What is Virtual Private Server ?
VPS hosting has become one of the most popular web hosting solution for today’s consumers. These three letters are an acronym for “Virtual Private Server”, which refers to a technology enabling several independent virtual servers to operate simultaneously on the same physical server. This technology is made possible by a larger process called virtualization or system virtualization. Besides, in computer science, virtual private servers are categorized as IAAS (infrastructure as as service).
The emergence of an attractive third solution
In the past, website owners only had two main hosting solutions : dedicated hosting or shared hosting. In the latter, websites are hosted in the same server. This sharing of resources can be an issue as the use of the server by one website has a direct impact on all the others co-hosted websites. To avoid this downside, another option is to choose a dedicated hosting server, in other words, a server is hosting only one website. Nonetheless, this is a more expensive solution than the previous one.
The virtual private server was conceived as a way to go beyond the dilemma. It consists of gathering different websites on the same server without the drawbacks of the shared hosting. Eventually, one server contains different “mini servers”. The websites are co-hosted independently with each other thanks to a hard disk partition. Since no resource is shared, the smooth-running of one website is not affected by that of the other ones. Another advantage is that each website owner can pick his own software programs.
Websites owners can expect other benefits from the VPS hosting. Compared to other web hosting systems, this virtualization technology is also a significant way to improve web security. The main reason is that contrary to shared hosting, all VPS accounts are isolated from one another. Consequently, it makes it very difficult for any server user or computer hacker to access someone else’s files. For instance, a denial-of-service attack is highly unlikely to affect a virtual private server user.
Virtual private servers accounts are also unlikely to be impacted by the activity of other websites. Indeed, due to the independence of each virtual private server account, one website is never able to use the resources of another one, so errors and issues regarding one website are not supposed to have repercussions on the other ones.
However, one should bear in mind that, despite all its advantages, virtual private servers are not perfect. First of all, its cost is something to consider. Even though it is less expensive than a dedicated hosting server (thanks to the sharing of one server), shared hosting servers remain cheaper.
Another important drawback is that virtual private servers require more management than the other solutions. System updates and security patches are to be installed systematically and frequently, and some web hosts expect virtual private server administrators to do it by themselves.
Who should use a virtual private server ?
Virtual private servers are mainly adapted to experienced user seeking a personalized web hosting solution. These users may also have a limited budget preventing them from getting a dedicated hosting server. Thus, a virtual private server is often recommended for companies operating in an opened network, on condition that their employees have the necessary knowledge for administrating this kind of server.
Small companies, blogs or information websites with a reasonable number of visitors can simply manage their webpages using a shared hosting server. The use of a dedicated server is really interesting for big web projects, such as community sites, mid-sized online stores or company websites generating a high-volume traffic. In these cases, the need for a strong and reliable computer equipment ensuring a solid performance is considerable. Furthermore, a virtual private server enables the access to the system’s console, which allows the user to install software programs that he could not obtain in the case of shared hosting server that constrains the customers to depend on the goodwill of the host. Technologies or software programs that might be concerned are, for example : Node, Windows, Ruby on Rails or NoSQL database system.
As virtual private servers are possibly subject to evolutivity and monthly pricings, they seem to be an ideal solution for mid-sized companies. Virtual servers are generally fast and easy to update. Also, if a project requires more or less performance than originally planned, it remains possible to change the price to get another package that would respond better to your expectations. Lastly, contrary to dedicated hosting servers, updating a virtual private server causes no data migration and additional resources are simply released by the hypervisor.
3 key criteria to pick the right virtual private server
A wrong choice of virtual private server can lead to a lot of disturbing shortcomings. To determine whether a virtual private server is right for you, three basic elements should be taken into consideration.
Firstly, having a root access can a be crucial factor in the decision. Rooting can be defined as a tool allowing the user to get an entire access to the operating system of the device or the server, so as to customize it without any restriction. The reason why everyone would like to get a virtual private server could be the ability to install software programs and applications by themselves, which some virtual private servers do not provide.
Then, it can be necessary to check if a hosting solution can provide an understandable and easy to use management tool. Virtual private servers and dedicated hosting servers are quite complex to handle compared to shared servers. Without a qualitative management tool, you may face numerous issues that could be a waste of your time.
You also have to remind that a web host does not allow one virtual private server to have access to an unlimited number of domains. As a consequence, this number should always be very high or tend to infinity. If too few domains are offered, it is highly recommended to look for better opportunities.
Further information to help you make a choice
For a website or a simple application unlikely to evolve frequently and able to undergo momentary disconnection without significant consequences, a basic virtual machine solution with a physical server can be satisfactory. This is a typical range entry offer and the cheapest in the market. However, one needs to know that this solution is not immune from incidents involving long and difficult resolutions.
If an application or a website implies activities that cannot afford service interruptions (e-commerce, popular communication etc.) , they should have requirements of evolutivity, of availability (seven days a week, nearly every time etc.), and especially a guaranteed restoration time shorter than two hours. In these cases, physical hosting servers with centralized storage and specific backups ought to be favoured.
Finally, it must be remembered that a real guarantee of availability implies a lot of monitoring, but also virtual private server and application components administration, plus their backups. Therefore, the users must wonder whether they are enough organized to fulfill these tasks (sometimes on an ongoing basis), all the more as they can be executed by the host as a managed service.