Most of us have heard a lot about VPS hosting, but not many understand what it really means or why it is more expensive than shared hosting. VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. In the context of web hosting, it is nothing but one physical server divided by software into several virtual servers, which gives its users the feel and some advantages of having their own independent web servers. This VPS hosting overview will give you an understanding of what VPS hosting is all about and whether it is for you or not.
Common Web Hosting Approaches
There are three commonly available web hosting approaches in the market, shared hosting, VPS hosting and dedicated servers.
A shared hosting as we all know is a setup where many websites are run on a single server and share its resources. The VPS as we have just seen is a setup that runs several independent virtual servers on a single physical server. You have a dedicated server if the entire physical server and its resources is dedicated only to you. So what does it all really mean?
What Does This Mean?
Let me illustrate this with an easily understood analogy. Say, you want to rent a new accommodation in which you are planning to live for a long time. The cheapest option of course is a dormitory. An apartment will be much more expensive and renting an independent house is the most expensive and comfortable option.
Shared hosting is like the dormitory. It is cheap, you get a bed space and have a roof over your head. The flip side is that there are strict rules, you can’t have your own furniture, you can’t keep the lights on whole night, you can’t play loud music, and I am sure that we can think of many other disadvantages.
In shared hosting, the resources are controlled by the hosting provider, you have limitations on what you can install, on what you can do, how much resources you can consume, etc. A dormitory is usually managed and maintained by the owner, and with shared hosting you don’t have the headaches of managing the server or other things like backup and security. In a dormitory one inmate who misbehaves causes problems for everyone else. Similarly, in a shared hosting setup, one misbehaving website can cause problems for other sites hosted on the same server.
A VPS hosting is like renting an apartment. You have your own private space and you can furnish it the way you want. There are some rules, but not too much to bother you. While you are free to do anything within your apartment, there are common facilities that you have to share with other residents. In a VPS server, you have resources like CPU, memory and hard disk space allocated to you. You can run your own operating system, you have full control of your virtual server, you have root access, can install any software you want and restart the server at your discretion.
A dedicated server is like renting a house, you have complete freedom, you can use all the resources as if they are your own. You get all the benefits of a VPS, plus you have your own server, so you are not sharing resources with anyone.
Technical Characteristics & Pricing
Since a VPS is a partitioned server and you have full control of your partition and the resources allocated to you, you can do all the things as if you have a separate machine. You benefit from the enhanced privacy, security and speed that only a dedicated server can provide without paying for a full dedicated server.
VPS hosting can be managed or unmanaged. You have full control in either case, you can choose your operating system and which software to install on the server. Overall you get a more powerful hosting experience and the ability to run custom software. When it is managed VPS hosting, the provider takes care of installation, security, backups and other such issues. This is more suitable if you want to use VPS, but don’t have the technical knowledge to manage it.
Prices of VPS hosting depends upon the provider, the amount of resources allocated to you and whether it is managed or unmanaged. Prices could start from as low as $15 a month depending upon the package you opt for. Most providers allow you to quickly move form one package to another and thus you can do a quick upgrade and have more resources at your disposal.
Who Uses VPS Hosting?
VPS hosting is getting increasingly popular and many web hosting providers are offering it. VPS hosting is necessary in the following situations:
- Large amounts of traffic, which is slowing down your existing website.
- You have data security concerns and you want to keep all your data private.
- You have a website that is growing fast and can see high traffic growth, for example, forums and e-commerce stores.
- You have specific software installation requirements, like a very specific server configuration or you require the installation of custom software.
- You are not sure about how much resources you need for your hosting environment and you want the ability to quickly deploy additional resources.
What Is Cloud VPS Hosting?
With the advent of cloud computing, VPS hosting can be cloud based. In other words, instead of your website being hosted on a virtual partition of a physical server, it is hosted on a virtual partition of a cloud based server. Your virtual server can be transferred from one physical machine to another. You get the additional advantages of cloud based computing such as scalability beyond what is possible with physical servers, redundancy, zero down time, etc.
With this VPS hosting overview, you will hopefully have a better understanding of what VPS hosting is all about and how it is different from other hosting setups. You will also have a good idea about its usefulness for your requirements. If you are still not sure, go by this thumb-rule – For small blogs, forums and starting e-commerce stores, shared hosting is fine. When traffic increases and your website starts creaking and your provider starts grumbling, it is time to upgrade to VPS. When things are going really well and your site attracts enviable traffic, you can certainly afford a dedicated server. Just keep the dormitory example in mind.