What is VPS? Why do developers around the world use it? Why should you use it? How to choose the best one?
In this article, we will answer all the questions diving deep into every topic.
This abbreviation could be deciphered as "Virtual private server". Or "Virtual dedicated server" in some cases.
The term itself brings the description of the technology it relates to, actually. Here we are talking about a server — a platform where webmasters and developers store their project’s data or test different ideas (it includes website’s documents, applications’ media, etc.). But this server is not real. It is a virtualized copy of it that works as a fully-fledged PC but uses hardware of another device as its own. VPS can be used to create many such computers that can be simulated using only one physical machine.
It is "virtual" because it exists in the hypervisor — a special application that is installed on a PC and can be used as a full-featured emulator of "real" computers. This emulator takes part of tangible hardware and shares it with an artificial PC using complex virtualization technologies. After that procedure is established the server "looks" like a familiar workspace for developers and webmasters renting it.
It is private because in most cases this kind of server is given full control to the administrator renting it. The whole dedicated infrastructure is controlled by one team and they don’t have to share any resources or data with other users that pay for service of the same hosting.
Let’s talk about virtual dedicated servers a bit more. Sometimes, both abbreviations are used together. Like VDS/VPS. Because they mean the same thing as a product. VPS and VDS are virtual servers that are given full control to one administrator or his team.
But the difference exists and it lies in the technological implementation of virtual servers. VPS is associated with OpenVZ virtualization technology and VDS — with KVM.
But it is important to understand that this designation is very arbitrary. A lot of developers and webmasters use both terms interchangeably.
In general, VPS is a virtual machine that is installed on some PC that can be remotely controlled via a special application or command-line utility.
VPS is a quite cheap way to get your own server without confusing and disturbing functional limitations like in the case of virtual hosting. It costs less because the provider has to buy one physical machine and implement many virtual servers on it instead of buying a PC for every potential webmaster or developer.
And at the same time, VPS is not really limited in its capabilities. It is almost the same in terms of functionality as its counterpart — a dedicated server.
So, what exactly you can do with VPS and why they’re so necessary for developers and system administrators:
It is used to create informational web platforms, online stores, and various kinds of commercial web applications.
To store any personal data without go-between services like Dropbox or Google Drive.
To develop and test fully functional lightweight applications or MVPs.
To deploy chunky and complex software platforms like Odoo, 1C Bitrix, etc.
To create personal gaming servers (to make money on it) or mail servers (to anonymize correspondence).
To launch and maintain CCTV systems to store a large number of recordings.
There are other use cases for VPS’ but these listed above are the most relevant.
Speaking of benefits, we must pinpoint things like cheapness, independence, less responsibility, good technical equipment. VPS usually costs less than physical servers and at the same time gives capabilities on par with real computers. In most cases, VPS represents an isolated software platform that is accessible by you and your team members. Even the host can’t get inside it and somehow interact with your virtual PC.
Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks. The performance of VPS will never be as high as the performance of a real computer. Hypervisor and virtualization technologies will be a bottleneck that blocks it from achieving all the potential of used hardware. Further, it is not possible to have any impact on the physical state of the rented PC. Hardware installed in it is installed by the host. You’d never be allowed to change something inside the machine.
As we mentioned earlier, there are two virtualization technologies used to create VPS/VDS servers. OpenVZ and KVM. What kind of VPS should you choose? Let’s break them down:
The amount of resources available for your personal service is dynamically changing. If your web project is in heavy usage, the amount of available resources will grow respectively.
It is possible to change any characteristics of your PC at any moment without reloading the operating system. Just pay a bit more if you want a more powerful artificial computer.
It is possible to lose some amount of performance because other users are accessing the host with you in parallel. So, you’re not independent. Moreover, your data is visible to the host.
You can install only Linux OSes to the OpenVZ server because it is based on the Linux kernel.
The volume of hardware resources is static. It is closer to a real PC than in the case with OpenVZ.
You can change CPU and RAM but it is necessary to relaunch a server so changes take their place.
You’re fully independent. Nobody can access your data, not even host administrators.
You can decide by yourself what operating system to install. Even if you choose Windows or macOS.
As you can see, VPS is a much more flexible variant but KVM is more reliable and works as a real PC.
A hosting provider (also called "host") is a business that creates VPSes and sells access to them to developers and webmasters. The host creates data centers around the world and deploys different applications and websites on them.
