There may come a time when your small business outgrows your current shared hosting setup.
And that’s a good thing. Give yourself a pat on the back.
You are now getting enough traffic to warrant upgrading your web hosting plan to support it.
If your site is running a WordPress blog, then you might want to look into dedicated WordPress hosting.
But for a more general purpose site, the next step up from shared hosting is Virtual Private Server hosting or VPS hosting.
Just like with shared hosting, there are thousands of choices when picking a VPS hosting provider. So which is the best and which should you choose?
That's a hard question to answer since honestly, who has the time or ability to test every VPS web hosting company out there?
While I can't test every VPS web host I actually do have the ability to test several of the most popular VPS web hosting providers.
As part of my business I run many high traffic sites. So I personally have active VPS web hosting plans with these 5 hosting companies below.
I thought it would be interesting each of these VPS web hosting companies against each other. I don’t think anyone has done a VPS roundup like this, so I was curious to see what the results were myself.
What is a VPS?
With shared hosting, your hosting account is shared with other web hosting accounts on the server.
That means all the resources of the server, the CPU, memory, diskspace are all shared with everyone else.
So if someone’s site on your server is consuming all of the server’s CPU and RAM, then your site will also be affected and you may see slowness and downtime.
VPS hosting is slightly different. While you still share a server with other web hosting accounts, you get your own dedicated set of resources.
So each VPS account gets it’s own dedicated CPU, RAM and diskspace.
You also typically get more control with a VPS. So you can pick your own Operating System to use, and you get to choose what programs you want to install on it as well.
How We Test
To compare each web hosting company against each other, I took a look at these 4 criteria.
- Speed (Response time)
- Load Testing
To make the test as accurate, I created a single WordPress blog with several text heavy posts with images. I cloned this exact same site and installed it across all the different web hosts.
To test server speed, I used Pingdom’s speed testing tool. I tested my dummy site using all 6 of their test sites and came up with an average response time for each.
For loading testing, I used Load Impact. This lets me send 50 virtual users to a website over the course of 5 minutes. At the end of the test I get a graph showing how the my site handled that load over time. Any spikes seen is a potential warning sign.
Hostgator is one of the biggest and most popular web hosting companies in the world.
Although, they are best known for their discount shared hosting plans, they also offer VPS web hosting as well.
At Hostgator, I am currently signed up with their Snappy 1000 VPS package.
This plan gives me 1 CPU Core with 1 GB RAM, 60 GB disk space and 1 TB bandwidth for $49.95 a month.
Response time however, was the slowest among all the VPS hosts tested. Hostgator was 24% slower than the fastest VPS web host, LiquidWeb and 13% slower than average.
Hostgator also had some trouble with our load test. Response times stayed under 2 seconds for the first 30 users, but quickly spiked up to 4 and 6 seconds as we got past 40 users.
Hostgator support is fairly standard. You have Phone, Live Chat, and Email Ticket options. Ticket response times varied from 12 to 15 minutes. For Live Chat, I was able to connect with someone in under 2 minutes.
At its regular price of $49.95 a month, Hostgator's VPS offering doesn't particularly stand out.
However, Hostgator is very aggressive with offering discounts these days and it's typical to see 40% off promo offers on their site.
And if you are patient, they regularly have 60% flash sales to save you even more.
Keep in mind though, that these discounts apply to your first bill only, so it makes sense to pay yearly to save the most money.
Overall, Hostgator is not a bad company to buy a VPS plan from, especially if you are on a budget. However, there are definitely better VPS hosting solutions out there as you can see if you keep reading below.
Media Temple is another web host that gets quite a bit of pub and they have a wide variety of different hosting offerings.
They were actually aquired by Godaddy in 2013 although they continues to operate as a separate company.
I currently have a DV Level 1 Hosting plan with them. This gives me 1 CPU Core, 1GB Ram, 30GB diskspace and 2TB bandwidth for $50 a month.
Response time for MediaTemple was 2% slower than average.
MediaTemple performed very well during the load test. Response times were around 700ms throughout the tests, with a few spikes over 1 second and a peak of 1.58 secs.
I found that support with Media Temple is pretty "meh" compared to the rest of the hosts tested.
Live chat is pretty fast to get a hold of someone but I don’t find the techs to be as knowledgable as others.
Email support is surprisingly slow. Response times can take a couple of hours I’ve found and I’ve seen estimated response times of up to 6 hours.
Overall, I don't really have anything bad to say about Media Temple. Their uptime is good and their servers perform decently. But their support lags behind the rest of the web hosts in this roundup.
SoftLayer is another big name web hosting company. They were bought by IBM for $2 billion back in 2013. They are known for being one of the biggest cloud hosting providers.
