Making a switch from shared hosting to a VPS, or virtual private server, hosting provider is a decision that should be preceded by a thorough review of options. While there are so many advantages in making such a switch, for most companies there is also a necessary learning curve attached.

As well, as a first-time user of VPS technology, there are many mistakes to be made. In this post, learn 5 mistakes you absolutely want to avoid when switching to a VPS hosting provider.

Mistake 1: Switching before your site statistics indicate it is time

There are three main indications that can tell you when your site is ready to transition to the more powerful resources that a VPS plan offers. These three indications are as follows:

  • Your site traffic is growing by leaps and bounds.
  • You are starting to get messages from your current server telling you that you are using too many resources.
  • You need complete authority to control your server usage for reasons of security, backing up data and managing user access.

But why do you need to wait to make the switch until you see the signs? Isn’t it fine to switch anytime? The truth is, if you have an unlimited budget for all things web hosting, it is absolutely fine to switch anytime. But since VPS hosting generally costs more than shared hosting, for most companies it doesn’t make sense to switch until the statistics support it.

Mistake 2: Failing to understand the difference between VPS and shared hosting

“Shared” means that a larger number of sites will all share the resources of a single common server. “VPS,” on the other hand, means that a very small number of sites will share the resources of a single common server. In either case, hosting can be conventional (hardware-based) or cloud-based.

In the same way, virtual private server hosting can be looked at like a mid-point in between shared hosting (the most basic level) and dedicated hosting (the highest level). As you move up the levels, the need for skilled maintenance and IT support as well as the cost grows accordingly. Finding this out by surprise after you’ve made the switch can be unpleasant, so it is best to clearly understand the differences up front.

Mistake 3: Choosing an unmanaged hosting account before choosing someone from your staff to manage it

Per Mistake 2 here, unless you have a staff member on your team who has the skill set to maintain and manage a VPS-hosted website, or you yourself have that expertise, it is much better to choose a managed hosting account even if it costs you a bit more.

Here is an example: virtual private server hosted sites can run on either a Windows or a Linux platform. If you are not sure what these terms mean or how to choose between them, you will likely be much better off opting for a managed VPS hosting package that comes with dedicated IT support via your host provider.

Here is another example: let’s say you switch to virtual private server hosting on an unmanaged plan and your server crashes. Will you know what to do? If the answer is “not a clue,” you can save yourself loads of stress, time and cash by opting for a managed hosting plan up front.

Mistake 4: Paying too much for your new hosting plan

Gone are the days when few people even understood what “VPS” stands for. Today, most web hosting providers provide both shared and VPS options at all different price points.

However, in most cases, the price differences can’t be attributed to simple price gouging. Rather, they represent different amounts of storage, data transfer rates, RAM (random access memory), types of customer panels, backup and security protocols and options for customer service (phone, email, chat, et al).

What this means is that you will need to do your research carefully before just opting for the lowest price VPS provider. The best approach is to note down your minimum needs for each option (storage, data transfer, backup and security protocols, et al) in advance and then compare and contrast price points for each provider that offers your specific menu of required options. Not only will this cut down on the number of providers you have to review, but it will make choosing the best price a breeze.

Mistake 5: Migrating to a host that offers no free trial period

If you see the term “free trial period,” you can translate it in your head to mean “money back guarantee offer.” Generally this period is 30 days, but sometimes it can be more or less. Strive to select a provider that gives you at least 30 days to take your new virtual private server for a test drive before deciding for good that the platform works well for your needs.

At all costs avoid a hosting provider that does not offer any kind of trial period or money back guarantee. Even new home and car buyers get a few days to change their mind and you deserve the same courtesy.

Once you find a reasonably priced new host that also offers you a free trial period, then dig in and use that initial time period to really put your VPS plan through its paces, monitoring for up time (the percentage of time your site is accessible) and responsiveness (the speed of website communications) throughout. Put a note in your calendar of the cut-off date for getting your money back and make sure to make a decision on or before that date.

These five mistakes are oh-so-common for first time shared to VPS transferees. But now you have some insider knowledge about what to look for and what to avoid. This will not only make your decision of which host to use easier, but it will also make the actual transition much easier.