So, your business has outgrown its shared hosting account. The resources provided by that plan simply aren’t enough to meet your needs any longer; you need something bigger. Something better.
You need a dedicated server.
Simple awareness isn’t enough here. You can’t just march up to a host and tell them you need a dedicated server without understanding the resource requirements. That’s a surefire recipe for disaster—either you’ll select a server that isn’t powerful enough, and everything slows to a crawl, or you’ll run with one that’s too powerful, and break your budget.
Before you decide to upgrade, it’s imperative that you formulate a general idea of how much power you’ll require. Unfortunately, it’s actually quite difficult to determine the exact figures here. The best you can do is provide an estimate, which is still better than going in blind.
By far the most important question you’ll need to ask is how you plan on using your server. Are you running an online game? If so, your needs are going to be much more intense than someone who’s simply using their server for online storage. Similarly, if you’re hosting a media streaming service, you’re generally going to need a higher-end server than someone who’s running a weblog.
So…how do you estimate what you’re going to need?
If you’re upgrading from a shared hosting plan, that’s fairly simple – just take note of what you’re using during peak hours, and calculate out how much power you’d need in order to provide those resources without stressing out your server—generally, you want to shoot for somewhere between 30-50% CPU load.
If, however, you’re starting up a new dedicated server, things are a little bit more complicated. You’re going to have to do a bit of research; look for people who are hosting similar products, and ask them about their hardware. How much RAM do they have? How powerful is their CPU? How many users do they support?
Software is equally important – in particular, the operating system. A rig running Windows, for example, will need a fair bit more ‘oomph’ than one that’s running on Linux. The trade-off there, of course, is that Linux is more complex to use, and requires a degree of expertise to use effectively.
Once you’ve gotten a decent survey size, you’ll need to adapt the numbers you gathered for your own needs, accounting for the following:
- The applications you’ll be running.
- The number of users you’ll support at peak hours
- Your operating system.
- How much data you’ll be storing server-side.
- Your bandwidth requirements.
- Whether you’ll be running managed or unmanaged.
Only by tying all this information together can you make an informed decision on what server you’ll need.
It’s not enough to simply decide you need a dedicated server. You need to first estimate how powerful that server needs to be: what resources do you require to operate effectively? Should you fail to do this, it’s very likely you’ll end up making an unfortunate—and costly—mistake.