What is VPS Hosting?

What is VPS Hosting? - Hero Image

A VPS (virtual private server) is a type of web hosting package that splits a physical server into “virtual” pieces that each simulate a separate isolated server. This gives you dedicated computing resources for more control, better security, and overall faster performance.

A VPS server instance gives you elevated access to your own disk space, memory, vCPUs, and software configuration. It’s like having your own virtual dedicated server in a data center, but for a fraction of the cost. This guide will explain what is a VPS and why VPS hosting is the right option for you.

This guide will cover the following:

How Does a VPS Work?

There are different techniques for virtualization, and VPS hosting works by taking an entire dedicated server (or, cloud hosting network), partitioning off individual “nodes”, and running discrete “containers” in those nodes. This is how virtual private servers deliver more power and control, but at a much more affordable cost than dedicated hosting.

Does this mean VPS hosting is “shared”? No. With a VPS, you are not sharing resources with other users on the same server. 

You can host multiple websites on a VPS with little to no sacrifice in speed and performance. This is ideal for managing a variety of sites, or even providing your own hosting service as a reseller.

The CPU of a server can also be split into separate virtual nodes known as virtual CPU or vCPU.


A Central Processing Unit or CPU is an actual chip on a server and is the primary “brain” of a computer that executes tasks and performs calculations. A Virtual CPU or vCPU is when software is used to allocate or “share” the resources of that physical processor into different virtual machine instances.

So the more vCPU cores you have the more processing power is available to compute data within your environment to handle workloads. For example, in theory, a VPS with 4 vCPUs would perform a task using half the resources and half the amount of time a VPS with only 2vCPUs.

InMotion’s VPS servers range from 2 to 4 vCPU cores depending on the specific plan you purchase.

In Shared server environments, your website “shares” all the resources including the CPUs with all the accounts on the server.

Infographic: Where Does Your Website Live?

Do I Really Need VPS Hosting?

If you have noticed slower performance from your website, or you are maxing out your shared hosting account, then you likely do need to consider VPS level hosting solutions.

Entry-level VPS features provide an instant boost in performance and are not much more expensive than some of the better shared hosting plans on the market.

Any of the following may be a reason to switch to VPS hosting:

  • Your website load time is very slow: It’s a fact that the more content and media you add to a website, the slower it will run. This is especially true when you’ve reached your shared hosting limits. VPS hosting lets you decrease page loading times and use its dedicated resources to keep your site running at optimum performance.
  • You have a high amount of traffic: We all want our websites to become popular. With that popularity, though, comes the stress on your regular shared hosting plan. A virtual private server lets you handle higher levels of traffic, and you can upgrade your resources with just the click of a button. Sometimes you can predict those spikes and increase as needed.
  • You have a large amount of data: System backup storage and creation both require demand a lot of CPU power. Hosting on a NVMe SSD with other top-shelf hardware will only somewhat mitigate this issue. A VPS snapshot saves your entire virtual machines (VM) as a single file for quick restoration. Best of all, creation and restoration rely on your hosting providers virtualization software, not your virtual system.
  • You run an online store or other financial transactions on your site: When you process payments through your eCommerce store, you need a PCI compliance certificate. Most shared hosting plans will fail because of their higher security risks.
  • Your site contains data sensitive information: Payment processing, customer databases, custom requirements, and more contain sensitive data that you’re responsible for and should secure. Shared hosting doesn’t provide the security necessary to safeguard that information because of the shared use of an IP address. Hackers can use another site within your shared hosting group to attack your website.
  • You require custom software or application installation: Because a shared host uses multiple owners on the server, you get fewer customization options. File servers, streaming servers, game servers, radio stations, podcasts, and more require a VPS or dedicated server.
  • When you see server errors: If you often see the “Service Unavailable” or 503 error, this means that your server can’t fulfill web requests. This error is specific to the memory used in your hosting plan. If you’ve reached or exceeded that maximum, this error will be the most common to occur. To be honest, any “50X” (503, 504, 507, 508) error could mean your site has maxed out the resources allocated on your server. For every moment that your site is down, you’re losing business.
  • You are paying for overages: While InMotion Hosting doesn’t charge for going over your limits, other shared hosting companies might. VPS hosting can provide the needed power and speed so you don’t need to pay for those extras when you get more traffic than expected.

How Do I Know When It’s Time to Upgrade My Virtual Server Hosting?

If you are wondering when it is time to upgrade, you may benefit from a stress test that can provide specific benchmark data to verify if you are able to handle requests in a timely manner. This simulates a high amount of resource-intensive load on your server to see how it responds and recovers.

You can even test requests to specific items on the site such as images, pages, scripts, etc. For more information, see the following guide.

