December 4, 2023

What is a Virtual Host Server?

virtual host server

Virtual Host Servers provide online infrastructure solutions to multiple users simultaneously, hosting websites, applications and data of various kinds.

Port-based virtual hosting requires multiple ports on one server in order to enable different websites on a domain using just one URL address. A _default_ directive can also be set up to catch requests that match address:port combinations which do not yet have virtual hosts configured.

What is a Virtual Host Server?

Virtual host server refers to an internet-based computer system which hosts multiple websites simultaneously. By employing this technique, each website can share one physical server while still being responsible for its own data, applications and files – making it simpler and less expensive for businesses and individuals alike to have websites without needing their own server computer system.


Name-based virtual hosting is currently the most widely employed virtual hosting approach. This technique uses the domain name provided when an HTTP request is made as the indicator for which website to serve; this works well with HTTP websites but fails when HTTPS sites use an encrypted protocol, since their names carry over via SSL/TLS handshake and encryption.

Port-based virtual hosting is less commonly employed but may prove useful for various reasons. This technique uses different ports for each web site on the server and may prove beneficial if your DNS capabilities are limited, your ISP blocks inbound connections on port 80, or you require self signed certificates for authentication purposes.

What are the Benefits of Using a Virtual Host Server?

Virtual host servers allow multiple websites to share the same physical hardware and software for less. By decreasing the amount of physical servers a company needs to manage, virtual hosting servers help companies save space and money when it comes to maintenance costs, power consumption and any other costs associated with hosting web servers.

Virtual hosting gives businesses more flexibility with regard to managing internal traffic. For example, an organization with both an external sales site and intranet could use one Web server for both sites, simplifying management.

Virtual hosting also makes it simpler for Web developers to implement secure website technologies like SSL/TLS. A virtual host server can handle multiple domain names using one IP address and distinct http> tags per domain, making it simpler to add support for SSL/TLS certificates that cover multiple names at once.


How to Set Up a Virtual Host Server

Virtual hosting servers allow multiple websites to run simultaneously on one server. Each website can have its own domain name and configuration files – saving money, server resources and simplifying maintenance.

Apache offers IP- and name-based virtual hosting options; of these methods, name-based virtual hosting is the most widely adopted one, as it enables one HTTP Server to serve requests for multiple hostnames using just one configuration file.

Each virtual host server uses its own set of HTTP port numbers, making it essential to ensure that those used by each virtual host don’t overlap with those already being utilized by another host server on your system. You can check which ports are in use by using the Host aliases settings page of the administrative console.

What are the Downsides of Using a Virtual Host Server

Virtual hosting presents its own set of disadvantages, the primary ones being having to create multiple IP addresses for every website hosted – this can increase both administrative costs and IP address exhaustion.

Avoid this issue with the ServerAlias directive in VirtualHost > containers. This enables you to easily add all the names people can use to access your website – you can even make use of “??” and “*” wildcards!

Virtual hosting may make it more challenging to host secure websites that utilize SSL/TLS due to webserver not knowing which hostname to send an SSL/TLS handshake request for until after virtual host creation.

Utilizing a virtual host server can be time consuming and require technical knowledge; however, most hosting companies provide an intuitive user interface for handling minor maintenance tasks and professional technical assistance to address any potential issues that may arise.