What Is Semi-Dedicated Server Hosting?

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Semi-dedicated server hosting is a type of Internet hosting service that provides you with a considerable amount of computing power while retaining the simplicity and ease of use that shared hosting is known for. What is more, semi-dedicated servers are considered a managed hosting service and as such, the hosting provider is expected to carry out regular server maintenance and to apply system security updates when they become available.

Semi-dedicated servers most closely resemble regular shared hosting. Both hosting models allow a single physical server to be used by multiple individuals and organizations at the same time. But while shared hosting allows hundreds or even thousands of websites to utilize a single server, semi-dedicated hosting limits the number of sites to just a dozen or so. Thanks to this very low site count, semi-dedicated server hosting can ensure that each website is getting an adequate amount of computing resources. In fact, semi-dedicated servers are considered to be more powerful than VPS hosting.

Semi-dedicated hosting sits in the middle in terms of performance. It is more powerful than a VPS, but less performant when compared to colocation hosting or the cloud.
Semi-dedicated hosting sits in the middle in terms of performance. It is more powerful than a VPS, but less performant when compared to colocation hosting or the cloud.

As we have mentioned earlier, both shared and semi-dedicated server hosting are very easy to use. This is because the two hosting models provide you with the same level of system access and consequently use nearly identical control panels. These control panels are generally very approachable and have dedicated sections for each feature of the hosting plan. Even if you do not have a lot of technical experience, you should be able to successfully manage your hosting account.

Here at AwardSpace, we use control panels that have been custom-built by our developer team with ease of use in mind. So, if you decide to purchase a semi-dedicated server from us, you will get a control panel that is both powerful and easy to use. On top of all that, our Knowledge Base contains a Control Panel section where you can learn to use our control panel to its fullest potential.

Additionally, your hosting provider should be able to assist you with any issues that you may be experiencing. This technical support is typically included in the price of the hosting plan. Therefore, semi-dedicated hosting is a great choice if you are looking for a high-performance hosting solution that also comes with free technical support should you ever need it. We pride ourselves on delivering best-in-class technical support that is available 24/7. So, if you are looking for a hosting company that always has your back, you can sign up for our semi-dedicated hosting service.

When compared to other types of hosting, semi-dedicated servers offer the highest level of technical support that is included by default in the price of the hosting plan.
When compared to other types of hosting, semi-dedicated servers offer the highest level of technical support that is included by default in the price of the hosting plan.

The biggest downside of semi-dedicated server hosting is that it lacks root access. As a result, you will not be able to install arbitrary software on the server. Instead, you must make sure that the hosting provider already supports all technologies, frameworks, and libraries that are required by your site to function before trying to upload it.

Semi-dedicated hosting is one of the more restrictive hosting options out there. Only free and shared hosting plans are considered even more limited.
Semi-dedicated hosting is one of the more restrictive hosting options out there. Only free and shared hosting plans are considered even more limited.

The other notable disadvantage of semi-dedicated hosting is that it’s not the most secure hosting option. In fact, it offers protection that is roughly on par with regular shared hosting. The main reason for this relatively low level of security is the fact that each semi-dedicated server is essentially shared, albeit with a smaller number of websites. If one of the neighboring sites gets hacked, there’s a chance that the attacker will be able to overtake the entire server, thus affecting your own website as well.

Semi-dedicated server hosting offers a relatively low level of protection, but it is still a better choice when compared to free and shared hosting.
Semi-dedicated server hosting offers a relatively low level of protection, but it is still a better choice when compared to free and shared hosting.

To learn even more about semi-dedicated server hosting, continue reading or jump to the section that interests you:

Advantages

Semi-dedicated server hosting has a lot going for it. Below, we will list some of the most notable benefits you will gain if you decide to purchase a semi-dedicated server.

  • This is a managed hosting service. In other words, you do not need to worry about maintaining the server or installing security patches.
  • Most hosting providers will offer you complimentary technical support that should be available 24/7.
  • Semi-dedicated server hosting requires a modest amount of technical knowledge. As such, it is highly approachable, even by people who do not have a technical background.
  • Website management is performed through an easy-to-use control panel rather than a command-line application.
  • Semi-dedicated servers deliver noticeably better performance when compared to regular shared hosting.
  • Semi-dedicated server hosting has much higher usage limits when compared to shared hosting.
  • You share a semi-dedicated server with just a handful of other websites. As such, the risk of running into security issues is minimal.

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Disadvantages

Like any other type of hosting, semi-dedicated servers come with a few drawbacks as well. Below, we will list the most notable disadvantages that come with owning a semi-dedicated server.

