After about three years of using shared hosting plans, my needs, along with those of some of my clients had outgrown some of the inherent limitations of such plans. Limitations such as .NET Framework, PHP version, and ColdFusion support. While eventually, shared platforms are updated, it may not be timed to fit the needs of your clients.

This is not to say that a shared hosting plan is bad, in fact there are many benefits to shared hosting plans over VPS and dedicated server plans. The primary benefit is that you don’t have to be a server administrator as the server is maintained as required by the provider.

But, should you find that your demands and needs are growing faster than your shared platforms are being updated, then a Virtual Private Server may be the way to go. I have been using VPS plans for about three years now and enjoy the flexibility of installing what I need, when I need; and by the same token, not installing those packages that I don’t need.

Two companies that I have had tremendous success with are VPSLand and GoDaddy. However, there are slight differences in their offerings.

First, with VPS Land, I like the simplicity of their offering. They offer “bare metal” VPS’s where so simply choose a platform (Linux/Windows) and drag the slider to your desired resource level. Usually within a few hours, if not sooner, your new server image is ready to go. Since this is bare metal, do be prepared to put on your server admin hat. The online support that is offered via a ticketing system is prompt and helpful.

GoDaddy, on the other hand, has a bit of a different approach to their VPS services. When choosing a VPS with GoDaddy, again you choose a platform, but then you choose from a set of packages that have resource configurations defined by package. One benefit with GoDaddy is that you can purchase Plesk or another control panel along with your subscription which eases the tasks related to web server administration; and, just as with VPSLand, you can install those packages that you need and omit those that maybe you don’t.

A few quick VPS management tips:

1. Always backup your data either via a backup plan offered by your provider or to your local system.

2. If you are not so inclined, ensure that you purchase a control panel to help with managing the administrative functions of your server.

3. If imaging is offered by your provider, after your server is configured and you have installed the supporting applications that you need, have an image of your configuration made for later restoration.

4. If you are hosting multiple sites, keep a configuration log of how each is configured, usernames and passwords.

5. Avoid using the same accounts/passwords for total access. Each site should have a set of accounts configured that allows access only to resources used by the site, this includes database access. Although several databases may exist on the server, each site should have a separate account for database access that has been granted access to the associated database only.

So if you are in the market for more control over your webserver or have simply outgrown the limitations that can sometimes arise in shared hosting environments, I recommend that you browse over to VPS Land or GoDaddy and begin the next phase of your web presence journey.

Happy coding!

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