VPS is short for virtual private server. It’s basically a virtual portion of a server that acts as a standalone computer. You share the RAM, the CPU, the drives and anything else with the other users – depending on how big a slice of a server you have. Typically, they run a linux distibution of your choice; though, they could also run Windows if you have specific needs. The slice of the server could be customizable depending on your provider. However, typically, you’d get 256 MB of RAM and up (512, 1 GB and so on) and access to CPU cores (0.5, 1, 2 etc). You’ll also find companies providing you with SSDs and unmetered bandwidth.

Now, let’s move onto why you should prefer a VPS:

1. Having full control over the server
On a VPS, you’ll have root access allowing you to do whatever (anything that the ToS allows you to do, that is) you want on the server. You can install anything or configure Apache in any way you want. You can host your own web site (WordPress, or anything else), have your own VPN server, and a TeamSpeak server.

2. Cost
A VPS is (I was also surprised) cheaper than a shared hosting. Of course, it all depends on your choice of hosting company (I used to use Hostgator and it cost me 10$ a month). The VPS I use costs 5$ a month. I can use any number of domains, subdomains and so on. The only limit is the technical limit of the VPS, which is much higher than any shared hosting. You can find even cheaper VPSs (like 2.5$ a month or 20$ a year) – it all depends on what you want to do with your server. If you only want to host one website, a server with 256 MB of RAM (usually 2-3$/mo) will be enough.

3. It’s much faster
After moving my site (along with others), setting up a VPN server, and installing some other stuff, I decided to have a stress test on my server. Even during the stress test, the server was able to respond quickly to my queries. It was still faster than my blog on the earlier shared hosting.

4. Because you can!
If you have some knowledge of linux or you are willing to learn, this is a great way to start. Not only you’ll hone your knowledge of the OS, but you’ll also learn a lot about how certain things on the web work. All you need to do is google whatever you need to do.

Why are they cheap?
VPS’s are cheap because they are self-managed. This means you’ll get no support for things you should be doing. You need help setting up LAMP (Apache, MySQL, PHP) and a WordPress on top? Well, they won’t help you with that. You’ll only get your questions answered when there is something wrong on their side. If you have no clue how to do what, this is the reason you should prefer something else.

Which VPS company to choose?
I started using Bandwagonhost after someone recommended it to me as an affordable and good company. I decided to try them (they have 30 day money-back guarantee). Then I found some better deals on the the web and decided to try another one. However, I found out that a cheap “unmetered bandwidth” is a dream that will never actually happen. The bandwidth on those sites are usually throttled, so unless you are paying what it should actually cost, you are probably getting a server with not-so-fast connection to the net.

Bandwagonhost recently switched to SSD and they mailed existing customers and asked if we wanted to switch to them – at the same price. They have a very easy to use admin area that lets you install whatever OS you want from images – in seconds. You can migrate to other datacenters (from EU to US, for instance), or you can take a snapshot (a backup) of your server at the click of a button. You can also remotely reboot or shutdown your server or use the shell on the client web area. Most of these are (except the snapshot as far as I know) are default on all providers. There are other companies like DigitalOcean which is also a highly preferred company. You can also browse Low End Box for VPS deals.

That’s all for now. Later, I’ll write about what to do (first) with your first VPS.

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