What is a VPS, and is It For You?
A VPS in web hosting terms is a virtual private server, otherwise known as a virtual dedicated server. It is one of several options you can choose for your web hosting, depending on your business needs, and what type of business you run. However, although it is just one of many options, it is quickly becoming the most popular, since it is capable of meeting such a wide range of different requirements.
When looking for a web hosting solution, if you are like most users you will probably start off with shared hosting, which is the cheapest, and quite adequate for many types of business. However, it does have its limitations, as all the sites hosted on the server have to share the RAM, disk space and bandwidth usage. For large corporate users, or users who operate mostly on the Internet, such as e-commerce sites, the resources available on a shared platform will really not be sufficient, and these users may be looking at dedicated hosting instead.
With dedicated hosting, a site has a whole server all to itself. It does not have to share any resources, and the user has control of the server and of the software configuration of the system. For big Internet companies it is obviously important to have as much RAM, disk space and bandwidth as they need, as well as having full security and 100 percent reliability. However, the cost of dedicated hosting may be beyond the reach of smaller companies.
The main reason VPS is becoming so popular is that it seems to offer most of the benefits of a dedicated server, but at a price closer to that of shared hosting. To answer the question, what is a VPS? – it involves several users sharing a server in a way that allows each of them to have its own virtual server, which is independent of the main one. A site hosted on VPS has its own disk space and RAM, and avoids many of the problems of shared hosting, like the risk of having the same IP address as undesirable sites. It also makes it possible to customize some server-level software, such as MySQL and PHP.
There are a number of companies offering VPS hosting, and the offers vary enormously, so you would be well advised to work out exactly what your requirements are before trying to choose a provider. One major variation is in the support levels offered, which are basically non-managed, semi-managed and managed. Managed hosting is the most expensive type of VPS, but it certainly has its advantages if you do not feel up to dealing with your own hardware and software problems. These are all dealt with promptly by system administrators on a 24-hour basis.
The other main difference is between packages which are offered with a control panel, such as cPanel, and those which are not. A virtual server with its own cPanel becomes even more independent and versatile, and also has exclusive access to its own software. It enables you as the user to perform all sorts of tasks, like creating e-mail accounts, running scripts, and adding domains, that you would not be able to do on a shared server.
The question you need to consider, of course, is whether VPS is for you. If all you want is a web presence for a fairly basic site, you can probably get away with shared hosting. However, VPS is such a flexible and powerful solution that it could meet the needs of just about any business, in the future if not now.