What Is a VPS?

A virtual private server(VPS) is a machine that hosts all the software and data required to run an application or website. It is called virtual because it only consumes a portion of the server's underlying physical resources which are managed by a third-party provider. However, you get access to your dedicated resources on that hardware.

What is a VPS used for?

We give some examples of VPS server use cases below.

Launch web applications

Anyone can use VPS servers to launch and run web applications. For example, Gourmeat, a gourmet meat store in the United States used Amazon VPS services to launch an inventory management system within weeks. Before this, they managed inventory using spreadsheet reports from individual suppliers. Their cloud-based inventory application integrates the reports, reduces the time spent on inventory management, and gives key decision-makers simultaneous data access.

Build test environments

With a VPS server, you can develop and test new applications cost-effectively. For example, Bugout.dev, a US start-up, built a search engine for developers. They regularly run experiments to test new features and enhance search functionality for their users. Given the rejection rate of these experiments, they run them on a virtual private server environment to save costs.

Secondary storage

A virtual private server can provide secondary storage for data files. For example, it can act as a file, image, or email server by creating secure, accessible, and centralized storage for a group of users.

What is VPS hosting?

When creating a website or web app, customers generally need to setup a database, configure a webserver, and add their code. Managing physical server hardware can be complex and expensive.To solve this problem, hosting providers manage the underlying hardware and allow users to consume these resources. In VPS hosting, each user receives a virtual machine with dedicated resources that is ready for them to deploy and configure their application or website. This way, customers who use VPS hosting can focus on their applications or websites without having to waste time and energy dealing with the physical servers hosting their code. VPS hosting providers secure, reliable and consistent performance for their websites.

How does VPS hosting compare to other types of hosting?

Servers typically have more memory, processing power, and storage than those required by a single website. Web hosting providers share these resources between different customers using different hosting arrangements. Other than VPS hosting, two types of web hosting solutions are available.

Shared hosting

In a shared hosting solution, all websites share the same physical server and compete for critical resources like internal memory, hard disk space, and processing power. The downside of this web hosting service is that other websites that share the hardware can affect your website's performance.

Using a shared hosting service is comparable to watching a movie while sitting on a couch with a group of friends. Sometimes one friend may stretch and take up more space, while causing the others to sit uncomfortably until he adjusts himself again.

Dedicated hosting

In dedicated hosting, you can rent the entire physical hardware for yourself. The web hosting provider gives you exclusive access to the entire physical server. Your website performance is not impacted by the behaviour of any other websites.

Dedicated hosting is like having the whole couch to yourself. It's comfortable but expensive—and you don’t really need all that extra space.

VPS hosting vs. shared hosting vs. dedicated hosting

VPS hosting sits somewhere between shared and dedicated hosting. It is done by compartmentalizing the single physical server so each website owner perceives it as a dedicated server. You get exclusive access to your share of hardware and resources even though the rest of the physical server is still being shared.

A VPS hosting service is like hiring a first-class cabin on a luxury flight. While there may be other passengers on the flight, no one can share your cabin. Even better, your cabin can expand or shrink with your requirements, so you pay for exactly what you need!

When should you switch to VPS hosting?

If you are currently on a shared hosting service and a dedicated server is not in the budget, you can consider shifting to a VPS hosting plan if you want to do the following.

Handle more website traffic

Shared hosting may work well when you're just starting out, but your website performance may start degrading as traffic increases. As your website grows and visitor traffic volume increases, website visitors could experience longer page load times and more wait times. On the other hand, with VPS hosting, your site will perform better than with shared hosting because it can handle a higher volume of requests.

Customize applications 

Compared to shared hosting, VPS hosting gives you more control over your web server environment. You can install custom software and custom configurations. Integrations with other software, like bookkeeping or CRM systems, also work better with VPS hosting. You can install custom security measures and firewalls for your system as well.

