When you create a website that offers compelling content, you usually want visitors to check it out, give you positive feedback, and come back again to see more. You also expect the site to properly show your content and be always ready to load your pages, no matter how many visits you may have. But sometimes, when you write an article about a specific subject, that piece of content may be linked from another place and your website will receive a lot of traffic in a short period of time. This is usually when things start to get really ugly. Many webmasters expect their site to deal with all the traffic ‘magically’ and maybe show a pop up in their admin panels that says “You need more resources, activate more? Yes/No.” It would be so convenient if everything worked this way.
Unfortunately, when your traffic increases rapidly, your server needs all the proper resources to handle all the load. Let’s say that, for example, you publish an article and someone submits the link to a site like Reddit. If enough people votes for that post and it manages to get on the front page, your site is going to be in trouble if it can’t handle all the visits. If your website happens to be hosted on a shared environment, chances are, it will become quickly unresponsive and whenever a user tries to access it, he or she will see an error message that lets them know the site is unavailable at the moment. This happens because every resource is being shared with other sites and the hosting company sets specific limits for each user.
If your site is hosted on a Virtual Private Server, you will have better chances to deal with all the traffic, but you’re still going to struggle if the site is coming from Reddit, which usually sends thousands of visitors in a few minutes. Your best chance of survival here is to host your site on a dedicated server. These type of servers don’t share resources and you get full control of every single setting. This will allow you to properly configure it so it can survive when dealing with traffic, and you can also add more resources when needed. From my personal experience, I wouldn’t waste time with shared hosting opportunities or a VPS, if you know that your site will be popular, go for the dedicated server. Just make sure to properly configure it and you’re good to go.