Linux server hosting is a completely different world from software as a service (SaaS) website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Bandzoogle. The DIY route always includes more possibilities. The purpose of this blog is to compare the two most powerful and cost-effective web hosting options, cPanel-Managed VPS vs. Cloud Server Hosting.
Although it is a great compromise between dedicated and shared server hosting, not everyone needs a virtual private server (VPS). If you’re unsure which Linux web hosting plan is best for you, it’s usually best to start with our cheaper Shared Hosting. Those hosting plans provide sufficient security and performance for startups and beginners. There are a few exceptions to this rule:
- You have a resource-intensive website setup such as Magento or other applications with rigorous database (MySQL/PostgreSQL/MongoDB) usage
- You need to manage websites owned by different webmasters in separate cPanel accounts (popular for reseller solutions)
- You need root access for any software installation
To be fair, there are free solutions that might help if your shared hosting plan uses excessive resources, mainly Cloudflare and application-specific optimization guides. Otherwise, if you meet the criteria above, you’ll need to start with one of two types of VPS hosting solutions:
Managed VPS Hosting includes 24/7 live technical support, Launch Assist for assistance getting started, and a server management application – usually cPanel alongside WebHost Manager (WHM) (hence the name cPanel-Managed VPS hosting).
Self-managed Cloud Server Hosting does not include cPanel or other graphical user interface (GUI) software, just the core Linux operating system (OS) or Linux distribution (distro). There is no free technical support provided besides ensuring that the server isn’t malfunctioning by fault of the hosting provider.
We don’t offer Managed VPS hosting with Plesk, DirectAdmin, or Virtualizor at this time. However, you could install either of these on your own VPS.
Both support Secure Shell (SSH), cPanel, cPanel alternatives, and basic server management options in your Account Management Panel (AMP) such as snapshots and nameserver DNS configuration.
Below we’ll discuss:
- Managed VPS Hosting
- Cloud Server Hosting
- VPS vs Cloud Server Scalability
- VPS vs Cloud Server Performance
- VPS vs Cloud Server Security
- VPS vs Cloud Server Pricing
Managed VPS Hosting
The inclusion of cPanel and WHM makes Managed VPS Hosting the next logical step for shared hosting customers who need more server disk space and database resources.
You keep cPanel, free AutoSSL certificates, and unlimited access to our 24/7 live support. We still provide proactive maintenance, regular cPanel updates, and highly-available (HA) uptime monitoring.
The most notable, new feature is root access (administrator rights) to your VPS. With this great power, comes great responsibility over your server performance, cPanel customizations, and cybersecurity posture. That includes server backups.
If all of that seems overwhelming, potential InMotion Hosting customers should remember you’ll also have Launch Assist available. This is basically a limited amount of free time with our Managed Hosting team to help you with time-consuming tasks when first setting up your new Linux VPS. Use it for transferring websites and email, requesting 1-on-1 advice about Linux system administration, or simply configuring software so you don’t have to yourself.
It doesn’t matter how you use it. But if you become an InMotion Hosting customer, use it. Let us help you save your time.
The major downside to VPS vs cloud hosting is the price:
With the price multiplying by four, it would behoove you to take advantage of all features possible as a cPanel VPS administrator.
Furthermore, cPanel’s new pricing and licensing structure in 2019 changed the way many hosting account owners (especially resellers) manage multiple websites. If you upgrade from a shared server to managed VPS, you’ll need to use less cPanel accounts to avoid additional fees for extra cPanel licenses. Then, you can add other websites as addon domains.
You can easily upgrade your Managed VPS hosting plan in AMP for even more server resources at any time without charge.
Cloud Server Hosting
Cloud Server Hosting has none of those things from a managed VPS, except for root access and uptime monitoring in AMP. Also known as unmanaged server hosting, a Linux cloud server has no cPanel or other GUI pre-installed for managing the server. Starting off, everything has to be done through the command-line interface (CLI) with SSH or file transfer protocol (FTP). A cloud hosting subscription might not even include a free 1-year domain registration. You may think $30 for a domain and domain privacy isn’t much, but money saved is money for other branding initiatives.
Server OS updates, backups, and other server management tasks are entirely your responsibility. You’re creating your web hosting solution from scratch on a bare server OS. You have complete control over applications installed. But make sure it doesn’t exceed the resource allotment for your hosting subscription.
