So, you’ve built your business and are looking to set up an online presence. Or maybe you already have one and are looking to expand it. Or maybe you don’t have a business but want an improved online experience for something else like gaming. A dedicated server can offer a great solution to any of these situations.
By no means is it always the best solution, and this guide shouldn’t persuade you it is. Instead, the aim is to give you a better idea of both when a dedicated server can help you and when other alternatives may be more fitting. After reading it you should walk away confident of the next steps you should take.
What is a Dedicated Server?
Let’s start with the basics: Dedicated servers are servers that belong entirely to you/your business and grant you the ability to customize things like what operating system or applications you use. They also allow for control over the hardware you use. Depending on your needs you’ll require different amounts of disk space, memory, processing power, etc. With a dedicated server, this decision is 100% yours to make.
The big downside of this is that, just like a house, the bills can stack up. So, if you’re just starting a blog online or something small, odds are a dedicated server is not what you’re looking for. Instead, you probably want an apartment that requires less money upfront but also limits what you can do. Unless your landlord is really lenient, they won’t want you knocking down walls.
In the world of servers, an apartment is comparable to shared hosting. This is where a number of people/organizations share server resources and pool the costs. It’s a great way to get something small up and running quickly but comes with its own set of issues.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:
As stated above, the first big pro for dedicated servers is that they are customizable. But they’re also scalable. As your business grows a good dedicated server allows you to increase the resources you are utilizing to ensure that users continue having smooth experiences. What’s more, this ability to scale up or down can be crucial when making sure you aren’t overspending.
If, for example, your company is selling products online that make for great Christmas gifts then you’re going to see more traffic during that time of year. So you’ll want to add extra resources to your server during the holiday season, but when January rolls around you need to be able to scale back down, or else you’ll find yourself paying for resources you aren’t even using.
Another big plus for dedicated servers is security. By nature, a dedicated server is more secure than its shared counterpart since you’re the only entity that has access to it. If you manage sensitive user data, then security isn’t something you can skimp out on. Choosing a dedicated server plan from a well-established host is a safe bet to ensure that user trust isn’t betrayed. Along with the improved security from isolationism comes a lack of overshadowing. If you are on a shared hosting plan and one of the other sites sharing your resources begins to get a lot of traffic then that pulls away from your site’s capability to handle the traffic. At a certain point, the pond becomes too small to have two large fish in it.
At this point, it seems like a dedicated server is definitely the way to go, but it’s important to also consider the drawbacks that come with it. It is more expensive to manage your own resources and as mentioned above if your site is small it probably isn’t the right solution for you. Setting up and maintaining a fully dedicated server takes a lot of technical requirements as well.
To do this right you need a lot of knowledge on server mechanics and networking. That being said there are managed plans that take care of all of this for you so you can focus on the other aspects of your business.
Hosting Done Right:
If you do decide to move forward with a dedicated server, you want to do so as efficiently as possible. This means picking the right host provider, using the right resources, ensuring you’re secure, etc. We covered a few of these in the section above and they are things you should look out for when selecting a plan. Other things you should be on the lookout for are anti-DDoS protection and guaranteed uptime.
Distributed Denial of Service attacks are a common cyber-attack that aren’t going away any time soon. They flood your server with false requests making it difficult to tell which requests are coming from real users. Without protection from these, you run the risk of both poor user experiences and insecure data.
Guaranteed uptime is exactly what it sounds like: the amount of time your server is guaranteed to be operational. If this number isn’t 99.9% then tread carefully. There’s no point in paying for a server if you can’t get a guarantee that it will be operational. In this same boat, you read reviews about a host’s customer service department to see if they are able to address issues promptly. Time is money and you simply can’t afford to go with a poorly managed plan.
If a dedicated server seems like it offers a lot of the features you’re hoping to leverage but is out of your price range you can also look into Virtual Private Servers (VPS). These offer a middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting where the core hardware is shared, but each subscriber gets their own individualized and private virtual environment. This can help with the cost of running your own server while still giving you privacy and the ability to scale/customize your environment as you see fit.
Final Thoughts – Dedicated Server Guide
A dedicated server takes some cash to get set up, but oftentimes it is well worth the cost. Still, it isn’t for everyone. So depending on what your business needs are you should consider whether it is the right plan for you. Shared hosting offers a cheaper alternative, but with it comes the caveats of decreased security, overshadowing, and the inability to customize your applications. If your business has serious potential or is already growing rapidly, a dedicated server is probably the route you want to go. Doing so can ensure that your customers continue to have positive experiences on your site, and that’s what it’s really all about.
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