A dedicated server tends to be "faster" in the sense that you get more CPU & RAM allocated to you. A VPS can be quite sluggish depending on how many people on the same host node are using a ton of swap.
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one big pro is you can get higher end quality hardware for less, you wont get 100% of the performance but you will get 100% of the quality and reliability. Its a bit like communism, but it works. For 50 bucks in a ded server youll get low end hardware, on a vps you wont get as much cpu power but you will get raid 10, top end hardware across the board and redundancy (in most cases, Im sure someone is running vps on a 50 bucks box). Oh and you can upgrade quickly.
Cons, bangs per buck on cpu cycles it isnt all that good.
A VPS normally comes with more support than a dedicated, but this is entirely up to your host. I found BeachComber to be a very supportive dedicated server host, but switched to a VPS because I didn't need the horsepower or bandwidth.
I switched to Servint, which has been reliable and very helpful. They're excellent hosts, especially good on support issues. My small websites are doing fine on the middle Servint VPS. I'm trying PowerVPS, and so far have been very pleased with them.
If you're not certain you'll need the power and bandwidth offered with a dedicated, I suggest starting with a small VPS. You can upgrade your VPS without pain, as your hosting needs begin to require more memory, disk, bandwidth, etc. Switching to a dedicated isn't a huge problem, especially if both the VPS and dedicated use the same control panel. It's simple with cPanel; and probably simple with the other panels. Or, just backup and restore. Email and databases require special handling, since you never know for sure when your DNS changes will propagate.
Thanks so much for the input, this is EXACTLY what I needed to know. As of yesterday, after much "back n' forth" our management has finally approved going to a VPS and we're more than likely going to go with PowerVPS.
It seems that on the one end you have your basic WebHost (Shared Hosting) providers.
They offer some decent features, but usually severely lack in flexibility, power, customization and support varies greatly.
On the other end you can have a Dedicated server, probably with some type of integrated control panel I assume. But if you want the high-end hardware, that costs more. So from your comments $50 will get you a "low-end" Dedi-Server.
So it looks like VPS is smack in the middle. They offer a hell of alot of advantages over a standard Shared Host/Webhost and you get a Virtual Dedicated Server with high-end hardware, just somewhat scaled down on the resources.
Thanks again everyone. If you have any additional input...by all means keep it coming!