VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, a popular web hosting model that is one of the classic IaaS services ( Infrastructure as a Service ) of numerous Internet service providers. By definition, a virtual private server is a virtual machine (VM) that uses the resources of a physical server and provides users with various server functionalities that are comparable to those of a dedicated server. It is therefore also referred to as a Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS).
In the commercial web hosting space, a powerful physical machine typically hosts multiple virtual private servers, each with its own operating system (OS) and granting users full root access to the internet. Each server administrator works independently of other users on the same hardware basis. The hardware is managed by a so-called hypervisor. A software component that defines the virtual environment and provides each VPS with a share of the physical resources such as CPU, RAM, or hard disk space. root privileges allow the user of a VPS to install any application supported by the chosen OS – this may include web server software, an email server, or specialized applications such as e-commerce or blogging systems.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a VPS?
The Virtual Private Server positions itself as a compromise between cheap shared hosting and the usually expensive rental of dedicated server technology. The idea behind this hosting model is to be able to offer users the widest possible range of functions at reasonable prices. The virtual replication of individual computer systems on a common host system involves significantly less effort for a web host than providing separate hardware components for each individual customer. A large degree of independence of the individual guest systems is achieved through encapsulation. Each VPS on the common hardware basis acts shielded from other systems operated in parallel.
The percentage of hardware resources made available to each VPS by the hypervisor is usually predefined. Each user is thus guaranteed a certain minimum performance of his server. However, the actual performance of a VPS can be significantly higher than the guaranteed performance indicators during idle times of systems operated in parallel, since the hypervisor allocates unused resources to the other systems.
Each VPS has its own operating system, so configuration errors or malware attacks only affect the affected OS; other virtual private servers on the same hardware foundation are not affected by faulty processes. However, since a VPS grants the user full root access, the administration of such a server is significantly more complex than with shared hosting, in which the basic configurations and update management are carried out by the web host.
The disadvantages of a VPS over a dedicated server are limitations in hardware usage and network resources. All virtual servers on a host system are controlled via a certain number of network cards and LAN connections, which usually do not correspond to the number of VPS.
A technically similar hosting model to the VPS is cloud hosting, which is not billed at a flat rate but is based on usage.
For whom is the VPS suitable?
The Virtual Private Server web hosting model is aimed at experienced users who are looking for a tailor-made hosting basis for their online project, but do not have the budget required for a dedicated server. Due to the extensive range of functions of the VPS, operation in the public network is only recommended if you have basic knowledge of server administration.
While small company websites, blogs, or information offerings with a manageable number of visitors can also be successfully operated with simple shared hosting, virtual servers are primarily aimed at demanding web projects such as communities with large numbers of visitors, medium-sized web shops or company websites, which also require performance peaks from a solid hardware basis should be caught with guaranteed performance. In addition, by accessing the console, the VPS makes it possible to install software that is not included in typical shared hosting packages (e.g. Ruby on Rails, Node.js, NoSQL databases, or Windows ).
Thanks to manageable monthly costs and good scalability, the VPS is the ideal solution for medium-sized companies. Virtual servers can usually be upgraded quickly and easily. If a project requires more power than initially assumed, users simply switch to a corresponding tariff. Unlike dedicated server technology, upgrading a virtual private server does not require any data migration, as additional resources can simply be released by the hypervisor.