You can usually re-OS your Linux cloud server whenever you want between the three most popular Linux server distros:
- CentOS, the open-source community version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), the required OS for cPanel
- Debian, one of the oldest and most stable Linux distros, known for prioritizing security and code minimalism
- Ubuntu, the most popular derivative of Debian, known for its novice-friendly installation process and having dozens of its own spin-off distros
Cloud Server plans range from $5-$160/monthly with multiple scaling options, so you only pay for the resources you need. You can pay even less with virtual private cloud (VPC) hosting, a type of cloud hosting where you pay for usage in seconds or hours that the server is live versus monthly. VPCs are great for very niche use cases like the software development life cycle (SDLC). We don’t sell VPCs but it deserves a quick mention.
For technical support on cloud servers, other than ensuring the virtual container has no bugs by fault of the hosting provider, you’ll likely have to pay a fee (e.g. our Managed Hosting team). The reason for this is simple — it can take a long time for a support representative to understand and troubleshoot a customized cloud hosting vs VPS (cPanel-managed especially) setup.
For these reasons, cloud servers are generally best for:
- Expert Linux command-line interface (CLI) users who want server resources dedicated to important web applications instead of sharing with cPanel services
- Developers with low resource requirements who are experienced enough to manage their LAMP/LEMP Stack, install cPanel, or other server control panels such as Vesta Control Panel, Webmin, or Control Web Panel (CWP)
- System administrators who need a command and control (C2) node for programs such as Ansible and Kubernetes
When moving to a Linux cloud server, you are responsible for any data migration and server configuration. Technical assistance can be purchased via Managed Hosting.
VPS vs Cloud Server Scalability
Both models are scalable. We have multiple tiers of both managed and self-managed server hosting plans, each with different limits on disk space and bandwidth. Either can be configured with load balancing solutions such as Apache Load Balancer or HAProxy. You don’t need to modify any settings when a hosting provider promotes your hosting plan to a higher tier.
VPS vs Cloud Server Performance
Performance is where lots of variables and your specific needs come into play. Here’s a short list of factors that affect your website and server performance:
- What web apps and sites you use
- Average internet speed of your target geographic market
- How much traffic you receive and expected activity
- Visitors reading your blog
- Potential customers for online shopping
- Students using games or an interactive learning management system (LMS)
- Your industry and how enticing a target your data is for cyber attackers
- eCommerce sites are seen as goldmines for personal identifiable information (PII)
- Sites built to offer software downloads are prime targets for man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, rerouting download requests to malicious sites
- Your web hosting provider’s IT infrastructure
- Your physical server location
The best way to decide which server package is best for you is to upload your entire server environment to a cPanel server and a bare-bones cloud server, then compare the performance metrics. But that requires a lot of time — and that is simplifying the process.
Managed VPS Hosting is already optimized to run that server management application along with everything already installed before you login for the first time. To keep up with current network speed standards, caching software such as NGINX and PHP-FPM are either installed or available for quick installation with optimal settings for that provider’s infrastructure. For example, we offer our proprietary UltraStack caching system.
This equates to a lot of time saved, unless you don’t need any of it in the first place. Databases and PHP processes eat a lot of server resources. But if you’re not using them, you have to hope you can disable those services. Sometimes, you can’t because they’re part of core processes.
Cloud Server Hosting has none of that. You have to install any software manually or from that distro’s package manager. Again, this is great for someone that knows what they need and how to tweak it to their advantage. If not, you’re going to spend a lot of time learning that may have been best spent on other entrepreneurship work.
VPS vs Cloud Server Security
Similar to performance, tightening your cyber attack surface consists of things you can’t control and your specific use case. Neither is very secure by default but a managed server will have security functions readily available.
Managed VPS hosting is easier to secure for beginners because you can secure cPanel well from the web browser. And remember, a managed VPS usually includes free technical support. We do VPS security scans and quarantining upon request. For file sanitation, we recommend Sucuri.
Cloud Server Hosting requires you to configure your own solutions for:
- Antivirus (AV) scanning
- Denial-of-service (DOS) protection
- Security information and event management (SIEM)
You have to figure out the best cybersecurity practices for securing that Linux OS. Single-file snapshots and backups are reactive, not proactive, and might be useless if created after a cyber intrusion was realized. So, skimping on server hardening is a horrible move. Cyber criminals will thank you, though.
VPS vs Cloud Server Pricing
Our cPanel VPSs start at around $20 a month and we have a money back guarantee on cPanel-Managed VPS hosting. If your hosting plan doesn’t suit your needs, simply request a refund. We’d appreciate a “why” to help us improve our services, though.
Our Linux Cloud Servers start at around $5 when charged monthly. Not sure if you’re ready for a base Linux OS? Maybe install Linux in Virtualbox on your PC and see how that works out for you first.
If you’re still not sure which option will best meet your needs, be sure to contact our expert Sales team. What are your requirements? What kind of web application(s) are you building? We can help you get a hosting package that fits your budget and gives you all the technology you’ll need.