Essential purpose of the post is to give you a comprehensive checklist for choosing a hosting provider and configuring the virtual dedicated VPS or VDS server you rent.
Choosing a hosting provider
▍Reputation and reviews
When reading reviews on various websites (we will not list them here - a simple search for "[provider name] reviews" will return a lot of options), pay attention to the answers of the hosting provider itself, and not just to the "red" cases of dissatisfied users. Remember that competitors are not asleep.
Your future neighbors speak eloquently about the reputation of the provider: look at which of the companies is already a client of this hosting provider and draw your own conclusions. In addition, read the results of independent server tests that are periodically conducted by well-known websites in the IT field: web magazines for geeks , analytical centers .
This knowledge will be more objective than the opinion of private "experts" on the pages of their blogs, which are known to be a source of income for these bloggers.
Pay attention to the number of data centers with which the hosting provider cooperates. And also at the level of data centers, which speaks about the quality of the servers hosted in them, its stability and security.
There are two reasons for this.
The shorter the distance to the server, the higher the speed of your projects. Therefore, it makes sense to rent capacities that are not too far from the target audience of your conditional site or from your place of effort.
The websites of computing complexes for large and fast-growing projects should be far enough from each other to ensure their continuous operation in any circumstances: from natural and economic disasters to man-made disasters. A certain resource allocation scheme allows the hosting provider to guarantee its client the disaster recovery of its projects (Disaster Recovery), timely and efficiently perform backups, data replication, automatic transfer of services and sites, and other actions according to the disaster recovery plan.
The speed and value of the responses of the hosting provider's technical support staff can become decisive in situations where, for example, the site of an online store is down on Black Friday or there are interruptions in access to a highly visited site. The average response time to tickets in normal mode should not exceed 15-20 minutes. Of course, there are different situations for providers, but in case of a delay in responses, I would like to receive an adequate explanation of the reason for this delay, and not a simple "sorry". This also determines the level of service of the host.
▍Possibility to pay for resources
The tariff "for resources" takes into account the actual load that the server provided during the day. The option is suitable for those projects and companies that may need large server capacities at peak times, and not all the time. In this case, computing resources are always in stock and connected automatically, and the rent is debited only as they are used, and not for reservation. You can read more here.
However, monthly billing - a fixed-price server tariff plan per month - also has its advantages, as it allows you to control your monthly expenses by 100%, receiving a virtual server of the selected configuration guaranteed in terms of resources. Moreover, a free trial period is usually provided on this tariff.
▍Money back guarantee
First, it's good if there is a free trial period. It may not be provided in all configurations, but it will be possible to understand whether a hoster is right for you with limited options. Secondly, the actual return of money to the client, if you did not like the hosting, but have already been "paid". This is called a money back guarantee.
The process of improving server performance in our time should be easy, fast and "seamless" (without stopping it). There is nothing to add here.
▍Connection speed on servers
Ask the hosting provider about the bandwidth of the channels involved in the data exchange. It must be at least 10 Mbps.
▍Used operating systems
Renting a VPS/VDS involves the use by the client of dedicated server hardware resources with maximum privileges, including the installation of an operating system and software. However, not any OS can be supported by the hosting servers, and it depends on it which applications can be installed on the server.
In addition to the essential hosting service, providers offer customers additional "goods" that allow even non-professionals and those who do not have the time and desire to understand all these intricacies of web hosting to work with the server. Such add-ons are content management systems (CMS) or web consoles for convenient server management through a single interface (for example, Plesk, ISPmanager).
▍Ability to manage the server from a smartphone
Moreover, convenient management. That is, we are talking about a mobile application in which you can at least quickly find out the balance of your personal account, see the history of deposits and debits, check the status of servers and manage their work. You can read about our mobile client here and download it here.
▍Server resource limits by hosting provider
If you have several projects with different current and planned requirements, it is important to be sure that the hosting provider you select can meet these requirements throughout the life cycle of these projects. Server resources that affect its performance are the amount of processing power (CPU), disk space and RAM. This determines the maximum possible number of sites that can be hosted on the server, FTP accounts, databases and mailboxes. These indicators should lie in a wide range. Simply put, you should have many options for choosing a dedicated virtual server configuration, which you can set up in the next section.
Configuring VPS/VDS server
It depends on which operating systems support the programs you plan to install: databases, scripts, control panels, applications, etc. Read the requirements for them.
Here we select the type of processor. It is characterized by the number of cores and the clock frequency, which is responsible for the number of processed processes per second. The higher the numbers, the more powerful the processor (for example, a frequency of 3.4 GHz means that the processor is capable of processing 3 billion 400 million operations per second).
This is the amount of RAM guaranteed by the provider. Well, if the range is between 1Gb and 16Gb, then the scalability of your projects will increase.
For sites with games, it is important to have a video card connection service with a choice of the amount of memory on it.
