When Looking For Web Hosting the Term VPS is Often Seen
What is a VPS? It stands for Virtual Private Server. It is a computer running on the Internet, in the Cloud. A VPS is accessed over the Internet from a web browser, terminal app or other software.
A VPS is a Virtual Machine Running a Operating System in the Cloud
Modern computers are very powerful. A modern network or Internet (web) server has multi-core processors, terabytes of disk space, gigabytes of memory. They are powerful enough to pretend to be many computers at once. Think of a laptop computer running a spreadsheet in Windows. A modern Internet server can do everything the laptop is doing but on the Internet, not once but several times over. The server does this using virtualization to create a Virtual Machine (VM). The following paragraph is from the article Virtualization Software for Windows, Run Another OS for Free:
Think of a model racing car, it is not a real car but has the “virtues” (attributes) of a real car (wheels, engine, chassis, body, etc.). Similarly a VM is not a real computer but it behaves like one. Just as a model car can be made to drive with a remote controller, a VM can be run like a real PC using virtualization software.
VMs are a big part or modern computing and have many uses. They are a great way of testing systems on a local machine without impacting or damaging the machines normal operation. Virtualization software on an Internet server allows for the creation of several VMs and it is big business.
The Rise of Virtual Private Servers
Dividing up and running multiple instances of operating systems on a server makes one physical machine appear as several servers. These virtual servers are hired by hosting companies to customers (other companies, organisations and individuals). The customer chooses the operating system (OS) that they want installed on to the virtual server. The hosting company will support several different OSs, many of them Linux based. A hired virtual server appears as a separate independent machine to the customer, thus becoming a virtual private server (VPS).
The customer then installs any other software required on the VPS remotely. They can chose to manage the VPS themselves or for a fee have the hosting company manage it. The VPS sits between basic web only hosting and dedicated server hosting in terms of cost.
The use of a VPS is very popular as it allows systems and applications to be run on a distributed network, including the Internet. This is one use of the term cloud computing. Running systems in the cloud allows companies and individuals to reduce the number of physical computers they own and maintain. Companies can get rid of entire server rooms and the cost of running them.
Summary on What is a VPS and What it is Used For
VPS – Virtual Private Server, it appears as a normal server on the Internet, however it is one of several Virtual Machines running on a single physical server. The VPS is hired by a customer at a cheaper rate than hiring a whole machine. The Operating System running on the VPS is chosen by the customer (from the list of OSs the hosting company supports). The customer can add other software to the VPS to meet their required needs. The VPS is accessed remotely. For more information see the Wikipedia articles on virtualization and virtual private server.