Dedicated servers VS Virtual servers

These days, there’s a massive number of VPNs available on numerous devices. With this range of options, it’s crucial to understand the underlying technologies that power our VPN choices.

Among these considerations, the type of server available —dedicated and virtual servers—plays a pivotal role. Some VPNs rely heavily on one type of server; some use both.

In this article, we’ll explain these two server types and shed light on their strengths, drawbacks, and best-use scenarios.

Whether you’re a novice trying to understand the basics or an advanced user aiming to optimise your VPN experience, this comprehensive guide will serve as a roadmap to understanding Dedicated servers VS Virtual servers.

What are Dedicated VPN servers?

Dedicated VPN servers are physical servers solely dedicated to a single user or organisation’s VPN needs. Unlike shared or virtual servers, where resources are divided among multiple users, a dedicated server allocates its full computational power, bandwidth, and storage to one entity.

This arrangement offers a unique set of advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of Dedicated VPN Servers:

  1. Enhanced Performance and Reliability: Performance spikes and downtime are less likely because all the server resources are reserved for a single user. This particularly benefits businesses or individuals with high bandwidth needs, ensuring smooth and consistent connectivity.
  2. Superior Security: With only one user or organisation accessing the server, the chances of malicious activities, breaches, or vulnerabilities from other users are eliminated. Additionally, the user has complete control over the server settings, allowing for more in-depth customisation of security protocols and configurations.
  3. Total Control and Customisation: Dedicated VPN servers offer users full control over server configurations. This is ideal for businesses with specific requirements, as they can set up the server in a way that’s perfectly tailored to their needs.

Cons of Dedicated VPN Servers:

  1. Higher Costs: The exclusivity and power of a dedicated server come at a price. Monthly or yearly costs for dedicated VPN servers are typically much higher than shared or virtual server options.
  2. Limited Scalability: With dedicated servers, scaling up (or down) can be a more complex process than with virtual servers. While you get a fixed number of resources, adjusting them typically means physically changing the server hardware.
  3. Difficulties in Restricted Countries: Setting up dedicated VPN servers in countries that heavily regulate or ban VPN use can be exceptionally challenging. Not only are there legal hurdles, but the physical presence of such a server could also draw unwanted attention from authorities. This contrasts with virtual servers or shared VPNs, which might utilise obfuscation techniques more effectively to fly under the radar in such regions.

What are Virtual VPN servers?

A Virtual VPN server is a server that doesn’t physically exist as an individual hardware entity but rather as a software-defined instance running on shared hardware. A virtual server can be set up to handle VPN connections just like a dedicated physical server would, but without being bound to a single hardware resource.

Pros of Virtual VPN Servers:

  1. Cost-Efficiency: One of the most significant benefits of virtual VPN servers is cost savings. Since multiple virtual servers can run on a single piece of hardware, it’s possible to maximise the utility of that hardware, leading to reduced costs in both acquisition and maintenance.
  2. Scalability: Virtual servers are generally easier to scale than their dedicated counterparts. If there’s a need to handle more VPN connections, it’s often just a matter of allocating more resources to the virtual server or quickly setting up additional instances.
  3. Flexibility: Virtual VPN servers provide a lot of flexibility regarding configuration and deployment. They can be quickly cloned, backed up, and restored.
  4. Rapid Deployment: Setting up a new virtual server is typically faster than setting up an entirely new physical machine. This rapid deployment can be crucial for VPNs needing quick adjustments to their infrastructure.

Cons of Virtual VPN Servers:

  1. Performance Concerns: Virtual VPN servers share resources with other servers on the same hardware. This shared environment can sometimes lead to shared resources potentially affecting the performance of the VPN service, especially during peak loads.
  2. Security Risks: Virtual servers can offer some security benefits but also introduce complexities. Vulnerabilities in the virtualisation software itself can expose all virtual servers on the hardware to potential threats.
  3. Dependency on Host System: The stability and performance of a virtual VPN server is heavily reliant on the host system. If the underlying hardware experiences issues, all virtual instances, including the VPN server, could be affected.
Dedicated servers VS Virtual servers

Dedicated servers VS Virtual servers?

A dedicated server typically offers superior advantages for VPN users prioritising performance and consistency. 

Since all the server’s resources are allocated to a single task, there’s less chance of experiencing performance fluctuations due to other users’ activities. This can be crucial for tasks that require high bandwidth or low latency, such as streaming, gaming, or large data transfers. 

Additionally, dedicated servers often offer a more stable environment with fewer instances of downtime or service interruptions.

That said, it is very hard to set up dedicated servers in countries where VPNs are restricted.

Virtual VPN servers have become indispensable for many users looking to bypass internet restrictions, especially in countries with stringent online censorship or geo-restrictions. They can be set up anywhere in the world, allowing users to appear to be accessing the internet from a different location.

For individuals seeking to use a VPN to obtain an IP address from countries with VPN restrictions – like India, China, or Egypt – virtual servers offer an ingenious solution. They can be physically located in a different, unrestricted country while still granting you an IP address associated with the restricted nation. For instance, ExpressVPN operates an “Indian” server, which, in reality, is situated in Singapore. This approach allows users to bypass regional restrictions without directly connecting to a server within the restrictive environment.

Patch Bowen
Patch Bowen is an accomplished technology journalist with a solid academic foundation, holding a degree from Auckland University. His expertise spans across a range of tech topics, with a notable focus on product reviews, industry trends, and the impact of technology on society. With his work featured on major New Zealand websites like Stuff.co.nz, thebit.nz, and The Press, Patch has established himself as a credible voice in technology media. His articles are known for their detailed analysis and practical insights, particularly in making complex technological concepts understandable for a broad audience. At ReviewsFire, Patch is renowned for his thorough evaluations and clear, informative writing style. He has a knack for identifying and explaining the nuances of the latest gadgets and digital trends, earning him a reputation as a trusted source for tech advice and information.

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