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Virtualization is a process of isolating the resources of a computer system and creating multiple versions of the same to run concurrently. In simple terms, virtualization suggests partitioning of a network, hardware or an OS, to turn every dissociated version independent. An excellent example of such partitioning is server virtualization. 

If you own a website, you would definitely have purchased web hosting services. One of the popularly known hosting types, VPS Hosting, is a real-time application of virtualization technology. In VPS Hosting, a single physical server is divided into several servers using the method of virtualization. These servers can then be allocated to different users, enabling them to host their websites on the allocated server. 

Virtualization in VPS Hosting portrays an image where, unlike Shared Hosting, the user, here alone owns the server and is isolated from others. But in reality, there is a single physical server, virtually allocated to multiple users. This implies that users are still using the same server with the only difference being that in VPS Hosting, space is virtually divided and not physically shared. 

With respect to VPS Hosting or web server hosting, there exist two main types of virtualization. 

  1. Hardware Virtualization
  2. OS Virtualization

Hardware Virtualization – Analogy of the Term

Hardware is the physical computing resources. Virtualization, on the other hand, is the process of abstraction. To put it simply, hardware virtualization is the abstraction of hardware resources from the software. A virtual software, known as a hypervisor or the virtual machine manager, is sliced in between the hardware and the software. Once this hypervisor is embedded between the two, the software would then rely on the virtual resources, rather than the actual ones. 

How Does Hardware Virtualization Work? 

In the hardware virtualization method, the hardware acts as the host and software is the guest. The hypervisor is used to create a virtual environment and allows a different OS to run on a single computer effectively. The sole purpose behind the creation of such a mechanism is to employ multiple smaller servers on a single large server. This in a way reduces the cost of hosting and at the same time, enhances the efficiency of the server (the time and resources needed to host a single large server are more than the efforts needed to host several smaller servers). 

Hardware virtualization provides hardware support to guest OS, facilitating friction-free hosting. The virtual machine has no interaction with the host operating system. There prevail two kinds of virtual machine manager or hypervisor. 

  • Type I – Runs on top of the hardware
  • Type II – Some virtualization requires OS support, and hence the type II servers promote the placement of the hypervisor on the OS. 


Needless to point, hardware virtualization encompasses the effective utilization of hardware resources reducing the overall cost of VPS Hosting. 

OS-Based Virtualization – Analogy of the Term

Unlike hardware-based virtualization, OS virtualization is done over the top of the operating system. This implies that the software installed on the OS virtualizes the same, making it the host. OS virtualization is a feature where the kernel of the system facilitates the prevalence of instances of isolated user-space. 

How Does OS-Based Virtualization Work? 

In this kind of virtualization, the virtualization software is installed over the OS, and further use creates several other VMs. Here, direct access is given to the user to use any of the available virtual machines. Considering the fact that OS virtualization renders access to hardware, there might be some hardware related issues where the virtual OS isn’t compatible with the hardware. Yet, the virtualization is efficient and can be carried out effectively. 

OS virtualization allows guests to run several programs within containers where each is given a certain part of the resources. The program that runs within the container is whole in itself and believes that the resources allocated are all that’s available. Within such virtualization, multiple containers can run in isolation and parallel. 


OS-based virtualization is effective when it comes to software migrations. It gives a guest the ease of virtually using an OS to migrate or mitigate conflicts. Also, such virtualization is best when one needs to perform backup or recovery services. 

OS Virtualization vs Hardware Virtualization

Now that we are well aware of the individual facet of hardware virtualization and OS virtualization, it’s time that we move ahead to the difference between OS virtualization and hardware virtualization. 

The key difference between OS virtualization and hardware virtualization comprises of: 

Hardware Virtualization OS Virtualization
The host offers hardware support to the guest deploying a scenario where the code is executed directly on the host. This allows both host and guest to use the same platform. In OS virtualization, it is the operating system that is virtualized. Thus, the platform for OS virtualization is independent.
For hardware virtualization, it is only the hardware that is shared. With OS virtualization, both the hardware and the software of the host are virtualized.
Hardware virtualization keeps the RAM and CPU secluded.  OS virtualization entails sharing the RAM and CPU.
The virtualization solution used to support hardware virtualization is VM-ware and Hypervisor.  The virtualization solution incorporated for OS virtualization is Virtuozzo.
To upgrade the OS, hardware virtualization doesn’t experience issues as it is independent. For OS virtualization, the guest operating system cannot be updated until and unless the system of the host is updated.

The cost of hardware virtualization is comparatively higher than that of OS virtualization. 
The OS virtualization being kernel-based is faster than that hardware virtualization. 


As seen in the above table, both OS and hardware virtualizations have their individual pros and cons. While hardware virtualization wins for privacy, seclusion and customizability, OS virtualization is the perfect option for a faster and cheaper solution.So, if you are looking for complete access and control of your server, then opt for KVM Hypervisor-based hardware virtualization. However, if you do not require major control, but are looking for affordable options, then go for VPS Hosting with OS Virtualization.

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Charlotte WrightCharlotte WrightCharlotte Wright is a writer and an avid reader who loves to drink tea! Her other interests include astronomy and understanding human nature.View all posts by Charlotte Wright