The term virtual private server or VPS is thrown around a lot by hosting companies, especially those that cater to businesses, but few people really seem to know what a virtual private server is, much less what the pros and cons of one are. It serves as a medium between shared hosting and dedicated hosting, merging the pros and cons of each. If you are running a small to medium business site then virtual private server hosting may be the best option for you. You don’t need to pay the cost of a dedicated server and you don’t have the debilitating memory and bandwidth of a shared hosting account.
What is a Virtual Private Server?
A virtual private server is similar to a dedicated server, but there is one main difference. A dedicated server is a physical server that handles your programs and processes the requests of your visitors. A VPS is a virtualized server installed on a physical server that performs the same tasks. There are often several virtual private server systems installed on one server, though much less than the number of accounts you would have with shared hosting.
A major advantage of a virtual private server is control. While you cannot install any type of program you want on a VPS—usually this is dictated by the host—and you cannot tell the host to upgrade the RAM or CPU for the virtual private server, you can control many programs installed on the server and you are given superuser access to many functions. While offering less control than a dedicated server, a VPS gives enough control to satisfy most business users.
Usually you buy a certain amount of bandwidth and you are given a managed virtual private server. However, there are some hosts that do things differently. You can request an unmanaged virtual private server, which means that the host does not manage the virtual server. This gives you the most control without worrying about the hosting company interfering.
Unmetered virtual private server hosting is also becoming common. Instead of buying a specific amount of bandwidth and paying for that on a monthly basis, you are given a VPS with an unlimited amount of bandwidth. You then pay for the exact amount you use. While this can get expensive for websites that require a lot of bandwidth, this also keeps your website from crashing if you go over the limit.
One of the best things of a virtual private server is that you can request nearly any type of OS for the virtual server. Even though several virtual private server accounts are being hosted on one physical server, one VPS can run Windows while another uses Linux. This gives you the freedom to choose your preferred OS and it also increases the number of individual programs you can install and run on the virtual private server.
A VPS is a great stepping-stone between small shared hosts and large dedicated servers. While you don’t have the control of a dedicated host, you are still free to manipulate the virtual private server to an extent. The virtual private server also offers more memory and bandwidth than a shared account, which makes it perfect for websites that are growing beyond shared hosting.
Looking for a virtual private server? Check out the following web hosting companies that we recommend who each offer virtual private servers: