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What Are Virtual Private Servers?

Virtual Private Servers are a hot topic these days for good reason. They combine the control and security advantages of a dedicated server environment with the lower cost of a shared server environment. Virtual Private Servers should not, however, be confused with Virtual Hosting, which is a completely different type of shared-server environment.

With Virtual Hosting, you are sharing the physical server and you are also sharing a single set of software applications, which is configured and controlled by the server’s administrators – not you. Unlike Virtual Hosting, a Virtual Private Server is a single physical server that is “partitioned” at the root into multiple virtual “dedicated” servers. This allows you to share the cost of hardware, network connectivity, and system maintenance with other hosting customers while still enjoying the flexibility and freedom of a dedicated server.

The popular analogy you often hear is that of a condominium complex. The entire condo building itself represents the hardware of the physical server while each individual condo represents the “virtual” dedicated servers partitioned within it. Each tenant maintains control over access and what goes on inside their own unit, while everyone in the complex shares the cost of building maintenance and common services.

In the Virtual Private Server environment, only the hardware is controlled by the server administrators while the software is controlled by you. Because you have root access to the server, you pretty much have complete control over the function of your Virtual Private Server. You usually get individual Web, FTP, POP, IMAP servers and SMTP gateway. You also have access to the “virtual” root, Telnet and your web server configuration files. Plus you’ll have full CGI-BIN access, complete log files and access to your password and aliases file and In other words, all the comforts of a dedicated server at a fraction of the cost.