A VPS is a virtual private server with root access on which you can run any OS of your choice at time of purchase and setup. This means that you can run a web server, a mail server, a private proxy or anything you want on that OS too. You will have a virtual container running in a data center and you can run any applications you want on it for the most part.
What you can do with your VPS
Having a VPS is awesome, first as mentioned above you have root access, this means there are no annoyances of shared hosting and you can run anything anything that you want and make customizations to web or application configurations that you usually don’t have access to on a shared hosting environment. Generally people run the following things on a VPS and it will give you a idea of what you want to do with it.
Though a low end VPS is not a ideal place to host a blog, a lot of people have small static sites running on their VPS. You can even run WordPress though it will not be able to handle a large number of visitors unless you have really good hardware.
A Private proxy
A private encrypted proxy that only you use is incredibly useful, we have all been on crappy professional networks that block social websites. With a private proxy, you can easily bypass these restrictions as most corporate firewalls only block common well known free proxies and allow ssh protocols.
Your own development server
If you are a programmer, you can easily run your code on your VPS as you can install any Web Application Framework that you like, let it be Ruby on Rails, Apache Tomcat or Glassfish. You need not buy dedicated expensive servers for your fun weekend project.
In addition to these you can use it as a torrenting server and get over your ISP restrictions.
Quick Tips on Buying a VPS
There are actually quite a lot of providers who provide low end VPSes, however since the Operating System runs in a virtual environment, choosing a good provider is important. Here are some things you must look at before buying one.
We usually do not care about the size of RAMs as most modern system have large(>4GB) amounts of RAM as they are quite cheap, however you will find that VPS providers offer limited amounts of RAM typically ranging between 64-512 Mb. With a VPS there are two types of RAM.
- Base RAM-This is the dedicated RAM that is always available to your Operating System.
- Burst RAM-This is a shared RAM space, all the VPS in your node share this space, this RAM space is available to you assuming no one else is using it. You cannot use it for extended periods of time as it can be reduced/removed dynamically.
2. Disk Read/Write Speed (I/O Speed)
This is another important factor that determines the speed of your VPS, a slow I/O speed can cause the blog to be sluggish. Look for providers that offer SSD cached nodes, this is a big one and is especially true if you want to leverage disk based caching for your CMS installation (W3 Total Cache for WordPress for example).
Uptime is incredibly important if you run a blog, having a bad uptime percentage can pull down SEO rankings and drive away visitors. Look for web hosts that offer >99% uptime guarantee and ask about the guarantee, redundancy and failover support.
Maintenance of your VPS
Having a VPS means you need to maintain the Operating System, you have to regularly update the software that your VPS uses lest you be hacked and your VPS is used for distributing malware. Initial firewall configuration is also important, good secure passwords are always a good idea. Some hosting providers to some VPS management, BlueHost is offering a new VPS that is managed in this way that they will patch and keep the OS updated for you for example, but generally most may not.
My provider suggestion
I would suggest BuyVM to anyone who is buying a VPS for the first time. They are probably the cheapest and most reliable VPS provider on the internet from my own personal experience, I have one of their 15$/year VPS. They offer a disk space of 15 Gb, 500 GB of bandwith per month for just 15$/year, they have high end plans too. Thanks to their awesome nature, there is a huge demand for their services and whenever they announce stock, it gets sold out in a few minutes, thereby it is quite hard to get one.
A list of good hosts with reviews
LowEndBox is a website cum forum that specifically deals with VPS, all VPN providers are reviewed and they are a very helpful community. They publish guides for setting up a VPS also. Check out their wiki. They also maintain a list of top VPS providers voted upon by the community here.
So readers, in what creative ways do you use your VPS ? Tell us below in the comments section!