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Unraveling the Mystery of Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

July 25, 2012 at 11:30 AM

I have been in the web hosting industry since 2002 and I've seen a lot of confusion and mystery surrounding Virtual Private Servers (VPS) over the years.

This article is the first in a series of articles I'm going to write about our new Xen VPS offerings and how having one can benefit any website, big or small, and that they may not be as confusing to operate as one might think.

What is a Xen VPS?

With typical shared web hosting, a user is given a storage and bandwidth allocation on a dedicated server and they share the server's CPU, memory and other resources with hundreds of other users.

With a Xen VPS, a server's resources are divided into much larger resource allocations and the user is given an isolated, virtualized dedicated server environment. In other words, a virtual dedicated server with each Xen VPS having its own operating system and control panel. There are much fewer users per server, as compared to shared web hosting, and as a result, Xen VPS have much better performance. Because each Xen VPS is ran under its own isolated environment, security is also much stronger. With shared web hosting, the vulnerability of your neighbor's script could impact you. With a Xen VPS, this vulnerability won't affect you as your environment is isolated from your neighbor's environment. Additionally, because a Xen VPS is running its own operating system, you have more flexibility than with shared web hosting. You can install what you want, when you want and you aren't limited to the restrictions imposed on shared web hosting (what processes you can and cannot run, how often you can run them, how many e-mails you can send per hour, etc.).

Do I have to know how to manage a server to use a Xen VPS?

Not necessarily. When you choose a Xen VPS, you will have the option of selecting whether or not you would like management included. A Managed Xen VPS operates much like a shared web hosting account -- you don't have to worry about the operating system or control panel installation, configuration and on-going maintenance. Your managed service will cover all of this. You will simply use the control panel, as you always have, to setup and manage your website(s), with the major benefits being the huge increase in performance and security.

For those who are willing to learn, the learning curve of an unmanaged Xen VPS is not that steep. Especially considering we offer over 150 pre-built operating system templates with 1-click install. Additionally, many of these templates already include a pre-installed control panel or LAMP build (if you prefer to not go the control panel route).

Aren't Xen VPS expensive?

VPS pricing has declined over the last several years. With our new Xen VPS offerings, you can score a cheap VPS for as little as $10/month. From there, you can decide whether or not you would like a management plan and/or a control panel (there are free control panels, such as Webmin).

What's Next?

The next several articles in this series are going to cover: how to setup a website on a Xen VPS using a LAMP build, without a control panel; how to install and configure Webmin on a Xen VPS; and, how to use our free myDNS service, in conjunction with your Xen VPS, to take advantage of our geographically dispersed redundant DNS.

Stay tuned!