The great news for VPS customers these days is that most web hosting companies offer managed VPS hosting. Here, not only will they set up your server environment, but they’ll also take care of tasks such as software upgrades, security patches, etc. Also, provision time is now greatly reduced and you can be up and running with your VPS hosting much more quickly.
There are numerous open source Linux virtualization platforms based on KVM, while Microsoft has Hyper-V with Windows cloud servers, Citrix maintains the Xen server framework, and VMware has a number of different hypervisor frameworks such as ESXi. Hypervisors permit the managing of multiple web servers independently on shared hardware each with isolated databases, file storage, and I/O request processing.
With VPS Hosting, there are multiple instances of separate operating systems on a machine—thus giving you your own virtual private server. So while you still may be sharing a physical server at the data center, with your own virtual operating system, you’re able to have dedicated resources such as RAM, bandwidth, and disk space. In other words, the environment mimics having a dedicated server—at a lower cost!
A great advantage of VPS, compared to both shared and dedicated solutions is snapshot technology support. A snapshot is a state of a system at a certain point in time. It works like game saves in your favorite computer game. If a game is not going well, you can exit and start from a checkpoint. A snapshot works the same way; if you need to go back in time, your system can be restored from a snapshot to its previous state. It is extremely useful in case of a system failure or simply if you run complex tests and wish to save your progress. Unlike a backup option that copies the whole system each time you run it, a snapshot contains only changes. This means that a snapshot takes less space than a backup and can be created/restored quicker. It does not mean that you do not need backups though. Backups are still life-savers in case of operating system failure. Don’t forget to store them externally.
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There are a few downsides to shared hosting, though, mostly because you’re sharing. For instance, if someone else on your shared server has a huge spike in traffic, that could affect your website’s performance. However, if you’re just getting your website off the ground and don’t have huge traffic volume, shared hosting is a great way to get online!
Partitioning a single server to appear as multiple servers has been increasingly common on microcomputers since the launch of VMware ESX Server in 2001. The physical server typically runs a hypervisor which is tasked with creating, releasing, and managing the resources of "guest" operating systems, or virtual machines. These guest operating systems are allocated a share of resources of the physical server, typically in a manner in which the guest is not aware of any other physical resources save for those allocated to it by the hypervisor. As a VPS runs its own copy of its operating system, customers have superuser-level access to that operating system instance, and can install almost any software that runs on the OS; however, due to the number of virtualization clients typically running on a single machine, a VPS generally has limited processor time, RAM, and disk space.
As you can see, a VPS can be the perfect middle ground for many – enough flexibility and resources for those who need more access or control than on a shared server but without the cost of a dedicated server. If you need root access, you can’t get that on a shared server, but you can get it on a VPS. If your site experiences unpredictable swings memory usage, and your host provides it, then the presence of burstable memory will be attractive. And, if you’re a fan of customization, then the fact that you can customize server-level software such as PHP, MySQL, and Apache will perk your interest. In short, choosing a VPS will allow you to have many of the same characteristics of a dedicated server but in a more affordable and manageable package.