When you start looking at web hosting plans, you come across the traditional shared and dedicated hosting plans and the new-age cloud and virtual private server hosting plans. Virtualization techniques have allowed hosting companies to offer web hosting on virtual servers. It offers many benefits to hosting companies and site owners, as the costs get divided between multiple users without compromising on the performance of the site. Virtualization has allowed hosting companies to offer Windows and Linux VPS hosting plans that offer a dedicated server-like hosting environment to websites at much lower costs. However, as you research virtualization, you will come across terms like virtual machines and containers that can be confusing to non-technical site owners. In this article, we will talk about the differences between virtual machines and containers.
What is a virtual machine?
Virtual Machines or VMs are created by running software on a physical server. A VM emulates the hardware system and is created and run by a hypervisor. Each VM can run a unique operating system and has unique binaries, applications, and libraries. A hypervisor is Server Virtualization software that could consolidate multiple applications onto one system. It helped reduce costs, provision servers faster, and made disaster recovery faster and more efficient.
However, a VM also has some disadvantages. Since each VM has a different OS image, the memory and storage utilization is high. It causes several limitations of resources on the physical server.
What is a Container?
In recent years, different virtualization techniques have evolved to make computing easier and more efficient. Operating System or OS Virtualization has become popular to allow any software to run efficiently when the server environment is changed. It is made possible by Containers that allow isolated systems to run on a host OS. Containers are on top of the host operating system. Hence, the OS kernel, libraries, and binaries are shared by all containers in a read-only manner. Containers are lighter than VMs.
When you look at virtualization, a hypervisor is used to create virtual versions of physical hardware. Hence, each VM has a virtual copy of the hardware, independent OS, and associated dependencies. It allows multiple virtual machines to run simultaneously on the same physical server.
On the other hand, containers create virtual versions of the operating system. It allows each container to run a single application with associated dependencies. Since containers do not need an OS, they are much lighter than VMs.
Both containers and VMs allow web hosts to utilize the resources of the physical web server optimally.
Both containers and virtual machines have certain pros and cons. When you start looking for a virtual resource to host your website, you need to choose between Containers and VMs or VPS Server Hosting plans. Before you buy VPS hosting or containers, ensure that you understand these pros and cons and assess your site’s hosting requirements. If you are not sure, then talk to a technical professional to help you assess your needs and select the right option. Good Luck!