What is a Virtual Server?

A virtual private server (VPS) is when multiple virtual servers reside on the same underlying physical hardware. The virtual servers’ resource requirements – such as the operating system, memory and storage – are defined by the user, and created using a shared virtualising software tool called a hypervisor.


What is the difference between a physical Bare Metal server and a virtual server?

Hypervisors are responsible for making servers more efficient by enabling a physical server to share its resources across several virtual servers – all on the same machine. The hypervisor limits the resources made available to each of the virtual servers running on the shared hardware.

For example, if a Bare Metal dedicated server has 128GB memory, a hypervisor can configure one or more virtual private servers to share those resources. A hypervisor can be used to create various virtual servers and allocate resources. With a cheap dedicated server, you can host one or more virtual private servers, each with different configurations – there is no standard configuration and virtual private servers are usually created with a specific use case in mind.

Why is it called a virtual private server?

It’s called a virtual private server since users accessing a virtual server have the same experience of using a traditional Bare Metal server. The main difference is that the hypervisor extends and maximises the use of the hardware components and the server’s resources.

What is a virtual machine?

Virtual machines are similar in concept to virtual servers – but in this case a hypervisor is used to provide the functionality of a desktop computer instead of a server on shared hardware. The hypervisor allocates resources to the virtual machine, such as memory and storage, and allows different virtual machines to operate on shared hardware, such as a cheap dedicated server, even when running different operating systems. Virtual machines and virtual servers are extremely popular because they are flexible and cost effective. They enable hardware resources to be used more efficiently and by different users, each with their own customised configurations.

History of virtual private servers

Virtualisation technology was invented in the 1970s by IBM, which invested a lot of effort to create a tool that would allow different users to time-share the resources of a single computer. Over the next three decades, the power of processors doubled around every 18 months, and by the mid 2000s, the internet was growing fast, and most businesses became heavily invested in computer technology.

It was at this time that virtualisation technology had matured to a level where hypervisors were able to reliably create virtual servers and virtual machines, enabling hardware to be shared and used more efficiently.

Before hypervisors, it was common for different applications to be running on their own Bare Metal server. This method is not efficient because on average, servers operate at about 15% capacity. By creating four virtual servers on a single physical server and sharing the resources, that server would be running at about 60% capacity at the cost of just one cheap dedicated server.

Bare Metal dedicated server vs virtual private server: Which is best for your business?

When deciding whether your business needs a Bare Metal dedicated server or a virtual private server, there are several factors to consider, including performance requirements, control, security, and speed of provisioning.

VPS speed of provisioning

A Bare Metal dedicated server generally takes longer to provision than a VPS. Dedicated server hardware can be customised and used exclusively by one customer, and unless the datacentre provider has hardware available, it can take time for the components to be ordered and set up. Virtual private servers are far more flexible and can be provisioned in seconds. As a VPS runs on shared hardware and is limited by the hypervisor, it can be customised but to a lesser degree than a dedicated server.

To provision a virtual private server, the datacentre provider simply needs to use the hypervisor to create a server with the resource options chosen by the customer. Then it’s ready to go.

Cost efficiency

Virtual private servers run on shared hardware and the operating costs are split between the virtual server customers, which makes virtual servers far more cost effective. If your business needs a server very quickly and has a tight budget, then a virtual private server might be a good option to consider. However, if your business wants complete control over the server, wants to create a private network, or add granular customisations to run specific applications, you will likely need a Bare Metal dedicated server.


Virtual private servers are used for a wide variety of workloads and can provide a high level of performance. But by sharing hardware resources controlled by a hypervisor, their performance cannot match that of a dedicated server.

A virtual private server could be ideal for hosting a website, even if it receives high volumes of traffic. However, the virtual server might start to struggle if the website handles large media files, experiences large traffic spikes, or runs a busy database. In these cases, a cheap dedicated server might be more suitable.

At OVHcloud, our VPS servers are powered by Intel next-generation architecture, NVMe SSD storage, all built on a highly resilient infrastructure. We have created a dedicated environment that provides maximum performance for hosting websites or business applications. Using the OVHcloud control panel, customers have complete control over their server, and can choose from a wide range of Windows- or Linux-based operating systems.

Bare-metal servers for high performance workloads

Virtual private server use cases

Virtual private servers are extremely flexible and can be used for a wide and diverse variety of use cases.
Web hosting: one of the most popular use cases for virtual servers is hosting a website. A VPS can be configured to deliver content, run applications, and provide secure and reliable connections. Whether it’s an individual’s blog or an e-commerce shop, the choice of VPS configurations is unlimited. If simple and fast provisioning is what you need, a VPS is right for you.

At OVHcloud, our Virtual Private Server offerings can be partitioned to host several websites or applications by simply allocating a private space to each one. It’s easy to control this yourself using a hosting control panel such as Plesk or cPanel.

Backup: virtual servers are excellent for the back-up and cloning of the essential servers or desktop computers you use in your business. This is ideal should a mission critical server or desktop be damaged or stolen.

Sandbox testing environment: if your business is testing new features or developing updates to its digital products, a VPS can be used as a testing, or sandbox environment. A sandbox is an isolated environment where new products and solutions can be tested without fear of affecting the production environment or impacting sensitive customer data.

By provisioning a virtual private server, the new application, feature, fix or update can be safely tested by engineers. A VPS provides the flexibility and efficiency of quickly provisioning a suitable environment, conducting the testing,  and then shutting the virtual server down after the test is complete.

A VPS can provide the most cost-effective way of implementing a testing environment

Running incompatible/older versions of software: if your business relies on an application that requires a non-standard or older version of an operating system, a cost-effective solution is to create a virtual server. This allows the non-standard software to be accessible by those that require it without the expense and complexity of maintaining a physical server.

Email server: for enhanced security and full control over your email, use a virtual server to keep sensitive messages safe with end-to-end encryption.

Backup and control

OVHcloud’s VPS solutions can be used to secure your data. Our customers can use the Snapshot option to create an exact copy of their VPS using the OVHcloud control panel. The OVHcloud control panel allows VPS customers to control their server in the same manner as they would a Bare Metal dedicated server.

OVHcloud’s VPS range combines reliability with the high performance of a dedicated server — but without the difficulty of managing a server's physical hardware. OVHcloud VPS plans are customisable. You don't have to worry about complicated features that you’ll never use and only pay for what you need. All in all, OVHcloud’s VPS products offer a flexible, cost effective, and powerful tool to help you do business better.

backup storage OVHcloud

OVHcloud and virtual private servers

OVHcloud’s Virtual Private Servers offer reliable performance at very competitive prices and are available in five different options, depending on your requirements. From our ‘Starter’ VPS options designed for small blogs and web hosting all the way up to ‘Elite’ VPS products that can be used for online game hosting.

With Bare Metal Cloud from OVHcloud, customers don’t have to choose between performance or cost. Our offerings have been designed to deliver our high-performance Virtual Private Servers with a dedicated environment, powerful processors, a wide variety of storage options and up to 2 Gbps of unmetered bandwidth.