What’s the Difference Between Shared, VPS and dedicated hosting?

The Shared Account

A shared account is the most basic web hosting account. The benefit of a shared account is that it is cheaper than “VPS” or Dedicated accounts.

Using housing as an analogy: A shared web hosting account is like renting a room in a house. You have your own, small private space (your room) and you share major facilities like the kitchen, living room and bathroom. In hosting terms, your private room is your home directory – no one else can put their stuff in your home directory. It is yours alone. However, you share major server resources with other customers, such as CPU, RAM (memory,) network connectivity, and some software packages.
Pros and Cons of a Shared Account:

  • Pros
    • Very affordable – you can find these as low as $10.00 per month
  • Cons
    • As with renting a room in a house with other people, you are subject to each other’s doings in the server. Because everyone is sharing the main resources, there may be times when two roommates are competing for the same resource at the same time. In website terms, one or more websites may be using a lot of resources which can slow things down on the server in general.
    • Email is shared on one IP address so if anyone on the server spams there is a high probability the IP address will land on a blacklist and every website on the server will be blacklisted.
    • Less ability to customize. Just as landlords have rules about painting living rooms bright turquoise, shared servers have rules about what “tenants” are allowed and not allowed to do.
    • Outbound email may have restrictions as to quantity sent in an hour
    • Root access not allowed

The Virtual Private Server (VPS)

A VPS is like renting an apartment in a building. Unlike renting a room and sharing major facilities, having an apartment gives a person much more freedom. In an apartment, you have your own bathroom, kitchen and living spaces that are devoted entirely to you. In a VPS environment, these equate to disk space, operating system, and RAM. However, you still share some resources with the rest of the building, including the building structure itself (the parent server,) the water system (network) and electricity.

Pros and Cons of a VPS:

  • Pros
    • Still very affordable, as compared with Dedicated servers
    • Very customizable – the constraints of the shared account are almost entirely gone
    • More resources dedicated to you – you have your own RAM (memory,) operating system and in some cases, your own CPU(s)
    • Email is unlikely to get blacklisted because all users are Zolé clients and are not spammers!
    • Ample server resources (RAM, disk space, bandwidth) for all clients
  • Cons
    • More expensive than a shared account
    • Still sharing some resources with other customers on the server, so there can be conflicts with server load or memory

The Dedicated Server (not offered by Zolé)

A Dedicated server is a physical server with hardware that is exclusively for your use. Thus, the housing analogy: A Dedicated server is like having your own house. There are no other customers on your hardware, no one else competing for your resources. It’s just your website.

The Pros and Cons of the Dedicated Server:

  • Pros
    • A Dedicated server is a physical server that is exclusive to you
    • cPanel optional
    • Root access allowed
    • No outbound email restrictions
    • IP address is yours and yours alone – greatly reduced chance of any blacklisting of your email
    • Vast resources for high-traffic sites
    • Complete control over every facet of your server
    • Ability to add more RAM, bigger disks or RAIDs
  • Cons
    • Much more expensive than shared or VPS accounts (i.e. $900 a month)