Can I host game servers on a virtual private server?
Short answer yes, but there’s some things we need to talk about first. This question is spotted among forums from time to time, it is a good question but some things you’ll need to know before hosting game servers on a virtual private server.
First what is a VPS?
A virtual private server or VPS for short is basically a slice of a large dedicated server, instead of renting a large dedicated server you are able to rent a slice of it. The idea behind it was to be able to have separate services running on one dedicated server and the ability to quickly move/backup the whole server image without needing to reinstall an OS on a new box. It has since evolved to a very complete market and bridged the gap between shared hosting and a dedicated server for web masters.
Using the image above you can see how the server is “sliced up” evenly, this means each VPS has a dedicated slice of the server. HOWEVER this is where many people are lead astray when renting a VPS. So far I’ve spoken about “dedicated” virtual private servers as many of the cheaper virtual private servers are actually shared resource virtual private servers. This means you’re sharing some sort of of resource whether it be RAM, CPU or HDD.
The software that decides what is dedicated or shared is the hypervisor, it is the software that will monitor each virtual private server accordingly. To be put simply hypervisors such as Xen, VMWare, Hyper-V manage dedicated resource virtual private machines while OpenVZ and Virtuozzo are shared resources.
What VPS is best for game servers?
To be put simply.. you’d want a dedicated VPS (VDS in some cases). Why? With shared resources you’re sharing them with other VPS slices, for example is that if your game server is full and suddenly lags out because somebody else on the server decided to run a resource heavy process it will affect you. Dedicated you get the resources and nobody else can use them, so you can plan accordingly knowing exactly what you can use. Most of the shared VPS providers actually oversell their services unlike dedicated (eg. Xen) which doesn’t really allow for it to happen as resources are “dedicated”.
Should I host game servers on a VPS?
Yes and No. If you’re looking at starting your own game server business I’d recommend not using a VPS to rent servers, as a provider you want as much control over your network as possible. You’ve basically got no control of the hardware (or even know what it is for that matter), plus a VPS carries exactly the same security issues as a full dedicated server if you have no idea what you’re doing.
I would recommend a large VPS for a gaming organisation/clan, as funds aren’t always the strongest point for a clan so they must resort to cheaper ways to run their servers, I suppose the pros about having your own “semi-dedicated” server you can resolve issues much quicker without the need to contact a provider for support.. though only if you know what you’re doing!
I have used the following providers for running either VoIP (TS) or low end game servers on a VPS or a dedicated server.
If you have any questions please leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer it.