A VPS, or Virtual Private Server, is a personal server equipped with an operating system. Depending on the specific VPS, users may have full access to the VPS’ OS in order to install and execute any software compatible with the OS. In many ways, a VPS works just like a physical server that lends itself to creation and modification by being software-based, rather than hardware-based. A side benefit of this hardware-based/software-based difference is that VPSs are cheaper than physical servers. One notable drawback that VPSs incur is that their software-based nature means they may perform less effectively than a physical server under the same amount of strain.
The virtual component of a VPS means that it maintains a high level of security by keeping all traffic isolated to the server, rather than making that traffic visible to interested parties beyond those operating a server. A good deal of this isolation also comes from the partitioning of a single server so that it looks like multiple servers. The physical server manages the resources of “guest” OSs, also known as virtual machines, the guest OSs are then given a share of resources from the physical servers’ reserves; though the guest is usually unaware of any other resources beyond the ones administered by the physical server. Because VPSs run their own OS, customers have total access to the OS and can install anything compatible with that OS; this also means that many single-machine VPSs have limited storage space and computing power.
While VPSs have been offered by several internet companies as another wing of their web hosting products, VPSs have several issues that customers should be aware of:
- VPSs whose operation is left to the customer or autonomous come with the caveat that users have to worry about administration.
- While “unmetered” or “unlimited hosting” promises limitless data, monthly execution of this tends to fall significantly short due to being shared among multiple users of the VPS. The same is true of unlimited disk space and bandwidth.