A server is a computer on which your web host stores the files and databases needed for your website. Whenever an online visitor wants to access your website, their browser sends a request to your server and it transfers the necessary files through the internet. VPS hosting provides you with a virtual server that simulates a physical server, however, in reality, the machine is shared among several users.
Using virtualization technology, your hosting provider installs a virtual layer on top of the operating system (OS) of the server. This layer divides the server into partitions and allows each user to install their own OS and software.
Therefore, a virtual private server (VPS) is both virtual and private because you have complete control. It is separated from other server users on the OS level. In fact, VPS technology is similar to creating partitions on your own computer when you want to run more than one OS (e.g. Windows and Linux) without a reboot.
Running a VPS lets you set up your website within a secure container with guaranteed resources (memory, disk space, CPU cores, etc.) you don’t have to share with other users. With VPS hosting, you have the same root-level access as if you had a dedicated server, but at a much lower cost.
Comparing VPS to other web hosting types
Different types of web hosting allow you to perform different levels of customization on your server. They vary in pricing, performance (e.g. page load time), and the availability of the service (e.g. uptime) as well. Below, you can read about how VPS hosting compares to other hosting solutions.
Shared hosting is the solution for website owners with lower traffic sites. It is the starting point of most small businesses and bloggers. With shared hosting, you split the same physical server with a number of other clients of the hosting company. You don’t get dedicated resources allocated to you, as your site runs on the same operating system as everyone else’s.
Therefore, the memory and computing power your site can use is affected by the needs of other service users. For instance, if there’s a sudden traffic spike on a website hosted on the same server your page load time may increase. You can’t choose your operating system and other server software either, as all users use the same configuration. All in all, it’s your hosting provider who takes care of every aspect of your shared hosting environment.
You can think of shared hosting as a rental where you share the same apartment with a number of roommates. VPS hosting is still a kind of flatshare, however, everyone has their own room where they can customize the space according to their needs. For instance, they get to choose the painting, furniture, decoration, etc.
With cloud hosting, you don’t use a single server but rather a cluster that runs in the cloud. Each server in the cluster stores an up-to-date copy of your website. When one of the servers is too busy, the cluster automatically redirects the traffic to a server that is less busy. As a result, cloud hosting comes with no downtime, as there’s always a server in the cluster that can serve the requests of your website visitors.
Cloud hosting and VPS hosting are not exclusive to each other. Instead, many hosting companies offer VPS hosting on a cloud infrastructure. This is also the solution we have chosen at Hostinger, as we found that combining VPS and cloud technologies leads to the highest possible performance and reliability in the virtual server environment.
WordPress hosting is a service specifically offered to WordPress site owners. It comes with several WordPress-related features that you can only use if you have a WordPress site, such as one-click installation, pre-installed plugins, or a WP command-line interface. Servers are configured for the needs of WordPress. Therefore, hosting providers offer WordPress hosting as a part of their shared hosting service.
Although it’s also possible to set up a WordPress site on a virtual private server, you can’t get access to the custom-built servers that have been configured with WordPress in mind. However, if you still choose VPS for your WordPress site you are able to set up and configure your hosting environment according to your business needs.
VPS pros and cons
VPS hosting can be an ideal solution for you if that’s the service you really need. Below, you can read the pros and cons of running a virtual private server.
- It’s faster and more reliable than a shared hosting server.
- As server resources such as memory or processing power are guaranteed, there’s zero to minimal fluctuation in available resources.
- Issues and traffic surges of other server users don’t affect your site.
- You get superuser (root) access to your server.
- You have better privacy, as your files and databases are locked from other server users.
- It’s an easy-to-scale service. As your website grows, you can easily upgrade your server resources (RAM, CPU, disk space, bandwidth, etc.).
- It’s more expensive than shared hosting.
- It requires more technical knowledge to manage your server.
- Improperly configured servers may lead to security vulnerabilities.