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How to configure a VPS from scratch (I)

This will be the first in a series of tutorials intended to review the necessary steps not only to start up a VPS server (aspect that we will cover entirely in this first installment), but also to make it a web and email server 100% functional.

In a previous article on the different types of web hosting available, we explained that virtual private servers or VPS are basically virtual machines running on a physical server. Thus, it is possible to run several VPS on the same machine, but compartmentalizing the use of its resources:

"If he [tradicional] Shared accommodation is the equivalent of sharing a flat, with the VPS we live in a block of flats, where the existence of common resources is not an obstacle to living with complete autonomy ".

However, for the user, the main difference between a shared hosting and a VPS is that the freedom we have to decide what and how it is executed on the server.

Home servers: what they are for and what they can do for you

That is, while traditional web hosting offers you a web administration panel (usually cPanel or Plesk) and an FTP space to upload your files, the VPS puts you in front of a command line from which you can manage an entire operating system (usually a GNU / Linux).

That's the good part ... and the bad part, because the most common will be that said operating system includes only minimal installation, being us the ones we will have to install and configure the rest of the software: the web server, the email server, the administration panel, etc.

On the Internet we can locate a multitude of VPS service providers, but if we are only interested in the 'low range' (the most limited modalities in hosting capacity, processing and traffic) there are four that clearly stand out for quality / price and international fame:

In the series of tutorials that we begin today we will work with the Germans from Hetzner, but the steps to follow will be, almost all, identical in all cases.

Launching a VPS

The first step will be to create a customer account on the Hetzner platform. To do this we will access the 'Cloud' section of your website, click on 'Sign up now' and we will proceed to carry out the typical registration process by providing our personal data.

Once this is done, we will log into the platform, we will access the default project (or we will create another, that does not matter: it is just a way to categorize different servers, if you have more than one)

Screenshot 10

Once there, the platform will ask us to let's add a serverWell, we haven't hired any yet. We click on 'Add server'.

Screenshot 30

On the next screen, we will be able to choose the technical characteristics (and thus the economic ones) of our server. The most relevant are:

  • Location: When the provider offers us several locations, the advice is always to choose the one closest to the region from which our users will access, in order to reduce (even if it is almost imperceptible) the lag of the connection. Our test VPS, for example, will work from Germany.

  • Image: It has nothing to do with GIFs and JPGs, but with the operating system that the VPS virtual machine will run. Although some providers offer a very wide range, the most common will be to find versions of Linux such as Ubuntu, Debian and CentOS (We will also be allowed to choose the version number). For this tutorial we will work with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.


  • Kind: This is the section that determines the price of the service, as we will have to choose a pack that includes the number of CPUs, amount of RAM and hard disk space and maximum traffic. For this tutorial we will work with the cheapest option, a Standard CX11 with a cost of € 3.01 per month.

Click on 'Create & Buy Now', and in a few seconds the server will be up and running, and we will have an email in our inbox with the necessary data to access it.

Screenshot 6

Starting to manage our VPS

By clicking on the name that we have given to the new server, we will access a panel that will allow us to manage various aspects of its operation. For now we are only interested in two buttons of the same, those indicated in the following image:

Screenshot 7

The second one will allow us to turn off and on the server, while the other will open a new browser window that will show us a terminal web emulator from which we can manage the Ubuntu operating system that we have installed.

We will enter the username and password, sent minutes before by email, and the system will force us to indicate a new password. Once this procedure is completed, we must enter two commands:

Screenshot 8

The first, to ensure that the keyboard layout corresponds to the Spanish:

"loadkeys is"

The second, for update system software:

"apt-get update && apt-get upgrade"

Now we are ready to start installing and configuring the rest of the software for our virtual private server. But that will remain for future deliveries of this tutorial.