Dedicated Server Hosting, also known as a Dedicated Server and Managed Hosting, is a type of Internet hosting service where a hosting company allocates an entire physical server to a single customer. Since the server is not shared with anyone else, dedicated hosting offers unparalleled performance and reliability. The main downside of owning a dedicated server is its high price tag.
Unlike other solutions, dedicated server hosting gives you “bare metal” access to the server. As a result, you have the freedom to fully customize the operating system along with all installed applications. In most cases, you will even be able to pick the hardware configuration that best suits your needs. Thanks to this high degree of customization and the fact that each server is dedicated to a single client, this type of hosting is often used for mission-critical tasks.
As you might imagine, operating, monitoring, and maintaining an entire dedicated server takes quite a bit of technical knowledge and effort. Fortunately, the hosting provider can usually step in and help with the management of the server. The level of support depends on each hosting company and can range between no support at all and full management which includes continuous server monitoring and even writing custom programs for you.
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To learn even more about dedicated server hosting, continue reading or jump to the section that interests you:
- Should I Use Dedicated Server Hosting?
- Getting the Right Dedicated Server
- Types of Dedicated Server Management
- Restrictions and Limitations
- Comparing Dedicated Servers to Other Types of Hosting
Dedicated server hosting has numerous advantages over other types of hosting. The most notable are:
- Best uptime when compared to other hosting solutions.
- Best overall performance when it comes to running a website.
- Customizable hardware allows you to pick and choose your server’s technical specs.
- Complete freedom when it comes to the server’s operating system and all installed applications.
- Various levels of server management by the hosting provider to accommodate your needs.
- Zero congestion from third-party sites since the server is not shared with anyone else.
- Not sharing a server with other people means fewer attack vectors for hackers.
- Best security thanks to the ability to install custom anti-virus software and firewall applications.
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Dedicated server hosting is not the ideal solution for every website owner. Below, we will list the most notable drawbacks that come with owning a dedicated server:
- This is the most expensive hosting option out there.
- System hardware upgrades are not instant and are more time-consuming.
- Technical knowledge is required to fully utilize a dedicated server.
- Getting management assistance from the hosting provider usually costs extra.
- There is no set standard for providing management assistance for dedicated servers. As such, the level of support will vary from one hosting provider to the next.
Should I Use Dedicated Server Hosting?
Thanks to their best-in-class stability, performance, and security, dedicated servers are often used by large corporations to power mission-critical websites, online stores, and internal company systems. If your main concern is server reliability and money is not an issue, you will not go wrong with dedicated server hosting.
On the other hand, if you do not wish to spend a lot of money or your website does not generate a lot of traffic, a more budget-friendly hosting solution might be a better fit for you. Websites and online stores based on WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, PrestaShop, OpenCart, and similar can often run without any issues on our paid shared hosting plans and even on our free shared hosting package. If your website is more resource-intensive, you can consider one of our semi-dedicated hosting plans to power it. Lastly, if you are restricted by the types of applications and software that our shared servers can run, getting a VPS will be a good solution for you.
Getting the Right Dedicated Server
Not all dedicated servers are created equal. As such, it is a good idea to shop around before you decide to sign up for a specific dedicated hosting service. In the following two sections, we will provide some tips on picking the right server for your needs.
Getting the Right Hardware
First and foremost, you should look at the uptime guarantee that each dedicated server hosting provider offers. The higher the guaranteed uptime, the better. Quality hosting providers will ensure high uptime by implementing a robust server redundancy strategy. Moreover, they will have deals with multiple Internet providers in order to ensure high connection speed at all times. Lastly, the data center where the server is located must be continuously monitored, temperature-controlled, and there must be adequate fail-safes in place in the event of a power outage and other disasters.
It is important to remember that a dedicated server cannot be upgraded instantly with the click of a button. Instead, the upgrade process can take hours or even days depending on the hardware components that need to be replaced. As such, you should equip your server with enough processing power, RAM, and storage space from the very beginning so that all applications can run smoothly even during peak utilization times.
When it comes to the actual technical specs of the server, these would depend on your particular project. While selecting the CPU and RAM for the server, it’s always a good idea to go a bit higher than what you expect to use. This extra power will act as a buffer and make sure that you do not run into any bottlenecks.
