What is a Virtual Private Server?
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a hybrid of a dedicated server and a shared hosting account. With a Virtual Private Server, you still share system resources like CPU and memory with other users, but the file system is configured so that you can’t tell the system has anyone else on it; it acts like a dedicated server. The CPU, memory, and other resources are typically configured in such a way that each person is only permitted to use a certain percentage of them, ensuring that your resources are always available to you. This means that there isn’t just one person using all of the resources all of the time, as can happen on a shared system. Because the resources are configured so that each person can only use a certain amount of them, your site will be more consistent because it will always have the same amount of access to the CPU, memory, and most of the bandwidth.
What is a Virtual Dedicated Server?
Some web hosting companies refer to a Virtual Private Server as a Virtual Dedicated Server, and vice versa. They both refer to the same thing in both cases. For years, companies have referred to the product as Virtual Private Server, but because Virtual Dedicated Server is easier to understand for the average user, some hosting companies have begun to refer to it as that instead.
How do I know if a Virtual Private Server is right for me?
If you are considering a dedicated server or believe that a shared host may not be the best option for you, you should definitely consider a virtual private server. The price is comparable to that of a shared setup and a dedicated setup. With a virtual private server, you will have a more consistent site than with a shared server because a certain percentage of each resource is allocated to you, which means you will not have to compete with the other hosts on the server for access to those resources. A virtual private server is more secure than a shared system because it is possible to determine which site is hosted on the server. No one can tell you’re on a virtual private server, and you can’t tell anyone else is either.
Is a Virtual Private Server really more secure than a shared server?
Yes, because of the way the file system is configured, a Virtual Private Server is more secure than a shared server. Despite the fact that you share the same CPU, memory, and network connectivity, you do not share the same file system. This means that if someone else’s virtual server is compromised, they will be unable to move from that virtual file system to your virtual file system. There is only one file system in a shared system, and users can go anywhere on it to see who else is on it, so if someone broke into a site on a shared system, they would have access to all the sites on the server.
How come a Virtual Private Server is so much less than a dedicated server?
There can be a significant price difference between the Virtual Private Server and the dedicated server you are considering. The reason for the price difference is that with a shared server, 10 or more customers share the resources and thus the cost of the hardware, whereas with a dedicated server, only one person pays for it. A Virtual Private Server provides the security and privacy of a dedicated server at a fraction of the cost.
What are some questions I should ask a host about their Virtual Private Server?
Does your setup have a maximum amount of memory, CPU %, and/or bandwidth a site can use?
Is there a control panel for administering the server?
How many clients are there on the system?
If someone else’s web server/site crashes, will it affect mine?
How often do you back up the system?
Why would I want a virtual private server instead of using shared hosting?
The most significant limitation of using shared hosting services is that you cannot usually compile or install your own software. Say you want your web server to be able to use a technology such as PHP, but your host does not have it set up for you. You cannot install the software required to use PHP as a regular user, but you can install any software you want in the Virtual Private Server system because you have complete control. This means you’ll be able to install PHP as well as any other software you want.
Do I need a control panel to administer the server?
Because you have root access to your own file system, you can do a lot with a virtual private server. This means that if you don’t know what you’re doing, typing the wrong command into the command line can easily mess up your system. However, it will not disrupt anyone else’s system on the same server. This means you might be interested in having a control panel where you can simply click a few buttons and everything you want is done. It is safer because there is no way to make a mistake this way. If you want to spend more time on marketing or other aspects of your business rather than administering the web server, you should install a control panel on your system.
My host says my site will go down if someone else’s site does. What should I do?
Some hosts configure the Virtual Private System in a different way than others. The whole point of having a Virtual Private System is that you are more secure and have more control than with a shared host. If everyone on the server has their sites served by the same web server, it is not a true Virtual Private System and is not secure. It is possible to make your file system virtual so that no one else can access it, but if you are sharing the same web server, it becomes less secure and you should consider using a different hosting company because they are only providing you with about one-quarter of what you should be getting.
Glossary of terms:
A system of storing files on the hard drive and, in this case, the files are stored in such a way that only your account (s) has access to them. This is more secure than shared hosting where everyone is on the same file system and could go look at other areas where they should not be.
This is the super user, or the user with control over everything on a computer system. This user can do anything they want on the computer system, from installing software to deleting everything on the system.
A web-based interface, which allows users to administer their server by clicking on different icons instead of having to memorize commands. The commands would be run on the command line and if typed incorrectly could seriously harm a system and stop it from running, forcing the hosting company to have to restore the system from a backup.
This resembles DOS in that it is just a blank screen with a prompt where the administrator/user would type in commands for the system to run. Most users would rather use a web-based interface or a graphical interface to administer their system because there is less chance of error.