Until recent years, your only option for an upgrade from a shared hosting environment was to go to a dedicated server. A dedicated server is a hardware server that is leased for use by a single person or organisation, meaning that the system is allocated for your use only. You can install the operating system of your choice and configure it to suit your needs. These are generally expensive though, and consideration needs to be given when choosing the hardware specification to be sure it meets your current and potential future needs, otherwise time spent configuring the server may be wasted when growth may require a migration to a more powerful server further down the line.
Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are a method of splitting a single hardware server into multiple individual virtualised servers. The virtualisation process allows for the server to have its storage, memory and CPU resources to be partitioned up and arbitrary amounts to be allocated to individual virtual servers. This has allowed for many cost and space savings in data centres as old servers are virtualised and consolidated into single, more powerful, hardware servers.
The name Virtual Private Server indicates that although the servers share resources on a single hardware (host) server, their resources are kept separate from each other. Each virtual server acts as though it were a real hardware server with its own BIOS and visibility through to its allocation of the underlying resources on the host server. This gives Virtual Private Servers a lot of similarities to dedicated servers for the end user. As such you can install your own operating system from a wide number of options and configure it to your requirements. Also, as with a dedicated server, administrator or root access to the operating system of the Virtual Private Server is fairly standard.
The place that Virtual Private Server really wins out over a dedicated server is on price. Without the need for set resource requirements it also offers the ability to change available resources allocated to the server and all without the wait and downtime associated with physical hardware.
As such should you experience high load on your server for a period, you can increase the resources allocated for that time and then reduce them when that need ends. With VPS.net, our Power Pack option will mean that your server will automatically scale its resources with the load placed upon it up to double your regular resource allocation. This means that even unpredictable increases in demand can be catered for.