Another aspect of your dedicated server that you need to consider is storage. You can either go with SSD (Solid State Drive) or HDD (Hard Disk Drive). SSDs are considerably faster, but their storage capacity is more limited. HDDs, on the other hand, can store a lot more data but are not as fast. A combination of the two storage mediums is often ideal: SSD for the files and applications that are used on regularly and HDD for general file storage and archive or backup purposes.
Lastly, you should also consider your server’s bandwidth. In most cases, the hosting provider will have a monthly traffic limit that should not be exceeded. Fortunately, if you go over your limit, you will likely just need to pay some overage charges and your server’s Internet connection will not be negatively impacted. We recommend checking your provider’s Terms of Service for their exact policy.
Getting the Right Software
Unlike most types of web hosting, dedicated server hosting gives you complete freedom when it comes to picking the software that will run on your server. This includes the operating system, which will likely be the first software-related choice that you need to make during the order process for your dedicated server.
In general, there are two broad categories of server operating systems – free and paid. Examples of free operating systems are Linux, Unix, Fedora, Debian, BSD, FreeBSD. The paid options are not as numerous, with Red Hat Enterprise and Microsoft Windows Server being two notable examples.
While it may be counterintuitive, the free operating systems have proven to be just as reliable and stable as their paid counterparts. As such, you will not go wrong with either option. Your primary concern should be to make sure that all mission-critical software can run without any issues and is fully compatible with your operating system of choice.
Once you have settled on an operating system, you should decide whether to use a control panel or not. Control panels are specialized pieces of software created specifically for servers. They allow easy access to common server-related settings and allow you to automate various tasks. Some even hook into various third-party software packages, thus providing you with an all-in-one interface for managing the most important aspects of a server.
Like with your choice in operating systems, there are both free and paid control panels out there. Time has shown that free control panels often suffer from reliability issues and as such it is best to opt for a premium control panel.
Lastly, you should put enhanced security measures in place. These measures can be programs for scanning systems and networks for hackers, spammers, and other types of invaders. File scanning should also be carried out in order to protect against trojans, worms, and other viruses.
Types of Dedicated Server Management
In general, there are four types of dedicated servers when it comes to the level of management support offered by the hosting provider – fully managed, managed, self-managed, and unmanaged. Below, we will outline what to expect with each level of server management:
- Fully managed dedicated server hosting comes with 24/7 monitoring. Additionally, the hosting provider will carry out software updates, apply security patches, and upgrade your server OS when new versions become available. What is more, the hosting provider will help you in deploying your server applications and may even be able to offer you scripting/coding support. This is the most expensive option.
- Managed dedicated server hosting comes with 24/7 monitoring. Additionally, the hosting provider will carry out software updates, apply security patches, and upgrade your server OS when new versions become available. You may also receive limited help in deploying applications on the server.
- Self-managed dedicated server hosting comes with 24/7 monitoring. Additionally, the hosting provider will carry out essential updates, especially if they are security-related. General updates will need to be installed by the customer.
- Unmanaged dedicated server hosting may include 24/7 monitoring. With this level of management, it is assumed that the client is fully responsible for operating and maintaining the server.
As we have briefly mentioned before, there is still no set standard when it comes to offering management support for dedicated servers. This is why it is important to check the SLA – Service Level Agreement – when signing up for a dedicated server. Below you will find a list of tasks and services that the hosting provider may offer, as per your SLA:
- 24/7 server monitoring.
- 24/7 application monitoring.
- installing operating system updates.
- installing and configuring software packages.
- installing application updates.
- configuring installed applications.
- regular security audits.
- configuring firewalls.
- configuring anti-virus and other anti-malware applications.
- preventing DDoS and other types of attacks.
- performing backups on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis.
- data recovery in case of a catastrophic failure.
- general performance maintenance and optimization.
- load balancing.
- handling DNS configuration.
- managing databases.
- managing users.
- providing general technical support.
- providing programming assistance.
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Restrictions and Limitations
Dedicated server hosting offers a great deal of freedom when it comes to running your site, but some general restrictions still apply. First and foremost, all reputable hosting providers will have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to copyright violations. Additionally, many providers will not allow adult content as it consumes a lot of network resources and may pose legal issues.
Another type of service that may be denied is IRC as it can be used as an attack vector for flood attacks that can overwhelm the hosting provider’s network infrastructure. Similarly, network scanners, crawlers, and bots may be prohibited as they tend to consume a lot of bandwidth.
