Virtual Private Servers Explained

Hostway Marketing Hostway Marketing - March 26, 2010

By Melissa J Luther

A virtual private server (VPS) is a cost-effective way for a small business to gain more flexibility and efficiency than is offered with shared hosting without the expense associated with running a dedicated server. Most small businesses also don’t need all the power of a dedicated server, so VPS provides a good in-between option when you outgrow your shared hosting.

How Does a Virtual Private Server Work?

A VPS is basically a server running within a server. One physical server hosts multiple virtual servers, each isolated from the others. This is accomplished with software, called a hypervisor, that segments the physical server and keeps each segment separate from the rest.

Each VPS runs its own operating system, independent of the others, creating the illusion that it is actually its own independent server. Each VPS can also be rebooted independently.

What Are the Advantages of a VPS?

Every hosting solution has its own advantages and is suitable for different stages of a business. A VPS is good for businesses that are feeling constrained by their shared hosting plans but aren’t ready for, or can’t afford, a dedicated server. With a VPS you get:

  • More flexibility than shared hosting: With a VPS, you can customize your hardware and software configurations and run your own applications.
  • Lower cost than a dedicated server: The hosting company can spread the cost of running and maintaining the server across all businesses operating on a given machine. Depending on your host, monthly fees can be as low as $20.
  • Better security than shared hosting: Because you are not sharing space with others, their mistakes, faulty scripts or resource usage won’t affect the up-time or accessibility of your Web site.
  • Independent FTP and POP access: Again, other users’s use of FTP and POP email don’t affect your access and speed.
  • Root access: Because a VPS functions as an independent server, you get root access, which is what you need to configure and install your own operating system and other applications. Shared hosting only gives you access to a directory on the shared server, which does not allow for software customization.
  • Lower technical knowledge requirement than a dedicated server: In most cases, you access your VPS through graphical user interface control panels, from which you install and configure your applications. Dedicated servers usually require manual configuration.

Do You Need a Virtual Private Server?

It might be time to consider upgrading from shared hosting to VPS if:

  • Your business is growing: If your Web site’s resource needs are approaching your shared hosting provider’s premium-level plan, you can often get more resources and flexibility with a VPS for the same cost.
  • You want to run applications your shared hosting plan doesn’t offer.

As more and more business is conducted online, an inability to grow your Web site could also slow growth of your business. A VPS could be the perfect solution for your expanding business.

About the Author

Melissa J Luther, owner and founder of LookSee Information Solutions, LLC helps small businesses create and maintain a strong Internet presence. She takes a multi-channel approach, with a well-optimized Web site as the center of an Internet presence that includes content creation, PPC advertising, linking and social media as appropriate.

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