  • You will not be able to install arbitrary applications and packages on the server since you will not have root access.
  • You can only use the packages that have been preinstalled and preconfigured by the system administrator team. If your project or website requires a package or a framework that is missing, then you won’t be able to use semi-dedicated server hosting to power your website or project.
  • Semi-dedicated servers work in a way similar to regular shared hosting. As such, this type of hosting does not have the highest level of security.
  • This is a relatively expensive hosting option. In fact, semi-dedicated servers often cost more than a VPS while providing you with fewer features and less flexibility.

Should I Use Semi-Dedicated Server Hosting?

Semi-dedicated server hosting is best suited for individuals and organizations that are currently using a free or a shared plan but are starting to reach the usage limits of their hosting package. In these types of situations, upgrading to semi-dedicated hosting will not provide you with a ton of new features, but it will significantly raise your usage limits. As a result, your website will no longer be taken down by the hosting provider due to excessive server resource utilization.

What makes upgrades to semi-dedicated hosting unique is that you gain additional server performance and some new features while retaining the simplicity and ease of use you have come to expect from shared hosting. If you are currently using our free website hosting service or one of our premium shared hosting plans and you decide to upgrade to semi-dedicated server hosting, you will see no change in your control panel. After the upgrade, your data will be migrated automatically and you will be free to continue using the same tools and functions that you are already accustomed to.

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That said, semi-dedicated server hosting is not for everyone. The most notable limitation is that you are not given root access to the server. As a result, you will not be allowed to install custom packages and applications on the system and you will be forced to use only the packages that have been preinstalled and configured by the hosting provider. Because of this limitation, we can recommend upgrading to semi-dedicated hosting only if you are happy with the feature set offered by shared hosting and you are simply seeking better overall performance.

The other factor to consider when upgrading is price. Semi-dedicated server hosting is a mid-tier hosting solution in terms of cost. What makes it a hard sell, however, is that VPS hosting is more affordable while also offering root access and more features. As such, if you are looking for the biggest bang for your buck, then we would recommend buying a VPS instead of semi-dedicated hosting. On top of all that, a VPS can offer you a higher degree of protection since VPS instances are better isolated from one another, even if they are using the same physical server to power them.

Semi-dedicated server hosting offers a limited array of features given its relatively high price.
Semi-dedicated server hosting offers a limited array of features given its relatively high price.

Getting the Right Semi-Dedicated Server

If you have compared semi-dedicated server hosting to all other hosting types and have decided that it best suits your needs, then reading this section will give you a good idea of what to look out for when buying a semi-dedicated server.

The first buying decision that you should make is to choose the right hosting provider. Since semi-dedicated hosting is a managed hosting service, the hosting company must be able to keep the server operational at all times. Ideally, you should purchase semi-dedicated hosting from a provider that can guarantee a minimum of 99.9% uptime.

Since semi-dedicated hosting is a managed hosting service, it has a relatively high average uptime.
Since semi-dedicated hosting is a managed hosting service, it has a relatively high average uptime.

Two other services that the hosting provider should offer are quality backups and competent technical support. When it comes to backups, your websites and databases should be backed up automatically at least once per week. And as for technical support, you should be able to easily reach the hosting company’s support team and they should be able to respond to you within an hour.

The semi-dedicated hosting provider should also have a robust security system that actively scans for threats on the network and prevents attacks and unauthorized access. Your hosting account should be scanned on a regular basis for viruses, trojans, and other malicious software.

Lastly, you should have access to a robust control panel that allows you to fully manage your semi-dedicated server without having to contact the hosting provider. At the very least, you should be able to access and modify your files, FTP accounts, databases, email accounts, DNS settings, site backups, and SSH access. If any of those features are missing, you would be forced to get in touch with the hosting provider’s support team for assistance which leads to a suboptimal experience overall.

Here at AwardSpace, we are proud to say that our semi-dedicated hosting service covers all points that we have made thus far. As such, we highly recommend buying a semi-dedicated server from us. We will even provide you with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test our services for a full month with zero risk.

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When it comes to the semi-dedicated server itself, you must ensure that it uses Solid State Drives (SSDs) for storage. Hosting options that use older Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) may be more affordable and may offer more storage, but they are also considerably slower than SSDs. And speaking of speed, the best hosting providers will be able to offer you NVMe SSDs. This storage option eliminates some of the bottlenecks found in regular SSDs and offers even higher read/write speeds.

Apart from storage, you should also inquire how many other customers will be sharing the semi-dedicated server with you. As you might imagine, the fewer additional clients, the better. Ideally, you should be sharing the server with no more than a dozen or so people.

Lastly, you should learn how much processing power and memory your website or application needs to run properly. You must then make sure that your semi-dedicated plan meets or exceeds these requirements. In particular, you should research the following performance characteristics:

  • how many CPU cores your site needs
  • how much system memory it requires
  • how much disk space is necessary
  • how much network traffic is used each month

Restrictions and Limitations

The biggest limitation that you need to keep in mind when using semi-dedicated server hosting is that you will not be able to install and run arbitrary programs on the server. Instead, you can only use the libraries, programming languages, and frameworks that have been set up by the administrator team.

