It is no longer news that the use of a virtual private server is one of the critical things needed in this age and time of technology, seeing that not everyone has the finance or resources to build an on-premise server to talk of maintaining it all year round. So, having a VPS is of great importance to both small scale businesses and large-scale businesses. This is because the client/user need not have to worry about how the server is being run or maintained; neither does the client have to worry about the cloud's security. All the client is responsible for is the security in the cloud and focusing on their businesses.
The virtual private server does not just work on its own; it works with a type of software called virtualization software, which we'll talk about subsequently. Connecting to a virtual private server has been made easier by the day by teams of programmers. So, within five minutes, one can have a VPS up and running.
What Is A VPS?
Before we dive into what a virtual private server is, we would start by defining what a Virtual Private Server means using the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
According to Merriam Webster dictionary, virtual, as the name implies, means "being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted or being on or simulated on a computer or computer network."
Private means refer to something intended or restricted for a specific person, class, or group. It also refers to something which belongs to or concerns a person or a group's interest.
Server refers to a computer connected to a network that is used for providing services, e.g., shared peripherals or access to files or e-mail routing to other computers which are in the same network.
A VPS, or virtual private server, is a form of server that is not physically in existence. Still, it is made to be seemingly existing by software, which belongs to an individual or a group of individuals that are used to provide services to other clients in the network.
It is a form of multiple occupancy environment where virtualized server resources are offered to the client or end-user over the internet via the hosting provider. The virtual private server is only simulated through a computer network; that is, there is no direct interaction or person to the Virtual Private server interaction. The only business that occurs is over a network kind of interaction. Simply put, a virtual private server is a mimic server running within a server.
It is considered a bridge or an intermediate between two other hosting services: shared hosting and dedicated hosting. This also means that a virtual private server has the features and characteristics of shared hosting and dedicated hosting. Shortly, we would learn a little about what shared hosting and dedicated hosting are.
What Is Shared And Dedicated Hosting?
Shared hosting has been identified as one of the most popular hosting services for individuals or start-up businesses who just started building their very first website. Shared hosting is the hosting service that allows different(multiple) users to operate using a single server. The users have no idea about who or what website they are sharing the resources with; they usually have an individual limit on the total amount of the server's resources, depending on the hosting package they are using.
While dedicated hosting is used to describe a hosting package that offers a dedicated server alongside dedicated resources to a single client, that means, within that server, it is just one client that is utilizing the entire server. Website owners use dedicated servers for Word press websites with a vast number of visitors that are coming in every second.
Having learned about what shared and dedicated hosting is, let's continue with what a virtual private server is.
A virtual private server is analytically divided into different siloed spaces, existing and running simultaneously without any mix-up or interfering with each other. The dividing of siloed areas is achieved through virtualization software. Let's quickly learn what virtualization software is.
Virtualization is a highly used tech term that involves creating a virtual version of something in a layer abstracted from the actual form, in this case, computer hardware, storage devices, computer network resources, operating system, etc. We can also say that virtualization is using or running multiple operating systems on one computer at the same time.
Virtualization is the foundation that cloud computing is built around. In cloud computing, virtualization allows the features of a single computer such as processors, random access memory (RAM), and more to be into different virtual computers, which are also called virtual machines (VM). The application or software that would be running would appear as though it is running on its own.
We can say that virtualization allows full utilization of a computer in the sense that an individual can have just one computer with 2gig RAM and a low processor. Still, the individual needs a laptop with 16gig RAM and a processor of about 4.5GHz, to get a task done. Through the use of virtualization software, the individual can get the above features within minutes and get the desired job done.
Types Of Virtualization
As stated above, virtualization can be used for different purposes, but those purposes have been grouped into five different categories:
- Storage virtualization: This involves different storage device appearing as though they are a single storage unit.
- Network virtualization: This is when a network is abstracted from its hardware layer to run independently.
- Server virtualization: This is when a physical server is divided into sub virtual servers.
- Operating system virtualization: This involves different operating systems contained within a server.
- Application virtualization: This is when an application is installed in a server and can be accessed as though it is installed in the primary device.
How To Connect To VPS
With everything that has been stated previously, it is evident that a virtual private server needs a parent or physical server located in a remote area to work.
