When should you upgrade your hosting plan from shared hosting?
Many site owners, especially those who used CMS like WordPress, mostly had no idea when should they upgrade your hosting plan from shared hosting.
There are many factors to consider, before you decide to upgrade your hosting plan from shared hosting.
Have you found the culprit why your site slowed down?
This is important, in fact, it's the most important.
Before you decide to upgrade your current shared hosting, you need to make sure you have found the culprit ( I mean, the cause ) why your site slowed down.
There will be no difference, even after you upgraded your shared hosting plan to higher plan like Virtual Private Server (VPS), when the root cause of your slowed down website is, for example: one of your WordPress plugins is doing heavy calculation which involved to do a complicated SQL query that makes your application server to handle each request much longer.
The best practice for such heavy calculation is moving it to a background job, and saved the result on a table or cache to be accessed by application server quickly when serving request.
Still related to that example, you may saw instant improvement once you upgraded but soon, you'll get to the point where your website slowed down again because, in fact, the slow SQL query is still executed there.
For such case, you need to either optimize the query or move it to background job and saved the result on another table which can be accessed with much simpler, and faster SQL query -- instead of upgrading your hosting plan.
Based on my experience, I saw some people just did the upgrade as quick fix, without even knowing the root cause why their website slowed down.
That's really a bad practice.
Not only it's wasting our budgets and other resources, but we'll miss the point, and we'll never solved our slowed down website problem -- simply because we even didn't know in the first place: why it slowed down?
Have you done any other optimizations?
Are you sure all of other optimizations had been done correctly, but your site performance still not sufficient to handle the incoming traffic ?
For example, if you're running your website with WordPress, there are myriad ways to optimize WordPress performance.
The most basic and mostly had been done by other site's owner is installing a caching plugins.
As I know, most of such plugins will generate the static site's version of your WordPress site.
This means, the incoming traffic will be served with static site of your WP site, until you refresh the cache saved by the plugin you choose.
Usually, when you use such plugins, there will be a prompt to clear or refresh the cache, once you're going to publish a new post or page.
Also, contacting your hosting's staff would not hurt.
See if they had some articles for best practice on optimizing the performance of their shared hosting plan.
Try to follow all of the provided best practices from your web hosting providers.
Once done, if it's still slow or there's still no significant improvement, you also need to look up each of installed plugins on your WordPress installation.
This is actually still relating to the first step: to find out the root cause why your WordPress site slowed down?
Is it worth compared to your website traffic and revenue?
This is the third factor to consider.
If the website traffic is not that high, say its visitors is less than one thousand visitors per day but the site had been slowing down too much, then you need to investigate first: why it's slowing down with such traffic.
Even more, if the website already generated some revenue, then you need to include its revenue to your cost calculation.
Of course you don't want to lose revenue because your site is slowing down too much or even unaccessible.
Especially if the website already generated decent revenue, you may consider upgrading its shared hosting plan in the first place --- as quick solution to avoid your site being slower and slower and eventually unaccessible.
Is your own skills, spare times, and budgets sufficient?
The next stage above shared hosting plan, is most likely a Virtual Private Server (VPS) plan.
There are two kinds of the plans.
One is fully managed VPS.
The other is self-managed VPS.
I'll explain the details a little bit.
Fully-managed VPS means the hosting provider takes care most of devops works for your VPS. This means, they will do things like:
- installing the required package you need to run WordPress.
- updating and upgrading the current installed packages.
- taking care of hardening the security of your VPS.
- optimizing the VPS performance if needed.
- etc... the list can go on...
In short, when you're using fully-managed VPS plans, you don't need to care anything about those devops things. All you need to do is working with your content on WordPress admin dashboard. On this plan, you'll usually get a cPanel login.
Well, on fully-managed VPS, you won't notice any changes. Everything will most likely same as the things you used to work on shared hosting.
The only differences will be the monthly cost and you'll get a dedicated IP for your VPS ( unlike shared hosting, where you shared the same IP address with other site owners )
On the other hand, the self-managed VPS is just a bare VPS.
The self-managed VPS cost can be comparable to shared hosting.
Examples of those are AWS Lightsail, AWS EC2, or Digital Ocean's droplet.
But don't go with bare-VPS unless you know what you're doing.
You need some devops skills and experience to manage the VPS yourself.
Now, let's say you don't have sufficient skills to manage a VPS yourself.
But you had spare times to learn it.
But... you also had spare budgets to hire someone to manage the VPS for you.
For such case, I think you neeed to do your own calculation.
Compare all of the costs, times, risks, and the efforts of those alternatives:
- Hire a pro, to manage the VPS for you. This means you pay him for managing your VPS. The risk is you'll be completely dependent on him or her to manage your VPS. Make sure he or she is the person who's worth your trust.
- Buy fully-managed VPS service. No need to depend on anyone but your own web hosting provider. The cost maybe higher or lower. But surely, there's no risk to depend on someone for managing your own VPS.
- Learn it yourself, to manage your own VPS. Risk: your site will go down if you don't know what are you doing. Even worse: there's possibility you'll get hacked or lost your data.
Wait... do you really need that VPS? That will depend your case.
Before choosing to upgrade on fully-managed VPS, you may consider higher plan than your current shared hosting plan.
I mean, it's still same shared hosting plan, but usually the higher plan will give you more resources for your website to use.
To summary whether or when should you upgrade your hosting plan from shared hosting:
- Found out the culprit first. Find out the real cause why did it slow down? Often times, once you found it out and fixed it, you'll see that upgrading will be pointless.
- Once you make sure the real cause is fixed, make sure you've done as much as best practices to optimize your website performance.
- If the two steps above still not sufficient, it's time to do calculation with your website traffic and revenue.
- Once calculation is made, if the result permits for upgrading, consider your own skills, spare times, and budget. This is the case if you're going to move or upgrade to VPS with another web hosting service.