VPN vs. VPS: What’s the difference?

Tips & tricks
7 mins
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It’s easy to confuse VPN with VPS, but they’re entirely different services. In this post, we’ll discuss the differences between a VPN and VPS, as well as the benefits of each.

What is a VPS?

A virtual private server (VPS) is a type of web-hosting service, which offers a virtual server environment to host your website or app.

Traditionally, organizations used physical servers to store data and process information requests. However, companies running only a website or two didn’t require the resources that an entire server offered. That’s where the concept of virtual private servers came about—a VPS is a part of a server that’s been separated out and dedicated to a paying customer.

How does a VPS work?

A VPS works by splitting a physical server into multiple virtual servers via a process called virtualization. Each of these virtual servers shares a portion of the physical server’s CPU, RAM, and hard disk, yet operates completely separate from one another.

Pros and cons of a VPS

Pros of VPS

VPS hosting is a great choice for anyone who requires more space and flexibility than what’s offered by a shared server, yet aren’t ready for the technical demands and extra costs of a dedicated server.

Some of the most significant advantages of VPS hosting include:

Better performance

Sharing server space with other websites can impact your own site’s performance. With a VPS, you have your very own dedicated server space separate from other users, ensuring speeds never dip unexpectedly due to the activities of others.

Cheaper than dedicated hosting

VPS hosting gives you access to a dedicated server without having to pay the extra costs associated with a physical dedicated server.

Server control

You have little control over a shared server. However, with a VPS, you can tailor the server to fit your needs. You can choose the OS, install software of your own choosing, and add additional features without the need to ask the server host.

Cloud-based solution

VPSs can give you the option of a cloud-based service. A cloud-based VPS works much the same way as a traditional VPS, albeit with a few additional advantages. One main benefit is the reduced risk of server outages.

Cons of VPS

Despite the many advantages, there are a few disadvantages to VPS hosting. Depending on your needs as a website owner, a VPS just might not be what you need.

More expensive than shared hosting

A VPS is more expensive than shared hosting. Expect higher monthly costs, especially if your demand for server space is high. That said, a VPS is still cheaper than dedicated hosting.

Technical knowledge needed

Configuring and maintaining a VPS can prove challenging if you’re new to the world of hosting and server upkeep. Hiring a dedicated IT administrator can keep the headaches at bay, but only if you can afford it.

Why you need a VPS

A VPS is a good option for you if your website is growing beyond what a shared hosting server can offer. This growth could lead to a few specific issues that a VPS to help solve, including:

You need better speed and performance

A growing website brings an increase in traffic. Shared plans are slow, so an increase in visitors could overwhelm the server. This results in people having a negative impression of your site, increasing the likelihood they won’t return. Opting for a VPS ensures your site can handle the fruits of your success. You can easily scale things up as more people flock to your site.

You need something more customizable

Shared servers limit your control and customization options. For example, you can’t even choose which operating system to use. If you want control over your server, a VPS gives you the customization you need.

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a different type of service. To start, it has nothing to do with web hosting. VPN providers (like ExpressVPN) replace your IP address with a shared one, which makes it harder for snoops or companies to identify you as you browse the internet. A VPN also gives you a secure, encrypted connection to the internet, preventing anyone from intercepting your online traffic.

A VPN also lets you use an IP address from different parts of the world. This helps if you’re in a country where there’s censorship, or if certain websites show you different content based on your location. VPNs unlock the free and open web, while keeping you safe in the process.

How does a VPN work?

To use VPN, download a VPN app onto your device. Once you’ve opened it up and picked your server location, the VPN app creates a secure connection with a VPN server in that location. While your internet traffic still passes through your internet service provider, they (or anyone else for that matter) are unable to read it or know its final destination thanks to the encrypted connection.

The benefits of a VPN

Change your location

A VPN replaces your IP address, the unique number that identifies you and your location in the world. This new IP address allows you to browse the internet as if you were in another country. Switching to a Japanese server, for example, means you can access Japanese sites as if you were physically located in Japan.

Unblocks websites

Some parts of the world restrict access to sites and apps you take for granted like Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, and more. A VPN lets you regain access to the free internet.

Protects your privacy

Changing your IP address with a VPN shields your identity from apps and websites trying to track you. High quality VPNs with strong encryption (such as ExpressVPN) also prevent your internet service provider, mobile carrier, and anyone else trying to snoop on you from seeing what you’re doing online.

Increases your security

If you’re a frequent traveler or remote worker, you’ll often be using free public Wi-Fi in coffee shops and hotels. These unsecure networks are very untrustworthy and vulnerable to hackers. Using a VPN encrypts your traffic so you can safely browse online, no matter where you are or what network you’re connected to.

Protects against ISP throttling

Have you noticed Netflix videos taking longer to load and buffer? Your ISP might be throttling your bandwidth. There are several reasons they do this, including reducing your data use or balancing network speeds during times of peak demand. VPNs prevent this by stopping ISPs from inspecting your data.

Why you need a VPN

If you’re a fan of a free and open internet as well as protecting your privacy and data, a VPN is just what you need. Turning on your VPN every time you go online gives you an extra layer of protection and reassurance. It runs quietly in the background and won’t impact your internet speeds—in fact, it might even boost them.

Here are some of the most prominent reasons why you will need a VPN:

To enhance your online anonymity

A VPN assigns you a new IP address in your country you’ve chosen to connect to. This becomes your publicly-facing IP address, while your true IP address is hidden from view.

To avoid censorship

If you live in or are traveling to a country that restricts or outright blocks websites and services like Google, Facebook, and more, you’ll need a VPN to access this content.

To secure your data online

Good VPNs to ensure your connection is secure and safe. Any time you share something over the internet while using a VPN, your data is kept safe and secure.

To protect yourself when accessing unsecured Wi-Fi

If you’re a frequent traveler, there’s a good chance you’ll be connecting to public Wi-Fi in your hotel or at the airport. These networks are unsecure. Anyone could be looking in on what you’re doing online. A VPN helps keep your connection private and data safe while using these public networks.

What’s the difference between a VPN and VPS?

A VPN and a VPS are completely different services, with vastly different functions and purposes. A VPN sends your traffic through an encrypted tunnel, helping you browse online privately and securely. On the other hand, a VPS is a hosting service that allows organizations to host websites on a digital server.

Since it’s just virtual hosting, VPS offers no additional security compared with traditional servers. A VPN, on the other hand, encrypts your connection and conceals your physical location. They also give you the ability to change the apparent location of your traffic.

VPN vs VPS: which one is right for me?

They’re actually not competing choices. Depending on your needs, you may be using either, both, or none. If you’re an individual user who just wants to browse the internet safely, you will only need VPN. If you’re hosting a website or cloud services, then you will be using VPS. If you want to host content while connecting with an extra layer of security, then you will likely be connecting to your VPS via a VPN.

Read more: 14 top tips to protect your online privacy


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