For Windows users, if you already have a virtual private server running and want to connect to it. Note that you can connect via different means such as clicking through Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) and can also connect using 2X Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client; follow the following instructions below:
If you want to use Remote Desktop Connection (RDC);
- Click on your start menu in your windows.
- Click the search bar and type remote desktop, then click the computer icon with remote desktop connect spelled above it.
- Type the internet protocol (IP) address of your virtual private server.
- A new window will display, then you can now type your username and password. You will be signed in successfully.
You will find a remote desktop is opened.
If you want to use the 2X RDP client;
- If you don’t have the application installed, you would have to download it. If you do, open it and navigate through file > New connection. Then choose the standard RDP option.
- Type the public IP address of your remote server in the primary connection field.
- Type 3389 in the port section. 3389 is a number that is used for windows remote desktop and remote assistance connection.
- Then enter the username and password of your VPS correctly.
- Click OK to connect.
However, RDC is a more popular option. PUTTY can also be used for windows.
For Linux or Mac users, using a secure shell (SSH) is a powerful tool that allows users to gain direct access to the Linux server's command line. SSH allows the user to carry out Linux commands to control his or her VPS.
Follow the instructions below;
- Open your mac or Linux terminal.
- Type ssh in your command prompt, then press your space key and type your username and server address connected by the "@" symbol; for example, ssh email@example.com.
- Then click the enter key. This will prompt you for your private password.
- Type the password and click enter
You would see a command prompt similar to this tech@www.(name of your server).com:~$
We have learned how to connect and access a virtual private server from different operating systems. Now we would talk about how to configure a VPS.
Configuring And Connecting A VPS
Having signed up for a VPS plan, your service provider or host will set up all the essential software you will need, such as Apache or Ngnix, and the features you want to make use of; the rest of the set up will be up to you. You will be given access to your server control panel, where you have all the options made available to configure your account.
The user usually interacts with the virtual private server via a command-line interface (CLI) instead of the graphical user interface (GUI). Using a CLI is not tricky; with some googling for the right commands to use per task, the user will eventually get used to it.
Since we have learned how the user can connect to the VPS from any computer, let us talk about setting up a firewall, which is the most important thing.
Iptables program is a one-time setup process that can be used to build a firewall and set strict rules that restrict to and from the movement of traffics from your server and other servers. With the iptables program, the user will also be able to determine which port enables traffic access to your server, which in turn stops a lot of malicious attacks.
Another most crucial configuration is public-key authentication. It is an authentication technique that is more secure than our regular password. It involves generating a set of public and private keys. What your server does is that it stores the public key and uses it to authenticate the private one, which only the user can access. The private key is stored in the form of a file on the computer system. Once the authentication has been set up, the user will need both the private key and a passphrase to log in, increasing the server's security.
For windows users, the PUTTYgen app can be installed for public-key authentication. In contrast, for Linux/Unix users, you can set up the public key authentication directly from your terminal with some simple commands which can be googled. The user will start by generating the key then copying the public access to the remote server.
How do I access my VPS server?
If you are a windows user, you can access your server using a remote desktop program (RDP) or 2x RDP client, and you can also use PUTTY. While if you are a Linux user, you can access your VPS server directly from your terminal.
Can I connect via SSH or PUTTY?
Yes, as stated above, you can connect using SSH or PUTTY by downloading PUTTY online. For newbies, you know what SSH is, as explained previously—if you don't, please go through the write up again. Let's learn about what PUTTY is.
PUTTY is simply a terminal emulator application. It is a popular SSH or Telnet client. PUTTY was first designed for Microsoft Windows before it was ported to other operating systems to control port forwarding with SSH, amongst other features. Note that PUTTY also supports public key authentication.
Having learned different things about a virtual private server, it is sure the best means to keep up with any business's success going through a phase of growth and expansion. It is flexible, scalable, cost-effective, amongst others, unlike dedicated hosting, where the user has to pay a tremendous amount of money for resources that they may not need to pay for. The virtual private server comes in two forms, which are the managed VPS and unmanaged VPS.
If the individual likes the idea of someone managing their VPS, then they can opt-in for the managed VPS, but if they want the experience of working with their own VPS, the choice is theirs.Choosing the right VPS is very important, so the user does not overpay for resources they don't need or underpay for resources that will start causing issues for their businesses.