Virtual Servers vs. Physical Servers: Which is Best?

Depositphotos_23894023_xl-2015These days, IT management is tasked with finding cost-effective data processing and storage solutions that balance their organization’s needs. With varying options in the technological landscape, many have come to the two common solutions: virtual servers or physical servers.

Because all organizations have individual needs, there are pros and cons to each option. In this blog, we’re going to compare the two to help you decide which option is best for your organization.

Pros and Cons of Physical Servers

Physical servers are usually owned, managed and maintained onsite by your company’s staff.


    • Full access to your dedicated server resources 24/7
    • Depending on your organization’s needs, the server may be located onsite or in a close proximity colocation facility
    • Your IT staff can fully customize and configure the server to your specific business needs


    • Higher cost of server purchase and maintenance
    • Your IT staff is responsible for setup, configuration, and maintenance
    • You may need to hire a contractor or vendor to help with difficult repairs or configurations
    • Users cannot scale storage in small increments once you reach the maximum workload
    • Requires physical or colocation space

Pros and Cons of Virtual Servers

Virtual servers are typically hosted in the cloud or on servers that are owned, maintained and located offsite. Hiring a hosting vendor who offers secure cloud services is the most common adoption of virtualization.


    • Fewer upfront costs
    • Potential lower lifetime costs on configuration and maintenance
    • Access to expert assistance on setup, configuration, maintenance and software licenses
    • Reduced need for in-house IT
    • Potential to consolidate servers and increase workload efficiency
    • Reduces environmental footprint due to shared workloads
    • Ability to add or delete resources and licensing instantaneously


    • Not all vendors are amendable to scaling your agreement up or down in small increments, which largely depends on vendor policies
    • You no longer independently control your physical server and the applications running on them
    • Potential for higher reoccurring monthly costs, as opposed to higher upfront investment

Which Option is Right for Your Business?

Many organizations and enterprises over the last few years have come to understand the benefits and security of cloud computing and are moving their applications and data into the cloud. However, every organization is different, so here are some factors that should be considered before making the final decision.


One of the major benefits of virtual servers is the cost savings. While you pay on a monthly basis, you can save thousands annually on hardware, deployment, utilities, and human labor. With virtualization, you are also released from the cost of needing to commission or decommission servers.


With virtual servers, a reputable vendor can assist you through the process of understanding which data, applications and processes are most critical for your company’s operations and health. Certain applications may require more dedicated server resources, so it’s a good idea to understand what your needs are when it comes to performance in order to have the best experience with either dedicated equipment or a virtualization vendor.

Risk Mitigation

Risk mitigation ultimately depends on the configuration of your private or virtual server. If your entire company’s workload is located in-house or in a vendor’s virtual environment, failure can be devastating. Virtual servers usually are able to significantly mitigate risk as venders offer safeguards against hardware failure and backups to both on and offsite infrastructure.

Information Security

The security of your physical or virtual server largely depends on configuration, staff knowledge and environment. Similar to risk mitigation, these factors can vary significantly depending on an organization’s unique requirements and resources. For those with minimal budget or hardware, virtualization can offer more stability in security protection.

Deciding between a physical and virtual server can be difficult, however by defining your organization’s needs and goals along with the resources available within your infrastructure can help your decision. Virtualization has ultimately changed the ways in which businesses conduct their operations, and while physical servers are still widely used, virtualization has introduced many competing advantages.

Solutions with Cloudsmart

Here at Cloudsmart, we specialize in providing high-performance internet solutions to the region’s leading business, municipalities and other organizations. We offer both colocation services and virtual private servers to fit your organizational needs.