For a complete list of programs and activities that are restricted, you should refer to the hosting provider’s Terms of Service. It is important to familiarize yourself with these restrictions prior to signing up for a dedicated server as there may be penalties if the Terms of Service are violated.
Comparing Dedicated Servers to Other Types of Hosting
Generally speaking, there are three major types of web hosting. These are shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated server hosting. In the following few sections, we will compare dedicated server hosting to its various alternatives.
Dedicated Server Hosting vs Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is inferior to a dedicated server in most respects. Since shared hosting is based on the premise that a single server is shared among multiple clients, each website receives only a fraction of the server’s power.
Moreover, shared servers are more locked down in order to maintain server stability. As such, if your site requires custom software to operate, you may not be able to run it in a shared environment.
On a more positive note, if you decide to buy a shared hosting plan, you would be spending a fraction of the cost for a dedicated server. Also, shared hosting servers are managed by the hosting provider, so you would not need to spend time and effort maintaining the server yourself.
Dedicated Server Hosting vs Semi-Dedicated Server Hosting
Although dedicated server hosting and semi-dedicated server hosting sound very similar, there are some pronounced differences in several key areas. Most importantly, semi-dedicated hosting is nearly identical to regular shared hosting in terms of functionality and available control panels, while dedicated server hosting provides much more granular control and has very few restrictions.
The main benefit of semi-dedicated hosting is that when you buy a semi-dedicated server, you will be sharing it with very few people. As a result, you can expect to see a considerable performance boost while still letting the hosting provider handle all server management tasks. With a dedicated server, on the other hand, you will benefit from great performance, but you will also be expected to maintain the server yourself.
Lastly, the number and type of applications that you can run on a semi-dedicated server are very small when compared to a dedicated server. This is mainly because you will not have root access to a semi-dedicated server and you will not have the ability to install arbitrary software.
Dedicated Server Hosting vs Colocation Hosting
Dedicated server hosting and colocation hosting are very similar in terms of features and performance. There is just one standout difference between the two – with colocation hosting you need to provide the server hardware yourself while with dedicated server hosting you are renting server hardware that is owned by the hosting provider.
You can think of colocation hosting as renting an unfurnished apartment. You rent out the living space and are expected to bring your own furniture. In contrast, dedicated hosting is like renting a fully-furnished apartment – you still get the same living space, but you can move in straight away since the furniture is already there.
Dedicated Server Hosting vs Cloud Hosting
Dedicated server hosting and cloud hosting are both geared toward resource-intensive projects, however, they differ in their approach. While a dedicated server is designed to handle a project’s entire processing demands throughout its lifecycle, cloud hosting is much more flexible and adaptable. The cloud operates as a utility company – you pay for the processing power that you have used and you have the freedom to adjust the amount of resources that you are using in real-time.
Without a doubt, scalability is the breakout feature of cloud hosting. In fact, thanks to the cloud you can run projects that are simply too demanding for any one server to handle alone. This result is achieved by leveraging the processing power of multiple servers at the same time.
Cloud hosting does have its drawbacks, however. Spreading your information across multiple servers is great for uptime and processing a lot of data, but there are also privacy implications. By increasing the number of servers that hold sensitive information, you are also increasing the risk of third parties obtaining this information. As such, a hybrid approach is often utilized by large companies – a dedicated server that holds and stores all sensitive data and briefly shares it with the cloud for processing when needed.
Dedicated Server Hosting vs VPS Hosting
You could say that VPS hosting is the poor man’s dedicated server. Both types of hosting offer nearly the same features, however, VPS hosting is much more affordable. This lower price tag is achieved by splitting one physical server into multiple virtual servers. As such, when you buy VPS hosting, you are only paying for a portion of the physical server’s resources.
Speaking of server resources, you can quickly and easily add more processing power, RAM, or storage to a VPS. Since the server is virtual, these extra resources can be added instantly without taking the server offline. Such an upgrade would be impossible with a dedicated server.
Dedicated server hosting is not for everyone. You should consider dedicated hosting only as a last resort due to its prohibitive price tag. An upgrade to a dedicated server makes sense if shared and VPS hosting are not secure enough for you or if these other types of hosting simply cannot meet your resource needs.
Unlike shared and semi-dedicated hosting, a dedicated server requires a fair amount of technical knowledge to operate. Thankfully, most hosting providers will be willing to manage the server for you for an additional fee, leaving you to concentrate on running your business.