One of the biggest pushes in the hosting world over the past couple of years is something called a VPS, short for Virtual Private Server. It’s a way hosting companies can sell a sort of mini-dedicated server. Each VPS is a piece of software separating one server into many.
The advantage to a VPS over shared hosting is guaranteed resources. If someone else on your server starts eating up resources like crazy, your site won’t be affected. Each VPS has a certain portion of resources dedicated to it. Say you get 25% of the CPU and maybe 256MB of RAM. No matter what happens, you’re guaranteed uptime.
Most VPS packages are kind of a “you’re-on-your-own” deal where you need to step up and learn a bit of sysadmin-ing to get going correctly. While this isn’t always the case, it’s very common. Also VPS packages tend to be a good deal more expensive than shared hosting, while not scaling to the proportion of dedicated hosting you’re using. It’s still not as expensive as dedicated — but more expensive than you might expect.
Where can I sign up?
There are hundreds of hosting companies out there that offer VPS packages, but two of my favorites are TextDrive through their Accelerator packages, and Mediatemple through their (dv) Dedicated Virtual packages.