News article posted on: 27-06-2019
What is a Virtual Private Server (VPS)?
Whether you're looking to upgrade a server package, or you're just researching the options available, chances are you will have come across the term virtual private server or VPS. The acronym represents one of three options people consider when choosing a server package. However, while there are advantages and disadvantages to all three types, a VPS strikes a favourable middle ground between functionality and cost.
WHAT IS A VIRTUAL PRIVATE SERVER (VPS)?
A server is a piece of hardware that holds all the information about your website. When someone searches for your website, that information is served up to them. In theory, it would be possible to run your own server and thus entirely manage your site, but the cost involved doesn't make it a feasible venture for 99% of individuals. Instead, we turn to hosting providers who have a range of servers we can use—for a fee.
While it is entirely possible to have an entire server (and all the resources) allocated to a single website, again, this is a very costly option. An excellent middle ground is to use virtual private servers. They operate using the same principle as a dedicated server, but they allow the physical hardware to be split into multiple partitions and host numerous websites—not just one.
An excellent example of how a virtual private server works is to think of your computer at home. When you log in, a copy of Windows (the operating system) loads. If your computer were a virtual private server, there would be numerous copies of Windows that other people could also log into at the same time, on the same machine.
Because there is no need for a hosting company to invest in more servers to accommodate more users, virtual private servers are far more cost-effective, both for the host, and you—the customer.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VPS, DEDICATED AND SHARED HOSTING
It is easy to get bogged down in mountains of technical terms when it comes to discussing something specialized like servers, so instead, we will use a simple analogy to explain the difference between the main types of server.
Shared hosting is like living in an apartment block. Inside one building will be several smaller apartments that have to share the physical space and the building's utilities. If your neighbour decides to party until the early hours of the morning, there is a good chance they will keep the rest of the building awake and impact how everyone feels the next day. With a shared server, the resources of the server (RAM, CPU, bandwidth) are shared between everyone using that server. If another user has a website with high traffic, they will use up the majority of the resources and how well the remaining websites can be accessed.
We have already touched on dedicated servers, but they exist on the opposite end of the spectrum. This time, your neighbour can party until their heart is content because you live in your own dedicated property with a large amount of land, far away from the noise at 1 AM. Dedicated servers host one website and allow all that site to make use of the server's resources, no matter the internet traffic.
THE BENEFITS OF A VPS
Virtual private servers are like living in an apartment block, except this time, each apartment is completely soundproofed with a dedicated allocation of water, heat and electricity. When choosing a VPS, you will be given a predetermined virtual space on a server, and like a dedicated server, won't be impacted by what other users are doing.
Not only do you get dedicated resources, but you have a private environment to change and test website settings, alongside similar levels of service to a dedicated server—without the cost. Although a virtual private server appears to be the best option of the three main server types, the ideal solution will depend on your scenario. VPS' will cater to the majority of websites out there, but as a start-up company, where traffic is low, the reduced cost of a shared server may be more suitable.
Plan what you want your website to achieve, then match that against the service each server type can deliver. Whichever one balances features against cost most effectively is the right server package for you.
Here you can find more VPS information.