5 Best VPS Hosting Providers
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a great hosting option for small to medium-sized businesses frustrated with the uptime, storage, and speed limitations that come with most shared web hosting services.
Choosing the best VPS hosting is an increasingly popular way to gain many of the dedicated server advantages… without having to actually rent or buy a standalone physical server.
With a VPS, you have your own dedicated space on a host’s server that also has a unique operating system instance, which means you can install your own software. The important differentiator being that you don’t share space or computing resources.
A virtual server is easier to configure than an actual dedicated server and costs substantially less. The only real downside to choosing a VPS over a physical server is that performance might not be quite as fast or efficient.
Rest assured, though, it’s a serious upgrade from shared hosting.
In this guide, we’re going to break down our top five VPS hosts for Canadian businesses, and then break down the exact features to look for with a VPS hosting account. If you hate thinking about web hosting because it makes your brain hurt, this should be painless.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Best VPS Hosting Services for Canadian Businesses
Known commodity for shared hosting
Fully managed options
2-8 GB RAM
2-4 core CPUs
In business since 2006, that makes Bluehost practically ancient. They have stood the test of time in an intensely competitive industry, providing best in class VPS hosting services.
Some users report support to be slow in responding to issues.
Bluehost is the best choice for VPS hosting that you really can’t go wrong with. Probably not the best at anything, they are at least top 5 at everything and cast a wide net for being the host of choice for a wide variety of business websites, from first time bloggers to large eCommerce websites.
At $29.95, the monthly price is solidly middle-of-the-road, though WordPress users can get a better deal that is not widely advertised.
If you’re looking for a best-in-class attribute, Bluehost might not be right for you. However, if you want to use the best all around VPS host, Bluehost is the right choice.
Semi and fully managed options
Optional cPanel add $10 / month
2-8 GB RAM
2-4 core CPUs
HostGator is an unquestioned leader in the shared hosting realm.
It costs an extra $10 / month for cPanel, which is something most other VPS hosts provide at no charge.
Though best known for their low-cost shared hosting, HostGator offers three VPS hosting plans, perfect for whatever level of functionality your business website needs.
HostGator’s VPS plans are a bit pricey when compared to other VPS hosts – and we have to say – a little misleading…. The price widely quoted ($19.95 / month) is for the semi-managed option. But if you need a fully managed account (and most businesses do), it’s more expensive. Service, uptime, and reliability have always been excellent.
3. InMotion Hosting
Fast, reliable VPS
A+ customer support
Fully managed VPS / optional root access
FREE SSD / SSL; 4-8 GB RAM
Cloud hybrid technology
Single login for billing/domains and cPanel.
Fraud prevention policies require a telephone sign-up, which shouldn’t be a negative but some might consider it one.
This high-performance solution powers thousands of businesses around the world. Choose from three VPS plans starting at $24.99 / month with a full 90-day money back guarantee.
In a world where hosting is headed to the cloud, we found that InMotion Hosting had a great a hybrid strategy that emphasizes redundancy, reliability, and SSD technology to make sure your pages load quicker than ever.
4. Liquid Web
Fully managed VPS
Excellent tech support
100% uptime (per SLA)
2-8 GB RAM
1-4 core CPUs
Choose from Windows or Linux operating system on all but the basic plan.
Slightly pricier than some of the other options on this list and the 30-day refund guarantee falls somewhat short of impressive.
Liquid Web comes with fully-featured VPS plans that include SSD, backups, cPanel/Plesk choice, strong security, and a dedicated IP address.
This company claims a 100% uptime (backed by an SLA) and promises 1000% compensation of your website goes down. You start to get the impression that they believe downtime is a bad thing, an attitude that customers appreciate.
5. A2 Hosting
Managed / Unmanaged VPS accounts
A+ customer support
Highly customizable plans
Plans start at $5 / month
512 MB to 8 GB RAM
Root access if needed
1-8 core CPUs
Truly a top shelf option for any kind of hosting – great performance and a true dedication to customer service and technical support.
Extra charges for cPanel, Softaculous, and backups.
A2 Hosting is the only VPS host on our list that offers unmanaged accounts. Given the wide array of features that come with A2’s shared hosting plans, this is no surprise.
If you know what you’re doing when it comes to installing and configuring an operating system, the $5/month price is an enticingly low price point for web developers – fully managed plans start at $32.99/month.
All of A2’s VPS plans come with the expected bells and whistles and lots of RAM and SSD space to turn your website into a fast-loading freak of nature.
Alrighty then. Now that we’ve given you a handful of excellent options for VPS hosting, let’s back up the education truck and explain in more detail exactly how you should go about evaluating the various plans and hosts that will be vying for your business.
VPS Web Host Features to Compare
A VPS is created as a separate partition on the host machine. For all practical purposes, it feels like a dedicated server even though other clients will be using the same server. Unlike shared hosting, your resources cannot be siphoned off by another website. As you might surmise, though, all VPS hosts are not created equal.
When comparing plans, here are the most important features and configuration options to pay attention to.
- Number of dedicated cores allotted to your virtual machine
- Type and amount of guaranteed RAM
- Amount of HDD/SDD storage included
- Monthly bandwidth limit
- Choice of operating system
- Type of virtualization software
- Web security / backups
- Technical support
- Cloud optimization
- Web server performance
- Systems administration
Let’s be frank – the process of choosing the best VPS hosting plan is not quite as simple as comparing a few numbers.
There are other concepts to consider like whether you have the nerd chops to manage and install it yourself, do you want it in the cloud, and what other features come along with the virtualization software provided by the plan?
Managed vs. Unmanaged VPS Platforms
The basic decision here is whether you (or your designated IT guru) want to let the host manage the server or do it yourself.
The managed option usually includes some flavor of the Linux operating system with handy web development extensions like Apache, MySQL, PHP, Python, etc. The bottom line here is that a managed VPS platform gets your website up and going quickly thanks to a pick-and-choose approach among limited options with the various settings.
If you go the unmanaged route, the host is only in charge of maintaining the physical server hardware upon which your partition rests. The client gets a blank slate and installs and maintains his or her own hardware.
Obviously, a managed approach would be the best choice for all but the most tech savvy webmasters. Trust us. An unqualified client messing around with a VPS in order to save a few bucks can create a lot of chaos.
Welcome to Cloud VPS
Everything else being equal, the prospect of your web pages loading up to 20X faster is a good thing, right?
That’s what you get with a cloud VPS platform. Cloud VPS hosting achieves this enviable number through the use of solid state drives (SSD), multi-core servers, and the next generation of super-fast, super-efficient RAM technology.
You don’t always have a choice of operating system, especially with a managed plan. Most VPS web hosts go with a standard Linux system, which is a popular open-source, free option, and comes with a huge contingent of raving fans from around the globe.
If you’re a fanboy of Bill Gates and Windows products, you can probably find a host that has licensed the software for use so you don’t have to rob a bank to pay for your plan.
Once again, don’t expect there to be a one-size-fits-all unless you got the unmanaged route. If you’re into complete control over installation and configuration, order a self-installed VPS and let the fun begin.
Web Server Performance
There are a few important factors to consider when evaluating a server’s performance. Let’s not be cute and beat around the bush here. We’re talking about speed…
At a minimum, compare CPU numbers. A free upgrade to SSDs will make your website a better experience for visitors. Pay attention to included bandwidth speed. There can be a drastic difference between hosts.
Additionally, ask if the VPS account allows you to instantly add more disk space, CPU cores, and RAM without having to re-install the operating system. A good rule of thumb is that, unless you’re a glutton for punishment, fewer ground-up installs are better.
Choosing the Virtualization Software
Make note of the type of virtualization software that powers the platform. Xen, OpenVZ, Virtuozza, and KVM are a few currently popular offerings.
The particular brand determines what functions, features, and configurations you can expect from that VPS hosting plan.
Customer Service / Technical Support
The ability to be able to communicate with a live human being who has the capability to solve your problem is often the bottom line difference between VPS hosts.
While any company can throw around ratings and specifications, carefully read the website for a sense of a sincere dedication to customer service and technical support.
In general, look for 24/7 response and at least a few different ways to get in touch; email, toll-free phone numbers, and instant chat are a good start.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you should be aware that cloud technology has changed the nature of computing. A VPS account that is optimized in the cloud will generally offer lightning fast page loading thanks to server load balancing, page caching, and burstable RAM and SSDs.
A good cloud plan features popular server extensions/scripts like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla and are ready to instantly adapt to high traffic bursts in the event your collection of cat videos goes viral.
Don’t Overlook Security and Backups
Never simply assume that all VPS web hosts have taken the necessary precautions to protect your website from hackers, malware, and all other manner of malfeasance.
Know what type of firewall, network, security, DDoS protection, and anti-spam services each offers, and put the necessary security measures in place so that your server is protected.
Keep in mind that unmanaged clients are responsible for their own VPS level security settings. You should also confirm how database and file back-ups are handled.
Systems administration refers to the interface through which you install and work with your VPS.
The two basic choices are to use a command line, which means you type in actual instructions in a throwback DOS environment – not for the faint of heart – or interface with a control panel that is more in tune with the standard point-and-click approach.
Popular control panels are cPanel, Plesk, Webmin, and Virtualmin. These are GUI (graphical user interface) designs that simplify the process of server extension configuration.
Keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to escape the command line completely, especially when remotely administering the account.
Bottom Line: Choosing the Best VPS
While we encourage anyone interested in moving up to VPS web hosting to learn as much as they can about the comparative features of different companies, the reality is that most of the tweaking of the virtualization platform goes on out of sight.
Your best bet is to focus on the system administration method, whether or not you have a strong need for customization, and if you have the technical knowledge to do a self-install. There’s no escaping the fact that a managed account applies certain limitations to what you can do, but maybe that’s a good thing.
In the final analysis, look to a VPS solution when shared hosting rears its ugly, resource-deficient head, but you don’t have the moolah to shell out for a pure dedicated server. A managed, cloud VPS web hosting account is a great middle choice to make significant website performance gains.
For more a complete guide to shared web hosting, and an overview of our review process, have a look at our Canadian web hosting reviews.
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