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A Virtual Private Server (VPS), also referred to as Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS), provides the features of a dedicated server for multiple web hosting customers to share. At first instance it sounds contradictory, how can you have a dedicated server if it is being shared by multiple users? Isn't that a regular shared or virtual hosting environment?
It is true that with a Virtual Private Server you still share system resources like the CPU and RAM with other users but the resources are allocated in such a way that you cannot tell that the system has anyone else on it, much like a dedicated server. So resources are usually setup in such a way that each hosting client is only allowed to use an allocated percent, meaning that resources assigned to you will always available to you.
Advantages of Virtual Private Server (VPS) web hosting
Most hosting customers would rather have complete control of their server environments. They don't want to be hosted on a server with tens or hundreds of other users, who could easily use up all the resources or cause the server environment to be unstable. But at the same time most websites don't need a dedicated server.
The Virtual Private Server (VPS) alternative is a very attractive niche hosting solution for a fairly large chunk of web hosting clients who would like the stability of a dedicated server but on a smaller scale. With the resources setup in such a way that each person can only use what is allocated to them, your site will be more consistent because it will always have the same amount of access to the CPU, memory, and bandwidth.
Virtual Private Servers are also more secure since even as you share the memory and CPU time, you are allocated your own file system. If a website on the server is hacked, the hackers will only have access to that particular file system and would not harm the other websites. A VPS is also much cheaper than a dedicated server.
Disadvantages of Virtual Private Server (VPS) web hosting
Now that you have read the pros of a VPS you are probably thinking that this is the best thing since sliced bread. Well, almost - as is the case with every other type of hosting service, not all providers setup or define Virtual Private Servers, also known as Virtual Dedicated Servers, the exact same way.
You must make sure that your provider guarantees that their setup is robust enough to handle operations at a peak level. A trick used by many providers in the reselling and shared space is 'overselling'. What this means is selling more in terms of services than what physically available, with the hope that the end users wouldn't use up all the service that were advertised to them.
In the realm of VPS this can be a bit more serious, since at least the expectation is that you are operating in a more robust environment and many clients could be running more intensive applications like message boards or custom web applications. A shortfall of resources could end up causing problems for everyone hosted on such a server, therefore negating the benefits of a VPS.
In a shared or dedicated environment you might be able to access more resources during peak or spike periods but since the VPS environment limits you to to your slice of the server resources, it can be a drawback.
As if the technology rich lingo of regular web hosting wasn't enough, the VPS services add a few new wrinkles. Apart from storage space and bandwidth you must also deal with CPU cycles and RAM. So you will see ads for hosting that might include *** MHz and *** MB RAM to go with the usual hosting related features. It is somewhat harder to figure out how much CPU time or RAM you might need, so seek out a hosting provider that will provide you with some benchmarks and the ability to upgrade or downgrade the VPS service if needed.
- Allows complete control of your virtual server and its resources
- Allows you to run web applications without adversely affecting other clients
- Flexible - cheaper than dedicated hosting, more expensive than shared.
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