Also known as a Virtual Private Server (VPS), divides server resources into virtual servers, where resources can be allocated in a way that does not directly reflect the underlying hardware. VPS will often be allocated resources based on a one server to many VPSs relationship, however virtualisation may be done for a number of reasons, including the ability to move a VPS container between servers. The users may have root access to their own virtual space. Customers are sometimes responsible for patching and maintaining the server (unmanaged server) or the VPS provider may provide server admin tasks for the customer (managed server).
The user gets his or her own Web server but is not allowed full control over it (user is denied root access for Linux/administrator access for Windows); however, they are allowed to manage their data via FTP or other remote management tools. The user is disallowed full control so that the provider can guarantee quality of service by not allowing the user to modify the server or potentially create configuration problems. The user typically does not own the server. The server is leased to the client.
Choosing is simple: select hosting that will support the script, platform, or CMS you want to use. And if you aren't sure, go for Linux hosting. For example, WordPress will run on Linux and Windows, but hosts generally recommend that you run it on Linux. However, if you want to use a Windows-specific technology like ASP.NET, you'll need a Windows host.
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We use only the latest, fastest web servers available from Dell, HP and Supermicro. Every one of our servers has at least two processors, 16GB of RAM and four hard drives with RAID protection. We place a lighter load on our machines than the other guys do, so your site has breathing room during busy periods and you can run more complex scripts. And we use CloudLinux to optimize.
It is important to remember that when you sign up with a web hosting company, you are not just purchasing a set of technologies. You are also entering into a business relationship. There are many non-tech reasons why you might choose one host over another. You need to be able to trust your hosting company. This is where customer reviews can be very useful.
Migration or transfer services are often free or offered at a reasonable fee. These services help move your existing site to the new hosting provider. They can save a huge amount of hassle. Just remember that the migration process is often automated, and may fit in with the host's processes and needs rather than yours. Not everything may migrate, and you may find the organization of the newly migrated site makes for harder maintenance in the long run.