Why VPS hosting is perfect for developers

What is a VPS and how does it work?

Typically used for next-level websites with medium-level traffic, virtual private servers (VPS) — sometimes also called virtual dedicated servers (VDS), use ‘virtualization’ to divide one server into multiple virtual servers. So it’s one machine operating as many. You’re not sharing resources with other websites, like with Shared hosting, but you don’t have your own 100% dedicated server either. 

There are many reasons why VPS hosting suites different businesses, but its key features fit the needs of web developers perfectly.  

Why do web developers need VPS hosting?

Web development involves harnessing an ever-changing technology stack in order to create sites that are responsive and secure. 

In a shared hosting environment, although great for non-tech pros, there are limits to what you can deliver as a web developer on all fronts. A virtual private server (VPS) gives you the power and versatility you need to perform at a much higher level. 

As a web developer, you will spend huge amounts of time in your home directory and subdirectories, organizing your work and content. With shared hosting, your home directory is on a server with many other users'. It has to fulfill requests coming into many other websites. When one of those misbehaves, your website can suffer slow response times or be flagged by search engines.

With VPS hosting, you have access to a whole operating system and allotment of resources, undivided. Going from shared hosting to a VPS is a lot like getting your own apartment after having lived with your family or with roommates. It comes with a great deal more freedom and more responsibility.

Key VPS hosting areas for web-developers

When you are a web developer in 2021 and beyond, you take on many responsibilities. The grown-up way of facing them is by moving into your own place. Having your own Virtual Private Server will allow the performance of your websites to soar. And your power to customize and extend them will be unlimited.

Access and control of all resources

Having your work on a VPS means no more mysteriously missing CPU cycles and shrinking memory space messing with your site performance. You won't have client headaches that you can't solve yourself.

When you log in as administrator on your VPS with the root account, you have visibility over all the processes running on the machine. You can see the users who launched them and the resources they are using. You can throttle or restart them as need be.

You can also monitor every network connection, every thread being executed on your server. This useful runtime information will help you track down bugs in your code when the time comes.

Root access to install custom software

As the root user, you get to install and configure your software freely, whereas in shared hosting you are limited to approved packages. You can even choose the version or distribution of the operating system (OS) you want.

When you are developing websites, you have to know clearly which versions of server platforms and libraries your scripts need to run. Therefore, you need to have sight and control not just of which software you can run on your system, but also of which versions of the software are installed.

A further level of customization, that only starts at VPS level, is how your server and the software are configured. Without root access, you will not have control of technical features such as logging, debugging, or caching. If you can’t turn these on or off as you require, developing and optimizing your site will be more difficult.x`

Instant scalability

A VPS is designed to adapt to the natural ebb and flow of business. It allows you to ramp up RAM and CPU power to handle a surge in growth, or shrink your technical resources in an unexpected downturn.

All you have to do, depending on your provider, is to authorize the cost of an upgrade or downgrade when you hit the resource threshold. With a VPS, you decide when you need more (or less) resources.

Reliability and security

What about uptime and reliability on a VPS vs shared hosting? First of all, you won't get blindsided because of misbehaving users thrashing shared resources. Second, your uptime remains guaranteed even if you upgrade or downgrade your amount of RAM or CPU as the time to reboot the server takes just a couple of minutes and you decide when to do it on your own.

As for security, there are several clear advantages to a VPS. A VPS with a dedicated IP address offers benefits for email marketing and security for e-commerce payments. It also makes it far less likely that your website can be spoofed by a malicious third party.

You can enable all the security packages you want on your virtual server. You can fine-tune the firewall settings to your liking. You can set up sophisticated anti-DDoS protection via networked providers to fend off malicious packet storms aiming to slow your site to a crawl.

The creation and suspension of user accounts are entirely under your control. You can specify the rights they have in every last detail. This means that you can have clear roles encapsulated in different users and groups, and that they are only allowed to do what you say they can.

