What is a Dedicated Server?
The computer that you’re reading this on is, at this moment anyway, dedicated to the purpose of your internet browsing and whatever other tasks you might be undertaking. This is a similar concept to a dedicated server for housing your website. When you pay a company for a dedicated server there will literally be a computer running some server based software and stored in a secure data centre for your use, and your use alone.
If you have a big website with many visitors and a great deal of complexity in the form of frequent and multiple ecommerce transactions, large forums or some other high-demand web services then a dedicated server is likely to be the way forward. Having server space to yourself brings with it a whole host of benefits that can only be achieved in part with any other type of hosting.
As with any type of website hosting there are both advantages and disadvantages to dedicated servers, so let’s consider some of those now.
Dedicated Servers – The Pros
Flexibility: Because you are the only person with access to your individual server space you can have root access to it, allowing you to install any desired software and even manage things such as firewalls to prevent any malicious attacks on your website. Just as you can install and remove programs on your home computer, you can do the same on your dedicated server.
Reliability: No matter what restrictions a supplier of website hosting puts in place for shared hosting services, there’s something reassuring about knowing that high usage from another user can’t impact your own service. With a dedicated server you don’t need to worry about the resources you’re paying for going anywhere other than where you want them to be.
Management Options: Most providers of dedicated server space offer the option for either managed or self-managed servers. If you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing then a managed server could help, with technicians available to install your software and maintain your online space. If you’re comfortable with hosting and with the tasks that you need to complete then self-managed server space allows you complete freedom to do what you want.
Dedicated Servers – The Cons
Cost: There’s no real denying it; a dedicated server is the ideal solution when it comes to hosting. The big downside and the real reason why everyone with a website doesn’t take advantage of this option is the cost. Dedicated servers are typically the most expensive option when it comes to hosting, particularly if you choose a managed server.
Responsibility: Unless you do opt for a totally managed dedicated server you will find more responsibility resting on your shoulders. Not only will you need to set up your website through a nice simple control panel, but you will need the technical knowhow to manage the server itself.
Dedicated Server Conclusion
Dedicated servers are typically not an affordable solution for individuals or small business owners, however they are an option that can be grown into as time passes and the demands on a website grow. If your website needs a particularly high bandwidth, quick response time or large storage then this is an option to explore, otherwise you might want to consider something like a Virtual Private Server that provides you with the experience of having your own server, but without the cost of a completely dedicated machine.