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Virtual Private Server vs Dedicated Server: Which is the right choice?

Posted Friday, September 14, 2012 by

Since Weberz has both virtual private servers, VPS, and dedicated servers available, many customers are asking “which is the best choice for my needs?”. This question is usually best answered on a case by case basis after evaluating what the customer will be hosting. However, there are a few key differences between VPS hosting and dedicated server hosting that could make the decision easier. Let’s take a look at these differences and determine the best use for each type of server.

Just so that everyone is on the same page, let’s start by defining these two technologies…

What is a dedicated server?

A dedicated server, or dedicated server hosting, is when a customer is renting a physical machine from a dedicated server hosting provider like Weberz. Depending on the hosting providers plans, the customer is normally able to customize the server hardware to meet their specific needs. This is allowed since they are the only user of the hardware and it’s entirely allocated to that one customer.

What is a virtual server?

Stack of Rack Mount ServersVirtual servers are slightly more complex than dedicated servers.  A virtual server is an operating system installation that shares the physical hardware of the server with other operating system installations. This is done by using different virtualization technologies that are available for the physical server’s primary operating system. Virtual servers are often referred to by many different names including virtual private servers or VPS.

Depending on the technology used to perform the virtualization the virtual servers can also have different features such as:

  • Shared or dedicated RAM allocations
  • Shared or dedicated hard drive allocations
  • Shared system files

The virtual server hosting plans available from Weberz come with dedicated RAM allocations and dedicated hard drive space with its own operating system installation. There are no shared files. These plans are basically as close to a dedicated server as you can get without renting your own hardware.

Now that we have covered definitions, let’s look at the aspects that are the same on both virtual server and dedicated server systems:

  • Dedicated RAM Allocations
    Though you do get more RAM choices on dedicated servers (see below)
  • Dedicated Hard Drive Allocations
    Same thing, there are more choices on dedicated servers (below)
  • Root Level Access
    You get full admin access to the server installation. You can choose what software gets installed and modify configuration options/files as needed.
  • Dedicated IP Address
  • IPv6 IP Addresses
    Weberz offers IPv6 IP’s on both dedicated servers and virtual servers
  • Plesk Control Panel
    Weberz virtual server plans and dedicated server plans both have management control panels available.
  • Dedicated Firewall Configuration
    Control your own firewall configuration for your server.

So what are the differences between virtual servers and dedicated servers?  When choosing between the two services it really comes down to the following 4 categories…

1. Operating System Choices

Dedicated Server HostingDedicated servers and virtual servers both come with Linux available, so if Linux is your server operating system of choice, then you can jump to the next section.

Microsoft Windows is a different story. Windows is not currently available on virtual servers from Weberz; however, other VPS providers may offer it as a choice. Weberz has found that the Microsoft Windows Server operating system does not perform well unless it has 2GB of dedicated RAM. Given today’s VPS prices for that much RAM you might as well rent a dedicated server and get the added benefits of having your own dedicated hardware.

2. System Memory aka RAM

Both dedicated servers and virtual servers from Weberz give you dedicated RAM memory, so the RAM that you are paying for is always available for you, and nobody else, to use. The options for RAM on a virtual server are lower and limited compared to a dedicated server. As mentioned above, the dedicated server allows you to customize your hardware options so you can add as much RAM as you want. So if you need large amounts of dedicated memory for your server, then you’ll be better off with a dedicated server.

3. Hard Drive Space

Hard drive space is similar to RAM in that virtual servers have access to dedicated hard drive space; however, it’s in predetermined sizes specified in each plans. If you need a large amount of hard drive space for your server storage, then you’re once again better off with a dedicated server. Most server operators don’t need a large amount of space unless they are storing online video, archiving files, or have extremely large databases.

4. Hard Drive I/O Speed

The speed of the hard drive is normally the determining factor for the server operator. The read/write speed for files on a virtual server is slower than on a dedicated server. At Weberz this is due to using a shared storage system that connects the virtual server hard drives over the network. However, if Weberz wasn’t using a shared storage system the hard drive access speed would still be slower on virtual servers due to multiple systems trying to access the drives simultaneously.

Dedicated servers don’t have this speed problem because the hard drives are connected directly inside the physical machine and only one system is trying to access them at a time.

Normally the hard drive access speed becomes a factor when the server operator wants to perform I/O intensive activities. Tasks such as running large amounts of databases, websites, or email through the server would cause more I/O activity than a virtual server would handle well, especially if those databases were of significant size (over 1GB). The virtual machine hard drive performs best if 10 or less moderately busy sites are being hosted.

Question Mark

As far as features go, that about sums up the differences. The other primary difference between virtual servers and dedicated servers is cost. If you’re interested in viewing the Weberz Hosting virtual server plans you can click here. Anyone who wants more information regarding dedicated server hosting from Weberz can find it here.

So which technology is right for you? After reading the differences which type of server are you more likely to use? Most importantly, why are you choosing one over the other? Let us know in the comments below; we are interested in hearing from you!

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