Comparing Shared Hosting and VPS Hosting

OptionShared HostingVPS Hosting
Price Range$2.49-$19.99/month$19.99-$146.99/month
Experience LevelBeginnerAdvanced
RAMSharedDedicated to Instance
CPUSharedDedicated to Instance
Root AccessNoYes
Control/Web Panel OptionsNocPanel, Control Web Panel (CWP)
Operating System OptionsNoYes
Dedicated IP AddressAdditional PurchaseIncluded
Can you Install Other Software such as: CSF, ClamAV, PostgeSQL, Brotli, Varnish, Tomcat?NoYes
Comparison Chart of Shared Hosting vs VPS Hosting

For additional details, see our full comparison on Shared Hosting vs VPS Hosting.

VPS and Cloud Hosting

VPS hosting and “cloud hosting” are often associated terms. However, not all VPS hosting is cloud-based.

Cloud hosting refers to a hosted virtual server in a cluster or an array of networked servers sharing data. With server load distributed among a vast network of computers, there is little to no downtime.

While some VPS containers are still hosted in a single bare metal server, you will find more and more distributed in the cloud. InMotion offers Cloud VPS plans that include Linux virtual server hosting with your choice of configurations and operating systems such as Ubuntu, Debian, or CentOS.

Types of VPS Hosting

Managed VPS hosting refers to a VPS that is pre-loaded with a control panel, and critical software already installed.

Most hosting companies offer additional management services on top of this hosting stack, so even non-experts can enjoy the benefits of private hosting.

Unmanaged VPS hosting is generally cheaper than managed because you get a bare minimum of hosted services with your package. You get an operating system and a text-based terminal, that’s it. For some do-it-yourself users, this is a cost-effective way to save and enjoy more freedom. But for most users, the managed approach is worth the extra costs.

To learn more, see our article on Managed VPS vs Cloud Server Hosting.

How To Manage Your VPS

The jump to VPS, however, comes with some additional responsibilities. Even a managed VPS is not totally managed. You retain control in a variety of critical areas:

  • What software do you want to add, and how often to update it.
  • Maintaining subaccounts (such as additional cPanel users), and what share of resources to grant.
  • Safety and security of root level access keys and passwords.

VPS hosts can help you setup the correct protocols, but it is up to you to perform much of the day-to-day maintenance.

Virtual Private Server Hosting FAQs

We will now go over some of the common questions many people have such as “what is VPS hosting used for?”.

Is VPS Hosting Worth It? Why VPS Hosting?

Every website will have different needs. With sufficient optimization, an average site with about 25-50 visitors at one time can run well on shared hosting. However, as your site grows to a hundred or even a thousand visitors at a time, a VPS becomes a necessary expenditure.

Is VPS Server Hosting Better Than Shared Hosting?

A VPS provides the perfect middle ground between entry-level shared hosting and the ultimate power of dedicated hosting.

What is VPS Hosting Used For?

While VPS servers are great for housing busier and larger business websites, people use them for a lot of other applications, such as:

  • Scalable cloud infrastructure for small to medium-sized businesses
    • Collaborative document editing
    • Private video teleconference hosting
    • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
    • Project management and other custom task management
  • Live streaming events
  • Load balancing and monitoring traffic between multiple other servers
  • Web application firewalling (WAF) traffic to and from another virtual server

Learn more about what you can do with Linux virtual private server hosting.

How Many Websites Can I Host On a VPS Server?

You can host virtually unlimited websites on a VPS platform. You are only limited to the disk space, RAM, and CPU capacity of your container.

If you need more bandwidth, disk space, or CPU, your container can be updated on the fly with no downtime.

How Much Is VPS Hosting?

VPS hosting is a partition of a larger server, so it’s not much more expensive than shared hosting. Now that you’re familiar with what a VPS server is, you may be wondering “What is VPS hosting going to cost me?”In general, you could expect to pay $20 to several hundred or more per month than shared hosting —depending on the VPS package you need.

Considering the instant boost in performance, VPS is easily worth the added costs. InMotion Hosting VPS plans range from $19.99 to $59.99 per month on average.

How Much Bandwidth Do You Get With a VPS?

Bandwidth and data transfer in a VPS can range from a few terabytes to unlimited. Just be sure to purchase the plan that meets your expected bandwidth usage needs. But, there’s no need to worry if you need more bandwidth in the future since you can easily upgrade your account and our System Administrators will scale a VPS up to a higher tier automatically. This means additional resources can be quickly allocated to upgrade the server as needed.

WordPress Hosting vs VPS

You will often see VPS hosting compared with WordPress hosting. What is the difference?

WordPress hosting refers to any hosting plan that has been optimized for the WordPress content management system (CMS).

These servers may be shared or private, but in both instances, you will likely see improved web server caching, PHP fine-tuning, and MySQL optimization.

If you are running a WordPress site or blog, a WordPress VPS gives you the freedom, virtual private hosting, and an optimized server stack for your website.

You now know everything there is to know about VPS hosting. If you have any questions or comments feel free to drop them below. Check out our VPS Product Guide for more helpful tutorials.

Want more performance and power from your website? InMotion Hosting's VPS Hosting plans provide hyperfast site speeds on high-performance NVMe servers.

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