Picking The Best VPS Configuration For Your Website (Part 2)

posted by admin @ 19:49 PM
September 15, 2010

Choosing The Right Solution

Choosing The Right Solution. Image source: planetgreen.discovery.com

Last time we spoke about making a choice of a Virtual Private Server in terms of the configuration varieties. Today we are going to continue our research and tell some useful facts about types of websites, applications and services one may use on a VPS and the related dependencies.

There are many types of websites and online services on the Internet that differ by system requirements, performance or way of work. Sure, most websites work with a standard configuration and software set but some websites and especially services need an accurate configuration pick and fine software tune up. In this regard we are going to list the most popular services and applications in the today use and find a correspondent VPS-based solution for each. Well, let’s start.

1. Email and ftp transfer services

Email and FTP transfer

Email and FTP transfer

VPSes are widely used for establishment of certain separate services on them. If you want to get a simple email or ftp server which would need no constant web-access, you may get the simplest custom configuration of your virtual server, which would include just the OS and basic mail exchange/file transfer services. If you wish to run some additional scripts, you have LAMP installed as well (you will anyway need Apache in order to provide webmail access or check the uploaded files via web). In such cases the control panel is not essential (some users do not even include it to their orders) what makes the choice of the OS not crucial as well. Neither is the choice of the virtualization type. Such web-inactive resources do not usually require severe monitoring or many maintenance efforts, especially when strict connection quotas and transfer rate limits are set. CPU/RAM parameters may also be minimal, however those exactly parameters will let you define, which limits to set.

2. Simple static websites hosting

Simple website

Simple website. Image source: techpin.com

If you have a simple website, which hosts static unchanged content and which is not frequently updated – a minimal VPS configuration is what you need. Depending on the visitor rate and activity of other servers (email exchange, ftp transfers, MySQL requests), you may choose one of the following options: 1) simplified maintenance and normal performance or 2) higher performance with less convenient maintenance

Choosing the first option you are likely to signup for a cPanel-based VPS with CentOS installed on it. While other control panels tend to be less resource intensive, cPanel/WHM provides you with ultimate maintenance and adjustment options, although this is going to cost you more RAM. Thus, you should choose a VPS with 512 MB of RAM. Such amount may look more than you actually need, but on the other hand it will provide you with reserve physical memory, needed for further growth of your project. Xen is more recommended, but OpenVZ virtualization may be used for cost cutting.

The second option is to provide higher performance rate for a lower price. This may somehow decrease the server management convenience level, but if you are good at basics of non-interface server administration you are not supposed to experience many issues. Your VPS will have no control panel or the least resource hungry one (WebMin or DirectAdmin) and will be able to run a “lighter” OS – FreeBSD. To gain more performance you may refuse from Apache (the LAMP classics) and have Nginx or LightHTTPD installed. Finally, you can choose the cheapest XEN VPS with 256MB on a board for the utmost productivity rate – XEN is more recommended for such configuration, since the more manual tune up you are going to bring in, the more you will feel the need of a fully virtualized server.

3. Hosting of dynamic and script-built websites

Script-built website code

Script-built website code. Image source: blog.ning.com

Such websites as forums, blogs and online-stores are not those to spare money on – especially, if you use them for your business. Therefore you should look into the most stable configuration, which almost entirely excludes self-management (unless you or your web designer is familiar with server administration). The use of FreeBSD becomes questionable as well – this OS does require more experience of work with *NIX. As for the control panel – you are still able to choose between two of them – cPanel or DirectAdmin since both usually come with automatic script installers. LAMP set is not to be changed or tuned since any website software requires otherwise. The most serious question however is the virtualization type. The first thing to make sure about before selecting one is the completeness of your project: if the project is being tested or developed or simply going to keep growing – you should choose OpenVZ. This virtualization technology will be reacting smoother to all the changes, including load spikes and temporary memory overuse. If your project is final and the only thing to modify is the content – you can choose a XEN. On conditions, that no configuration changes are going to be made, such VPS can show you surprising performance. Recommended minimal RAM amount is 512 MB.

4. Default Resource Intensive Software

Resource Intensity

Resource Intensity. Image source: freeinfosociety.com

Among the script-built websites there are those, which software is resource intensive by default. Such scripts as Drupal or WordPress (especially enhanced with some plug-ins or add-ons) or any intranet or social networking software have high system requirements and need much server tune-up to be performed. Thus, the refuse of LAMP is the first step, very frequently offered by the webmasters. It is not even actually a refuse, though an enhancement, since Apache keeps working as a backend web server, while Nginx or LightHTTPD serves as a frontend. Since cPanel/WHM can provide the utmost maintenance and management option, it usually becomes a sole choice, which in turn emerges the choice of CentOS as the operating system. The most recommended virtualization type is OpenVZ since the temporary overload and memory overuse are much likely to be expected. The hardware configuration is 1024MB and higher. If you manage to find a 2GB RAM supplied VPS – you may think about XEN. Still, you should think twice.

5. Hosting Reselling on VPS

Reseller Business

Reseller Business. Image source: flickr.com

Hosting reselling is one of the most popular online businesses, while VPS is the most popular way of its realization. Shared reseller servers can hardly provide the needed performance; additionally the limitations of the hosting provider may confuse a reseller and make him give up some of his or her ideas. A VPS offers perfect conditions for reselling – those however should be used wisely. If there is a choice the OS, the software set needs to be standard and not tuned. The control panel must be present on any conditions; it should be user friendly and intuitive enough, therefore the most recommended options are cPanel and DirectAdmin. Virtualization type does not matter much, but if you oversell it is recommended to choose OpenVZ. Minimal RAM amount is 512MB (regardless of the control panel type).

The Bottom Line

When we released the first part of our research, it was not as detailed as it should be to get a full picture. Now we can say that the analysis of particular website and service types might be more helpful for those, who consider a VPS as a hosting solution but are not yet sure about the preferred configuration. If you have more examples of VPS hosting usage or want to share what you or your friends host on a virtual private server – don’t hesitate to leave your comments.

If you have already made up your mind regarding the VPS configuration you would like to have, take a look at the VPS plans we offer at SiteValley. The variety of virtualization types and control panels, flexible prices and friendly support – that’s what you are going to get there.

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  • Avoid FTP if at all possible. If you do want to allow restricted access via ssh, look into RSSH and scponly. These are alternate shells that can help restrict what users are able to do.

  • admin

    Nice idea. However, if you are sure about your users and about other security measures on your server – you may not refuse from FTP. Sure, you may be afraid of penetration over FTP, then you need to take additional measures: change the FTP server’s standard port (21) to some other non-privileged port, e.g. 43434 so it will be hard to sniff. Then you simply let your users know, what the number of the FTP port is and they use it.

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  • Hi,

    Thank you for your proposal. Currently we do not need guest writers, since we publish articles in a specific niche.