- Best Overall: a2 Hosting, “Offers a good range of Linux distributions to choose from.”
- Best Entry-Level: VirMach, “The clincher here is the extra 5 GB of storage space (15 GB overall).”
- Best Mid-Level: HostGator, “If you find you need a little more horsepower, HostGator has you covered.”
- Best Budget: 1and1, “It offers the same 1 core, 512 MB RAM server as VirMach above, only for $2/month.”
- Best for Windows Servers: Interserver, “Interserver provides the best Windows options out there.”
- Best for Multi-OSServers: Atlantic.net, “The company offers a variety of configurations for uses.”
- Most Versatile: Linode, “Linode makes it incredibly simple to get up and running.”
- Best Managed: Inmotion, “They’ll make sure security updates are applied and can assist with installations of other apps.”
- Most Powerful: RoseHosting, “The SSD 64 VPS service from RoseHosting provides an incredible 12 processor cores.”
Best Overall: A2 Hosting
With very flexible pricing and a well-priced entry-level tier, A2 Hosting is an easy choice for best overall virtual private server (VPS) host. For as low as $10/month, depending on your commitment and options, you can get started with a VPS with 1 processor core, 1 GB of RAM, 30 GB of disk space, and 2 TB of bandwidth. The company also offers a good range of Linux distributions to choose from.
One of the best things about A2 is how easy it is to scale your VPS as needed. For example, if you have a very popular blog, you may not need further RAM or computing power, but you will need more bandwidth. In that case, the VPS offering from A2 would allow you to increase just that aspect of your plan for better cost control.
A2 also has add-on features to help improve your VPS’ performance. As with its web hosting, the Turbo option, which does have a price attached for VPS servers, gives you priority access to machine resources, meaning your VPS could perform as much as 20 times faster according to A2.
Best Entry-Level VPS: VirMach
While it was very close, we’re selecting the SSD512 offering from VirMach as our top recommendation for the best entry-level VPS. This offering provides 1 computing core, 15 GB of SSD storage, 512 MB of RAM, and 1 TB of throughput for the incredible price of $2.50/month.
You’ll need to be comfortable with Linux to use VirMach’s SSD512 tier, because it doesn’t come with Windows, nor is this managed hosting in any way. You’re more or less left to your own devices, but this configuration should be sufficient to run a blog or other single web-based application for a small number of users without worrying about any of the problems that come with traditional shared hosting.
While there are similar offerings with the same price, the clincher with the SSD512 plan is the extra 5 GB of storage space it provides, for 15 GB overall. This is critical because, unlike shared web hosting, you need to consider all the space your software will need, and that even includes the operating system.
Once you install the Linux distribution of your choice on an entry-level VPS, you may have less than 8 GB of the original 10 GB allotment, and that’s without any software at all. You may find that extra 5 GB allows you to wring just a few more months out of this service tier before you need to upgrade your blog with more resources.
Best Mid-Level VPS: Hostgator
Hostgator is our pick if you’re looking to step up to a mid-level VPS due to the strength of their offerings in this category. Hostgator is a full-service web host, and is consistently one of our top picks for most types of web hosting, but they really excel in mid-level virtual private servers.
So how do you know if it’s time to step up? An entry-level VPS, as we’re defining it, is one that will support a small- to mid-sized workload, which works out to the equivalent of a good netbook computer circa 2008. If you find you need a little more horsepower, we’ve identified some mid-level plans from Hostgator that will get the job done.
Hostgator’s Snappy 2000 VPS, at $29.95/month, is a little pricier than most entry-level options. But what you get for that is a pretty capable set-up, with two processor cores, 2 GB of RAM, and a very generous 120 GB of storage. The bandwidth is somewhere in the middle with 1.5 TB of throughput, but as an overall package, the price is very good for what you get.
Advanced features available with all Hostgator VPS accounts include full root access to install the software you need, cPanel and WHM admins, and security such as redundant firewalls. If you’re running multiple applications and need a little bit more punch in your server, Hostgator offers a capable package at the right price.
Best Budget: 1&1 Ionos
Our top recommendation for decent virtual private servers on a budget is 1&1 Ionos, which offers the same type of single core, 512 MB RAM server as VirMach, but only for $2 per month.
The strongest argument for 1&1, other than the price, is that they offer unlimited bandwidth. You aren’t likely to need it with a server on this end of the scale, with such a meager amount of RAM and storage, but it’s nice to have it there just in case. The bigger issue is that you only get 10 GB of storage.
If your use case is very modest, such as a single application like a personal blog, 1&1 will get the job done just fine. However, sacrificing storage for additional throughput just doesn’t make sense in most situations, even if you do save a little money. It’s a decent option if your budget is really tight, but there are better alternatives if you can afford to splurge a little bit more.
Best for Windows Servers: Interserver
Our pick for the best Windows VPS is Interserver due to their affordable plans, decent system resources, and support for newer versions of Windows Server than most of the competition. Linux is usually the way to go, but this is a fantastic option if your site requires Windows-specific dependencies like Silverlight.