Their main task is to make deploying as easy as possible for every user.
There are many hosting providers in the USA that are great at doing their job.
Bluehost — probably the cheapest VPS and quite a popular platform that gives its users unmetered bandwidth. It also gives users an opportunity to easily migrate from old host to new. Renting a server at Bluehost you are getting a free domain and professional technical support 24/7. It costs about $3/month for the most basic plan.
Hostman — modernity is at the core of this service. It is not only amazingly reliable servers based on platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. It is also the simplest interface to deploy any application, website, or database in a few clicks. And it is just from $5/month for a powerful platform for your projects.
Hostgator — the great multipurpose server that only costs around $4 per month. It gives unmetered disk space and bandwidth, a 45-days guarantee, and a large search credit.
DigitalOcean — a basic server at DO will cost you around $5 a month. What’s great about DO — its reliability. It is one of the most fast-growing hostings out there. Functional and modern.
AWS — one of the biggest platforms to deploy apps and websites. It is the platform created by Amazon and used by giants like Apple. One of the most functional and reliable. The price depends on the number of projects and their resource capacities.
There are but they’re problematic. If your host offers you a free server it comes with many caveats for sure. Like:
Obligation to place an ad on your website.
Limit of resources.
No privacy. Nobody will bother about confidential data.
No security. Nobody will defend you from hackers and viruses.
We don’t recommend using free hosting because there’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you don’t pay for the product — you are the product. Your personal information, your files, your users.
The decision strongly depends on what exactly you need to do with your VPS and what is your working environment. So you must answer some questions before renting the virtual server.
It is necessary to select an operating system, whether it will be Windows or some Linux distributive.
Linux is more flexible and lightweight. It is a great choice for small projects and backend systems like databases that are manipulated via command line without any needing for the graphical user interface. Furthermore, Linux is more resistant to hackers’ attacks and resource-intensive tasks.
Windows is an option for users that need to work with Microsoft’s services and products. For example, if your team relies on Teams (tautology intended), Office 365, and Outlook, you’d better consider VPS with Windows onboard. Moreover, it is a nice choice for those of you who want to deploy a remote operating system with a full-fledged graphical interface.
It is a must to rent a server that is fully capable to deal with the job you’re going to delegate to it. Also, it is really important to pay for a bit more so your project won’t stop working because of exponential user base growth.
The one thing you should definitely consider before renting a server — finding one with SSD storage. It will guarantee delivering the data to users in a most efficient and quick way.
The performance of your websites and applications depends not only on used hardware but also on bandwidth. It is really important to choose a host that can ensure a fast and stable internet connection. Besides that, it would be great to see many data centers around the world so you can deploy your projects as close to your potential users as possible.
Moreover, the host must provide you with security measures like a screening system that blocks malware, security staff which is responsible for protecting servers from any physical impact or thefts. And also it should protect your applications and websites from DDoS attacks and any potential data loss.
Sometimes you have to choose a host based on more specific criteria. For example, you might need a server that is purposefully created to work with gaming servers. It has specific attributes like accents on more broad bandwidth and capability of fast deploying of gaming worlds. There is a good example of such a server called HostHavoc. It has a highly specialized interface and control panel that allows everyone to create their gaming world in a few clicks.
Some hosts provide amazing server capabilities for trading. Like VPS for Forex that gives you access to an instant executional platform to work with. Additionally, they usually can boast of a professional technical support team that has expertise in trading. So if you’re trying to find the best VPS host for Forex, you should find one with such a technical support team.
Also, we would recommend trying out multipurpose platforms like Hostman. It just asks you what you want to deploy and takes care of the rest. Using Hostman deploying applications, websites, databases, and other stuff is a breeze.
Don’t pick a plan with the biggest amount of storage at first. There’s a huge chance for you to overpay. You’d better calculate what SSD you need to launch your project and maintain it.
Better to overpay for security measures. If you don’t know how to defend yourself from DDoS attacks, pay someone who’d do this.
Don’t rent first found VPS over a long period. The best idea would be to use a testing period. Many hosts give one. For example, Hostman lets new users try out every function of the service for 7 days for free.
That’s it. VPS is an outstandingly useful tool. The only thing you need to do to make it even more effective is to choose the right one. Consider your priorities and needs while you are going through different hosts and VPSes. Don’t pay forward too much and prioritize not only your needs but users’ of yours. Try VPS by Hostman for 7 days for free to understand if it fits you.