Physical Servers vs Virtual Server: Choosing the Right One for Your Business
There are different options when it comes to choosing a hosting solution for your enterprise.
Each hosting service brings different advantages to the table and choosing the wrong one may affect your business goals.
Two of the most popular hosting solutions to consider are physical servers (also called dedicated servers) and virtual servers. Deciding on the right one heavily depends on the hosting features your business needs.
In this blog, learn about physical servers and virtual servers, how each works, their pros and cons, and which businesses they are best suited for.
What Is a Physical Server
When you opt for physical server hosting, an entire server and all its resources (RAM, CPU cores, GPUs, networks, storage disks, and so on) are allocated only to you. It’s ‘dedicated’ to your business and not shared by any other tenants or users.
Your hosting provider houses your dedicated server in one of its data centers, and you get remote access to it as the sole owner. You can use it to host websites and applications and store your business’s online assets.
What Is a Virtual Server
A virtual private server is an emulation of a physical server. It is not a tangible, physical machine but a virtual machine created on a physical server.
It’s created through hypervisor, a piece of software called a installed on a physical server. The hypervisor allows admins to build and launch virtual machines on top of physical machines.
The virtual instances share the computing resources of the underlying physical server, such as RAM, cores, storage disks, and so on.
One physical server can host multiple virtual servers, and since the physical resources are being shared by these virtual machines, this type of hosting is also a type of shared hosting.
Each virtual server, although hosted on the same physical machine, is independent of other virtual servers. A person accessing a virtual server will perceive the same experience as they do when they access a physical server.
Dedicated Physical Servers vs Virtual Servers: 5 Differences to Consider
Having understood how each type of hosting works, let’s compare the major differences between physical and virtual servers.
Well, both physical and virtual servers deliver optimal performance. Both can be configured to have the exact same specifications.
Since a virtual server shares a single physical server with other virtual servers, there could be resource choking or temporary dips in performance.
With a dedicated server, resources are allocated only to your business, so the performance is consistently excellent.
When it comes to performance, a dedicated server is the better choice.
Since virtual servers are only digital emulations, they can be created, destroyed, and, most importantly, modified. Resources allocated to your virtual server can be changed at any time.
This allows businesses to start with just the right number of resources and scale up when needed, making virtual servers a more cost-efficient and scalable option.
With a physical server, increasing resources requires the actual addition of physical components. Hence, businesses tend to start out with more than what is needed, resulting in costlier hosting.
Another costing factor to consider is the setup. Unlike a virtual server that uses a hypervisor, a physical server must be manually set up, which is an additional cost to your business.
When it comes to pricing, a virtual server is the better choice.
As we mentioned in the previous segment, virtual servers are highly flexible. Resources can be added and removed with just a few mouse clicks. With a physical server, on the other hand, upgrading resources requires the actual addition of physical components.
This means virtual servers are easier and faster to scale. As your website and applications grow in traffic, you can easily add more server resources to keep up with your business’s demands.
When it comes to scalability, a virtual server is the better choice.
4. Business continuity
In case of a disaster such as natural calamities, virtual servers do not face any harm. They can easily be migrated from one physical host to another.
Physical servers, on the other hand, are susceptible to damage and harm that can lead to untoward downtime.
In such cases, it’s much easier and faster to migrate a virtual server and turn it back on than it is to failover between physical servers. Although this is also possible with physical servers as part of every hosting vendor’s disaster recovery plan, it usually takes longer and requires more effort.
When it comes to business continuity, a virtual server is the better choice as it offers better uptime.
When it comes to security, both hosting types have their pros and cons.
A physical server gives you more control as you’re its sole owner. This allows you to install strong security measures. The downside is that you are responsible for protecting the server from cyberattacks.
With a virtual server, you’re responsible for the virtual server, but the vendor safeguards the underlying physical server. While this guarantees security, it also limits your control.
Ultimately, every hosting provider does its best to ensure maximum security, so both virtual and physical hosting get top marks for security.
Should You Go for Physical Servers or Virtual Servers
Well, there’s no clear-cut, black-and-white answer. The comparison above shows that both types of hosting have their benefits and downsides.
A dedicated physical server is much costlier than a virtual server, but it gives you more freedom, power, and performance.
With this, dedicated servers are the ideal choice for larger enterprises that want to host multiple applications or websites, need an entire server to themselves, and require uninterrupted performance.
Virtual servers are a better fit for medium and small-sized companies looking to host one or a few applications and scale up later. They offer great performance and cost less than physical servers, so they are a good option for businesses looking to start small and grow in time.