The reason for this restriction is the fact that you will not have root access to the server. Hosting providers limit your access so they can maintain system stability and keep the server’s performance from deteriorating.

Additionally, some sites and applications may be prohibited, even if the server is able to support them. Commonly prohibited websites and applications include IRC chat clients and servers, sites with copyrighted content, and websites containing adult content.

If in doubt, it is always a good idea to consult with the hosting provider before uploading a website or application that can potentially be problematic.

Comparing Semi-Dedicated Servers to Other Types of Hosting

Semi-dedicated server hosting is considered a mid-tier hosting solution. As such, it will not satisfy everyone’s needs. In the following few sections, we will see how semi-dedicated servers compare to all other major types of web hosting.

Semi-Dedicated Server Hosting vs Shared Hosting

Shared and semi-dedicated servers are practically identical. The only difference is that semi-dedicated servers guarantee a certain level of performance by hosting fewer websites per server.
Shared and semi-dedicated servers are practically identical. The only difference is that semi-dedicated servers guarantee a certain level of performance by hosting fewer websites per server.

Semi-dedicated server hosting and shared hosting are remarkably similar. In fact, semi-dedicated hosting can be viewed as supercharged shared hosting that provides you with extra server resources. What is more, semi-dedicated plans can guarantee that your website will have a certain amount of processing power and system memory available to it at all times. In contrast, websites on a shared server are always competing for the same pool of computing resources.

The thing that gives semi-dedicated hosting its performance edge is the fact that a semi-dedicated server powers considerably fewer websites than a shared hosting server. In reality, a shared server can provide processing power to hundreds, even thousands of websites at the same time, while a dedicated server runs a dozen or so websites at most.

Apart from ensuring better performance, having a low number of customer sites per semi-dedicated server has another effect – it significantly increases the cost of semi-dedicated hosting. It is common for a baseline semi-dedicated package to cost ten or twenty times as much as a regular shared hosting plan. As such, buying a shared hosting plan might be a better choice if you are on a tight budget.

Semi-Dedicated Server Hosting vs Dedicated Server Hosting

Dedicated server hosting places an entire server under your control while semi-dedicated hosting provides you with a piece of a server. As a result, dedicated server hosting offers much greater flexibility and freedom.
Dedicated server hosting places an entire server under your control while semi-dedicated hosting provides you with a piece of a server. As a result, dedicated server hosting offers much greater flexibility and freedom.

Despite sounding very similar, dedicated server hosting and semi-dedicated server hosting differ profoundly in the type of hosting service they offer. As we have just discussed, semi-dedicated hosting can be considered a supercharged shared server that comes with all benefits and drawbacks of regular shared hosting. In contrast, a dedicated server provides you with bare-metal access to an entire physical server and you are free to use it as you see fit.

As you might imagine, dedicated server hosting opens up limitless possibilities. You can use it to power your website, an internal portal for your organization, or it can serve as the back-end for your mobile application. Moreover, since the server will be used by you and no one else, you can install your operating system of choice and further customize the hosting experience by installing all programs, packages, frameworks, and libraries that your website or project requires.

In contrast, with a semi-dedicated server, you can only use the programs and libraries that have already been configured by the hosting provider. Moreover, semi-dedicated servers are still shared among several websites and as such you will not have the server’s entire computing capacity at your disposal.

While dedicated server hosting does have its benefits, it comes with a few drawbacks as well. The two most important drawbacks are its prohibitively high price and the high level of technical expertise that is necessary to operate an entire server.

If you are a professional systems administrator or your company has a dedicated IT department and if you have the funds to spare, a dedicated server will offer you one of the best and most secure hosting solutions on the market. On the other hand, if you don’t have the technical experience necessary to manage an entire physical server or you lack the funds for a dedicated server, then buying semi-dedicated server hosting might be a better fit since it is more affordable and comes with 24/7 technical support.

Semi-Dedicated Server Hosting vs Colocation Hosting

With colocation hosting you are expected to bring your own server hardware, while semi-dedicated hosting is great if you just need a shared hosting plan with additional computing power.
With colocation hosting you are expected to bring your own server hardware, while semi-dedicated hosting is great if you just need a shared hosting plan with additional computing power.

At its core, colocation hosting is nearly identical to dedicated server hosting. As such, all points that we made in our comparison between dedicated and semi-dedicated server hosting apply here as well.

What sets colocation hosting apart from dedicated hosting is the fact that with colocation hosting you need to provide your own server hardware. As such, buying colocation hosting over semi-dedicated server hosting only makes sense if you already own the server hardware that you wish to use or if your project is designed to run on specific hardware that is not commonly used by web hosting providers.

