Welcome to VPS | Virtual Private Servers Home. We will give information about VPS (short-hand for virtual private servers) and include links to our other articles about our high-end VPS Line of Products.
VPS | Virtual Private Server
So what is a Virtual Private Server?
A server is, effectively, a specialized computer that is connected to a network and accessible by clients to do specific tasks. Generally speaking, this allows a single machine to “serve” applications to multiple other machines, which can ultimately reduce cost, as well as make application maintenance easier (by providing just a single point of maintenance for the network administrators who work with the equipment). A VPS server can help a company with many different tasks, whether running specialized reports, or keeping content in a remote database. In short: the server will do exactly what it is told to do; just as a computer would. But they are typically highly specialized and will do that specialized task very well, as it does not have to allocate resources to other functions that might remain unused.
A VPS, or Virtual Private Server, is a “virtualized” version of this physical machine. When a user connects to a VPS, they do not see the actual “whole” dedicated server. Instead, they see what is called a “virtual machine“, which is basically a completely usable shell of the operating system that makes certain resources available to the VPS user without allowing access to the actual physical “root” of the machine.
This virtualization allows a single physical server to have several instances of an operating system running simultaneously, all accessible by different users for each user’s individual purposes.
In a sense, a Virtual Private Server (VPS Server) gives greater control to the owner of the VPS partition without the potential to mess up the entire server. Each instance, then, can be programmed independently of every other instance, and can have their own individual administrative users to run the VPS instanced operating system.
The primary advantage of a VPS over a traditional shared web hosting environment is speed, primarily. There are a far greater number of websites hosted on a standard shared host than there would be on a virtual private server. Since the VPS will have fewer users on it, the website’s performance on a Virtual Private Server will quite naturally increase. Furthermore, there are fewer access restrictions on a VPS, and the server provider will typically not have the same resource restrictions on a Virtual Private Server than on a shared web host.
So even though a Virtual Private Server is still a “shared environment” in the strictest sense of the word, VPS hosting WILL give greater performance, simply due to the lack of other users on the machine. The only way to increase performance beyond a VPS is to consider transitioning to a true dedicated server, as required. This will ensure 100% access to the resources. The VPS is still a great way to get dramatically increased performance if your website demands it, without paying the substantial extra cost that might be required for a true dedicated server.
How does VPS Work?
The image above demonstrates the easiest way to understand how VPS Servers actually works. Without worrying too much about the technical details, a server is little more than a specialized computer, as mentioned above. The server is setup for specialized tasks. Visually, this is represented by the bottom “deck” of the layers above. The layers above this are more for descriptive purposes. “Traditional” architecture is setup in a very standard way (very much how a true, dedicated server would be visualized). The physical machine itself exists, but the users interface only with the operating system (the bottom layer) and any applications (such as web services (IIS or Apache)) that are running on the server, managed by the operating system. This is a single operating system running on a single physical machine. As a side note, an experienced user could install virtualization software on a dedicated server, effectively allowing it to become it’s own virtual private server host! This is obviously a task better considered by the highly advanced server administrator!
The “Virtual” architecture view shows how a virtual machine (VMware is a specific brand of server technology that accomplishes this. In this article, it is used more in general terms to represent to concept instead of the brand) is inserted “between” the instanced operating systems, and the physical hardware itself. The virtual machine’s job is to essentially distribute resources from the physical machine to all of the virtualized instances that run through it. As instances are allocated, each operating system gets its own share of the server’s resources, according to rules that are set on the physical machine’s operating system and the VMware that is running on it. The VMware’s job is to make this happen as transparently as possible to the user, and to not allow individual instances to be aware of each other’s existence. The illustration shows each individual instanced operating system as separate blocks that reside on top of the virtual VMware that is designed to run it
Further illustration of a virtual private server, showing division and sub-division of the resources available to the server unit as a whole. Even though the individual applications are unable to see “above” themselves, there is underlying software that is capable of resource allocation (and re-allocation) as needed. Typically, the server environment is setup to maximize the number of users that can be supported by the VPS environment, and at the same time minimize expense. This resource allocation allows the server environment as a whole to share resources as necessary; when one machine is overloaded, the system as a whole is usually able to pick up without any difficulty, without other machines being aware there is some form of burden on the system. This provides a better experience for all users of the environment. By sharing server space, a VPS owner is then able to realize the performance benefits that the environment provides, without the cost of a true dedicated server.
There might be certain situations that practically demand the performance of a dedicated server. There are also certain industries that will require a dedicated server with proper security. Payment Card Industry standards, for the most part, will require a dedicated server in order to allow the admin to have access to the full server environment, including access restrictions and firewall rules that govern traffic to the machine.
Virtual Private Servers
Other names for VPS Servers
- Virtual Private Servers
- Virtual Dedicated Servers
- Virtual Private Hosting
- Virtual Shared Web Hosting
- VPS Shared Web Hosting
- Virtual Server
- Shared Server
- Windows VPS
- Linux VPS
One of the key differences between $50.00 VPS Servers and a cheap shared web host is the shared web host will take the concept of shared resources a step further. The orange layer in the graphics illustrates the Application/App layer. The application can realistically be whatever the user chooses to run on their server. In the case of cheap shared web hosting, this application layer becomes “sliced” (in simple terms) into many different virtual hosting areas, that are designed exclusively for web hosting purposes. Web sites are actually not very resource-hungry, on average. For the most part, an average website will never see the need to move beyond a shared web hosting environment. So effectively, an individual dedicated web server could very well be capable of hosting 10′s of thousands of websites individually without compromising the effectiveness of the whole system. The server’s job is to elegantly share resources and (hopefully) keep all of these websites alive! But as more and more websites are added to the system, and each individual website grows larger and larger, and gets more and more traffic, the overall performance of the system begins to degrade. The owner of the server then realizes that the machine is starting to get overloaded, and makes the decision to begin to either migrate accounts to other servers, or to notify the website owners that happen to be responsible for over-use of resources to consider moving to a virtual private server or risk their account being suspended. This might seem harsh, but the fact remains that servers are expensive, and each user is only entitled to about .01% of the overall resources, because they are likely only paying .01% (plus a little profit) of the cost of running the server. If a user is using 10% of ALL resources, but only paying the same as everybody else, this is not fair to the other users, whose website’s might be performing poorly because of that user. So being forced into this position is an unfortunate necessity. But on the positive side, hopefully your successful website that’s bringing some poor web server to it’s knees is profitable enough to warrant moving to a VPS. If not, you might need to rethink your game plan when it comes to making money online!