Businesses have a multitude of different options to choose from when it comes to making a decision about the sort of hosting platform to build their web presence on. Today’s hosting market is crowded with products, including shared hosting, virtual private servers, cloud hosting, and dedicated servers. Each fills a niche and meets particular set of needs. In this article, I’m going to focus on dedicated servers, the circumstances in which hosting on a dedicated server is appropriate, and the advantages of using a dedicated server compared to other hosting packages.
What Is A Dedicated Server
A dedicated server is a physical machine whose resources are entirely at the disposal of one client. Most hosting packages involve some degree of resource sharing. Obviously that’s true of shared hosting, where dozens or more clients have sites on one server. But it also applies to virtual private servers, where one physical machine is divided into many virtual machines using virtualization technology, and hybrid servers, which are essentially more powerful virtual private servers, with the physical machine divided into fewer virtual machines.
A dedicated server is an undivided, unshared server that occupies one physical machine in a data center. All of its processing power, RAM, storage, and bandwidth allocation is used by the business that “rents” it. Dedicated servers differ from collocated servers only in that the hardware is usually owned by the hosting company or the data center, rather than the business.
Advantages of Dedicated Servers
Because dedicated servers are unshared, with no contention for resources between multiple clients, every ounce of power that the server has is at the disposal of the business using it. That’s great for high-traffic sites that need significant amounts of RAM and processing power to provide their users with the best experience. In a shared environment, if two or more hosted sites have a load spike, it can prove detrimental to their neighbors on the same machine, because there are only so many resources to go around. With dedicated servers there is no chance of resources being used by other clients.
Unmanaged dedicated servers provide root access to clients and the ability to install any software that they need to, up to and including the operating system. Many businesses require a very specific set of tools and other software on their server, configured to meet their needs. Shared hosting cannot provide an environment with this level of flexibility, because it is designed to suit the needs of the “average” hosting client who doesn’t have a lot of experience with running servers. With an unmanaged dedicated server, businesses will need to have some knowledge of running and configuring a server, but in return they get a powerful server platform with which they can do anything that they need to.
Dedicated servers are provided with fixed amounts of processing power, RAM, and storage, as determined by the physical limitations of the server, and bandwidth and data transfer as determined by the contract between the hosting company and the client. The costs of those resources are predictable and won’t change. Infrastructure as a Service platforms are often described as providing a good alternative to dedicated servers, but their pricing models can make it difficult to determine exactly what you’ll be paying over the long-term. It doesn’t seem like a lot at first when compared to the cost of a dedicated server, which is traditionally one of the most expensive hosting options, but, IaaS providers tend to nickel and dime clients for processing power, storage usage, data transfer, DNS queries, and so on, which can quickly add up to become more expensive and unpredictable than dedicated servers. With dedicated servers, you know exactly what you’re getting and how much you’ll have to pay for it.
Dedicated servers are the ideal hosting platform for businesses that expect high levels of web traffic, either intermittently or continuously, and need to create a hosting environment tailored to their needs.