Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are a useful edition to the hosting World, but they certainly aren’t for everyone. Firstly, no matter what anyone tells you, some degree of technical knowledge or willingness to understand the technology is required for VPS Hosting. 

Compared to a shared hosting account, a VPS poses interesting challenges to a client. The first being the fact that you are actually running an independent operating system. Although most VPS providers will configure their VPS to automatically update, this can cause problems with websites and can sometimes even take them down. This is because a client has upgraded from a shared hosting environment and has somewhat been caught unprepared in regards to the impact that a change in software version can have on their website. In a shared environment, generally experienced systems administrators will be performing manual updates and assessing what impact this will have on clients hosted.

Another oversight can be in terms of resources. Resources are generally the biggest issue most people will have with a VPS as most products are aimed at the lower end of the market (budget wise) and generally have a lower CPU and RAM configuration compared to a full dedicated server. Keep in mind that you also have the OS overhead in your resource usages which you didn’t have in a shared environment; This can be quite significant. The most common reasons for this problem stem from clients not understanding the OS overhead when working out their configuration or, in some cases, people trying to cut costs.

We have discussed some negative aspects of VPS hosting, so now we move onto the positive aspects. A VPS can allow you to customize your environment to suit your unique requirements. Has your host disabled a certain PHP feature? Not a problem! You can order a VPS for a relatively low cost and set your own features/modules. This is often the perfect scenario for those who can’t quite financially justify the price of a Dedicated Server for a single feature. A VPS is also the perfect stepping stone between a shared environment and dedicated environment as it eases you into the fact that you do have root/Administrator access now. With a VPS it is relatively straight forward to recover from problems as you often have a control panel which sits outside the OS where you can connect/make changes from. This is especially useful for when you make a firewall configuration error and accidentally lock yourself out. Rather than waiting for a technician to walk to your server and fix it, this can generally be done over a remote console. Remote reboots and reinstalls are also included in some cases.

Lastly, if you looking to increase your server skills, a VPS is generally a perfect testbed, just as it is for those needing a test environment for a software change. You can manipulate the OS and don’t have the same level of consequence that a Dedicated Server brings if it goes drastically wrong. Fast rebuilds also allow you to test different features and options.

If you take anything away from this article, I’d hope the fact that a VPS isn’t suitable for everyone is that main thing. It’s not a physical server and often won’t have the power that comes with it. It’s a half way solution which can serve your needs well, but can be a disaster if selected for the wrong reasons.

Article by
John Strong
Managing Director

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