With SoftLayer, I have one of their Virtual Servers that has 1 CPU Core, 1GB RAM, 25GB diskpace and 5TB bandwidth for $52.60 a month.
Their virtual servers are a slight variation on the VPS concept. Instead of resources being shared on a single server, virtual servers run on a multi-server cloud architecture.
This means each hosting account is pooling resources from several different servers, not just one.
Response times with SoftLayer is quite fast, just lagging behind LiquidWeb by 3.8% and almost 10% faster than average.
SoftLayer performed quite well on the Load Test. Response time was consistently under 1.5 seconds throughout the test, and there were no real spikes seen as the load increased.
Support with SoftLayer is pretty good. Email support response times range between 15-20 minutes. Live chat is almost instant in the few times I’ve tried it and the techs all seem to know what they are doing.
Overall, SoftLayer Virtual Servers are a good hosting product and I definitely would recommend them. Their servers are fast, support is good and I haven't had any issues with uptime either.
WiredTree was the first VPS web host I ever signed up with more than 6 years ago, and I’ve been happy with them ever since. I’ve always thought they’ve provided the best price, performance and support combo, and I was curious to see how they stacked up against the rest of the field.
I initially signed up with WiredTree’s VPS 384 plan which gave me 1 CPU core, 640mb of RAM, 600GB bandwidth.
What’s interesting about WiredTree that no other web host I’ve seen do is their yearly Level Ups.
Basically, as WiredTree upgrades their servers they bump up your plans automatically for free.
During my time with them, I’ve been Leveled Up 4 separate times.
So my VPS plan now gives me 1 CPU core, 2GB RAM and 6TB bandwidth. All for $49 a month!
Response time for WiredTree was 4.5% slower than average.
During the load test, WiredTree was one of the best performers. Response time started out at 1.14 seconds with 1 user and never reached higher than this point at any other point in the test.
WiredTree only provides phone and email support. It’s surprisingly the only web host in our roundup that does not provide Live Chat.
However, email support is excellent with WiredTree in my experience though and all tickets get answered within 15 minutes or less. The techs are all extremely good at what they do as well.
Overall, WiredTree remains one of my favorite VPS providers. They're not a huge hosting company like some of the other companies in this roundup, but the service they provide is second to none.
I had heard a lot of good things about LiquidWeb which is the reason why I went with them to host one of my highest traffic sites.
What makes LiquidWeb standout is their Heroic Support. Their SLA guarantees that help tickets get responded to within 30 minutes and Live Chat/Phone requests will be answered within 59 seconds.
My LiquidWeb Storm VPS Server gives me 1 CPU core, 2GB RAM, 100GB diskspace and 5 TB bandwidth for $69 a month.
Response time was the fastest among the VPS web hosts tested as it tested out 14.5% faster than average.
Initially, my LiquidWeb server had issues with the Load Test. When going past 30 users, I was seeing spikes of 10 to 15 seconds to my server’s response time. I repeated the test a few times with the same results.
This seemed rather strange to me, so I fired off a support request explaining the situation. Turns out, there was a configuration issue with my apache server which was capping my max connections to 30.
I had the support tech tweak the settings for me and I ran the test again. Response time started out at 1.8 seconds and then leveled under 750 ms for the rest of the test.
LiquidWeb Heroic support is as good as advertised.
Support tickets in my experience are answered within 10-12 minutes. With their Live chat I was able to connect with someone in under a minute as promised.
Not only that, but their technicians are very knowledgeable and have always been very helpful with any requests I’ve made.
As I was looking at the LiquidWeb sales page for this VPS roundup review I noticed that they were showing their 2GB Storm VPS plans on sale for $69/month.
Since I was paying $100 a month I jumped on a Live Chat with Katelyn, one of their sales reps. I wasn't really expecting to get the discount but to my surprise I got it!
That's a recurring 30% savings off my LiquidWeb hosting bill. Sometimes it pays to just ask!
Overall, I've been very impressed with my time on LiquidWeb. Their servers are super fast and their Heroic support techs are very responsive and helpful.
I would definitely recommend their Storm VPS servers to anyone, especially if you need a host that can handle high end usage.
Each of these VPS hosting plans I directly use in my business today, and I don't plan on dumping any of them, even after the results of this roundup.
However, if someone asked me today which VPS host to choose, I would highly recommend 2 of them.
WiredTree for its excellent support, value and server Level Ups.
LiquidWeb for it's server performance and outstanding customer service.
I hope you found this VPS comparison roundup useful and that it helps you pick the right VPS web host for your business.
Do you have any feedback on my reviews? Or suggestions on other VPS web hosts to test? Let me know by leaving a comment below.