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VPS Memory: The Importance of RAM for your VPS Server

by Tim Attwood on September 26, 2011

CPU and RAMA virtual private server (VPS) can provide a significant step up in performance from a shared Web hosting solution, especially as your company moves from having a static website to a web presence that is more robust. While shared hosting allocates you only a small portion of the bandwidth and resources on a server, and that server is potentially shared by hundreds of other customers, a VPS gives you more control over the space, the OS, and the applications that you can install in order to help manage your website. One of the most crucial aspects of any VPS will be the amount of RAM that you have access to, and if you find your performance suffering, a lack of RAM may be the culprit.

Remember, Remember – Why VPS Memory Matters

There are a number of factors that contribute to the speed of your website and how easily it can be accessed by other users, as well as how quickly how are able to make changes. Partly, this speed will be based on the amount of storage space you have access to on your VPS, as well as what type of OS you choose to use – Windows and the different flavors of Linux both have their strengths and weaknesses. Another important aspect of your server space, however, will be the amount of RAM that you have access to. The lower the amount of RAM your section of the server uses, the slower processes on the whole will run. There are several ways to manage your memory use – for example, using Apache alone will be less memory-intensive than running MySQL as well, and caching pages can help to limit the amount of memory that is required each time a visitor requests your page. In addition, if you have a webpage that has a large number of dynamic applications to load, it will require more RAM in order to be easily accessible by users.

Basic VPS Memory

If you purchase an entry-level VPS, you can expect the amount of RAM you have available to initially be quite low – options at start as low as 512 MB. If you are running only a basic OS and server applications, and have few visitors to your site in a day, then this amount of memory may be all you need. If, however, you see your page views climbing or your OS begins to respond more slowly, more VPS RAM may be the easiest way to improve your performance. Dedicated servers, in which a user has full control over all aspects of the architecture and access to all resources, will often come with upwards of 4 GB of memory, and can easily handle thousands of visitors as well as dynamically-loading web pages. The benefits to a VPS come not only in VDS-like performance that it can deliver, but the lower initial cost to use, and VPS memory can be upgraded on-demand when necessary, to allow greater access to resources.

Consider Your Needs

Choosing a VPS means you’ll get a tract of virtual server land that you can choose to build on in any way you want. You can start with the OS that works best for you, follow it up with applications and server control panels like cPanel or Plesk that help you manage users, and present a web presence to the world that is polished and functional. Initially, what is offered by an entry-level VPS server will often be enough as you build your site or begin to portion out chunks of your space for resale.

As your page views and the load on your server increases, however, keep an eye on the speed at which pages load and applications can be accessed. If slowdown occurs, the most common problem will be a lack of RAM, and this can often be easily – and relatively cheaply – addressed. VPS options allow you to upgrade your RAM quickly and easily, allowing you to easily move from a 512MB to a 2 GB, 4 GB, or even 8 GB option. For gaming servers, sites with creative, dynamic content or if you are reselling portions of your web space, this kind of upgrade can make a huge difference in performance, without a massive increase in price.

Limited VPS RAM can be a roadblock to great performance, but fortunately removing it is often as easy as contacting your hosting provider.

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Randy5 September 26, 2011 at 6:41 AM

I used to think that getting as much RAM as possible was the answer to all my problems. Now, I’m older and wiser, and I understand how RAM management is just as important.

silkysmooth September 26, 2011 at 6:42 AM

upgrading on-demand is the only way to go. why pay for resources you don’t use, or get stuck with resources that are suddenly insufficient?

OfftheWall September 26, 2011 at 6:44 AM

I hadn’t thought to keep an eye on my site’s speed before, but I’ll make sure to do so going forward.

Texas2Step September 27, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Be sure to do this all the time, OfftheWall. You want to make sure you catch your site soon after it starts to slow down, so this issue won’t affect your business.

OhDonna October 3, 2011 at 3:58 AM

If you have interns or entry-level employees, this makes for a good task for them to take care of.

Stoddard October 18, 2011 at 8:35 PM

Imagine going from 512MB to 8GB quickly and easily. It sounds like science fiction!

WrigleyF March 1, 2012 at 1:14 PM

It’s important that site owners be able to make changes fast should the need arise. This is an often overlooked benefit of VPS hosting and VPS memory.

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