Although it can be a bummer, there does come a time when
all of us have to grow up, fly the nest and make it on our own terms. In the
Web world, that usually means making the big move from a shared hosting package
to a dedicated hosting service.
are those that are leased by a website owner and isn’t shared with
anyone else, improving flexibility by giving them full control over how their
server is used.
This is a big and often
expensive change for a site owner to make, so naturally he or she is going to
have a few questions first. Thankfully, they have to look no further, because
this guide will help them better understand what they need to know before
making the move to a dedicated server.
Why would I want to
make this change?
There are many
benefits to switching to a dedicated server, if your Web properties are ready
and in need of them. Dedicated servers are great for eliminating downtime, improving
backend performance and email delivery, increased speeds and full
administrative control on the part of the user; in many cases, they can even
lower costs and increase their return on investment (ROI) in the long run.
Once your website
starts to see about 2000-3000 daily unique visitors, chances are it’s time to
start considering making the switch. Alternatively, if your site serves
downloads or streams media, dedicated servers can drastically improve your site’s
How much is this
going to cost me?
Yeah, this is
obviously an important question. Giving an exact answer is obviously close to
impossible, because much of it is dependent on (A) the service provider you
purchase it from and (B) your business’ size and unique needs. As a small
business, you can likely find prices as low as under $100 a month, although
generally these will be discount offers for older/cheaper machines. In general,
your price range will start around $150-$200 for a bare bones package, with
additional increases for extras you may need to add.
companies, however, can start paying
around $400 a month, but more realistically for a company that size, a basic
starter package will run at least $600, if not far more. Of course, a lot of
this is just conjecture, and every website owner is going to have to work with
a hosting service provider to find the price that best suits their unique needs
while providing the best value.
Do I want managed
or unmanaged hosting?
Once you start
shopping around, you’re going to hear the terms “managed” and “unmanaged”
thrown about. With an unmanaged server, you, the site owner, are fully
responsible for all of the troubleshooting, maintenance, applications and
security of the server. Managed servers, on the other hand, are taken care of
by the hosting company, including updating (usually on demand), based on your
specific desires. Because of the costs associated with maintaining a managed
server, these offerings tend to cost more than unmanaged options.
The biggest downside
to unmanaged servers (or upside to managed servers) is that they require a lot
of time and resources, not to mention the knowledge, to operate them that many
business owners just don’t have. An unmanaged server may be a great choice for
a larger company with a dedicated IT department and/or the money to hire a
third-party to manage it, but for the average SMB owner, with already limited
time and resources, managed servers are probably the best way to go.
considerations should I keep in mind?
Since the reason
most companies move to dedicated servers is because they need more flexibility
from their hosting service, it makes sense that you’ll want to bear these
considerations in mind as you select the server hardware you’re going to buy. Every
server comes with physical constraints that will limit how much you can do with
it, so if you don’t choose wisely, you’ll be running the risk of encountering
the same problems you switched to a dedicated server to avoid.
Hardware specs to
keep in mind with regard to a dedicated server include speed, storage space,
how much RAM comes with it and how much you can add and whether the server will
come with one or multiple CPUs.
It’s your job to
know your system requirements for both your current needs and future expectations
so that you can select the server that will benefit your business for the foreseeable
future. Almost always, hosting service providers will provide a variety of basic
packages that offer a different set of hardware specifications, but then users
can add to a package (for additional fees) to increase the server’s flexibility
and meet their individual needs.
specifications should I be concerned with?
Beyond hardware, the
most important thing to consider is bandwidth. You need to check with the
service provider to see exactly how much bandwidth you’ll receive with the
service, making sure that you select a server that can provide you with more bandwidth than what you estimate
needing, just in case. Selecting a package that offers enough bandwidth is
absolutely crucial, so make sure you do your homework. Also, make sure you
understand the provider’s bandwidth policy, specifically how much you’ll be
charged should you happen to exceed your bandwidth allowance, if they notify
you immediately in this case and if they can or will suspend your account in
For some users, it
may be important to utilize a specific operating system on your dedicated
server. Many of these packages come with a basic Linux or Unix open source system
with no charge, but you can also take advantage of commercial operating
systems, like Microsoft’s Windows Server or Linux’s Red Hat Enterprise. There
is also a wide variety of free open source operating systems on the market. The
choice of OS is going to be largely based on the feature set and management
options required by your business
Finally, if you use,
or plan to use, software or applications to run your website, it’s necessary to
ensure that the hosting platform and package that you choose is able to work
with these specific tools. Most providers will allow you to select any software
you want to put on the server, including operating system, database and various
applications, but sometimes, providers will charge you a fixed monthly price to
run certain software packages.
How can I be sure
my data is secure?
For many businesses,
security is priority number one with regard to issues of Web hosting, even more
so when a business keeps highly sensitive data on hand. The good news is that dedicated
servers are far more secure than their shared counterparts, since only your
individual website information will be hosted on it, which keeps your data from
being open to attacks on other sites.
Still, things happen
and there is always a possibility that a technological malfunction could result
in a loss of data. This means that frequent data backup is absolutely crucial.
If you’re running an unmanaged server, that means making sure you routinely
backup critical information on a regular basis. If you’re using a server-side
management solution, know the process the manager(s) goes through to backup data,
and how often they do it, as well as the security measures the provider takes
to secure their servers.
Ultimately, with a
dedicated server you’re the one in charge and responsible for your data
security, which is why you have to select a package that meets your security
What about customer
The last major thing
to look out for when choosing your dedicated server package is support. This is
doubly important if you’re going to try running your own unmanaged system, as
you’re going to need to know that you can get help should anything happen that
you cannot manage or fix on your end quickly. The most important questions to
ask with regard to customer support are (A) if they offer it at all (they
probably do), (B) what issues customer support covers, (C) what times of the
day it is available and (D) if they charge a fee for customer support, and if
so, how much the fee costs.
This guide should
set you on your path towards making the move to a dedicated hosting service.
However, the most important thing is for you to know what your own unique needs
and requirements are going to be as you begin the process of looking for the
right platform and package for your website(s) to help you make the right
selection at the end of the day.