Reduce server errors

As your website grows, you may have to add more content or complex functionality to it, which increases processor or memory requirements. This could lead to server errors on shared hosting, like internal server errors or unavailable service errors. On the other hand, compute-heavy websites perform much better on VPS hosting because they no longer compete with other sites for processing power. With VPS hosting, you can also migrate to a new virtual machine with greater processing power whenever you are ready to grow.

What are the types of VPS hosting?

There are three main types of VPS hosting.

Unmanaged VPS hosting

In unmanaged hosting or self-managed hosting, the business owner has to take care of all the server responsibilities and maintenance tasks. The hosting provider manages only the physical server and its availability. Unmanaged VPS hosting requires technical expertise or dedicated in-house resources to manage server memory, operating system, and other server resources. Unmanaged VPS hosting is better suited for established businesses with the necessary IT capabilities.

Managed VPS hosting

Fully managed VPS hosting reduces the time, effort, and technical expertise you need to take care of your server. The managed VPS hosting provider takes care of all the server-related responsibilities, like core updates, maintenance, and software installation, so you can concentrate fully on growing your business. Managed VPS hosting is a hands-free approach to server management.

Semi-managed VPS hosting

Semi-managed VPS hosting is the middle ground between managed and unmanaged hosting. The hosting company provides the same basics as unmanaged hosting but adds core software installation and support. These are some examples of the additional services they provide:

  • Operating system updates and patches
  • Security enhancements
  • Full web server support
  • Server event monitoring
  • Proactive response and restoration of server

Core managed hosting differs from fully managed hosting in that core doesn’t include virus and spam protection, external migrations, full control panel support, or control panel upgrades and patches.

Is VPS hosting secure?

Yes, VPS hosting is secure. VPS security comes from each instance’s isolation from the other environments on the server. In shared hosting environments, your website shares the same resources as other websites and can be affected by their vulnerabilities. VPS hosting protects you from resource-intensive attacks directed at others. You can also make your virtual server more secure by adding firewalls, antivirus, and other software measures.

For example, a denial of service (DDoS) attack attempts to bring down a website by overwhelming the server with thousands of requests at the same time. In a shared hosting environment, even if the DDoS is directed at another website, it will cause your system to crash too. This is because both websites share the same underlying resources.

Is VPS hosting fast and reliable?

Yes, VPS hosting is fast and reliable because you are allocated your own bandwidth. You can get reliable performance similar to a dedicated server. You can also choose different operating systems and optimize server configuration to better suit your application performance.

Why should you choose VPS?

VPS hosting gives you low-cost access to a trained team of professionals who focus full-time on server management. It brings the following benefits:

  • You receive updated best practices and new technologies in VPS hosting.
  • You get round-the-clock support to reduce downtime.
  • The VPS hosting provider optimizes your environment for performance and security.
  • Your IT team can focus on your web application without having to worry about VPS hosting.
  • The VPS hosting provider can troubleshoot and fix common issues very quickly.

What are Amazon VPS hosting services?

Amazon Lightsail offers easy-to-use virtual private server (VPS) instances, containers, storage, databases, and more at a cost-effective monthly price. With Amazon Lightsail, you gain a number of features that you can use to quickly bring your project to life. Designed as an easy-to-use VPS, Lightsail offers you a one-stop-shop for all your cloud needs. Some benefits of Amazon Lightsail include:

  • You can click to launch a simple operating system, a preconfigured application, or a development stack on your virtual server instance.
  • You can store your static content, such as images, videos, or HTML files, in object storage for data backup.
  • You can manage web traffic across your VPS servers so that your websites and applications can accommodate variations in traffic and be better protected from outages.

Get started with Amazon Lightsail by creating a free AWS account today.

AWS VPS next steps

Check out additional product-related resources
View free offers for Compute services in the cloud 
Sign up for a free account

Instantly get access to the AWS free tier. 

Sign up 
Start building in the console

Get started building in the AWS Management Console.

Sign in