Oftentimes when website owners/business owners delve into the pros and cons of servers, web hosts, and the like, they’re after a solution that’s 100 percent secure. Unfortunately, no such thing exists. There are certain setups that offer more security than others, but nothing is guaranteed. A virtual private server (VPS) is generally more secure than a basic shared hosting option, but you also need to consider what kind of vulnerabilities you may be facing. For example, if you own a credit union, you’re going to need to optimize security much more than if you operate a celebrity gossip blog.
Some website owners want to have a VPS that stores unreadable (by the web host) data, while maintaining usability on the VPS itself. Keeping your web host in the dark is largely your prerogative—but perhaps a better question is why you’re wary of your web host to begin with. Choose a reputable, established web hosting company and this may not be a top concern. Still, if you really want this option, you can change all of the passwords within a VPS including the root password. Keep in mind the host can still use a different way to boot up and reset the passwords, though.
Free from Prying Eyes
Encrypting the disk is another approach (you can also choose parts of the disk to encrypt). However, when and if it comes time to decrypt, technically the host would be able to peek in at this time. By design, a virtualization platform allows for this, but it’s very unlikely that any web host is going to be chomping at the bit to check out what you’re doing. Plus, hosts can likely see the VPS’ RAM directly, which makes this extreme privatization impossible.
If you really want the most secure environment, you’ll need to buy, manage, and host a dedicated server yourself. Obviously this is very expensive (sometimes over $200,000 for the server alone) and requires incredible tech savviness. The chances of an average person being able to pull this off are slim to none. Add the cost and time commitment into the mix, and a one-man or even motley crew operation is nearly impossible.
With a VPS, you can store data forever if the key isn’t on the system. If that data never gets decrypted, it will probably never be seen by the host. However, the key word is “probably.” If a host really wants to see what their clients are up to, they may be driven enough to take down any security measures including encryption.
Your Real Best Line of Defense
However, it’s better to think about this: If you’re very concerned about security, why is that? Web hosts aren’t out to get you—they’re there to serve you.