Do you need a new server and are wondering what a new VPS can do?
The breakthrough of Virtual Private Servers (VPS) since the early 2000s has made it increasingly easy and inexpensive for anyone to get an entire data center resource to themselves.
This allows greater flexibility for application selection over shared hosting, and a lower cost of ownership than dedicated server hosting, with simpler scalability.
What is VPS Hosting?
First, for those wondering what VPS Hosting is, a VPS is a guest operating system, isolated from other guests on the same parent hardware. The parent runs a hypervisor to manage all of its VPS instances.
While many types of applications could be used on shared hosting, the selection of programs available expands on a VPS. This is because you are not locked out of any web server types or supporting applications, such as Docker, Tomcat, Go, Java, and so on, which shared hosting platforms often do not support.
Essentially, your configurability on a VPS is unrestricted!
Additionally, VPS servers are not prone to noisy neighbors or oversold shared servers, where over-users could steal your CPU cycles, RAM, or other resources. Your VPS resources are entirely dedicated to your VPS alone.
Already have a VPS, and aren’t sure what programs to try out next? Or, want to know why you might want a VPS in the first place?
Let’s explore just a few of the most common VPS uses.
8 Uses for a VPS
Here are eight things you can do with a VPS.
1. Sysadmin Education
One reason people start out with their own VPS is to learn more about the different types of software available or to simply get familiar with a new operating system or environment. VPS generally provides root-level access to the end user.
For instance, installing Linux on your personal laptop or home computer is a large undertaking, especially if you already use that machine for work. You can’t risk having downtime or issues that could restrict your workflow. A VPS would help you by having an isolated environment that you could connect to anytime and from anywhere in the world. Additionally, a VPS would give a better lesson in remote control and Internet-connected applications over a local machine that may not be on all the time.
Basic Linux courses are free and prolific, and you should not find a shortage of support for learning the command line or how to support services.
2. Coding Education
It is certainly simple to learn to code on a local machine with a text editor or an integrated development environment (IDE). However, deploying your code in a web development scenario gets easier with a VPS as it's an always-on machine. This will give better real-world experience for deploying code changes to production environments and servers.
Additionally, you could expand your collaborative coding chops by running a bug tracker, continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD), and version control system like GitLab on your VPS.
Now, we are into some practical uses! Many different games (like Terraria, Among Us, Rust, and Minecraft) give you the opportunity to run your own private servers for modded gameplay. You can also use a virtual gaming server for decreased latency, LAN or streamer parties, and guaranteed family-friendly content.
While some years ago it may not have been possible or feasible to host a game server on a VPS, the constant advancement of technology allows you to now run multiple multiplayer game servers on one server.
Also, VPS servers have a relatively small overhead to purchase and maintain for gaming (depending on the gaming requirements).
Extend the experience by adding a voice server like TeamSpeak or Mumble to your VPS so that players can chat as they play.
4. Web Hosting
Certainly, one aspect of VPS hosting we cannot ignore is serving websites. And to this end, there is no end in sight for the variety of programs you can install. If you are considering shared hosting vs VPS, shared hosting can certainly get you an Internet presence, but most providers will give you a LAMP stack, leaving your options limited.
If you want to use commerce or website management tools that do not use PHP, you will find your VPS as a good home. You will be able to add Ruby on Rails, Flask, Django, and a variety of other post-processors and application frameworks. This enhances your VPS to be able to support programs like Redmine, Wagtail, Butter, and countless others.
PHP is still an option and a great use for your VPS, though unlike a shared platform, you would be able to tune its settings to your heart’s content. This allows you to pump the most out of your eCommerce, blogging, or customer support sites. Using a VPS for WordPress or WooCommerce is an ultra-reliable and affordable way to host your site.
5. Private Email and Messaging
If you want to be sure that no one is reading your emails, encrypting them and using a private server is the way to go. Installing and securing a complete mail solution, including webmail, is no trouble for even an entry-level VPS to handle.
While we are on the subject, you can also stop routing your private messages through public servers, too. Private messaging software like ejabberd, with end-to-end encryption, keep sensitive messages away from prying eyes or large corporations.
6. Collaboration and ERP
As a writer, collaborative editing and writing, as well as file storage and sharing, is very important. While some mainstream options are good, they have certain limitations like storage, and keeping documents on someone else’s server may not suit everyone’s needs. To keep documents organized and secure, consider collaborative cloud storage solutions like Nextcloud or Owncloud.
And since we are in the neighborhood of business, enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools become easily accessible and affordable when self-hosted on your own VPS. With good backups and redundancy, complete management of material procurement, accounting, sales, and any other business aspect can be done in one packaged system using tools such as Odoo or ERPNext.
7. Project Management
It’s wonderful to have project management suites available online for team guidance on agile or scrum sprints, but licensing costs and gutted feature sets can leave you wanting more. Self-hosting a solution for your kanban board or project management suite like Redmine or Kanboard, or (at larger scales) using Jira Cloud (or GitLab as an Atlassian replacement) will be much less expensive on licensing, depending on the quantity of users you need.
8. Knowledge Storage
This can be easily covered by some of the other self-hosted options above (like document editors or GitLab), but sometimes, you just need a place to store reference materials, either for yourself or a team. A wiki can be a great solution here, and the breadth of wiki options available for self hosting is very wide.
Further, training on that knowledge can also be a critical factor for onboarding new employees. Combine your knowledge database with a training tool like Moodle on your VPS to help trainees self-start or quickly deploy new materials and procedures to your teams.
Grab Your Own VPS Today
Applications like web hosting, gaming, and private messaging merely scratch the surface of the uses of a VPS and the types of applications it can host.
Interested in learning more about how affordable a VPS can be for your business, what hosting aspects it can replace, or to what other use cases it could be applied? Check out our VPS product page, or chat with a solutions expert today!
Andrej Walilko (RHCE6) is a seasoned Linux Administrator, and he is a Migration Project Manager at Liquid Web, developing specialized processes for complex migration types. He enjoys doing woodworking, home improvement, and playing piano in his free time.
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