But if you require a lot of computing power and maximum control VPS hosting is only second to a dedicated server. Intensive websites, web apps, online game servers, databases and other kinds of complex projects are perfect for a VPS hosting service. VPS hosting provides more control than any other service, as you can install your preferred OS and take advantage of root access.
The concept of a virtual private server can be better explained as a virtual machine that caters to the individual needs of a user just as a separate physical computer that is dedicated to a particular user. The virtual dedicated server provides the same functionality and privacy as that of a normal physical computer. A number of virtual private servers can be installed on a single physical server with each one running its own operating system. 

I have some sites hosted on a shared-hosting/cpanel environment and need to make a move up. I have some experience running my own server, but it is very basic (a local box to do live testing/file serv). My question is how difficult is it to run a VPS, should I buy a managed VPS (with stuff already installed), or unmanaged (blank box), and lastly if I go for unmanaged what steps should I take to keep my VPS secure? Edit: Also how difficult is it to backup files and databases? Can it be automated?

One of the tools included with your Managed VPS within cPanel is Softaculous Free. Softaculous is another reason why these plans are easy to use. With Softaculous, you can setup software ranging from blogs to forums to CMS solutions all with a single click of your mouse. As the Premium Hosting partner for PrestaShop, you can also setup this popular eCommerce software with 1-click as well.
If you register a domain with Bluehost when signing up for a hosting account, there is a domain fee that is non-refundable. This not only covers our costs, but ensures that you won't lose your domain name. Regardless of the status of your hosting service, you'll be free to manage it, transfer it after any required lock periods, or simply point it elsewhere at your convenience. You retain ownership of your domain until the end of its registration period unless you elect to extend it. 
OpenVZ virtualization is an OS level container-based virtualization, and it has resources that are divided between users on a physical server. Each container acts like a stand-alone virtual server and can be accessed with a root (SSH) connection. As a separate server container can be rebooted separately, it also has a dedicated IP address, shared RAM, individual processes, files, applications, system libraries and configuration files. On OpenVZ, the kernel cannot be modified. It has its stable version and modules cannot be added. The good thing regarding this virtualization is a faster performance, and a lower need of resources.
Technical knowledge: No technical knowledge is required for running a managed server. When you need to do something technical all you have to do is contact support and let the skilled technical support operators handle the rest. With an unmanaged server you need to have server administration skills and love working in the command line otherwise it will be very difficult to administer your server efficiently.
If you want a larger selection of software options that you'll be able to install on your VPS with a single click, we recommend our Softaculous Premium solution. You'll be able to 1-click setup the web's most popular software solutions including WordPress. Choose from a number of other solutions as well including Joomla, Drupal, Ghost and so many more.

Once you register your website's domain name, it's time to start picking the specs for your server. Web hosts typically offer multiple VPS plans that have varying amounts of email capability, RAM, storage, CPU power, domain hosting, and monthly data transfers. The plans typically include website builders that let you quickly create a face for your site without much—or even any—coding required. A solid web host should offer at least 4GB of RAM, 100GB of storage, and an ample volume of monthly data transfers. If you expect a significant amount of website growth, then you should look for a web host that has as many unlimited offerings as possible. For example, Hostwinds—the PCMag Editors' Choice for VPS hosting—offers unlimited email, domains, and monthly data transfers. Note, however, that as with all unlimited service offerings, you really need to read the fine print to make sure that what you mean by unlimited and what the hosting service means by it.

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VPS is short for a Virtual Private Server, which refers to the partitioning of a physical server into multiple servers. You can think of a VPS like a Dedicated Server, where you can enjoy all the components a Dedicated Server offers yet you pay a lower price. Each VPS also features its own OS (Operating System) and allows for separate rebooting. Since each OS receives a specific share of the resources from the physical server, each one is isolated from one another and cannot interfere.
Most people are clueless about the virtual servers hosting and how they actually work on the shared environment. It is a known fact that thousand and more number of users tend to use a server at a time. In such circumstances, each user is allocated with a designated amount of disk space, bandwidth, CPU allocation, memory and Operating System, which can be used on the server. All the Virtual Private Server users share the same CPU and RAM and think that, they have dedicated set of hardware. Virtual Server software is loaded onto the physical system and from then, a virtual server is ready to be used.
Unmetered hosting is generally offered with no limit on the amount of data-transferred on a fixed bandwidth line. Usually, unmetered hosting is offered with 10 Mbit/s, 100 Mbit/s or 1000 Mbit/s (with some as high as 10Gbit/s). This means that the customer is theoretically able to use ~3 TB on 10 Mbit/s or up to ~300 TB on a 1000 Mbit/s line per month, although in practice the values will be significantly less. In a virtual private server, this will be shared bandwidth and a fair usage policy should be involved. Unlimited hosting is also commonly marketed but generally limited by acceptable usage policies and terms of service. Offers of unlimited disk space and bandwidth are always false due to cost, carrier capacities and technological boundaries.[3]