VPS: What is it, and When to use it?
Web hosting is a very important aspect of a successful blog or website. You might have heard of shared hosting account, and most probably if you are first time reading about VPS (virtual private server) then you are hosted on a shared hosting account. In a shared hosting account you share resources with other tenants, in other words, many other people are hosted on the same server and there is no specific isolation.
What is VPS?
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, as a name suggests it’s a server but resources are virtual. A virtual private server is a small dedicated server, VPS somehow relates with shared hosting in a sense that there can be more than one virtual private servers on one dedicated server. (Similar to shared hosting account). However, there are some differences, let see what are they.
Why is VPS different from a Dedicated Server!
People who have high traffic websites, running large my SQL databases opt for dedicated servers. Because with the entire dedicated server you get maximum possible performance from the underlying hardware. Now people who are just starting out does not require a dedicated server, but in fact, they just want to get something like a dedicated server in which they have root access like a dedicated server and can customize things as they might do on a dedicated server. There comes a VPS you can rent a small part of a dedicated server, and it behaves just like a server except all the resources are virtual.
People with less traffic websites also opt for a shared hosting service, but some just require custom modules, and many custom modifications are not supported on shared hosting environment.
How is virtual server created?
A special software named hypervisor is used to create a virtual private server on a dedicated server. This word “hypervisor” might be new for you, but you might have used some in past, Oracle Virtual Box is an example of a hypervisor, it can be installed on top of Windows or Linux operating system to create a virtual machine.
There are two types of hypervisors:
- One which runs on the existing operating system (Like Windows, or Linux).
- There is another type which does not require any operating system to be installed. (Proxmox)
You can use the first type to create a virtual private server on your personal laptop/computer as well. However to host your website you need to rent a virtual private server from a company providing this service.
Now using this hypervisor software we can install many operating systems on one physical dedicated server.
Why Virtual Private Server, what are the benefits?
Up til now, we know that what is a VPS and why we may need it. But what are its benefits our shared hosting or dedicated server?
The first benefit of a virtual private server is a cost. You get a taste of dedicated server at a cost of shared hosting. Because some companies offer VPS for $15/year. Which is even less than the cost of a shared hosting plan. So if you are looking to do some custom project or write some custom application VPS is best cost effective solution for you.
With a virtual private server, your operating system is isolated from other tenants, unlike shared hosting account. In which there is only operating system and resources are being shared.
Even though the resources are shared, but your VPS is completely isolated from other virtual private servers in a same dedicated server which is a major security benefit.
With shared hosting account, you do not have root access. For example, your web application needs a new PHP module, or your application needs more execution time. You will then need to adjust these parameters, but mostly with shared hosting services you can not do this, however, with a virtual private server you have complete control our how you adjust these parameters.
Security is a major concern these days. With shared hosting account, if one web application gets hacked, there is a greater possibility that complete server gets compromised. Which means vulnerability in one web application (out of thousands) in a server can result in a whole server being compromised.
With a virtual private server, you get more resources. There are many types of virtualization, if your provider uses Xen virtualization, you get all the resources 100% dedicated to your VPS. For example, if your VPS has 2GB ram, this amount of ram is completely dedicated to your VPS. No other tenants can use this ram.
Drawback of a VPS
There is one major drawback of a virtual private server. If you are not an experienced Linux user or system administrator you will have to hire someone to do management for you, and management is not really a cheap option.
However it can be a great learning experience, you can learn new things and soon get a dedicated server as well.