Not the most sexy subject. Not the first one you want to discuss as a startup.
Good news first. Ten years ago, you would probably have had to buy expensive servers and spend a fortune to start up. Don’t dream about going fifteen years back, as it just wasn’t something the average guy could buy.
Back to today. When you want to host a new startup (apps, websites, APIs and so forth), you have a couple of options:
- Normal shared hosting
- Cloud hosting (like Amazon and Azure)
- Virtual private server
This post will mostly focus on the virtual private server solution (because of the title of our post), but will briefly talk about pros and cons with the other types of hosting.
Normal shared hosting. This is when you cramp your website on a small shared server, together with a lot of other people. Think services such as Godaddy.
It’s cheap, you’re up and running quickly and it’s fine.
Challenge? It’s slow, you cannot scale, you cannot control the server and often cannot make programs as you need and the more you grow the more problems you will meet.
A solution? While doing the prototype it’s fine, for a real business, don’t consider it.
Cloud hosting. Services such as Azure and Amazon allow you to host your projects in their cloud. You simply make a bucket, and then you’re good to go with the machines you need for a given project. It’s relatively cheap, scaleable and fine.
Challenge? Well.. None really. This is actually the way to go for most cases (there are exceptions, especially when grown big, but even then it’s probably the best direction). This Quora post goes through some of the disadvantages, and they do exist.
Which leaves us with…
Virtual private servers for startups
Imagine you have a very strong computer. 32GB ram, a huge processor and lots of disk space.
Now you take this machine and slice it into 32 unique machines. Each machine gets 1GB of ram, 1/32 parts of processor power and so forth.
This is a virtual private server.
It’s your own private server, where you can control everything. In practice it’s actually a shared machine, but the software is made in a way so it works like your own machine. Henceforth virtual private server.
It’s scaleable. It’s cheap. It’s very fast. You have full control.
It’s a great solution for startups which don’t want to deal with cloud services (like Azure and Amazon) for whatever reason.
A typical price could be between 50 and 100 USD a month.
Well. If you come from a world of shared hosting and believe hosting costs 1 USD a month, then it might sound expensive. However, you have to realize that hosting isn’t free and just costs a lot of money.
There are also disadvantages for this:
- You have to manage security yourself
- Often no support from hosting company
- You need technical skills
- It can be expensive if done wrong (just like cloud services)
No matter what. Virtual private server or cloud hosting, they’re actually both really good options for startups. Whenever we have a customer at either one, we’re happy. It’s quick, scaleable and a good product.
In practice you can also say the product is the same. Sometimes our customers use Azure, and we just have a virtual private machine through them. The backend is technically a bit different, but it’s the same.
Good luck on the hosting – both options make sense.