Once you start poking around the various web hosting packages offered, you will probably see advertisements for “virtual server” or “virtual private server” hosting. You think you know what a virtual private server account is but you are not quite sure.
But if you have a small or mid-sized business with a strong online presence, eventually you may need to understand what a virtual private server really does and how this type of account can help your business.
Confusing Technical Gooblygook?
Although you will see both terms uses synonymously, “virtual server” and “virtual private server” are actually two very different types of web hosting services. Virtual hosting is more commonly called “shared web hosting”. With a shared host account, many different websites live on a single web server.
Each web site “sits” or “resides” on its own separate partition or portion of the server. With shared hosting all the websites share one copy of the operating system (Apache Linux or Windows IIS), one FTP service and one email service and one IP address.
When a visitor clicks on a weblink or types in a URL (web address), they are redirected to the correct website by special software. Shared hosting is the most common and most economical web hosting packages, available. But they have limitations in that you don’t have control over the operating system used and you are restricted to what other software can be installed on the server.
Now a step up from shared hosting is a virtual private server or (VPS). Virtual private servers bridge the gap between dedicated servers (leased servers over which you have complete control) vs. regular shared hosting. With a VPS, you have more flexibility than a shared account but you don’t have the technical problems or overhead of running a dedicated server system.
With virtual private servers, you still “share” a web server with other websites but your partition or section has a much larger disk space and you have more bandwidth (data transfer allotments). You will also have your own copy of the web server OS software installed. You could be running Apache, while the website next door could be running Windows.
This also means that you could host several of your own websites or domains under a single account. A virtual private server will also allow you to have your own email and FTP services, to use as you need, without any restrictions or limits. Plus, you can upload any ecommerce or database software you want without fear of other websites affecting yours.
An added bonus is that you can have “root” access to your system and can configure security settings and user accounts like you want without worrying over what you do may cause problems on the system for other users.
A virtual private server hosting account may be just what you are looking for if you need greater independence and flexibility for your website but aren’t ready for the costs and responsibility of a dedicated server.