Let’s say that you have a larger website that will get a lot of traffic. Sharing a server with other websites may not be the best approach for you—you may need your own dedicated server. In our last post, we mentioned how shared hosting is typically the best choice for a small venture. However, if you are operating a more demanding website that handles heavy traffic, video streaming, or excessive data transfer you may need your own server.
Costs and Benefits of Dedicated Hosting
Getting a server exclusively to yourself is, understandably, more expensive. Costs normally shared among several different businesses are now covered exclusively by you. However, the benefits of a dedicated server may be well worth the extra cost. Because dedicated servers are specific to your site, they have much greater capacity for bandwidth and storage space. Also, you can customize them for your specific needs, choosing the exact hardware and software configurations you want for your site. If you’re not sure what you want, the web host can recommend a good server configuration for your needs. Also, you can install more web-related tools on a dedicated server. Because shared servers are sharing resources you may find limitations on what you are able to customize. On a dedicated server, you have more flexibility to customize your site and use tools to make your site visually appealing.
In addition, dedicated servers can provide logistical advantages in terms of security. Keeping in mind that shared servers are secure, you should know that dedicated servers can be easier to defend from attacks because there is only one client using the server. Also, greater server resources can be dedicated to defending your site from viruses, Trojans, worms, and other malware. You—and only you—have the rights to determine who has access to your server.
Besides higher service fees, there are no inherent disadvantages to dedicated hosting over shared hosting. If you get a fully managed dedicated server (described below), your server will be similar to a shared hosting service. (It should be noted that not all web hosting companies provide fully managed dedicated servers—WestHost does.) The only differences will be the higher costs associated with having your own server and paying for all of its bandwidth.
Managing Dedicated Servers
Web hosts can provide different levels of server support with dedicated servers (unlike shared hosting). You can ask them to fully manage your server in the same way they manage shared servers. However, you can also save some money by taking on some aspects of maintaining the server. With managed dedicated hosting, the host will monitor your server, update it, and provide a limited amount of maintenance support. You will be responsible for the rest (updating and making changes to your website). With unmanaged dedicated hosting, you provide all maintenance and monitoring.
Having different levels of support enables you to lower your cost to the web host when you get a dedicated server. This will not necessarily reduce your costs, however, since you will need to hire someone with the expertise to perform maintenance functions on the server. Keep this in mind when choosing between managed and unmanaged hosting.
Getting Started with Dedicated Hosting
The initial steps to getting started are the same with any hosting service—choose your host, figure out what hardware and operating system your site needs, etc. Your host does not design your site, but your host needs to know how your site is designed in order to get you the right server for your needs. You don’t want to be paying $245 per month for a server when you only need a $95 per month server instead. At this point, there is an added step with dedicated hosting—deciding what server you need and what level of management you expect. You can either hire your web host to maintain the server for you, or you can hire a web administrator who is also skilled in server maintenance. At WestHost, we try to make managed service affordable—it is only $100 more per month than unmanaged service.
Performing maintenance on a managed server is easy—you just let your host do it. Keeping your unmanaged server running requires in-house expertise. Your technical personnel will handle server upgrades, routine maintenance checks, and the occasional customer-caused outage. We will keep the server cool and physically secure, and we will monitor the server regularly to ensure network up-time. It is up to you to keep your software up to date and secure on your unmanaged server.
Dedicated hosting provides you access to the entire servers resources. This means you can expect a more efficient website, better up-time, and fewer problems due to server load. WestHost provides excellent affordable service, and we appreciate your interest.