Since the title caught your attention, I assume you are not a newbie to the world of eCommerce. I guess that you probably have a thriving online store and several years of experience, and your current hosting is slow and not enough for you.
You wonder whether to increase your VPS package or move to dedicated hosting. But you are not sure that a dedicated server is a right option for an online store. In this article, I will try to dispel all your doubts
Types of hosting
Let’s start with a summary of the options available. You probably already know it, but it’s worth taking another look at the definition before we go into a topic.
It is the most frequently chosen by people who are starting their adventure with the Internet – Shared Hosting is the cheapest. You receive a certain disk space, but would have to share the CPU and RAM with other users.
It is worth noting that the number of users of one shared server can be up to 500. It means that the server may work fine, but during peak times, when it is under heavy load, the hosting service will be inefficient. All pages and applications will take a long time to load.
There is no need to have specialist knowledge – the hosting provider provides its clients with a ready-made environment for activities.
It allows you to configure and administer the server. VPS consists of server virtualization, i.e., assigning each user a specific resource power (number of processor cores and RAM). The computer is used by several or several dozen clients, but the main difference between shared and VPS hosting is that all virtual machines are fully isolated from each other.
Thanks to this, the user can be sure that only they will use the resources assigned to them. In this way, the load generated by other customers will not be felt by them. Everyone has resources assigned to them and cannot use those reserved for other customers.
VPS is a very diverse type of hosting. The cheapest VPS is affordable and costs little more than shared hosting, and the highest packages allow you to build huge and extensive sites.
It is the most expensive solution because it involves renting the entire server. The client then receives full access to all server resources and does not have to share the processor, RAM, or disks with anyone. In this case, the Customer has a total and exclusive influence on the server configuration.
A powerful dedicated server also requires careful care, so it is a very reasonable solution to hire a specialist who will know what to do even in the event of a failure. You can also take advantage of the server management option offered by hosting providers.
What hosting for the online store?
Online store owners should steer clear of shared hosting because it won’t work for eCommerce. You cannot afford to risk losing half of your clients during peak hours! Most stores run on VPS hosting and its more powerful variant, VDS, which offers extensive hardware resources, up to 24 processor cores, and 64 GB RAM. Such efficient equipment will probably cope with any store operating on WooCommerce and PrestaShop.
If your eCommerce store is fruitful and you have over 1,500 users at any given time, you should move to a dedicated hosting. However, when your site offers additional tools, you may need a dedicated server with fewer users.
A particular case is when you process the most sensitive data. For example, if you would like to accept payments by yourself and create your payment gateway, you must host this solution on a dedicated server.
A similar situation occurs when you run customer accounts. For example, when you have a brokerage, investment firm, or casino and require to process valuable and sensitive data of your customers.
A dedicated server will also be needed when you provide additional, resource-intensive services to your customers. For example, you created a social network for researchers in the field of investment risk management. A great complement to such a network would be a shop where you would sell scientific journals, specific articles, and books in a given field.
The same applies to a video platform or a resource-intensive game. But I don’t know if we’re still talking about an online store when considering such situations. Not every eCommerce business is an online store.
Is moving your services from a VPS to a dedicated server a hassle?
Changing the VPS package to a higher one is no problem – the hosting provider assigns new resources to your account. But how about migrating to a dedicated server – is it a hassle? The answer to this question is both yes and no.
Yes, because moving your store to a dedicated server will require server configuration and system installation; you would have to install and configure all scripts and applications. It will be like constructing your store almost from scratch. Of course, you can copy some data, but not all.
You have to look at it from a business point of view. If you currently have less than 500 customers in your store during peak hours, a server with 16 GB of RAM and an octa-core processor will suffice. Such hosting costs $69.50, while the cheapest dedicated hosting package is $129.90 per month. Therefore, the difference between them is $60 per month.
If the migration costs $1000 and your needs will grow in less than a year, it is worth choosing dedicated hosting. However, if the forecasts say that you won’t need a dedicated server in a year and a half or more, it is better to stick with VDS.
When calculating it, consider the cost of a solution that will meet your current needs, the cost of migration, and the approximate date when your needs will grow.
Factors affecting server load
WooCommerce runs on WordPress and has low requirements, which is why it is suitable for small shops. PrestaShop is more demanding; it requires 1 GB RAM to work properly. Magento needs even more because it is an extensive platform that offers many possibilities and allows for numerous extensions.
Unfortunately, such a wide range of possibilities, numerous functions, and modules have disadvantages. One of them is the high server requirements. Magento would need at least 2 GB of RAM to work accurately, load content quickly, and run all functions efficiently.
If your store allows users to set up their accounts, they will spend more time on the site. Especially when logged-in users will have access to additional functionalities, more users will use it at one time, so the resource consumption will be higher.
Online stores may be an addition to a core business. For example, if you have created a social network for researchers in the field of investment risk management, an online store is a good idea. But remember that PHP scripts, like a social networking platform, require more resources than an online store. The same applies to a video platform, photo bank, or other services based on a PHP script.
If your shop has a forum, it also requires hardware resources because it increases the time a single user spends on the server. They build relationships there, gain ranks, bond emotionally, and feel part of the community. When used by thousands of users simultaneously, they may become resource-consuming.
All kinds of applications running in different architectures (mainly PHP, but not only) also require hardware resources. It can be a tool, e.g., a graphics generator, a charts editor, an application, or a game. The more complex application will require more resources.
The answer to the question in the title is: yes, a dedicated server is a good idea for an online store, but not always. The most evident situation when it will be recommended is the considerable size of an online store. When 1,500 people browse the products, add them to the basket, and go to the payment processor, a dedicated server is the best solution.
The second case is when you need high-class security. If you will process highly sensitive data, process payments, or run customer accounts on your platform, a dedicated server is a must. You have to have total control to create appropriate top-class security systems.
The third situation is the use of resource-intensive applications. If your online store is supplemented with a resource-intensive game or application, even 300 users at a time can overload your VPS or VDS.
However, if none of the above applies to you, you don’t need a dedicated server. VPS and VDS are enough for approximately 90% of online stores on WooCommerce and PrestaShop. Remember that dedicated hosting is more expensive, and if you don’t need that many resources, there is no sense to overpay.
Compare the cost of migration with the time you will be able to use VDS, and you will receive an answer to the question of whether it is worth creating a store on dedicated hosting right away, or maybe on VDS, and then migrating to dedicated hosting.
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