VPS Hosting 101
VPS, which stands for virtual private server, is also known as a virtual dedicated server, or a VDS. Basically, this is a system in which parts of a computer mainframe are sectioned off into multiple servers. This would allow each section to operate as if it were a dedicated server. These parts can have their own operating systems, can be independently rebooted, and can give the appearance that they are running their own virtual machine. This practice was fairly common a few years ago, but has since gotten popular again for a couple of reasons. Mostly the development of certain virtualization software has called for a resurgence in VPS, and so it is becoming popular once again.
VPS hosting is sort of a middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. See, shared hosting is Web hosting in which many websites are stored on the same server. Dedicated hosting, however, is Web hosting in which each company can rent its own specific server. Since they are the only business on that server, they have complete control of it. This is more costly than the extra-cheap rates available for shared hosting, but it is also a lot more serious than shared hosting in terms of storage capacity, bandwidth, CPU time, Ram, and disk space.
VPS hosting is sort of in the middle. It is not shared hosting, because virtually each company is renting their own independent server. However, it is not really dedicated hosting either, because several websites might be housed on one server that is split up into several pieces. As stated before, these pieces can operate completely independently of each other, but are still in the same mainframe. So, in a way, VPS hosting gives you all of the benefits of a dedicated server (minus some of the larger resource limits) with a much cheaper cost.
Finding a company that can provide you with VPS is sort of tricky at first, but you will soon find that many of the more popular Web hosts are into this type of Web hosting. Of course, you will want to research them just as if you were looking for a shared host or even a dedicated Web host, because even VPS is not entirely fool-proof. With any luck though, a VPS can help you to bridge that gap. It can get you out of a shared server until you are ready to make the leap to a dedicated server.