What is VPS Hosting?

Written By Alla Levin
December 22, 2020
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What is VPS Hosting? (Everything You Need to Know)

If you’re trying to set up a website or take things to the next level but are new to the world of server hosting, things can be a bit overwhelming. There’s a staggering amount of information and terminology floating around online, and while you’ve heard the term, you’re not quite sure what VPS Hosting is and if it’s something that can benefit. Don’t worry, and you’re in the right place.

To start, let’s define the term. VPS hosting stands for Virtual Private Server hosting, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a virtual server that you and only you get access to. And while the server is virtual, it’s rooted physically somewhere with hardware that is providing it. Simply put, virtualization is the act of taking a compelling piece of hardware and splitting it up into multiple servers that exist virtually. They may share the same base hardware, but they’re entirely separate from one another.

A Primer on Your Options

To better understand what VPS hosting really is, let’s look at a few of the other hosting options you can use for your site.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is where many people pool their resources and use one server to meet their needs. Think of it as an apartment complex. You don’t pay for the entire building or care how it is run, but instead, you need a place to live for a while. You pay your rent and let the building owner take care of things like keeping the property running.

Likewise, with shared hosting, you are sharing resources with others hosting their websites. The main benefit here is it’s cheap since you’re not paying for everything yourself. But on the other end of things, you don’t get any flexibility or control. And if someone else who is sharing your server starts to get a lot of foot traffic, your site may suffer as a result.  It’s a good starting point for beginners who don’t want to break the bank.

  • Dedicated Hosting

On the opposite end of the spectrum is dedicated hosting. Rather than pooling resources together to share a server, here things are paid for and owned entirely by you. Of course, the downside is being high costs, but you gain 100% control over the resources you need. This is the home-ownership equivalent in our previous analogy. Both the responsibility and reward are all yours.

  • VPS Hosting

And then there’s the middle ground of OVH VPS hosting. This is where a group of people share the same hardware, but each has its own individual virtual compartment. VPS hosting is somewhat like owning a townhouse; You share the property and certain services, but you have control over things for the most part. What I mean by this is you get your own operating system, your own dedicated storage, your own CPU, ram, bandwidth, etc. In short, it’s an excellent bang for your buck.

Each of these three types of hosting has a time and place. If you’re just getting started and are small scale, then shared hosting is probably the best route for you. Likewise, if you’re a well-established or rather large company, dedicated hosting is probably going to be the option best fitted for you. And then VPS hosting is the halfway point for those who have started to (or are about to) ramp things up and need scalability at an affordable cost. If you’re reading this article, odds are you’re somewhere in this middle ground.

3 A/B: Different VPS Hosting Plans

As this post’s primary focus is understanding what VPS hosting is, we’ll also dive into some subcategories. If you select VPS hosting, there are two main plans you’ll also have to choose between self-managed and managed service. These are aptly named. Self-managed plans are ones where you manage the server and managed service plans to take care of it for you.  If you plan on going with a self-managed plan, you should be familiar with server administration, troubleshooting, and all the applications, software, and services on your VPS.

Otherwise, it may be best to let a hosting company take care of these things while you dedicate your time to the hosted website. Managed plans also take care of things like monitoring for potential hardware failures or malicious attacks. So, unless you really know what you’re doing, the safer bet is going with a managed service.

How Does VPS Hosting Work?

We now know what VPS Hosting is, but what logistics are for how it works under the hood? As mentioned above, a powerful piece of hardware is responsible for running numerous virtual operating systems on a single server. In this way, each virtual system can act independently of the others. It’s possible through a hypervisor – a piece of hardware, software, or firmware that creates virtual machines by separating a computer’s operating system from its hardware.

The hypervisor system is known as the host machine, and it’s the root where all the virtualization begins. The hypervisor takes resources from the host machine and provides each website access to an emulated server (aka your VM). It sets things up for your emulated server and manages the effective allocation of system resources each VM in its domain requires. It’s also important to note here that each VM has no notion that the others exist.  In their minds, they are the root server.

And with this type of setup come defined amounts of resources for each account sharing the real physical root. This is crucial because even if there is a much larger site taking up resources, you are guaranteed the system resources you’re paying for (this can be a big issue with shared hosting).

Reasons to Consider VPS HostingReasons to Consider VPS Hosting

There are several reasons you should consider VPS hosting that corresponds both with where you are currently and where you think you’re headed. The first and fairly basic of these is your userbase size. As your user base grows, it usually makes sense to shift away from shared hosting into a still affordable option that matches your expanding requirements.

Along with an increased userbase comes custom software. As your site grows, you’ll likely be interested in customizing more aspects of your operating environment. Shared hosting is perfect for smaller things like building a site with WordPress, but if you want to start using custom software, server configurations, or other features, it may be good to have a hosting option that allows for more control. This is frequently seen with dedicated hosting, but again that comes with a steeper bill.

Another big reason will be if your business is an online store. If you’re accepting payments from users online, you’ll want to make sure you’re PCI compliant.

Major credit card companies established the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard to ensure their data is protected. As such, online businesses are put under scrutiny to comply, and VPS hosting offers a much more secure site than shared hosting.

Wrapping Things Up

As mentioned at the start of this post, there are use cases for each hosting. VPS hosting offers an affordable middle ground between sharing resources and purchasing/managing them on your own. Additionally, it allows you to scale your server out as needed with a guarantee you won’t ever be overshadowed by another site taking up your resources.

If your website is gaining traction and wants to keep things running smoothly, understanding what VPS hosting is and leveraging it to increase performance is key to running a successful site.

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