When it comes to purchasing web hosting, you have several different options, including shared hosting, dedicated hosting, and VPS hosting.

Regardless of how tech-savvy you are, it can be challenging to understand the differences between the various hosting packages, what you can do with different types of hosting, and what type of hosting plan you should purchase, based on your needs and budget.

This article will take a look at what a virtual private server (VPS) is, and the traditional use of a VPS as well as some of the additional cool uses of a VPS.

What is a virtual private server (VPS)?

To understand what a VPS is, it’s helpful to understand what shared and dedicated hosting are as well.

Shared hosting is when a bunch of website owners rents shared server space from a hosting company. When you opt for shared hosting, you share CPU, RAM, and hard drive space with anyone else using that server.

Shared hosting is kind of like renting a private room in an Airbnb. You need a place to stay, but renting a 16-bedroom house would be expensive and overkill. It makes more sense to have your own private room, but share appliances, utilities, and common rooms with other tenants.

Dedicated hosting is for larger companies with huge websites that need an entire dedicated server to have enough power to effectively fulfill the demands of the website. Websites that get massive amounts of daily traffic, have their own operating systems, or handle robust financial transactions daily would need a dedicated server. 

To stick with our Airbnb analogy, a 16-person family would rent out the entire house, instead of trying to fit 16-people into a small, private room.

VPS hosting is the middle ground. If you opt for VPS hosting, other websites will share your server, but there are some key differences and benefits. With a VPS, you get your own virtual container on a server with your own private operating system, storage, and unlimited bandwidth.

A VPS is kind of like renting one of sixteen cabins at a resort. All tenants reside on the same property, but you have your own private house with a private kitchen, bathroom, dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, television, etc.

What can you do with a VPS?

Now that you know what a VPS is, let’s talk about all the neat things you can do with a VPS. If any of the following sounds appealing, you may need a VPS instead of a shared hosting plan.

1. Host your high-traffic website

hostgator vps hosting plans

The most obvious use of a VPS is to host your website. If you are building a simple website with limited functionality that gets moderate traffic, it’s sufficient to purchase a shared hosting plan. 

But what if you want more privacy, enhanced security, and unmetered bandwidth? The answer is to opt for a VPS plan.

Here are some critical criteria to help you decide if you need a VPS plan:

  • You need extra security
  • You run a bigger online store
  • You expect your website traffic will surge
  • You plan on running custom software
  • You want to host other domains
  • The dedicated server option is too big for your needs, but you still need enhanced security
  • You want to try out the features of a dedicated server before committing
  • And more!

VPS hosting is a great hosting option for websites that receive lots of traffic and need the promise of quick-loading pages, but don’t want to pay the price of a dedicated hosting plan.

Let’s talk about some of the less traditional, but equally cool, VPS uses.

2. Create websites for others and host them

One of the coolest things about a VPS is you can host several other domains while ensuring you have enough RAM for each domain to load quickly.

If you are in the business of building websites for your clients, a VPS will allow you the storage, security, CPU, and RAM to host some other websites.

There’s an added bonus in that you can tell your clients they don’t have to worry about paying for a shared hosting plan themselves—you’ve got it covered. Just remember to sign up for the Snappy 8000 VPS plan, so you have enough power.

3. Create a gaming server

A VPS is a killer way to host a private server for gaming sessions for top games like Runescape, Minecraft, and World of Warcraft.

If you create a unique gaming server with a VPS, you experience the following advantages:

  • Customization capabilities
  • Host the connection of other players, instead of relying on the game publisher
  • Few limits on performance and stability
  • Less lag and dropped connections
  • Privacy
  • More cost effective than a home server
  • Access to top-of-the-line hardware and only paying a fraction of the price.

If you’re big into the gaming world, a VPS is a great way to go. Just be careful about any potential resourcing limits required by your web host. 

4. Develop and test code

If you are in the business of developing apps, then a VPS is an excellent tool. A VPS acts as a virtual working space where you can allow team members access to a central, virtual location, no matter where your team members are located. This makes remote development work possible.

Additionally, a VPS allows developers to test applications in a live setting without needing your own, expensive server. A VPS allows your team to work out bugs, and test the app before going live.

5. Encrypt your wireless connection by hosting a VPN

Some users will also use a VPS to host a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN is a tool that helps you create a secure, private connection on a public network. In other worlds, when you connect to a public wireless network without a VPN, it’s possible for hackers on the same network to intercept your connection and break into your computer.

A VPN encrypts your wireless connection, making it impossible for hackers to read your data and do any damage to your computer.

Not to mention, when you use your VPS to host a VPN, you can connect to your VPN, no matter where you are located. This allows you to bypass regional restrictions.

Bypassing regional restrictions means you can do cool stuff like access Google and Facebook when you’re a US citizen visiting China (I did this), or watch BBC shows on Netflix when you’re a British citizen visiting the US.

Get a VPS hosting plan from HostGator today!

While a VPS hosting plan is optimal for websites that need extra security, more power, and the ability to handle loads of traffic, that’s not all a VPS is good for.

With a VPS, you can do other interesting things like test and develop code, create a gaming server, host a VPN so you can work in public settings with higher security, and even start your own website building and hosting business.

To get started with a VPS hosting plan where you have complete control without the added expense, check out the VPS hosting options from HostGator today.

Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.