If managing a server on your own network doesn’t appeal to you, then a virtual private server might be the answer.
There is hardly any need to extol the benefits of having your own server. From storing and sharing your data to self-hosting useful web applications, a server is a versatile platform that can make your computing life easier. Opting for a network-attached storage (NAS) appliance that comes with pretty much everything you need and requires very little tinkering seems like a no-brainer. But running your own server on a local network is not without drawbacks. To access the server from the outside world, you need to punch a hole in your network, which leads to a whole new set of problems you have to deal with. Plus, your Internet connection may or may not be up to scratch in terms of reliability and speed.
If you are only interested in running web-based applications, shared web hosting might look like a sensible option. Most providers have plans that include a web server, PHP, and a MySQL database – all configured and ready to go. Some providers even offer easy-to-use installers for popular web applications. However, ease of use comes with serious limitations. Can you Install PHP additional libraries? No. Can you run non-PHP applications? Forget about it. Some providers don’t even offer SSH access.
A virtual private server (VPS) provides a middle ground between managing your own server and opting for shared web hosting. A VPS is a virtual Linux server system that you can manage yourself. Because you are the admin for your VPS, you have more control over it than you would with a basic web hosting arrangement. And, because the VPS is a virtual machine that shares the hardware with other VPS systems, it is much less expensive than leasing a dedicated server.
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