Web hosting has diversified in the last five years, so much so that many companies are unsure of how best to take advantage of the services offered. While you may still be using a shared hosting provider for your Web site, it is worth knowing about one of the most rapidly-growing types of server hosting on the market: VPS hosting.
VPS stands for “virtual private server,” but before delving into that term, it’s important to understand the basics of what is known as a “virtual server.” Simply put, a virtual server is just like the server your Web host uses locally, but it’s located somewhere else. Data is stored on a virtual server in the form of a virtual machine (VM), and this VM works just like the server you may have located down the hall. Conceptually, all that has changed with a VM is its location.
There are several advantages to these virtual servers as opposed to local ones, the first being that you no longer have to maintain your server – the owner of the virtual server will be responsible for that. Secondly, these virtual servers can be “carved up” into more than one virtual machine, meaning that you can have multiple VMs on a single server or share your server with the data from other companies. These VMs will not interact with each other or even “see” each other, despite the fact that they share the same server, and your piece of the overall server is said to be a “virtual private server” because only you and those admins who have proper permission can access it.
Another very similar form of hosting is what is known as VDS hosting. Like VPS hosting, your data is placed onto a VM with partitioned data from other companies. In the case of VDS hosting, however, an administrative layer known as a “hypervisor” sits above the VMs and manages their use of overall server resources. While a VDS or VPS hosting solution provides a situation in which your data is walled off from that of others on the server, all users are still bound by the finite amount of resources available to the system. The job of the hypervisor, in the case of a VDS hosting solution, is to monitor resource usage and to prevent bottlenecks in performance from occurring.
There are several reasons why you may want to consider a switch from a shared web hosting to a VPS hosting option or a VDS solution. The first is a need to manage multiple Web sites. With a shared hosting provider, the options to manage and update sites on a regular basis are limited, just like your bandwidth and storage space. With a VPS, you can have access to a far greater amount of space, as well as to multiple VMs if you want to host each Web site using a different OS or give each one different permissions.
Users who want to set up their own small web hosting company can also benefit from VPS hosting, through what is known as Reseller VPS hosting. In reseller hosting, you can buy a portion of the server as well as the ability to host multiple websites, usually facilitated through the use of a hosting control panel like Plesk or cPanel, and a billing platform like Plesk Billing or WHMCS. You can then slice and dice your VPS account into multiple shared web hosting accounts, which you can sell to the public. Of course, the maintenance for the server will lie in the hands of the VPS Hosting provider, allowing you to focus solely on what you do best rather than worrying about upgrades, patches, and repairs.
A VPS or VDS hosting solution offers a number of direct, immediate benefits over shared web hosting or dedicated hosting. First, both allow a variety of customization options to clients, such as the ability to choose the OS they would like to run. In addition, privacy is always assured on these kinds of systems; since other servers cannot even “see” the VMs around them, much less access their data. Add to that a larger measure of control over the way the server operates – most of the functions of a VM are in the hands of the user, not the server host – and the benefits are apparent.
Of course, cost is also a factor, and you’ll be pleased to know that cost is one of the biggest benefits of VDS and VPS hosting packages. With multiple customers to bear the cost, even increased performance, security, and control will often come at a lower price than shared hosting, giving you a significant cost advantage.