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Hosting Discussion > Web Hosting Forums > VPS, Dedicated & Colocation Hosting > OpenVZ vs. Xen: What's the difference, and which is better?
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  Post #1 (permalink)   01-02-2012, 05:56 AM
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We've written this article to provide a little insight into the difference between OpenVZ and Xen, two very popular but somewhat different virtualization technologies. Ultimately, as with choosing between a Linux or Windows server, you will need to think about the applications you will be running to decide whether OpenVZ or Xen will be a better fit for them. Below is a brief overview of some of the key differences between these two platforms.

The slightly more reliable virtualization software is Xen, a para-virtualization platform that creates VPS with almost exactly the same characteristics as dedicated servers. A Xen VPS will run its own isolated kernel, load its own kernel modules, use fully dedicated virtualized memory, I/O and scheduler, and will be just as stable and customizable as a dedicated server. For a small premium, you'll never know that you're only using a virtual server.

OpenVZ, on the other hand, is an operating-system-level virtualization platform that works in much the same way, but provides only a thin layer of virtualization on top of the underlying OS. All VPS on an OpenVZ node will share the same core Linux kernel--this is why OpenVZ only supports Linux systems--, and, consequently, will also suffer alike from issues like kernel crashes. Despite these small drawbacks, OpenVZ VPS are more cost-effective, easier to understand, and are usually much more effective than Xen as cheap VPS, due to having the extra resources available that a Xen VPS would be using to run its completely isolated environment.

Certainly, these are not the only differences between the two platforms, but they are some of the most significant:

Main Features of OpenVZ Virtualization:
  • Full root access.
  • OS-level virtualization.
  • 'Burst' RAM and other extra resources available when nodes are underused.
  • Upgrades can be applied on-the-fly, without reboots.
  • More resources available due to lightweight virtualization.
  • Simple network and disk setup.
  • Access to most iptables modules.

Main Features of Xen Virtualization:
  • Full root access.
  • Supports Linux and Windows.
  • Better Java performance.
  • Resources (RAM, etc) are fully dedicated and private.
  • Para-virtualized Linux kernel (i.e., full isolation).
  • Direct access to loadable kernel modules.
  • Swap space.
  • Highly configurable.

If you are unsure which platform would be better for you, an OpenVZ VPS will most likely be an easier and more cost-effective solution, unless you already know that you will require specific kernel modules that OpenVZ does not support.

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  Post #2 (permalink)   01-11-2012, 04:48 PM
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Here's another good read about OpenVZ vs Xen:

  Post #3 (permalink)   01-12-2012, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by PhotonVPS-Jim View Post
Here's another good read about OpenVZ vs Xen:
That article was written in 2007, but it's still a great comparison summary.
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  Post #4 (permalink)   01-16-2012, 06:46 PM
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It depends on the pricing you're looking to put your servers at and what type of audience that you're looking for. If you're looking to dedicate the allocation and interested in marketing towards businesses / mission-critical projects that individuals are willing to pay a bit more for complete "isolation" I would recommend XEN. You're going to want some beefy servers though as there it's impossible to oversell on RAM.

OpenVZ is very lite, and from what I see is normally used for hosting providers that are the cheapest in the industry because of the overselling. With having that in mind, you will want to focus on I/O speeds and ensure abusers are being suspended to avoid the whole node running into issues.

Just a few suggestions and I hope it helped to make a final decision!

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  Post #5 (permalink)   02-01-2012, 01:08 AM
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yea xen manages better the memory and resources. Its more stable and faster
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  Post #6 (permalink)   02-02-2012, 03:15 AM
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The openvz can be oversold easily, Xen is more reliable.
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  Post #7 (permalink)   02-02-2012, 01:11 PM
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Openvz has provided with many tools which makes vps management easy for administrator. Being os level virtulization, it uses it's own os templates for vps creation. Newly created vps takes less amount of disk space. (Just few MBs like 30-40MB)
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  Post #8 (permalink)   02-11-2012, 02:03 AM
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I think that XEN is better in terms of that comparison.

  Post #9 (permalink)   02-11-2012, 12:55 PM
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When I see a company offering XEN, I know they are a good company, as XEN is hard to oversell.

  Post #10 (permalink)   02-13-2012, 12:07 PM
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I heard XEN is better, but I have always used OpenVZ and I have had no complaints. My vps runs great!!

  Post #11 (permalink)   02-16-2012, 04:00 PM
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I like OpenVZ, used it for the majority of my 8 yeas experience although I've started to take a liking for XEN.
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  Post #12 (permalink)   02-19-2012, 10:41 PM
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We love OpenVZ and Xen , We have been working with it from more than 7 yrs and found it very nice , however Xen is more impressive than OpenVZ

  Post #13 (permalink)   02-24-2012, 07:05 AM
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It depends on what you want to sell your customers. Xen allows paravirtualization which completely isolates the VPS from other VPS clients. In addition it is more reliable and efficient.

You can offer OpenVZ to customers who have lower requirements.
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  Post #14 (permalink)   04-17-2012, 02:23 PM
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This is very true : Better Java performance. OpenVZ especially low RAM ones need some adjustments.
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