Virtualization is quite a buzzword today in the web hosting industry.
While there are several ways and server types to host your websites and applications, including Shared Servers, Dedicated Servers, and Cloud Servers—Virtual Private Servers are becoming the top choice for businesses for all the right reasons.
But what exactly makes virtual servers so popular, and what do they mean in the context of web hosting and hardware storage?
In this blog, we’ll answer all these questions related to virtual servers, including how it works, their use cases, advantages, the difference between physical and Virtual Server, and a few examples of Virtual Servers.
So, let’s get right into it.
What is a Virtual Server?
A Virtual Server or a VPS (Virtual Private Server) is a software-based replica or representation of a physical server.
It’s commonly used in the VPS web hosting service, storing all your website’s data and files on a virtual private server. VPS hosting is a perfect intermediary between a shared and dedicated web hosting solution.
For instance, shared hosting provides a common hosting server to all the websites, requiring them to share the server’s common resources, like RAM, CPU, disk space, and memory.
This sharing of the hosting space and resources makes shared web hosting the most budget-friendly web hosting service and ideal for small websites and blogs receiving minimal traffic.
At the same time, dedicated hosting provides a single dedicated server for each website and dedicated resources—making it one of the most robust, secure, and performance-driven web hosting solutions. As a result, it’s ideal for large websites and businesses receiving a huge amount of website traffic.
On the contrary, while VPS Hosting stores all your site’s data and files on a single server, it allocates an individual virtual private server with dedicated resources to each website at an affordable price than a dedicated hosting server.
Thus, since shared hosting doesn’t provide root access and flexibility to manage many visitors and dedicated hosting is way too expensive, virtual private server hosting is the perfect web hosting service for small to medium-sized businesses.
Virtualization in VPS Hosting divides a physical server into multiple virtual servers, each having the ability to pull resources like CPU cores and RAM and run its own operating system (OS).
Virtual private servers use hypervisor technology to enable virtualization in VPS Hosting.
Each virtual private server is isolated from the other, providing a high level of security than a shared server. A hypervisor sits on a bare metal server or hardware to create a virtualization layer between virtual machines or virtual servers.
It means that it takes stock of all the web hosting resources and distributes those resources that can work independently.
The virtual machines draw resources, like RAM and disk space, from the same server without interrupting or speaking with other virtual machines. Thus, despite the virtual servers being independent, they draw resources from the same pool of servers.
When you purchase a VPS hosting plan with a set amount of resources, like 2 GB RAM and 4 CPU Cores, the hypervisor checks if the server has all the resources you require for your website. If the resources are available, the hypervisor allocates those resources to you.
The role of the hypervisor is also to keep allocating resources to the websites until the primary server runs out of resources.
Important Virtual Server Use Cases
Besides web hosting, Virtual Servers have plenty of other helpful use cases, as discussed below.
#1. Try Out New Operating Systems
Virtual private servers are optimum for trying out new operating systems and seeing if they cater to your hosting needs.
For instance, if you’ve been using the Windows operating system for a while but want to try out the Linux operating system to cater to your website’s changing web hosting needs, virtual servers are a great way to perform the trial.
All you need to do is install VirtualBox or another Hypervisor on your Windows OS to create a new virtual machine. Then, you must choose any Linux installation ISO, like Linux Mint or Ubuntu, to install it as a virtual machine.
Once done, you can efficiently run the Linux OS within your Windows OS’s window like any other program.
#2. Creating a Gaming Server
A virtual private server is also highly efficient for gaming and hosting gaming sessions and top-rated performance-driven games like Minecraft, Runescape, and WoW on private servers.
Virtual servers provide enhanced customization capabilities to configure the speed, the number of players, and other gaming settings using root access to leverage customized gaming experience.
You can add resources depending on the number of players. The more players in your game, the more resources you need to add—and the virtual server provides the scalability and flexibility to add the desired amount of resources.
Such customization and seamless scalability allow you to leverage faster speed, performance, and a high uptime guarantee.
Virtual servers provide enhanced security and privacy with fewer occurrences of connection drops and lags.
With a private virtual server, you need not depend on the gaming publisher’s server details and performance, as you can not only host the connection of your server but the connection of other players as well.
Thus, a virtual server for gaming provides top-notch experience and security at an affordable price.
#3. Developing and Testing Applications and Codes
A virtual server is perfect if your business develops different applications, like SaaS.
For instance, developers can connect to a virtual server remotely to check the developer code’s development versions. Moreover, developers can also work simultaneously through an option called pair programming.
This VPS use case for testing codes eliminates the need for developers to connect in person for the slightest changes in the code.
