Otherwise known as a virtual private server, a VPS is a type of hosting service offered by providers like us. VPS cleverly spreads resources over several virtual machines without the bandwidth and traffic limitations which usually go hand in hand with shared hosting. In other words, you’ll have the same total control over server configuration that dedicated hosting offers, but at a more affordable price.

How does VPS hosting work?

With VPS hosting, you can enjoy the key benefits of a dedicated server, despite the fact that the physical server you’re using is shared. This is made possible by server virtualisation, which breaks the server up into sections so that it can run as multiple separate virtual servers, instead of a single dedicated one. Plus, so long as you have an internet connection, you can connect to your VPS from anywhere in the world!

So, while you’ll technically be sharing a physical server with others, you’ll have your own virtual space with dedicated resources like RAM, CPU and storage (at a far cheaper cost too).

What is a VPS used for?

Wondering what to do with a VPS once you have one? The most commonly known use of a VPS is for web hosting, but they can do so much more than this. A virtual private server can be used in a multitude of ways, and there really is something for everyone. 

So let’s run through a few things you might use a VPS for:

1. Web hosting

Hosting numerous websites on a VPS is easy, and the option to upgrade your resources means that your server can cope no matter how many you need.

2. Ecommerce

Run your ecommerce store on a VPS and offer your customers a secure platform to make purchases (our Ecommerce Website Builder makes this super easy)

3. Gaming

Hosting a multiplayer game with a gaming VPS is a great way to customise your gaming experience. It also boosts your game security.

4. VPN

Create a VPN with a VPS and protect your data when browsing and shopping online.

5. Photo storage

You can even use a VPS to store your photos, so if you have large volumes of snaps this is ideal.

6. Backup

Creating backups of your data is essential, and with this server you can prevent a disaster from occurring by using a VPS to store backups.

7. Testing

Test new software and applications in an isolated environment on your VPS. Using a VPS for test environments is perfect for developers.

8. Managing multiple sites or projects

If you run multiple websites or have various dev projects, it’s possible to host all of them on a VPS. Not only does it keep them all in one place, but it makes sure each site or project is secure in a private server.

9 . Forex trading

Yes – you can carry out your Forex trading on a VPS! Forex traders can benefit from a VPS’s low latency, fast speeds, unlimited bandwidth, backups, and overall strong security. Or, learn how to trade Forex on a VPS.

The benefits of VPS hosting

There are eight main advantages you’ll get to make the most of with VPS hosting:

1. Reliability

While shared hosting can have a direct impact on performance and reliability, a VPS generally only hosts a few services in one place, so you’re far less likely to encounter any issues caused by other users.

2. Dedicated resources

As we mentioned earlier, VPS hosting provides dedicated resources for your project, meaning you won’t have to share your storage, RAM, CPU or even bandwidth with any other users on the server.

3. Cost

A VPS is an affordable solution that’s generally far cheaper than a dedicated server, and often only slightly more expensive than shared hosting. To get an idea of exactly how much a virtual private server might cost your business, you can check out the range of VPS hosting packages we have available.

4. Scalability

All projects have highs and lows in traffic, but when your own site or app experiences a surge you need to make sure you’re equipped to handle it without compromising on performance. With VPS hosting, you can quickly upgrade your server to one with more resources so you can deal with a sudden influx of visitors while maintaining full functionality and – most importantly – avoiding a crash!

5. Control

If you opt for an unmanaged VPS hosting package like ours, you’ll have complete control over the server from the operating system right down to specific software upgrades. You can tailor your VPS hosting so it's perfectly optimised to help your project run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

6. Security

A VPS is often thought to be a more secure option than shared hosting, because there are fewer users on a single server, which in turn means fewer customers. As well as this, you can count on virtualisation technology to keep the data contained in your project safely isolated from other users.

7. Avoid noisy neighbours

As the name suggests, a VPS lets you avoid sharing your space with anyone else (much like you do with shared hosting), which could ultimately slow down performance. This is because you have a splice of a physical server that’s virtualised and assigned solely to the user that rents it.

8. Speed

With the likes of shared hosting, your site's performance will depend on the amount of resources being used by other users (or sites) on the same server. But with a VPS, you can optimise it to run as efficiently as possible to accommodate for sudden surges in traffic. Plus, with Fasthosts, you can choose up to a whopping 16GB of RAM!

How to secure your VPS

There are numerous ways on how to secure your VPS because ultimately – server security is no joke, and keeping your virtual private server safe and secure at all times should be a top priority. For instance, you could set up a firewall to block harmful attacks and to reduce your risk of a breach. Or you could monitor user access to your VPS by adjusting your server settings and allocating different permissions to various users. All great ways to protect access to your VPS, and the list goes on.

Who needs VPS hosting?

