Virtual Private Servers (VPSs) are isolated server partitions on a single physical server. Although the VPSs share system hardware and operating software, these resources are divided up and allocated to each account in a manner which prevents what we call bad neighbor syndrom.
Bad neighbor syndrom is where one server account impacts other accounts on the same server due to loading or other issues. It's a lot like an apartment complex with thin walls vs. a community of homes that are close together, but have separate walls.
Standard reseller accounts use shared servers to keep the costs per account as low as possible. Support technicians monitor the shared servers in an attempt to address problems before they cause site problems, however some issues arise so quickly that the support staff must assume a reactionary role.
Shared server accounts are always dependent on the performance and good behavior of neighboring accounts. If one account violates their terms of service and sends out a mass-mailing of spam, for example, this will load the server and negatively impact the performance of all accounts on that server. If a spammer causes the server to get blacklisted with Spam organizations, this may impact other accounts that produce legitimate mailings until the server is whitelisted again. If an account on a shared server is broken into, the criminal may cause damage to the entire server, causing extended outages. Even a good neighbor, whose site suddenly gets very popular, can cause temporary performance issues.
Each VPS, on the other hand, performs and executes exactly like a stand-alone server for its users and applications as it can be rebooted independently and has its own root access, users, IP addresses, memory, processes, files, applications, system libraries and configuration files. If you have a bad VPS neighbor, they will tend to impact only their own account, as each account appears like a separate server to the Internet. They will not be able to grab your memory when you need it, get your server blacklisted, etc.
Next to a dedicated server, a VPS is the most reliable type of account. This assumes, of course, that your VPS is secured and hardened, and resides on a quality server, such as the dual-Xeon, 4 GB RAM VPS servers offered by MediaCatch.
You can get the same software and support with your VPS account as you would enjoy with the shared reseller accounts, by selecting these options when you sign up. You also have much greater flexibility in what you can install.
Perhaps the best way to think of the VPS is that it's like you just rented your own server, but it's sharing some hardware and the operating environment with other servers.
Here's a tabular view of the three account types for resellers:
Account Type, Price, Risk
Shared Server, $, Higher
VPS, $$, Medium
Dedicated Server, $$$, Lower
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