Semi-Dedicated Server Hosting vs Cloud Hosting

While semi-dedicated server hosting and cloud hosting appear to offer the same kind of hosting service, there are some profound differences in the way the two hosting models operate.
While semi-dedicated server hosting and cloud hosting appear to offer the same kind of hosting service, there are some profound differences in the way the two hosting models operate.

Semi-dedicated server hosting and cloud hosting are set up in two very different ways. With semi-dedicated hosting, a single physical server accommodates a dozen or so websites. While with cloud hosting, on the other hand, several physical servers are split into multiple virtual servers. These virtual servers are then used to power your website or project. Due to these differences, each hosting type comes with its own set of advantages.

By far the cloud’s biggest two advantages are its unmatched uptime and processing potential. If you have a website or another service that must always be online no matter what, then you need cloud hosting. The cloud utilizes multiple servers to power your project and even if one of those virtual servers fails, your project or website will remain fully operational.

What is more, the cloud is an elastic hosting solution where the hosting provider can adjust the number of virtual servers that power your website in real-time. And since there is no limit on the number of virtual servers that can be added, the cloud has the potential to outperform any other hosting solution, including semi-dedicated server hosting.

On top of all that, cloud hosting is used to power several cloud services. These services differ in the level of access they give you over the virtual server cluster and as such, there is a high likelihood that you will be able to find a cloud service that fully supports the website or project that you wish to run.

On the other hand, semi-dedicated servers tend to be more affordable and more secure than the cloud. When it comes to cost, semi-dedicated hosting offers a flat monthly or annual fee. In contrast, cloud hosting is a pay-as-you-go service. While paying only for the resources that you have used may sound appealing, you should be wary if your website experiences a surge in traffic as this will cause your bill to go up as well.

Lastly, semi-dedicated server hosting is considered more secure since your data resides only on one physical server. With cloud hosting, on the other hand, your data will be kept on a dozen physical servers, if not more. This is great for data redundancy, but it also increases the risk of intellectual property theft in case one of these servers gets breached.

Semi-Dedicated Server Hosting vs VPS Hosting

Semi-dedicated and VPS hosting occupy the same price range, however, they provide different feature sets.
Semi-dedicated and VPS hosting occupy the same price range, however, they provide different feature sets.

From a technical standpoint, both semi-dedicated and VPS hosting allow you to use a portion of a physical server’s computing resources. However, the two hosting models provide these resources in two very different ways.

Semi-dedicated hosting simply enables a single server to host the websites of several customers at the same time. While there is some separation in the sense that you cannot view the other customers’ files, all websites are practically running on the same computer and under the same operating system. So if the operating system freezes, for example, all hosted websites will go down.

In contrast, VPS hosting splits the physical server into several virtual servers. Each virtual server is much better isolated from the other virtual servers. In fact, every virtual server can run its own operating system and can be reinstalled and restarted without affecting the neighboring virtual servers. This separation allows each VPS owner to be granted root access to their hosting environment. Thanks to this root access, you can install any software package or program that your website or project requires.

When it comes to price, semi-dedicated hosting and VPS hosting cost roughly the same, so pricing is not really a factor when deciding between the two hosting models. Instead, the thing that will likely help you decide on one type of hosting over the other is the fact that VPS plans are unmanaged while semi-dedicated packages are managed.

If you decide to get a VPS, you need to have prior experience in managing a server. This includes the installation and setup of programs and frameworks as well as general maintenance and performance optimization. VPS hosting providers can help you with these tasks, but their assistance is usually a premium service that is charged separately.

With semi-dedicated server hosting, on the other hand, you will not need to maintain the server that powers your website as the hosting provider will take care of it. What is more, if you have any technical issues, you should be able to get in touch with the hosting provider’s support team and they should be able to assist you without incurring any charges. As such, you should buy a semi-dedicated server if you don’t have a lot of technical experience or if your organization lacks a dedicated IT department.

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Conclusion

Semi-dedicated server hosting successfully blends ease of use with a considerable amount of processing power. If you come from a shared hosting environment, it will allow you to use the same control panels that you are already familiar with while also guaranteeing a high level of server performance.

The only real drawback of semi-dedicated server hosting is that it is relatively expensive and it does not allow you to install custom software. This lack of customization is especially pronounced when you compare a semi-dedicated server to a VPS plan which provides you with full root access to the server and is generally priced a bit lower.

Overall, we recommend getting semi-dedicated server hosting if you are currently using a shared hosting plan and are you starting to hit its usage limits. You should also consider buying a semi-dedicated server if you do not have a lot of technical experience and wish to have the peace of mind that the hosting provider’s team of system administrators will take care of the server, thus freeing you to focus on running your website.

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