Virtual Private Servers: too good to be true?

The virtual private server or VPS is a brilliant innovation, offering excellent value in terms of cost, flexibility and performance. However, despite its exceptional strengths, it is not without weaknesses. 

Although the VPS is a self-contained system with its own allocated hardware resources, it may not perform as expected. For physical dedicated servers, you can expect maximum performance from its hardware resources. However, a VPS may not perform as expected given the allocated virtual hardware resources. There are three main reasons for an underperforming VPS.

First, even though two VPS may be identical in terms of the number of CPUs, RAM and disk size, performance can vary significantly depending on the underlying hardware on the physical host machine.

Consider a VPS that runs on a physical machine using a ten-year-old CPU technology, a much older generation of RAM and a mechanical drive. Consider another VPS with the same amount of virtual resources running on a physical machine with the latest CPU technology, newest generation of RAM and lightning-fast solid state drive (Hint hint, Our AMD Ryzen powered VPS with, DDR4 RAM and NVME SSD Storage checks all these boxes 😉 ). The second VPS will outperform the first.

To paraphrase George Orwell, all VPS can be created equal, but some will perform more equally than the others.

Second, a VPS’ performance also depends on the total number of VPS on the physical server and the total amount of virtual resources allocated. Virtualization software can allow total allocated virtual resources to exceed the host machine’s physical hardware resources.

This is ordinarily not a problem. However, if there are enough active VPS, total virtual resources required can overwhelm total physical hardware resources. Some VPS will suffer performance penalties as the physical host machine struggles to allocate each VPS its share of virtual resources. Here at Nexus Bytes, we utilize proven formulas to ensure that our physical nodes are not “oversold”.

Third, even if the number of VPS on a physical server and virtual resource allocation is well-managed, VPS performance can also suffer in another way. For example, a user is running a BitTorrent program on their VPS, massively uploading and downloading files. This stresses the physical disk on the host machine through sustained reading and writing of enormous amounts of data. Other VPS on the physical machine end up fighting with this single VPS that is hogging the physical disk’s data input/output capacity. Performance thus drops tremendously for every VPS.

While dedicated servers do not suffer from these issues, it doesn’t mean that a VPS must suffer from these problems. Find out the hardware specifications of the physical host machine to ensure maximum performance. Find out the VPS provider’s overselling policy to sense how likely they are to be cramming too many VPS onto the physical machine. Find out how the provider monitors and manages abuse of virtual resources.

A little homework goes a long way for a great VPS experience.