Semi Dedicated vs. VPS

On a somewhat regular basis we are asked what the difference is between a semi dedicated server and a VPS, and why we’ve chosen to offer semi dedicated hosting. Before offering any new product or service we tend to spend countless hours researching the various options available, and little else seems to spark as much debate as semi dedicated vs. VPS. In the end, we found our decision to offer semi dedicated servers to be a very easy one to make.

While each option has it’s pros and cons (which we will go over shortly) the few pros of VPS are far outweighed by the cons.

Semi Dedicated Pros:

  • Very few sites per server allow for quick loading, even with resource intensive sites
  • Fewer sites on the server means fewer chances for downtime due to hacked sites
  • Every site has full access to all server resources as needed
  • Same ease-of-use as shared hosting

Semi Dedicated Cons:

  • No customization of core applications (PHP/mySQL/etc.)
  • No “guaranteed” resources

VPS Pros:

  • Full root access to your part of the server
  • Ability to have custom core applications (PHP/mySQL/etc.)
  • “Guaranteed” resources (more detail below)

VPS Cons:

  • Responsibility to keep all server software up to date
  • Many sites on each server, similar to normal shared hosting
  • Access to only a portion of the server’s resources
  • Price (more detail below)

One of the biggest factors for us was the pricing of each. With a semi dedicated server the costs involved are: the server, bandwidth, one control panel license, and admin costs of maintenance. VPSs carry all those costs plus: a control panel license for each VPS on the server, a separate control panel to manage the VPSs, and admin costs to maintain each VPS (each VPS is a separate “server” and needs to be maintained as such).

On a normal semi dedicated server we have 5-10 sites. So let’s say we are putting together a server to have 10 separate VPSs on the same server. A normal control panel license comes in around $30. Management time comes in around 5-10 hours per month. VPS control panels can cost $100+/month. Just on those 3 factors you’re spending an additional $370/month and 45-90 hours of admin time providing VPSs.

The other major drawback is the resources offered with a VPS. An average entry level VPS comes with 128MB of guaranteed RAM. The problem is the most common control panel (cPanel) suggests a minimum of 256MB RAM, just to run cPanel. So if you have a VPS with 128MB RAM, you will be running from SWAP all of the time and your loading times will be horrible. Even with 512MB RAM cPanel tends to be a little laggy. Let’s assume you go with a VPS with 512MB RAM and a high powered server will have around 4GB RAM for all accounts, that’s only 8 VPSs they can fit on the server. Or is it? The beauty is, you can “guarantee” more RAM/CPU than you have available on the server.

With semi dedicated hosting, users are able to run their sites without any worries about keeping the server up to date as it works exactly like shared hosting… You just get a lot more resources. And full access to everything the server has to offer.

Semi dedicated hosting is now Elastic Business Hosting You can find more info on our Elastic business hosting here.

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