In addition, the resources of video cards are actively used by users of popular software: any modern browser will render website pages much faster if it can use a graphics accelerator, not to mention the fact that for these very browsers there are 3D applications and games that work on WebGL.
▍Disc type selection
The type and size of the hard disk on which the virtual server is located affects the amount of information that can be stored on it, the load it can withstand, and how well the server can "serve" the corresponding application. Usually these are HDD or SSD drives with a choice of volume from 20 to 600 TB.
Number of dedicated IP addresses
The domain name of the site corresponds to the IP address of the server on which this site is located. After typing the site URL in the address bar of the browser, the DNS server is contacted, which determines the IP of the desired web server by the domain name and redirects the request to it. One IP address can correspond to one, several or all websites hosted on the server. In the latter versions, a large number of requests to the neighbor resource increases the load time of other sites hosted on the server. Plus, mail servers can blacklist an IP address in case of spam from one of the sites located on this IP address. And then the incoming and outgoing mail of all sites will be blocked. Therefore, it should be possible to acquire multiple dedicated IP addresses. We have a maximum of 16 pieces.
▍Web hosting and server control panel
We have already said that server management can be both a dark forest for an inexperienced site owner, and an easy creative job. It depends on which interface this control takes place. There are web consoles (control panels) that allow users to manage various server services in the comfortable environment of a web browser. You can read about what they are in our overview article "What's new in web consoles 2019".
It is difficult to argue with the fact that it is important to ensure the protection of your data on the server and prevent the possibility of stopping its work. For these purposes, hosting providers offer various solutions from a minimum level of security to enhanced protection: SSL certificates, firewalls, server monitoring for unusual activity, malware detection tools (antiviruses), IP Deny tool that allows you to block access to your site from specific IPs, server protection from DDoS attacks, insurance protection, etc.
The choice of hosting options depends on the types of your sites, their load and expected scalability. The site can be static (an HTML site with several pages containing a description of the company's services and general knowledge about it), for publishing content (texts, pictures, videos), for blogging or for selling goods (online store).
Everyone has its own requirements for hosting: the programming language in which the site is written, the application language for it, the type of database, the number and volume of stored files (for example, a site with an abundance of videos or with expected high traffic needs high network bandwidth and large storage capacity) and so on. To choose the right hosting, you need to know these requirements and understand the goals of projects (sites).
If setting up a VPS / VDS configuration does not interest you at all, use ready-made tariff plans with an optimal price / quality ratio.
Look: I'm choosing a hosting server and I don't really understand gigahertz, cores, threads, and even if it's just parrots of different colors for me, the same colored parrots are on other hosting websites, and without diving into the essence I can compare offers in colored parrots.
But here a new concept is introduced, and it is not defined in any way - what is an operation?
And if not defined, then I can fantasize what I want: the operation is ... opening a page in the client's browser, for instance. But the most important thing is that there are no parrots of this color on other hosting providers. And what should I do with these strange parrots?
Thank you so much for such valuable information! At the moment I am in search of a good VPS Hosting, but since I am a beginner, it is very difficult to choose what you need. I've read a lot of useful things here. This article helped determine the choice.
There are interesting points here.
1. Server bandwidth - in my opinion, no one ever (almost) asks the provider such a question.
2. Operating system used - "not every OS can be supported by hosting servers". Well, of course, but if the user is so "advanced" that he can install the software on his own, then he will clarify this point at the very beginning :D .
3. Choice of CPU - "a frequency of 3.4 GHz means that the processor is capable of processing 3 billion 400 million operations per second" - this is not entirely true, since most operations require more than one processor cycle to execute.
it should be comfortable to work with web provider. You can study reviews on the Internet, but best of all – personal experience, both interaction before renting a server, and during the trial period. In general, if there are any doubts, it is worth choosing providers that provide such a period for free or give the opportunity for a preferential refund during the first month of work.
Often, for the convenience of working with web servers, providers provide control panels – sometimes several to choose from.
It is worth clarifying whether they are paid or free in your case, and whether there are. It may also be interesting to be able to manage servers from your phone, and it makes sense to ask if there is one. The choice of a VPS server is, of course, not according to these criteria, but additional comfort can be another circumstance that speaks in favor of hosting provider.
You can choose a VPS of the ideal power and capacity for yourself, but other points are also important:
where data centers are physically located. It is good if the provider provides servers in a region close to the place of residence of your target audience;
is there technical support in a language you understand, and how it works. It's great if they answer there in the evening and on weekends;
what will happen if you need to increase resource consumption and switch to a different tariff, is it possible to do this with the smooth operation of the sites.
If your team is small, you will be using a dedicated virtual web server for the first time, it is important to keep in mind that, unlike virtual hosting, it needs to be administered.
When there is no person in the project who can take it on himself, a good solution would be to choose a VPS with a management service. Then the provider will take over all the work on setting up and servicing web server, and you will only have to do the actual work on filling the web site or developing your applications.