Here are a few more benefits of Virtual Servers for developers:
A VPS allows developers to test applications and software in a live setting before sending the final release—a much safer and more convenient option.
VPS provides an isolated server environment to each client to handle the application system services, gems, libraries, and legal boundaries.
VPS eliminates the requirement of owning a high-maintenance and costly dedicated server for application testing and development.
Thus, a VPS is an ideal solution to test application codes and development due to its security, scalability, and affordability.
#4. Hosting Web Applications
Besides testing applications, you can also use a virtual server for hosting web applications.
VPS platforms are great application servers for several resources. First, since each web application is diverse and comes with unique requirements, a virtual server provides configuration and customization flexibility to configure your server that best suits your application’s ideal environment.
Second, as applications demand consistent resource requirements—they perform better when the resources are available on-demand, which is made possible by the virtual servers.
#5. Using It as an Email Server
While several private email server solutions are available, virtual servers provide higher data security and privacy when used as email solutions.
Furthermore, you can use your VPS server for multiple purposes—you can use it as both an email server and a web host or for individual goals, as required.
Key Advantages of a Virtual Server
Statistics suggest that the rise in the eCommerce industry and the number of eCommerce websites are more likely to promote VPS’s future growth.
Here are the VPS advantages that justify this statement.
#1. Resource Isolation
The server isolation in VPS Hosting makes it possible for each website to leverage dedicated and guaranteed resources from a Virtual Server environment.
This server and resource isolation allow you to test software and applications independently—without affecting others users and websites.
Other benefits of resource isolation include seamless scalability of resources depending on the increasing website traffic and ensuring faster page speed and better performance.
Unlike huge physical hardware like dedicated servers, virtual servers reduce the hassle of hardware maintenance—saving time and reducing storage space.
Moreover, because of the virtual environment, virtual servers are less likely to go into landfills, less likely to require consistent upgrade requirements, and less likely to run at low utilization.
Thus, virtual servers are much more efficient in running at a higher utilization than physical servers.
Virtual Servers are more cost-efficient than dedicated servers, as they offer dedicated websites hosting resources, like RAM, CPU Cores, and disk space, at a much budget-friendly rate.
Dedicated servers charge exceptionally high, making them only suitable for large organizations and businesses with abundant resource requirements. However, if your website or application doesn’t have such huge resource requirements needs, a virtual private server is an ideal affordable option rather than paying unnecessarily high.
#4. Complete Root Access
Virtual private servers provide complete root access and administrative control to control your server’s configuration and settings that best meet your business needs.
It’s an excellent option for businesses willing to host web applications and eCommerce websites that need enhanced customization and personalization abilities to make the server work as per their specific requirements.
Thus, unlike a shared server that provides shared and limited resources and no customization control, a virtual server proves to be an excellent solution for growing websites and organizations.
#5. High Availability and Uptime
The dedicated and guaranteed resources that eliminate the need to share them with other websites make virtual servers offer highly available resources.
This high availability of resources increases the website’s uptime and ensures reliable performance despite the growing traffic—boosting your website’s online credibility and reputation.
Physical Server Vs. Virtual Server
A physical server or a bare metal server is a single-tenant server designated to an individual user or a single website. Hence, the resources of a physical server aren’t shared between multiple websites or users.
A bare metal physical server is large because of its processing power. It consists of dedicated memory, processor, operating systems, hard drive, and network connection for running programs and applications.
Before getting into the detailed comparison of physical and Virtual Servers, here’s a brief comparison of the two in a tabular form.
Save up physical space as one physical server hosts multiple virtual servers
Requires a lot of physical and colocation space than virtual servers
Less upfront costs
Require huge upfront costs
Reduces the need for in-house IT team server maintenance
Requires server maintenance by the in-house IT team
It comes with seamless data and website migration
It comes with a lengthy and complicated migration process
It comes with less control compared to physical servers
They’re fully customizable
Supports legacy applications
It comes with a shorter lifecycle
It doesn’t require the overhead layer
It makes it easier to consolidate servers to increase efficiency
You can’t scale the storage without purchasing new hardware
Here’s the Virtual and physical server comparison based on performance, management, scalability, and more.
Performance is an essential factor to consider if your website processes a large amount of data and your business needs to scale at a rapid pace.
When it comes to performance, physical servers take the lead here compared to virtual servers, as they’re way more efficient and powerful. On the other hand, virtual machines (VMs) are more prone to performance risks and issues with the growing server requests (depending on the vendor).
Many large applications require more dedicated resources to avoid performance lags. Hence, opting for a physical server is a reliable choice if you own large eCommerce websites and applications to ensure quality and consistent performance.
Virtual Servers are easily portable as you can move them from one physical server to another with less hassle.
