What are the benefits of say choosing a VPS (virtual private server) over shared hosting?
A VPS can clearly outnumber a shared host in performance and freedom, but not in pricing. Price can only be matched when the VPS is an unmanaged instance, meaning you have to ‘drive’ it (or someone you hire -like me ;o)). You have to take care of all the configurations, the server management, the monitoring – and often even the operating system install itself (though this is often templated and relatively painless)
For most people this sounds horrible and finding a cheap but good system operator can be a nightmare. The problem is, that on a shared host you are limited to what your hosts system provides.
There are very few good hosting providers which allow switching between web servers, or even switching different PHP versions, and what’s worst: you clearly are not allowed to tweak any of the services. It very much is a case of ‘one size fits all’ with shared hosting.