hosting?
With shared hosting the server resources are shared by thousands of other users. Hence shared hosting is often unreliable. With so many people hosting their sites and using resources that are pooled together not one website gets enough and if your site tends to use more resources the site would go down.
Now that we have gone over the differences between the three let’s move to the next section. You might be wondering that if the servers are going to be any good they are going to cost a lot.
This isn’t true. There are a lot of companies that offer free VPS hosting. Here you go:
The Top Sites for Free VPS hosting
Amazon Web Services
AWS is an Amazon Web Services company in the VPS hosting niche. Needless to say, AWS is a behemoth, the market leader in all respects.
Amazon provides free VPS service for one full year. The Virtual Server Hosting is called Elastic Cloud Compute.
When using the free 1 year program you get Linux t2.micro and Windows t2.micro for free. In addition to that a new user (someone like you) gets the following features/benefits each month until one year is complete.
- 750 hours of EC2 (Elastic Cloud Compute) running Linux OS, RHEL, or SLES t2.micro instance usage. Only one of the t2.micro usage is free.
- 750 hours of EC2 running Microsoft Windows Server t2.micro instance usage
- 750 hours of Elastic Load Balancing plus 15 GB data processing
- 30 GB of Amazon Elastic Block Storage in any combination of General Purpose (SSD) or Magnetic. SSD storage is extremely fast.
- 15 GB of bandwidth out aggregated across all AWS services. This implies that if you’re running any instances* (more on that later.) the bandwidth will get allocated towards that as well.
- 1 GB of Regional Data Transfer
*An instance is referred to an AWS server where you are running any application.
However, if you exceed any of the quotas mentioned here, then it will get added to your bill.
Other noteworthy features
- If you are going to use other features of Elastic Computing by running instances then it’s very easy to scale up or down. This can be done in minutes.
- As it generally goes with VPS servers, you get root access to the servers. It’s fully under your control.
- AWS offers a great deal of flexibility in choosing the configuration of your choice. You can decide between Linux or Windows OS, memory and CPU configuration and even boot partition size.
- Comes with an uptime guarantee of 99.95% which is lower when compared to some services like Digital Ocean but still very good.
- Completely secure cloud platform. You can choose to make instances private or public and can specify IP ranges for the servers.
- Free for 1 year.
Only 1 Linux Machine and 1 Windows machine is free. If you become careless during the set up stage and launch multiple instances or applications, AWS won’t stop you from doing so and bills will rack up.
So be careful of that.
OHosti Free VPS
OHosti provides completely free shared hosting plans, and free VPS hosting plans. Here are some features that set OHosti apart:
- CentOS Linux (CentOS Linux is a free open source software provide by Red Hat)
- Full root access ensures that you get complete control over the server
- The software is compatible with both 64 bit and 32 bit applications
- You can install many applications and the platform supports languages like PHP, Perl and Python and few more
- Secured VPS backed by a firewall.
- Virtualizor c-panel
However if you are someone who cannot do without windows, unfortunately there’s no provision for that yet.
The free package called the Sun Package is free for lifetime and comes with the following features:
- 25 GB web space
- 500 GB bandwidth
- 512 RAM
- .5 CPU cores
- 2 Dedicated IPs
- Free .tk/.ml/.ga/.cf/.gq domain name
There are other packages with double and triple amount of web space and bandwidth but that requires you to refer someone.
The highest plan in the moon package comes with
- 1 TB storage space
- 10 TB bandwidth
- 16 GB RAM
- 8 core CPU and 10 dedicated IPs along with free .com/net domain names.
But that requires you to have $100 minimum in referrals.
Solvps is another big name in the VPS hosting industry that can be trusted. They have on offer both Linux based and Windows based VPSs.
The service is outstanding since it automatically takes care of maintenance and deployment of web application instances.
Many reviewers of the service say that the support they received in case of any problems was one of the best, and prompt.
- When you sign up for the free plan you are never pressurized to sign up for expensive plans. The features that make it stand out from the rest are as follows:
- No half features with this company, they offer a fully working and enabled vps
- 256 MB RAM
- Data-centers are located in US and UK and you can choose between the two
- If you ever feel the need to upgrade you can do that without any loss of data.
- The memory is packed on SSD up to 15 GB for the free plan
- A 3.40 Ghz clocking CPU
- 100 GB of data-transfer on a 1 GBps connection
Overall, they provide a good service with decent specifications.
Gratis VPS supports both Linux and Windows platforms. Here are the features that set them apart.
They have two free plans— one comes with unmetered bandwidth and other one is limited when it comes to bandwidth but offers more features.
Unmetered Bandwidth Cloud VPS
- Comes with 1GB RAM
- 50GB SSD, that’s fast
- Server Location: US/UK/DE
- 100MBPS uplink
Metered Bandwidth Cloud VPS
- Deploy In as less as 30 Seconds
- 2GB RAM
- 100GB bandwidth
- 2Cores 3.2x Ghz
- 1Gbps Uplink
- dDos Protected
There’s only one catch though with both plans. The free offer lasts only 6 months. After that you will have to look for another provider.
Google Cloud provides $300 60 day credit to new users who sign up for the cloud service. If you need a VPS for only a limited time then this could be an option.
Being a product from Google you need not worry about any downtimes or other problems like taking surveys or referring users.
But the free bliss ends in 2 months.