Options to have a client group, a developers group, and a deployment group allow for greater control of information. The clients will be restricted to the functionality of their website or app and the billing data for their account, say. Developers will be allowed to view and modify the code in the development branch. Only the deployment group will have the right to take the approved new changes to the codebase and replicate them to the production website. This helps keep the risk of crashes and foul-ups to a minimum.

Better website performance

On a VPS, there are a few ways you can guarantee better website performance beyond just leaving behind the potential resource bottlenecks in shared hosting.

First, by controlling which features of your web server and of the operating system you have turned on, you can preserve CPU and RAM for the core tasks underpinning the responsiveness of your website. In order to support a broad user base, shared hosts have to turn on a lot of features. By turning off those you don't need, you give more room for database access and script execution, which will speed up your website.

Another thing you can do on a VPS is to use smart caching across the whole server. With caching, you keep data that you are likely to need again in memory that is rapidly accessible. The best caching tools require root access to install because they directly embed themselves into database and OS functions.

Ability to install everything you need

On a VPS with root access, you will of course be able to install support for any non-obvious programming language that a shared host won't allow. You can also run niche databases and specialized libraries to your heart's desire.

Whether you are self-taught or formally trained, it is likely that your programming workflow and methods will evolve over time. To produce code more efficiently, you may find yourself adopting an ever-changing arsenal of tools for version control, bug & feature tracking, and automatic testing.

Some of these will require new types of server software. Others might need to automatically query and update online repositories. In order to install new background tasks that allow you to do continuous integration or to initiate outgoing connections on a regular schedule, you will need the kind of root access that only starts to be available with a VPS.

Adaptability to new distribution and feedback channels

If you run a successful website, it probably won't be long until the question comes up: should I create a companion app? (Or vice versa!)

If you are intent on engaging with your users on as many platforms as possible, you might wonder if there isn't a tool that would allow you to respond to input from all over in a single social interface.

What if you want to install libraries to support a new form of payment or a new online sales platform?

In all these cases, you will need root access and resources more powerful than Shared Hosting can offer to install new extensions, libraries, directories, or servers.

Good for sandbox and testing environments

This is another area where Virtual Private Servers truly shine. As soon as you start developing software of any complexity, you have to figure out ways to test your code before making it widely available. 

A VPS will allow you to run automated testing kits that work with version-control software to cover your new changes every time you commit new code. In order to properly test your code, it has to have a copy of the application database containing any necessary sample data. You don't want your new code to mangle the production data! There are ways of doing this on a shared server, but they are prone to error. They require setting variables in your scripts and cleaning up the test data afterward.

With a VPS, you can create self-contained virtual servers within your server, and have them serve up an exact copy of the code, config, and database combination you want to test. When your current phase of testing is done, all you have to do is shut the container down and start working on the next version.

Conclusion

As a web developer with sites or apps that are out in the world, you take on many time-sensitive maintenance tasks. In shared hosting, you cannot rely on a guaranteed dedicated amount of RAM and bandwidth to be there when you need it. If you can't handle time-sensitive tasks in a timely manner, then you will lose customers, reputation, money, and goodwill.

And when your readership grows or when your app becomes more popular, a VPS can grow with you without disrupting your operations, while continuing to offer a high level of security and reliability.

The experience of managing your own server from low-level OS features all the way up to the installed software and libraries will make you a more well-rounded technologist, which clients and future employers will appreciate.

When you stack up the advantages of controlling your own virtual server as a developer and compare them to the extremely reasonable upgrade costs of providers like Namecheap, the picture that comes into focus is clear: your vision can take flight on a VPS.

Мake it happen with Namecheap

Find your ideal plan with VPS hosting from Namecheap. It’s free to transfer existing websites, unlike competitors. Plus introductory deals, a money-back guarantee, and a whole host of features to choose from. Take your dev career next level with Namecheap VPS Hosting.


Ruth Gonzalez

Ruth Gonzalez

More articles written by Ruth.

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