When it comes to VPS operating systems, Linux is by far the leader of the pack. Especially when you consider that VPS machines can be brought up and down with the click of a couple of buttons, and with Linux you don’t need to worry about licensing concerns. However, there are applications that are built for Windows, and Interserver provides the best Windows options out there for those looking for a VPS solution.
The entry-level unmanaged VPS tier for Interserver, normally $10/month, gets you a single processor core, 2 GB of RAM, 30 GB of SSD storage, and 2 TB of bandwidth.
Interserver offers 16 tiers overall, giving you a very granular set of options depending on your needs. Another key reason we selected Interserver is their support for the newer Windows Server 2016, where some other competitors only support the older Server 2012. Add to this support for Windows 10 as an option for your VPS, meaning you can actually set up a cloud-accessible desktop with Interserver.
Best for Multi-OS Servers: Atlantic.net
The majority of VPS hosting is based on Linux, and we’ve also highlighted a provider with a strong Windows-based offering, but we’re still missing one operating system that’s still prevalent: FreeBSD. If you want to be able to choose any of these operating systems for your server without jumping between providers, our top recommendation is Atlantic.net.
The company offers a good selection of Linux distributions covering the usual suspects, although it’s not the most exhaustive on this list. But Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and CentOS are accounted for. It also supports Windows Server versions from 2008 all the way through the current 2019. And as mentioned, FreeBSD is available if you want a rock-solid web server.
The company offers a variety of configurations for uses including Storage Optimized for media-heavy websites, and Compute-Optimized where processing power is the focus.
Remarkably, Atlantic.net offers free use of a General Purpose VPS for one year for free. This includes one processor core, 1 GB of RAM, 40 GB of storage, and 3 TB of throughput. So Atlantic also offers a very good platform to try out a virtual private server without any risk.
Most Versatile: Linode
Linode’s VPS offerings are known for being developer-friendly, so in order to satisfy all the potential needs, the company offers a very flexible platform. As developers regularly create, use, and then destroy their virtual servers, Linode makes it incredibly simple to get up and running. That’s why Linode is our top pick for the most versatile VPS host.
The site boasts a three-step process: “Pick a plan. Pick a distro. Pick a location.” There’s even a command-line tool that will let you create a new VPS with a single command. Linode also offers one of the broadest sets of Linux distributions, including standards like Ubuntu, Debian, and CentOS, but also lesser-used ones like Arch, Gentoo, and OpenSUSE.
You can also get started with Linode for as little as $5 per month. This entry-level plan includes a single processor core, 1 GB of RAM, 25 GB of SSD storage, and 1 TB of transfer. Pretty much on par with other entry-level options, although a bit more expensive.
One of the most intriguing things about Linode is that they also offer hourly pricing. If you only need your server for a couple days, or on an intermittent basis, this unique pricing structure could save you a lot of money.
Best Managed: InMotion
Our top pick for best managed VPS hosting is InMotion due to their competitive pricing structure and excellent resource allocation. InMotion is one of our top overall web hosting recommendations, but they really hit managed VPS hosting out of the park.
When you get a virtual private server, you gain full control over it in the form of root access. But, as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, in the form of having to maintain that server yourself.
The solution is to opt for a managed VPS, like one of the offerings from InMotion. This combines the best features of VPS, like full control over software, privacy, and resource allocation, with assistance from your provider’s staff to manage aspects of the server for you. They’ll make sure security updates are applied and can assist with installations of other apps.
InMotion provides this type of service for just for $39.99/month, which is a good ten dollars less than many competing options. This also provides a very capable system with 4 GB RAM, 75 GB disk space, and 4 TB of bandwidth. The system also comes with free cPanel, which is usually an additional cost, as well as a free domain and three dedicated IP addresses.
Most Powerful: RoseHosting
Don’t let the meager specs on some of the services so far make think you can’t get power in a VPS. While many customers are satisfied with entry- and mid-level VPS tiers, and many sites run just fine on these servers, the fact is that you can also get a VPS that rivals any physical machine you could put together. If that sounds like what you’re looking for, we recommend RoseHosting.
The SSD 64 VPS service from RoseHosting provides an incredible 12 processor cores, 64 GB of RAM, 400 GB of SSD storage, and unlimited bandwidth. In addition to other perks like free migration to your new server and back-up once you’re there, RoseHosting’s services also come with full management.
Of course, all these things come with a price, and a top-tier server can cost as much as $619.95 per month. Fortunately, like the other items on this list, you can scale these to your needs.
The SSD 8 VPS gets you a machine with 4 cores, 8 GB RAM, and 120 GB SSD storage. This is relatively on-par with modern physical PCs, and the $99.95 per month price, or $1,200 per year, is not an unreasonable price when you also consider that the machine is hosted on the cloud.