VPS stands for “virtual private server.” It is a virtual machine or container, meaning that you do not control a physical, dedicated server. This is accomplished with type 1 or 2 hypervisor software (e.g. Virtuozzo or VirtualBox respectively) which divide a physical server into dozens, or even hundreds, of virtual servers. Each virtual server can run its own OS and is allotted a certain portion of the physical server’s memory and storage resources. You have most of the same features of a dedicated server, excluding the ability to modify the kernel. Each VPS hosts its own files, databases, and settings.
Infographic: Where Does Your Website Live?
If you’re having trouble envisioning how it works, think of townhouses. There is one overall physical structure which is broken down into separate units. While the residents technically inhabit and manage their own areas, none of them have access to anyone else’s personal belongings or living space. With townhouses, there are things that have to be shared such as parking space. The same goes for a VPS. Your data is yours to configure, but some resources are shared with others or restricted to accommodate others within the physical server.
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