When small businesses come to the point when they need a hosting service, they usually opt for a shared hosting plan, which seems like a sound solution. The shared hosting service is cheaper than all the other alternatives and usually fits the requirements of a small website with not a lot of traffic.
On paper, the company’s needs to communicate via email are also likely to be satisfied. Even the cheapest shared plans impose no limitations on the number of inboxes that can be created under the main domain, and while they may not be suitable for large-scale marketing campaigns, the shared packages usually give companies the ability to send more than enough emails per day in order to keep in touch with their clients and partners. All in all, the shared hosting service looks like the perfect solution for an organization that uses email as a primary communication method. Until that is, the messages start getting lost.
The problem with shared hosting
Shared hosting is cheap because many (in some cases, hundreds of) users share the same server. They use the same hardware resources, and most of the time, this isn’t a problem because the servers tend to be powerful and can support the normal operation of a large number of websites. The accounts also use the same IP address, and once again, this usually isn’t a big issue. As long as everyone on the server sticks to the rules, emails should be delivered quickly and reliably from the said IP. The problem comes from the fact that not everyone sticks to the rules.
Spam is a very big problem nowadays. Massive waves of unwanted emails clog thousands of inboxes, and people lose valuable correspondence as a result. These messages need to be sent from somewhere, however, and often, they come from email accounts hosted on shared hosts.
The less-than-ideal security offered by the shared hosting packages, coupled with users’ poor password management, make these types of inboxes particularly vulnerable to attacks. Once a spammer takes over an account, releasing a flood of unsolicited emails is no more difficult than executing a simple script.
In some cases, they don’t bother with compromising other people’s accounts and instead buy shared hosting plans themselves to launch their spam campaigns. The shared hosting service is so cheap, and the profits they stand to reap from the scams are so significant that the investment is well worth it.
Sadly, all this activity affects the rest of the people on the same server. As we mentioned already, all the accounts on the shared host use the same IP address, and as far as spam filters are concerned, the legitimate message that you’re trying to send to your business partner and the phishing email sent by your evil “neighbor” come from the same place.
When the spam detection tools see a large number of spam messages coming from a single server, they simply blacklist the IP. This stops the spam campaign, but it also blocks the legitimate messages sent by the rest of the accounts on the same shared host.
Your emails will either be sent directly to the recipient’s spam folder, or they will not be delivered at all. Even though you’re not responsible for the spam campaign, your email correspondence is very likely to be affected. What is the solution, then?
A Virtual Private Server – the solution for a more reliable email service
There’s only so much you can do in a shared environment. You can’t control what other users on the same server do, and you can’t change the way spam filters block unwanted messages. The only real option you have is to look for another hosting solution. A VPS is the obvious choice.
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, and the way it works is completely different to a shared hosting plan. You may still have multiple VPSs on the same physical machine, but this is where the similarities end.
When you purchase a VPS account, your hosting provider creates a virtual machine and gives you control over it. This virtual machine is pretty similar to a standalone physical server in that it has hardware resources that are available to it at any time and a dedicated IP address. Only you will be using this IP, which means that if you don’t break the rules, it won’t get blacklisted.
You are completely isolated from other hosting accounts, which brings other advantages as well.
The rest of the advantages of a VPS
In addition to the IP, the accounts located on a common shared host also use the same hardware resources. Because so many projects run on a single server, the price stays low, but as a side effect, as soon as one account starts putting too much load on the server, all websites start to suffer. The effects on the performance could be rather dramatic sometimes, and if just one of the accounts gets hit by a DDoS attack, for example, the entire server could crash, resulting in downtime for hundreds of websites.
In a virtual private server, you get hardware resources that are reserved for you and are available all the time. On the one hand, this means that the performance of your website is faster and more reliable, and because you can monitor how much of your hardware resources are consumed at any given time, it can be much more predictable as well. On the other hand, this setup brings much more security.
Shared accounts are assigned separate directories that are all stored on the hard drive of the shared server. A properly configured server shouldn’t allow one compromised website to affect the rest, but sophisticated cybercriminals do occasionally find a way of using one hacked account to breach an entire server.
In a VPS environment, there’s a virtualization layer that makes this impossible. Every single virtual server acts as a separate physical machine, and even in the event of a successful attack, the hackers can’t inflict damage on accounts outside the compromised VPS.
The price difference
You’d think that all these advantages come at a cost, and you’d be right – shared hosting is indeed more affordable than VPS hosting. The price gap has been narrowing over the last few years, though, and here at Scala Hosting, we want to make sure that this trend continues.
In 2019, cPanel, one of the world’s most popular web hosting control panels, announced a change to its pricing policy that could have resulted in a much more expensive hosting service, especially for VPS owners who use cPanel.
To ensure that our customers are not affected, we set off to develop an alternative that would give users more or less the same functionality as cPanel at no additional cost.
The result was SPanel – an all-in-one management platform that was specially designed for VPS users and allows account owners to control most of the aspects of their hosting service through a single, easy-to-use interface. With it, you can create and manage email and FTP accounts, add domains and DNS records, upload, download, and edit files and databases, and many more. There are a few unique features as well, like the SWordPress WordPress manager and the SShield security solution that monitors your account for any suspicious activity in real-time and alerts you in the event of a possible breach.
SPanel is available with all our managed VPS solutions completely free of charge. The in-house development of SPanel allows us to save a lot of money on additional licensing fees, and it helps us keep the prices of our VPS hosting packages very close to those of the shared plans.
More and more people are starting to realize that although affordable, the shared hosting packages come with numerous limitations and disadvantages. The fact that email delivery can’t always be guaranteed is just one of them.
In the past, a dedicated solution was the only alternative, but its price put it way beyond the budget limitations for most people and organizations. The emergence of VPS did widen the choice, although, initially, this type of hosting was also too expensive for most people. The price difference has been shrinking, however, and right now, a VPS might be the solution to all the problems posed by shared hosting, especially for businesses that use emails as a primary method for communication.
What could be stopping my emails from being delivered if I’m using a shared hosting account?
Problems with email deliverability usually arise when the shared hosting server’s IP address is blacklisted. This happens because someone on the server has had their hosting account compromised by spammers.
All accounts hosted on a single shared server use the same IP address, which means that if one of them misbehaves, the rest will also be affected.
Is email hosting via VPS more expensive than a shared service?
Yes, it is. In a VPS hosting setup, far fewer accounts are located on one physical machine, which inevitably pushes the price up. Thanks to innovation and optimization, the price difference has shrunk significantly over the last few years, and the increased speed, security, and the guaranteed deliverability of your messages could very well make the extra cost worthwhile.
How can a VPS hosting package solve the email deliverability problem?
A Virtual Private Server is reserved just for you. Nobody else is allowed to use its resources or IP address. The IP will only be blacklisted if you start sending excessive amounts of emails.
Is hosting a website on a VPS harder than using a shared hosting account for the same job?
There are two types of VPSs – managed and unmanaged (or self-managed). If you go for one of our self-managed VPS solutions, you’ll need to configure the VPS yourself to ensure that it runs smoothly. This gives you more freedom to customize the hosting environment to your specific requirements, but it also requires a lot more in terms of technical knowledge.
If you don’t have any special needs or are not comfortable configuring an entire VPS, you can always opt for a managed VPS service. If you do, we’ll be responsible for setting everything up. You, in the meantime, will have access to our SPanel control panel, which will give you all the tools you need in order to manage your website and all the additional services you receive as a part of your hosting package.
ScalaHosting – Guaranteed Email Deliverability With SPanel