Is A Dedicated Server Right For You?


    Picture it. You build a web site, you host it at a web hosting company (preferably Superb) and before you know it, you have a successful web presence. Suddenly you need more memory, more web space, more bandwidth and more features. You know you need a more comprehensive web hosting solution but do you upgrade your virtual account or do you go to a dedicated server – a server dedicated to your needs alone.While Virtual or shared hosting may have been or may be enough for your web site, you should keep in mind that you are sharing resources with others, much like living in an apartment building. 

    On the other hand, dedicated hosting is like owning the house. Your web site will have complete usage of the server’s resources therefore likely to be served faster versus sharing with a 100 plus sites on the shared server. This option could very well cost hundreds of dollars more per month over the virtual hosting but if your web site and traffic, not to mention your business requires it, then skimping on money should be your last concern. Would you rather split the electric bill with your friends or pay for it yourself. When I was in college I would have said split it. Once I lived through my roommates’ friends’ friends eating my food, I decided shared living space, (shared hosting) wasn’t for me.

    Unlike shared hosting, a Dedicated Server is where you lease the entire server from your web hosting company, in this case, Superb, including the hardware and the operating system. The hardware, operating system, connectivity, redundancy, and monitoring costs are usually spread out over the duration of the service agreement. Typically, this includes connectivity to the Internet, redundancy measures, and monitoring.

    Dedicated servers are for larger, professional web sites which may require a great deal of traffic, use secure E-commerce applications, have sensitive content, application hosting, resellers offering shared hosting services to their customers and so forth. The Dedicated Server is provided by the web hosting company and “leased” to the customer (at Superb we offer a “lease to own” program which is unique to Superb alone).

    If your Internet business or application falls into one of the categories above, leasing a dedicated server from a web host can save you time and money in the long term, as well as reduce the risk involved with owning and maintaining the hardware yourself. You don’t have to bear the upfront costs of purchasing the hardware yourself, plus the installation and Internet connectivity costs, plus the costs of continuous monitoring and hardware maintenance.

    Resellers and developers can benefit from a dedicated solution since the cost of adding new accounts/customers on a dedicated server is zero.

    Another important reason to choose a dedicated hosting solution is the need for large amounts of bandwidth or data transfer capacity. If you have a heavy traffic site, you will certainly require a large amount of bandwidth each month.

    Finally, and best of all, only your data is on the server. You are not sharing the memory, processor, or bandwidth with anyone else. Your server has it’s own port to the Internet. It is there to serve you.

    Once you have decided that a Dedicated Server is the right choice, here are a few other considerations:

    1. Operating Systems: The two most popular are Unix and Windows 2000/NT. There are others such as BSD and Solaris, however these are the two most prevalent choices. For more on this read “Deciding Between Unix and Windows 2000/NT”. Usually the decision comes down to the scalability of Unix versus the standardization of Windows 2000/NT.
    2. Web Servers: Here the most popular are Apache for Unix and IIS (Microsoft Internet Information Server) for Windows 2000/NT
    3. Programming and Databases: For Unix, the two most popular are Perl and PHP. PHP is growing in popularity because it allows you to connect to a database, usually MySQL very easily. For Windows ASP is the language of choice, which can be used with MS Access or MS SQL database software.
    4. Hardware: The choice is what speed, single or dual processors, RAM, how much hard drive, SCSI or IDE and most importantly, who pays for hardware maintenance. With Superb you can get 2 hours of hardware support per month for $25. With most web hosting companies, hardware support ranges from $90-180 per hour and up.
    5. Data Backup and Security: Without going into great detail, the choices are RAID (short for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) using such methods as disk striping and disk mirroring (RAID level 1) to achieve redundancy, lower latency, higher bandwidth for reading and/or writing and most importantly recoverability from HD failures.On the other hand if you are looking for off-site storage, tape backups may be the right choice for you. For more on this checkout the additional services under our Dedicated Server options.No matter what type of back-up option, it is important as anyone who has ever had a HD fail and has lost all his or her data, can attest to.
    6. Bandwidth/Traffic: How much is included and how much is additional traffic?
    7. Network Utilization: It is very important to ask the web host about how much of their network is currently being utilized (at Superb currently about 30%). Remember, a web hosting company may have a number of DS3s but if they are 95% utilized, there isn’t much room for growth on those lines. The speed of the network will suffer because of congestion.
    8. Custom Configurations and other considerations: A more technical question, but also very important, is whether your server is on a dedicated port, or on a shared port. A related question is whether the network you are connected into is based on a switch or a hub. Switched networks like that of Superb’s are higher performance, and offer more security.Then of course, there is the custom configurations, additional software, etc. You need to know how extra per hour much it costs and what is included or excluded. Whether or not the web host is even capable or willing to do the custom work (at times the web host will have to say that they cannot or will not support certain custom configurations).




    While there is a lot to keep in mind when deciding on whether or not, a Dedicated Server is right for you, if you take the time to research the options and you have discussed them with our Dedicated Service Coordinator as required, you will find that it is all in what you know — and need. I have another post dedicated to showing the difference between Shared Web Hosting, VPS and Dedicated Hosting if you still need help.

    One final note. If you feel that you have outgrown shared hosting but are not quite ready for dedicated service, then why not check out our servers. It is the perfect stepping stone between virtual hosting and a dedicated server. You get increased flexibility, resources and power, with an easy to use web-based interface, at a fraction of the cost.

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

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