The most common type of VPS is a web host. Many web hosting companies offer VPS hosting solutions as an alternative to shared hosting and dedicated hosting. A VPS sits in between the two options, usually in both performance and price. Like a shared host, a VPS may share the resources of a physical machine with other hosting accounts. However, a VPS is custom-configureable like a dedicated hosting solution it is isolated ("private") from other accounts.
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Partitioning a single server to appear as multiple servers has been increasingly common on microcomputers since the launch of VMware ESX Server in 2001. The physical server typically runs a hypervisor which is tasked with creating, releasing, and managing the resources of "guest" operating systems, or virtual machines. These guest operating systems are allocated a share of resources of the physical server, typically in a manner in which the guest is not aware of any other physical resources save for those allocated to it by the hypervisor. As a VPS runs its own copy of its operating system, customers have superuser-level access to that operating system instance, and can install almost any software that runs on the OS; however, due to the number of virtualization clients typically running on a single machine, a VPS generally has limited processor time, RAM, and disk space.