Physical Servers vs. Virtual Servers


To someone unfamiliar with IT network services and colocation, it may be surprising for them to discover that there are two different kinds of servers – physical and virtual. The classic image of a data center is one of the seemingly endless servers and hardware, with a clean and sterile physical environment. However, many data centers use virtual servers that offer a different kind of utility and experience for businesses. What are the differences between these kinds of servers, and which one is best for my data backup and recovery needs? LightWave Networks and our Massachusetts colocation experts explore more about physical servers vs. virtual servers in the following article. Continue reading below for more.

What Is a Physical Server? 

Perhaps the most common kind of server is a physical server. A physical server is a piece of hardware that is an easily recognizable machine with a motherboard and a “shell” that protects it. The other components of a physical server are the CPU and the memory. These could have many operating systems like Linux or Windows – with a physical server only having the capacity for one operating system at the same time. 

What Is a Virtual Server? 

When you are trying to understand the differences between physical servers vs. virtual servers, it is important to fully understand what a virtual server is. Virtual servers are essentially abstractions and replication of physical servers. In the use of virtual servers, physical servers are configured to house multiple different virtual servers. These are usually configured so that multiple users can share its processing power. When comparing a physical server and a virtual server, it is important to note that virtual servers are a great way to save on physical hardware costs. These virtual servers usually allow organizations to use processing power and resources more efficiently by using multiple operating systems on one server. There are many different uses of virtual servers, with the most common being the following: 

  • Remote access
  • Web hosting
  • Software development and testing 

Cloud Computing vs. Virtualization 

While it may seem like cloud computing and virtual servers are the same thing, there are actually some key differences between the two. While virtualization is a way to create environments on a single hardware system, cloud computing is a way for businesses to combine resources across a network. In other words, cloud computing is a way for businesses to share information across a network, while virtualization is a way for a server to divide its resources through a virtual server infrastructure. 

More About LightWave Networks

When it comes to understanding physical servers vs. virtual servers, it is important to see which one is best for your business. Our Dallas dedicated server provider is also a Boston colocation provider that is here to help businesses leverage remote servers and connectivity to improve their processes. We have plenty of data centers across various locations, including the following cities: 

Contact our data centers in Minnesota today if you wish to lease rack space.

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