The majority of web developers and bloggers are choosing virtual private server (VPS) hosting over basic shared plans—or at least the ones who are informed are. This type of virtualized server acts a lot like a dedicated one, but at a fraction of the price. It’s similar to getting your very own operating system (OS) copy, allowing superuser/root level access. As such, you can install just about any tools and software you want on it! Technically others are using the same server, but resources earmarked for “your” VPS are totally in your control.
It can be a little challenging to maintain sites on a VPS if you’re not comfortable in a Linux environment. However, with the right tools installed, maintenance becomes on par with simple basic shared plans where there’s SSH/SFTP access for both server and site maintenance. VPS is faster and more secure than shared plans, but does require proper configuration.
Many VPS users understandably want to install Ubuntu. Start by making a $5 droplet account on Ubuntu 10.04 x64. Download the server configuration file, then download/open Putty if you’re a Windows user. Putty is like a terminal for server configuration. Next, download and install FileZilla. You should already have your IP address and temp root password from your VPS provider. Make sure you change the root password to a very strong one.
Open up Putty (which should be the default), enter your IP address in the IP address box, and enter “22” in the Port Box. Click to open, and answer Yes if you’re asked if you want to continue connection. When asked for your user name, type “root” and press enter. Now you’ll be asked for your VPS provider’s root password. Here’s another chance to change the temp password. You’re now connected to your server.
Type in “ssh root @IPaddresss” and press enter. Type “Yes” and press enter to make a connection. Enter your VPS provider’s root password. At this point, you will be able to configure your firewall as well. If this sounds like a lot of work to get started, don’t worry—this is largely for web developers and tech geeks who want to personally manage this aspect of their site. For the average user, you won’t need to jump through these hoops. In fact, many average users don’t bother or care to install Ubuntu.
If you simply want to enjoy all a VPS provider has to offer, you can get a managed account for a very nominal monthly fee. The provider will take care of switching accounts and getting you set up. The point of having a managed host is that you don’t have to be tech savvy or do any of the grunt work. However, you can be as involved or uninvolved as you like—that’s the beauty of web development and hosting options these days. Most folks want minimal management, but for the few who want to delve deep into the world of web development, it’s available.