It’s primarily because the virtual servers are isolated from one another and have their virtual hardware and operating systems—making them hardware-independent. On the contrary, moving physical servers from one location to another is complicated as they’re more resource- and hardware-intensive.
Before moving the servers, you’ll have to take a data backup in another disk space with a physical server. Then, re-install and reconfigure the server data and components when the move is complete—increasing the risks of data loss.
Hence, virtual servers are risk-free and make moving from one place to another easy.
Virtual servers are much easier to maintain and manage than physical servers.
You must closely inspect and monitor physical servers to find deficiencies, if any, and require installation and setup of additional drivers before you can use them.
Virtual servers are different, as the physical hardware or server they’re built upon is ready to use. Thus, you can create and power a virtual server in no time compared to physical servers.
Moreover, you can also leverage the managed hosting services offered by web hosting providers to seek server management and maintenance assistance for your virtual server.
The constant hardware and software upgrades, breakdown of computer components, and frequent hardware failure risks increase the repair cost—making building and maintaining a physical server highly expensive.
On the other hand, virtualization saves costs associated with hardware, utilities, hardware deployment, power, and facilities—allowing you to save hundreds and thousands of dollars. Thus, virtual servers are much more budget-friendly than physical servers.
As virtual servers are located off-site, you can easily recover data and benefit from immediate disaster recovery with the help of modern VM backup software.
On the flip side, physical servers take several days to restore to their original state in case of data loss or failures—affecting your website’s uptime and business continuity.
Virtualization vendors can help quickly mitigate the risk—boosting business continuity and online presence.
Choosing the right platform offering virtual server hosting that best meets your business needs is crucial.
Here are the popular virtual server platforms for choosing virtual machines suitable to your business requirements.
DigitalOcean provides DigitalOcean Droplets, which are highly reliable Linux-based virtual machines. In addition, they offer a 99.99% uptime guarantee, ensuring your website or application stays up and running for your users.
Their virtual machines are suitable for less-traffic blogs and high-traffic eCommerce websites with seamless scalability—without the hassle of managing huge infrastructure.
Other essential features of DigitalOcean’s Virtual Machines include:
Easy deployment and management with the intuitive CLI, UI, API, and Terraform provider.
Easy server monitoring and enhanced server and application security.
Reliable and easy scalability with the shifting and growing demands.
You can also deploy your droplets to your favorite distribution, including Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, or Fedora.
#2. Scala Hosting
Scala Hosting provides a Managed VPS Hosting solution with flexible and scalable resource needs—allowing you to allocate only as much RAM, storage, or CPU to the VPS Server as you require for your website or application hosting.
While a managed hosting solution, most of the VPS server management and maintenance task is handled by Scala Hosting—it also provides SPanel at no extra cost to ensure easy website management.
A unique feature of Scala Hosting’s managed VPS hosting is its effortless, free, and guaranteed website migration service with no downtime.
Here are a few more credible features you can expect with their managed VPS hosting plans:
Free Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificates
Powerful SPanel-powered caching to boost website speed
Identifying blacklisted IP addresses and unblocking them by performing blacklist monitoring on an hourly basis
Inbound and outbound anti-spam protection—blocking junk emails that come in and go out of your VPS server.
Overall, Scala Hosting’s Managed VPS plans are eCommerce-ready and developer-friendly—allowing you to leverage features like CloudFlare Integration and white-label branding service and manage PHP versions, WordPress and Joomla websites, and users with ease.
#3. Azure Virtual Machines
Microsoft provides Linux and Windows-based Azure Virtual Machines, making it easier to run SAP, Oracle, and SQL Server software and high-performance computing applications.
You can scale your Azure virtual machines from one to thousands—ensuring easy scalability. In addition, these virtual machines help you meet regulatory and compliance requirements by encrypting sensitive data and protecting the servers from malicious online threats.
With Azure’s virtual machines, you only need to pay for the compute resources you use instead of paying a total one-time fee—making them affordable and cost-saving options.
Virtual Servers are an excellent option for scaling and growing your business, especially when you outgrow shared hosting resource needs and requirements.
However, before investing in the correct server, understanding the virtualization concept and choosing the suitable virtual server from an ideal web hosting provider that fits your budget and hosting needs is essential.
If your business lack in-house expertise, you can choose from Managed VPS Hosting plans—so you don’t have to worry about the hassle of server maintenance as the hosting provider handles it to ensure your website’s performance, uptime, and security.
Tejal is an experienced B2B SaaS content writer for eCommerce and marketing, specializing in web hosting, AI & ML, cloud and cybersecurity, SEO, and digital marketing. She holds a B.E degree in Electronics & Telecommunications… read more
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