Virtual Private Server

VPS hosting – what it is, how it works

In this article, we are going to deal with VPS hosting and how it differs from other types of hosting. I will describe (in a somewhat non-professional way) how VPS works. I have had experience with just one VPS. On the other hand, I sell VPSs or virtual hosting (cloud) to corporate customers and I have had some feedback from them.

What is VPS

If you have experience with web hosting, you know it shares a performance with other hostings on one server, where all the settings and administration are taken care of by the provider on your behalf. This also means there is a uniform configuration of the server and almost no individual settings. The know-how of the company includes how many hostings consume how much resources, and the company must know how to secure and adjust the servers.

On the other hand, VPS (Virtual Private Server), is a service which you can obtain and have just for your own use. A physical server is divided by means of virtualisation into smaller parts, each of which is a VPS. Moreover, virtualisation often ensures that in case of a failure of the physical server, another server will automatically take its place without you even knowing it.

Configuration and administration of VPS

One of the advantages of VPS is individual configuration. Most hosting companies allow you to upload LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) for free to VPS. The advantage of installing the operating system (Linux), web server (Apache), database (MySQL) and scripts (PHP) only for your own use is that you have the option of individual configuration. On the other hand, VPS hosting requires knowledge of Linux in order to be able to install and adjust the entire LAMP environment.

If you have VPS with an installed LAMP package, you also need a controlling environment or “control panel”. This panel will create an environment where you can establish your own hosting accounts, FTP accesses and databases. The most popular are cPanel, Plesk and ISPConfig. Last but not least, I must point out that you also need to take care of the security on your own. As a non-professional, I have dealt with the security of VPS by setting up Fail2ban (protection from a login breakthrough) and whitelist to a public IP address, from which you can login to the root of VPS.

If you do not want to take care of such settings, you should order the alternative: VMS (Virtual Managed Server). Several hosting companies in the Czech Republic offer the option of VMS, where the basic issues related to Linux are handled by the provider.

Performance – RAM, CPU & STORAGE

RAM and CPUThe VPS consists of a virtual processor (CPU). CPU performance is given by its speed (e.g. 1GHz), core and fibre. The most important factor of VPS performance is the operating memory (RAM). The last part is storage, which may mean a space dedicated on the disk in the server or, better, an external storage system (SAN). Storage may be built on three types of disks: SATA, SAS or SSD. Each disk type has different performance capabilities, which we measure in IOPS (Input/Output operations per second), i.e. how much data can be written/read per second. Here, you can see pretty well why the popularity of SSD disks has been increasing:

  •   SATA 7200 rev. has ~75-100 IOPS
  •   SAS 15 thousand rev. has ~175-210 IOPS
  •   SSD has ~3300 to hundreds of thousands of IOPS, depending on the manufacturer and interface type

You can see for yourself that SSD disks are very fast, many times faster the other types in fact, but also more expensive. A SSD disk is often required in situations where there is much reading and writing required. SSD disks are most often used for database servers.

So, if you are considering buying a VPS, you should find out the following information related to its performance:

  1.  What are the CPU specifications – is it an entire core? How many GHz? One task?
  2.  What type of disks or “storage” is used? SSD, SAS or SATA?
  3.  What is the connection speed of the VPS to the internet – 100Mbps or 1Gbps? Dedicated or shared connectivity? How many VPSs share the given connectivity? The issue of connectivity is generally necessary to consider only in larger projects.
  4. Does the hosting company offer SLA?

How does a VPS differ from other types of hostings

Web hosting is the basic type of hosting, where the provider of the service takes care of everything. As regards the performance, you often have only memory_limit guaranteed, which means web hosting is the least expensive option. The cloud is a very similar service as VPS. The difference is that it is more robust and fully redundant. Owing to its superior robustness, the cloud is used as IaaS, i.e. Infrastructure as a Service. The cloud is most often chosen by companies, which use it instead of their own servers – it is often more advantageous. Dedicated servers are a similar alternative, where you have an entire server to yourself, with higher performance available.

Advantages and disadvantages of VPS Hosting

Advantages

  •  Dedicated resources
  •  The option to upgrade
  •  Individual configuration
  •  VMS – the managed variant

Disadvantages

  • Shared IOPS
  • Knowledge of LAMP required
  • You must take care of security on your own

Radek Kucera

Work as a salesman in ICT/Telco branch more than ten years, WordPress fan and blogger. Interested to write about an Internet and ICT topic.

2 thoughts on “VPS hosting – what it is, how it works”

Leave a Reply