When looking for a server to host your gaming group on, you’ll run into a couple different server types. The older peer-to-peer sharing gameplay is largely obsolete, but virtual private servers (VPS) and dedicated servers are still widely used to host multiplayer gaming experiences. To make it easier to distinguish, and choose between these two common server types, here’s a quick rundown of their individual capabilities and shortcomings.
VPS Pros and Cons
A virtual private server is basically what it says, it allows you to control a virtual machine on a serve that might also host other virtual environments. This means that your CPU is shared with other machines, and that your RAM and storage space allotment will depend on what the hosting company allows you. VPS hosting is therefore also more flexible than dedicated hosting because you can upsize and downsize services according to your needs, so you don’t pay for server space and processing power that you aren’t using. The virtual nature of VPS hosting also translates to fast, easy migration to other servers if needed. On the software side, upgrades are usually instant and don’t need reboots to take effect, and software is easily customizable with full administrative or root access. VPS hosting is often seen as a middle-road option between shared hosting and dedicated hosting.
Dedicated Pros and Cons
Dedicated hosting is so named because you would be renting an entire physical server, with access to all the attendant resources. Because you aren’t sharing storage and processing power with other customers, you have more resources at your disposal, and you don’t need to share them with other customers. Software and hardware can both be customized, but there is less flexibility in regards to upsizing and downsizing. Dedicated servers are often more expensive to rent as well. Thanks to the increase in resources, dedicated servers will offer faster load times, smoother performance during times of high traffic, and the ability to add more server and storage space without affecting current servers or crashing your systems. Additionally, dedicated servers have the room for installation of different operating systems, and other pieces of software.
Thanks to the scale of dedicated servers, you have a variety of hosting options. Fully managed hosting means that your hosting provider will take care of all your software installations and security upgrades for you. Semi-managed hosting offers medium level management services which are to be discussed and agreed upon by both you and your provider, but will also require you to have someone with technical support know-how to help take care of things on your end. If you take the managed hosting option, you’ll still get your server, but you won’t have complete control over it. Data and user access will be in your domain, but your host provider will have control over server modifications. If you’ve got some technical superstars in your group, you can opt for self-managed hosting, in which your provider offers reduced customer support, usually at a lower cost. And with unmanaged hosting, you’re pretty much on your own.
Objectively speaking, there’s not much of a difference between VPS and dedicated servers aside from the amount of control and resources that you’re afforded, so make your decision after looking at what your needs are. If you’ve got a game that requires some major resources to operate, go for a dedicated server to ensure smooth gameplay. If you have limited budget, or if you only need a server for a game or two, then VPS is your most cost-efficient option.