We’ve already established that a VPS is a handy middle ground that sits directly between shared and dedicated hosting so it’s a versatile choice, suitable for a wide range of uses. But how do you know if you really need VPS hosting?

1. You’re dealing with high traffic

You regularly experience unexpectedly high volumes of traffic. The scalability offered by a VPS allows your project to cope with sudden increases in volume without any unforeseen performance issues.

2. You want to start an ecommerce site

If you’re considering launching an online shop or payment portal, then a VPS could be for you. Any ecommerce site that’s equipped to take payments is legally obliged to comply with the PCI Data Security Standard, and a VPS is usually considered a more secure choice for compliance purposes than shared hosting.

3. You need a large amount of RAM

If you’re currently using shared hosting and you’ve noticed a dip in page speeds, switching to a VPS could solve the problem. Plus, you’ll have the option to add more RAM as your needs grow.

4. You’re on a tight budget

If dedicated hosting ticks all the boxes but is a bit out of your budget, then a VPS could be for you. It’s a great way to up your security, get unlimited bandwidth and guaranteed availability, all without breaking the bank.

5. You need resource flexibility

Flexibility is your priority. Ultimately, a VPS is one of the most flexible hosting options on the market. Plus, you won’t end up paying for a package more advanced than you need – you can start off small and upgrade your server specs little by little.

How to connect to VPS

If you decide that a virtual private server is for you, then you’ll need to know how to connect to one. If you opt for a Windows based VPS, then you’ll need to use your Remote Desktop Connection. Otherwise,  if you have a Linux VPS, then you will need to use the Secure Shell communication protocol.

Both methods are easy enough to use, but if you want an in depth run through of both processes, check out our guide on how to connect to a VPS.

VPS hosting vs. dedicated hosting

It’s true that dedicated hosting can provide most of the same benefits as a VPS, plus several more, but there’s a handful of drawbacks to consider too.

Dedicated hosting is more costly than a VPS, and it can also require more technical knowledge. Plus, because you’re committing to a large chunk of resources straight off the bat, you need to be sure it’s worth it.

So, if you’re working on an exciting new venture, and considering VPS hosting vs. dedicated hosting, remember that while a dedicated server is a good choice for projects that need a lot of power from the start, a virtual private server is more flexible and budget friendly.

Take a look at our guide on VPS vs. dedicated servers to read more about the differences between the two, and figure out which fits the bill for your project.

VPS vs cloud hosting

VPS and cloud hosting have some similarities but the way in which these servers are configured is different. 

Cloud hosting is a service accessed over the internet, but instead of being hosted on a (virtualised) physical server, cloud hosting is usually provided by cloud providers such as ourselves who handle the configuration, security, and upkeep of the servers (though you can get a private cloud server with us). Generally, computing and storage resources are distributed across a vast network of virtual machines (VMs), which are then leased out to users who require cloud hosting. But with a VPS, you’re allocated CPU, RAM, and storage for exclusive use. These resources are reserved for your virtual server alone and aren’t shared with others (much like they are with a public cloud).

Frequently asked questions about VPS

What is a VPS used for?

A VPS is used for a variety of functions, such as:

  • Hosting websites
  • Hosting game servers
  • Hosting a VPN
  • Developing a testing environment
  • Managing multiple sites
  • Forex trading
  • …and much more

VPS vs VPN – what’s the difference?

A VPS is a server used to host a particular function such as a website, gaming server and the like. But a VPN (virtual private network) will secure your online activity by encrypting data over a network. This ensures a VPS’s cybersecurity and reduces the likelihood of a cyber attack.

Do I need a VPN if I have a VPS?

If you’re browsing the internet, then it’s a good idea to have a VPN to encrypt your data and activity. However, if you’re hosting a site that allows for transactions and multiple users, then having a VPS is advised so that you can keep activity on your site(s) as secure as possible.

Do VPS cost money?

Yes, a VPS does have a monthly cost you need to pay you provider. This is so they can help with your hosting and ensure you have support when you need it. With Fasthosts, our VPS packages start from as little as £1 and are pre-configured. However, you can select other packages that can be configured yourself.

Is a VPS worth it?

So, is it worth opting for a VPS? Well, at a lower cost than other types of servers, with amazing resource scalability and high levels of security, a VPS is a great choice. Choosing a VPS package can seem a little daunting if you’re not clued up on the language of hosting providers. We try to make finding the right option easy, offering a varied range of packages with a simple breakdown of the key specs that make a difference.

Whichever you choose, our VPS hosting offers unlimited bandwidth, guaranteed availability, secure data centres and around-the-clock support from our expert support teams.

Itching to learn more about VPS? We have lots of useful articles about servers on our blog, such as How many sites can I host on my VPS?. Or you can browse our collection of VPS hosting packages. Don’t wait, contact our sales team today.