Virtual Servers: The most important providers at a glance

Successful websites rely on reliable hosting . Should the website shine with technical sophistication and attract many visitors, a simple shared hosting package is not enough. However, a dedicated server is often oversized, difficult to administer and expensive. Here virtual servers with active management by the hoster jump into the breach and offer a lot of performance at attractive prices. t3n shows and compares what matters.

As complicated as the name “Managed Virtual Private Server” may sound, the principle is – rolled up from behind – quickly explained: servers, more specifically web servers, provide a closed hosting environment for a specific web application. This environment is available to the user exclusively (“private”). This fundamentally differentiates offers from shared hosting, in which several customers share the performance of a computer system.

In addition, managed virtual private servers also clearly differ from dedicated servers , where the customer has explicit hardware. Instead, the servers simulate such an environment with committed resources, making them “virtual” available. Several virtual machines share the power of a particularly powerful physical server, with software providing control. Outwardly, virtual machines appear like dedicated servers, in fact they offer the best of two worlds: the simplicity of shared hosting packages and the power of dedicated servers.

Managed server from A to Z

The maintenance, that is the first word of the term, takes over in large part the hoster. This manages (“manages”) the hardware and parts of the software and thus ensures that you can focus on the essentials of the whole thing – the website.

The hosting provider does not just take over the management of the hardware, with which the customer does not come into contact. He also takes care of installing and maintaining the operating system on the virtual server. In the comparison (table at the end of the article) the customer can choose between Linux and Windows at Centron, Emsnet and Thomas Krenn. This is especially interesting for the first two, because they provide additional root access. Host Europe uses a proprietary operating system, while all other Managed Virtual Private Servers operate in comparison to Linux distributions.

But management means much more. The providers also install the necessary software for operating the web server as well as applications that the customer requires. This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff: While all of the compared hosters at least support PHP5, the MySQL databases frequently required for modern web projects are not available everywhere without limit. For example, 1blu offers only 25 such databases. Also the programming languages ​​Python and Ruby as well as Cronjobs, which automate repetitive tasks on the web server, are not included in all offers.

When asked about other supported scripting and programming languages, the hosters answered us very differently: While Host Europe can enumerate several features and Centron even offers to install in principle all functions requested by the customer after consultation, other providers could not provide information.

Pros and cons of root access

Somewhat confusing seems to be the fact that with some Managed Virtual Private Servers a root access is allowed, with others not. The fact that the hosting customer has to install and administer the operating system and software on a rented web server is actually a specific characteristic of dedicated servers, which are therefore also called “root servers”. In comparison, Centron and Emsnet are the hosts that provide root access.

Basically, this is positive, because after all, the root access allows far-reaching opportunities to make the system more individual. But by no means every user needs these possibilities. On the contrary, most users who are looking for a Managed Virtual Private Server want to have as little to do with administration as possible.

Real help comes from human hands

At the same time, administration and management do not always want to be understood the same way. “Man-managed servers” is what Thomas Krenn is talking about – but other vendors would only sell a management interface and some automatic updates as management. If in doubt, such issues should be resolved before concluding a contract. Ideally, the user instantly launches with his web application, without the need for special configurations for the core services. Updates and patches should be installed by the hoster, not the customer.

Support is not equal to management

In addition to the management of the web server, support from the hosting provider plays a major role. Ideally, a Service Level Agreement (SLA) governs the main services of the host. One such SLA is offered by Centron, Cubos, Estugo, Host Europe, internet24, netcup, sitorix and Xentos. The service agreement is available as an option from Emsnet and Thomas Krenn. Many other providers guarantee at least the availability of the server as an annual average. Mostly it is mentioned in the terms and conditions (AGB), but caution is advised. Because 99 percent availability sounds like a lot, but mean that the server may turn out to be around three and a half days a year.

The service times are equally crucial for support. Exemplary Hosters offer a free 24/7 service by phone and email, so help around the clock. For others, telephone assistance can be expensive. For example, Xentos charges € 1.99 per minute outside the limited service hours from 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday, because a 0900 number must be called.

Server monitoring and backups

Also not all vendors alike security belongs to a managed hosting package. It is increased on the one hand by a permanent monitoring, on the other hand by regular backups. While the latter is a frequent feature of the offering, proactive monitoring of key server data is a particular concern. Ideally, this includes monitoring CPU, disk space, read and write access to disk, bandwidth, and traffic.

An automatic daily data backup of the server, however, goes without saying for most providers. It is even better if the customer can control himself when he wants to back up which data. However, this option is missing in goneo, WebGo24 and Webhod. Emsnet offers user-controlled backups only after an individual customer agreement.

Data centers and connection

All compared hosters have high-security data centers that provide reliable protection of customer data from loss, theft, fire, water and other damage. The websites of the providers usually inform in detail about the infrastructure. This includes the multi-redundant backbone connection of the data centers to the Internet.

Due to this homogeneity among the providers, the connection of their server is more interesting for the individual customer. As can be seen from the table, promise 1blu, cubos, Estugo and Webhod one GBit / s, all other providers 100 Mbit / s. Although this difference is hardly or not at all when dealing with static HTML pages, but depending on the content of your own website worth a second look here.

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