What is a Virtual Private Server?

Virtual Private ServersBetween shared hosting plans, private servers and virtual private server accounts, those on the hunt for powerful hosting products have all probably asked a similar question: Exactly what is a virtual private server? This hosting product occupies the illusive space between a shared hosting account and a private, or dedicated server. It can cause some confusion for those who aren’t familiar with the way today’s web hosting products work; however, a virtual private server is actually pretty easy to understand. It offers a significant value to private developers, smaller companies, and those who require greater flexibility for their personal hosting endeavors as well.

Let’s Start with the “Virtual” Part

The reason this product is referred to as a “virtual” private server is simply because it refers to multiple accounts hosted on a single piece of server hardware. This is made possible by advanced operating systems based either on Windows or Linux architecture, which allows a company to create smaller segments on a server’s hard drive and assign web hosting accounts just to that segment.

Today’s software also allows web hosting companies to allocate only a certain percentage of processing power, RAM, and bandwidth to each “virtual” server account assigned to the hardware. Despite sharing server hardware with other accounts, those who opt for virtual private server hosting can still control their installed software packages and services, and they can typically make advanced adjustments to the way their server performs under varying levels of traffic.

“Private” Part of Virtual Private Server Hosting

One of the primary concerns that many customers have when they consider using a virtual private server concerns the privacy and security of sharing remote hardware with several other hosting accounts. This often seems like a legitimate concern: If all that separates the accounts is a digital “wall” assigned to the hard drive and other hardware resources, what’s to stop hackers from seeing and modifying the files in another user account?

The reality of the situation is far less threatening, however. ┬áToday’s server software is exceedingly secure and the walls put up between different virtual servers are essentially impossible to break down. It has to be this way, since each account can host different software packages and services. If any mingling were allowed, the entire system would be become corrupt as well as insecure.

Related Resource: What is Web Hosting

A Commitment to Better Flexibility and an Easy Upgrade Path

Virtual private server hosting is designed by web hosting companies to be an affordable and accessible way to upgrade from shared hosting packages and learn the ropes when it comes to server administration. Most virtual private server packages are priced only slightly higher than shared hosting at the low end. Customers can upgrade their package over time if they find themselves needing more storage space, more bandwidth, or greater server processing capabilities.

Better yet, modern virtual private server packages can eventually be fully upgraded to a traditional server hosting account as the user’s or company’s needs grow, according to an article in PC World. Thanks to a uniform set of control panels and operating systems used behind the scenes, hosting companies can easily migrate files to their own hardware in just under 24 hours. For this reason, it actually makes sense to start with virtual server hosting first and upgrade over time as needs change.