I recently had a customer ask the following question… “Do I need vps hosting to start a social media site?”. The answer is definitely a yes on this one.
If you attempt to start your social media site on cheap virtual shared hosting you are most likely going to have to upgrade sooner rather then later, especially if you have some success. The scripts out there that run sites similar to Twitter, Facebook or Digg are not resource heavy in themselves (although some are) but once you have several users accessing the site and its features at the same time, you’re going to suck up a lot of the shared server’s resources.
Virtual shared hosting uses the same server to host several accounts. Depending on who you’re using for your hosting needs it could even hundreds of accounts. This type of hosting has no guaranteed access to resources and all sites hosted on the same server compete for CPU processing power and physical RAM. All requests are handled in a queue so if there is a period of peak traffic, it could take a while for your site to load. Nothing kills a websites growth then users who are frustrated that it takes 10 – 20 seconds or longer each time they click something.
With a virtual private server you have guaranteed resources including CPU processing power and RAM. No other sites hosted on the same physical server as your VPS hosting account can touch these resources, even if they’re not being used. In addition most servers has something called burstable RAM that all accounts have access to on an emergency basis if your traffic spikes at any point in time.
In order to make a social media a success, you have to ensure you have enough resources to handle your initial phase of growth. Using virtual hosting instead of a VPS account or even a dedicated server could actually hurt this growth curve by upsetting the users who join or use the site, especially if they have to wait for your sluggish hosting account.