Virtual Private Server (VPS) Web Hosting

Shared hosting enables thousands of people to get their own sites hosted at a very reasonable fee. There are a few disadvantages, though. Due to the fact that hundreds of sites can be hosted on a single server, resources such as CPU, disk space, and bandwidth have to therefore be shared with your virtual neighbours.

Shared resources are usually not problematic for small to medium sized sites. Your main limitation will be the lack of control over system level software – http servers, mail servers etc. You aren’t given any choice in operating system and you also cannot compile programs or undertake administrative tasks such as setting up Spam filters or firewalls.

Many people would just not be interested by this, and it is true that the most website owners are not able or interested to handle this kind of work feeling happier to leave it to the hosting company. Those who would like to gain better control over their server environment or wish to experiment with new software, however, can access this level of management with a Virtual Private Server.

A virtual private server (VPS) is a physical server that has been segmented (with software) into several virtual machines, each acting as an independent dedicated server. The physical resources such as RAM, CPU and disk space will also be shared, but each VPS will operate independently of the others. Each VPS can have a different operating system and can be arranged in any way possible.

The strategic advantage of VPS is that it will allow each VPS administrator access to the root level of his virtual server. This kind of access will allow the administrator to install and delete software, set permissions, create accounts – and altogether, do everything that the administrator of a ‘real’ sever can.

Along with providing more control over your hosting environment, a VPS is more secure than shared hosting. On a shared server all websites have the same operating system, so if an intruder were to find access to the root of the server, he could destroy any or all of the websites on that server. A VPS, however, is divided in such a way that even if a hacker were to gain entry through one account, he wouldn’t be able to access the others. There is no way to set up root level access from one VPS to another, as each VPS is invisible to the other.

Virtual Private Servers can be set up in many different ways so make sure you understand how the hosting company has allocated its resources. The most common configuration is to divide all the physical resources evenly according to its number of accounts. In so doing, if there are 10 virtual servers, each server would receive 10% of the total bandwidth, CPU, memory and disk space.

The disadvantages of VPS almost even out with the advantages. The control that a VPS account can provide can be dangerous if you aren’t sure of your actions. You can delete files, set permissions improperly, allow virus-laden software on the system and, in general, really mess everything up. If you don’t have sufficient knowledge to administer a server, or aren’t willing to learn, VPS won’t be for you.

However, if your website has outgrown shared hosting, VPS will offer a cost-effective alternative to dedicated hosting. When you shop for a VPS host, make sure you find out how system resources are divided up, the number of VPS accounts on each physical server, the method for upgrading, and the choices of the operating systems.

J. M. Stevens is contributing editor at This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.

Dedicated vs. Shared Web Hosting

Two basic types of web hosting packages exist– shared and dedicated. This article will explain to you what these terms actually mean and how you can choose an appropriate type of hosting for your web site.

Websites are kept on servers – which are special network computers that respond to data requests via the Internet. Each server has its own Internet Protocol (IP) address. An IP address consists of four numbers separated by dots – 123.456.78.9 for example.

A web site that uses dedicated hosting will have the server all to itself. This implies that all the resources of the server as well as the IP address will be unique to that web site. Shared hosting, however, will place several websites on the same server, all of them sharing resources as well as the same IP address.

It is also good to know that shared hosting is a lot cheaper than dedicated hosting due to the cost of operating the server being split between many different customers. Shared hosting is available for a minimum of $2 a month but dedicated hosting could cost you up to $100 a month or sometimes even more.

Shared Hosting

As mentioned above, websites that share a single server will be sharing all the resources of that computer. This comprises disk space and bandwidth as well as the IP address. In order for your host to provide adequate service to all sites on a server, your host will have to limit each site to a certain amount of disk space and bandwidth used per month. All sites that exceed these limits might have to pay a heavy fine.

Due to the fact that each server has a limited amount of bandwidth, the amount of traffic your neighbours receives can affect how quickly your web site shows up. Each request coming in to the server is handled in the order it was received, so if there is a large queue, the waiting will be quite long.

The amount of sites that share a particular server won’t be as important as the amount of traffic each site receives. For instance, a server hosting 200 low traffic sites will respond much more quickly than a server which has 50 sites that are receiving a lot of visitors.

A few risks are inevitably linked with shared hosting. For example, the entire server could be affected if one of your neighbours runs a badly programmed script that runs amok. In extreme cases this could cause your site to be unattainable for a while. Another risk is that if one of your neighbours is banned from search engines (for spamming tactics, for instance) it could affect everyone sharing that same IP address. Make sure that you check with your hosting company and verify their policy about third-party scripts and inappropriate activities.

Dedicated Hosting

If you choose a dedicated server all the resources will be yours to use as you like. You can use it to host a single site or many sites, you can have access to the full bandwidth of the server, and you can use as much disk space as required. Companies with large and complicated websites that get a lot of traffic will definitely need to get dedicated hosting. Sites that make use of a dedicated server will also be free to run any kind of script they would like. This could be the best solution for those who are developing new scripts and need to test them without it harming other websites.

What Choice To Make?

In general, small websites are often better off with shared hosting. The cost is also more reasonable – especially for small companies and individuals. A reputable host will be cautious not to allow activities that could jeopardize your site. Large complicated sites that get more than 1000 visitors every day will be better off choosing dedicated hosting. Dedicated hosting is also a favourable option for developers who would like to experiment with new Internet technologies.

J.M. Stevens is contributing editor at This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.