If you’re setting up an online project – personal or professional – it’s worth looking into your web hosting options. There are a lot of choices out there, but when you’re trying to balance budget and benefits, one of the best choices on the market is a VPS.

We’re not going to cover what a VPS is – we’ve done that already – and the question we’re here to answer is: what exactly can you do with a VPS? We’re here to cover everything you need to know about what to do with a VPS, the apps you can install, and much more.

Why choose a VPS?

There are many different types of servers out there, and a VPS falls somewhere between basic shared hosting and beefy dedicated servers – it’s a great middle ground.

Being scalable in nature, virtual private servers offer a solution for the various stages of a project – as your project grows, your server can too. Choosing a VPS means that you can increase your storage, up your RAM, and get more CPU cores.

You’d also choose a VPS if you need to self-host your project on a platform that offers better performance than shared hosting, without the bigger price tag that dedicated servers come with. If you don’t need something as beefy as a dedicated server and scalability sounds perfect, then a VPS could be the option for you.

Need to know a little more? Our previous article on reasons to consider a virtual private server will cover everything.

What to do with a VPS?

Now you know why you should choose a VPS, the big question is, what can you do with it? Thanks to power and flexibility, a VPS is ideal for loads of different project types, and because of the way they’re hosted, they’re affordable too.

Let’s take a look at seven things you can do with a VPS:

1. Hosting

One of the most common uses for a virtual private server is hosting, as they’re highly flexible, and can do almost anything other servers can. This could mean hosting a static site, a game server, or even your very own cloud using Nextcloud on VPS. This is a great option for businesses looking to host their own mail servers or file storage. Nextcloud is easily integrated with popular tools, such as SharePoint, and it comes with full access control for security and easy collaboration.

A virtual private server is also great for easily managing databases and mailboxes. You get resources that are dedicated to you and full root access, so you can install what you need for your project.

It’s simple to install database management systems like MySQL and MariaDB on your server. Plus, hosting your own mailboxes on your VPS gives you complete control and added privacy – something that is crucial when it comes to your business communications.

2. Host high-traffic websites

We’ve already discussed general hosting above, but a standard small business site that only gets moderate traffic can probably run sufficiently on a shared web hosting platform. When a website gets larger in size and sees an increase in visitors, you might need to consider hosting it on a server.

Ecommerce sites in particular have large numbers of pages, lots of images to store and load, and they get hefty traffic spikes during seasonal periods. With a scalable VPS, you get beefier performance, the flexibility of different PHP versions, and the ability to use your own choice of technologies. And with unlimited bandwidth and flexible resources, you can handle high traffic whatever the season.

Unsure whether you’d benefit? Here are a few criteria to think about:

  • Your site requires additional security
  • You own or run a big online store
  • You’re anticipating a surge in web traffic
  • You plan on using custom software
  • You need to host additional domains
  • You’ve found that a dedicated server is too big, but you still want the benefits of enhanced security
  • You’re keen to opt for a dedicated server, but want to try out some of its features before signing on the dotted line

Want quick-loading pages and the ability to handle high levels of traffic, but don’t want to fork out for a dedicated server? A VPS could be right up your alley.

3. Host your own gaming server

Are you a keen gamer wondering what games you could host on a VPS? Do you enjoy playing games like Minecraft, Counter-Strike, World of Warcraft, League of Legends – or any other massive multiplayer online games? With a virtual private server, you can host your own games in a space that’s all yours. You can control all the settings, upload your own mods, implement your own rules, and invite your friends to join.

Gaming servers are usually hosted on their own dedicated servers, but the cost implications are a barrier to many gamers. Using a VPS for gaming is cost-effective and you’ll experience less lag and dropped connections. The best bit is that it’s your server. There’s nothing more annoying than when you’re trying to enjoy a game with friends and the online server you’re in is full of other players who are just griefing. With a VPS you can move your party to a private space and have fun without any disruptions.

Creating a unique gaming server with a VPS also gives you a bunch of other benefits, such as:

  • More customisation options
  • Increased privacy
  • Less lag
  • Fewer dropped connections
  • It’s more cost-effective than a home server
  • Other players are hosted on your own connection rather than the publisher’s

If you’re big into gaming, then a VPS could be the right way for you to go. Just make sure you’re aware of any potential limits in place by your host, and that your package covers the requirements of your games.

4. Hosting a VPN

A VPN (virtual private network) allows you to keep company, client and personal data safe from hackers, as well as securing your online payment details by creating an encrypted tunnel between your computer and a remote server. This tunnel routes all traffic through it, masking your IP and location for encrypted, anonymous browsing – great if you’re concerned about privacy and security. For additional peace of mind, many people choose to set up their own VPN, rather than relying on another provider – free or otherwise.

Installing a VPN on your VPS (still with us on the acronyms?) can ensure that your browsing data is safe and secured. Ever connected to a public WiFi network? It’s in these moments where your information is at risk, so a VPN could be critical to your business. Other common uses for VPNs include accessing geo-blocked content, such as Netflix in other countries.

5. Develop and test in your own space

Whether you develop apps as a business or you’re looking to get started as a hobby, then a virtual private server would be a great addition to your toolkit. You can use your VPS to simulate testing environments for your apps – develop code, test it and fix bugs before anything goes live. Plus, multiple team members can access code in a central virtual location no matter where you’re located, which is a must-do if you’re scattered all over the place but working on the same projects.

6. Set up a VoIP

Another cool aspect of a VPS is that it allows you to host your very own VoIP server. That stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, before you ask. Basically, it allows you to make phone calls over the internet, so you can speak to people whilst gaming, or just call people regardless of your location. Perhaps one for the more experienced, but there is the added bonus of lower calling fees, as VoIP calls are made through the internet as opposed to a network or phone line. Plus, accessing your VoIP through the internet is a benefit in itself, as you won’t have to rely on being tied to say a landline and can connect from anywhere in the world.

7. Managing multiple clients’ websites

The great thing about virtual private servers is that you can host multiple domains whilst knowing you have enough RAM and CPU to keep each site performing at its best. This is particularly useful if you’re in the business of building and hosting websites for clients.

There’s also the bonus of being able to tell your clients that they don’t need to sort out shared hosting themselves – you’ve already sorted that for them – taking yet another task off their plate. Your only concern should be having enough resources and power to handle their sites on top of your own.

8. Forex trading

Virtual private servers are increasingly powering the operations of forex traders. Their mix of power, flexibility, and low cost make them an attractive choice for margin-focused traders. If you're looking to host your forex trading applications remotely, there are few better options than a Forex VPS.

Another advantage that makes VPS so appealing to foreign exchange traders is how quick and easy it is to scale them up or down. So if market conditions change, you'll be able to allocate the right amount of resources you need to keep yourself in the game 24/7, without spending unnecessary time or money.

Learn more: How to use a VPS for forex trading

If a virtual private server sounds like something that you could use for your project, the next step is to find the right one for your needs. You’ll want to get started with a high-quality host that gives you the flexibility and performance you need. Find out more about our Virtual Private Servers, and don’t forget to check out our all new Acronis Cyber Protect product – use it with your VPS to keep everything safe should anything happen.

Now that you know what to do with a VPS – we can bet you want one of your own!