The Pros and Cons of Using a Virtual Private Server (VPS)
Advances in modern technology have opened up many new possibilities for handling web hosting. Server architecture has only improved, and will continue to improve as the world shifts more and more to a tech-centric society. With such powerful innovations, it can be difficult to decide which type of web hosting is right for you and your website. You could use a dedicated server, or you could join the growing trend that takes advantage of Virtual Private Server (VPS) technology. A VPS is essentially a partition of a larger server that allows the user the same benefits as a true dedicated server. There are several distinct differences between the two, and each is suitable for a different type of website. We’ve outlined some of the most common pros and cons of a virtual private server below, but you must take your specific situation into account to make a fully informed decision.
Affordability – A virtual private server is generally far cheaper than a dedicated server, while providing many of the same benefits. Since a virtual private server is only part of a full server that holds other virtual private servers, the overall cost of the full server is offset by the shared usage. Not only that, but virtual private servers are exponentially more versatile than standard shared web hosting at only a slightly more expensive cost. Overall, the amount that you might spend on a virtual private server is almost certainly going to be the best value for your budget.
Security – Most full servers that house virtual private servers offer a high level of security that protects against most outside invasive attempts. Many use advanced encryption techniques that completely protect your website against malicious attackers. With a virtual private server, that level of security comes standard, but that may not be the case for shared hosting or even some dedicated servers. The last thing you want is to have your data tampered with or stolen, and virtual private servers offer some of the best protection available.
Manageable Growth – A virtual private server can be upgraded at a moment’s notice, but the same can’t be said for a dedicated physical server. Physical servers require physical upgrades in order to achieve more utility, but a virtual private server operates as a portion of a full server, so it can be expanded using the full server’s empty space. These types of expansions can be completed almost instantly, and require no additional hardware to be installed. A dedicated server will also require a server maintenance service, which is an additional cost for the owner.
Root Access – One of the main attractions to a dedicated server is that it allows the owner to have root access to the system. That means the owner can control the server on its most basic level, which allows for the installation of new software and modules through the operating system. Virtual private servers offer root access just like dedicated servers, simply because the virtual server acts exactly like a dedicated physical server. From the user end, the experience will be identical to using a dedicated server without the additional costs.
Reliability – Virtual private servers are generally only used with exceptionally powerful physical servers, which makes sense when you consider the amount of work a shared server must perform. The result is a range of virtual private servers on a single physical server, and each of those virtual private servers offers more utility and functionality than a physical server at the same cost. You’ll notice many features are available when you use a virtual private server that aren’t available on standard physical servers.
Convenience – It takes no time at all to set up a virtual private server. Conversely, setting up a dedicated physical server can take quite a bit of time. You have to consider a lot when installing a new large-scale server. Where will it go? What sort of ventilation system will be needed? How much power does the server require? What software needs to be initially loaded on the server? When you choose a virtual private server, all of those questions become irrelevant. The physical server exists under someones else’s responsibility, and you get to enjoy the benefits.
Performance – Virtual private servers are not ideal for websites that plan on using a lot of bandwidth, like sites with a popular forum or that require thousands of emails to be sent and received every day. These applications are best left to a dedicated server, which is designed to handle the transfers without issue. A virtual private server is better for a personal website or any read-only website.
Server Limits – Ultimately, a virtual private server is merely a single part of an entire server, so if several of the virtual private servers on that physical server are using a large majority of the computational power and bandwidth, it is possible that other virtual private servers on the same physical server could experience lagging and other resource limitations. This problem has some potential solutions with the use of advanced software, but it still prevails among virtual private servers.
Maintenance – Operating a virtual private server is no different from operating a physical server, at least in terms of the operating system and software. A certain level of knowledge is recommended for those who wish to take advantage of a virtual private network. A shared server might not require as much from its users.
Limited Support – Simple problems that might arise if you use a cloud hosting service can be fixed with ease, but virtual private servers take more expertise and therefore more time to repair. Problems in a virtual private server might be more difficult to find as well, especially if they are resulting from an issue in the overarching physical server and not the virtual server itself.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a server option. Virtual private servers offer many of the same benefits as a dedicated server, but without most of the negatives that go along with them. While there are a few potential issues with using a virtual private server, many of them only apply to special cases. Remember to take all factors into account when selecting your web hosting solution.