This article is a beginner guide on Virtual Private Servers (VPS).
We will cover everything a beginner needs to know about Virtual Private Servers from the technical details of how VPS works to the advantages and disadvantages of using VPS.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
A Virtual Private Server is an upgrade over shared web hosting but below dedicated web hosting which makes your sites or other applications faster as well as more responsive.
Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are a very effective and popular solution for hosting websites that have decent amount of traffic. Most commonly Virtual Private Servers are used for hosting websites. Virtual Private Servers use virtualization technology to provide you with private server resources. However, you’re sharing a single physical server with other clients of the hosting service.
Take a look at our illustration below to see what we mean by that.
In other words…
They are excellent plans for professional and business users whose websites have out grown shared web hosting, get traffic spikes or generally have high traffic. To them, dedicated server might be too expensive (or unnecessary additional cost); hence Virtual Private Server is the sweet spot in terms of cost to performance ratio.
There is a main physical server that stores your application’s files and databases. Your hosting provider – using virtualization technology – installs a virtual layer on top of the main server’s operating system. By doing this, the server gets divided into separate partitions, where you get root access (complete control) to your partition.
The partition comes with guaranteed resources. They include scalable RAM, virtual CPU cores and disk space for dedicated storage as well as unlimited bandwidth with some providers.
Sound great, right?
You can now install your preferred OS, software and also preferred security solutions as you now have a (almost) private server.
Unlike shared web hosting, your VPS server isn’t affected by other websites on the same main physical server even if they get high traffic.
Not all Virtual Private Servers are equal.
In other words, you have to look at the specific plan from each hosting service provider to know the cost. Different companies have different prices which mainly depend on the company’s reputation (popularity) and features they include with their VPS plan. Features meaning the capabilities and performance offered by the Virtual Private Server – mainly CPUs, RAM, Disk Space.
More features attract a higher price. However, companies seeking to appeal to more clients charge affordable rates. On average, a VPS costs $25.99 up-to $299.99/month. A medium specification VPS hosting package costs between $7.99 and $15.99.
Which VPS option should you go for based on cost?
I would recommend going for a VPS from a reliable provider who offers the performance needed at a low cost. Value is what you should look for in a VPS. Remember, a higher cost doesn’t always mean superior features / performance.
There are three different types of VPS hostings:
- Managed VPS hosting
- Unmanaged VPS hosting
- Core VPS hosting
Unmanaged VPS hosting – it is fully customisable VPS where you get full root access to the server. You can use command-line tools for server management and you have freedom of using different operating systems. Only the hardware gets managed by the server provider.
On the other hand;
With a managed VPS hosting plan, the hosting service manages server security, caching and backups, network and also hardware. However, you still have full control over your VPS. To add on, they provide you with 24/7 customer support and server uptime and monitoring are their responsibility as well.
Core (hybrid) VPS hosting is a combination of both managed and unmanaged hosting and isn’t that popular.
Here are some of the advantages of choosing VPS over a regular shared hosting:
- Improved Website Performance – With a VPS, you are not competitively sharing resources with noisy neighbors (those who exceed allocated resources). Your website’s visitors get a faster, more responsive website as VPS hosting is more stable and consistent.
- More Cost-Effective – A VPS gives you benefits of dedicated hosting without having to pay for the high prices of renting a dedicated server. Also, some VPS providers have customisable pricing where you only pay for resources that you can use up.
- Efficient Resource Allocation – with root access, a system administrator can control how resources get used by the website, and other apps installed, leading to efficient use of the VPS. However, that’s not all, using a hypervisor –a software for facilitating sharing resources allocation- you can get more resources during traffic spikes from unused VPS instances.
- More control by a web administrator – For example, a Virtual Private Server can get an independent reboot.
- More Websites Can Get Hosted – multiple websites can get accommodated efficiently on a Virtual Private Server. An attractive feature for webmasters building multiple sites for different clients.
- Scalable To Your Needs – As your site grows, you can increase resources such as RAM, Cores, and Storage.
- More Customization – you get to configure server settings for different unique needs. You can add custom software, security tools, and different operating systems.You can’t do this using shared web hosting.
- Improved Security – a VPS hosts your website in isolation, unlike in a shared plan. Such lack of interaction with other websites on the same physical servers means your site is more protected from harmful scripts on the other sites.
- Better Suited For Hosting Resource Intensive Software – Some web software require lots of resources to run properly with full functionality. With a VPS you won’t run into fully used up resources that cripple such software.
Here are some of the disadvantages of getting a VPS:
- It Requires An Experienced System Administrator. Maintenance of the server resources, controlling how your website and other apps work requires a skilled administrator, especially for unmanaged VPS plans.
- Require More Money and Time. To do initials set up, install software, configure settings, allocate resources and do upgrades, you use more time. Furthermore, Virtual Private Servers cost more and may require additional proprietary software.
- You May Still Run out Of Resources. You may be running a website that requires dedicated hosting and a VPS may not be enough.
- Improper Allocation of Resources Can Hurt Your Website’s Services. If your webmaster doesn’t professionally control applications like chatting software, forums as well as e-commerce forms, they can become unmanageable.
Having gone through everything related to Virtual Private Servers, you can now decide if it is the right solution for your website. If your site is getting slow, it’s a growing e-commerce site; you’re starting to get high traffic volumes or want custom software for your website, its time to upgrade to a VPS.