What is dedicated server hosting ?
Now that we have coveredsharedandVPShosting, let's move on to dedicated server hosting in which a client leases an entire physical web server from a web hosting provider.
Dedicated server hosting offers the best uptime and performance among all web hosting solutions available on the market today.
This is different from VPS hosting where a client would still be paying a web host for just a partition (or virtual server) in a physical web server.
A significant difference between VPS hosting and dedicated hosting is that with the latter, you have the entire web server to yourself to use at your discretion instead of a virtual partition. You are then able to tweak the server to boost and optimize it's performance beyond that which can be provided by a VPS.
There are case studies where a single server properly-optimized is able to accomodate 3.4 million page views daily (or a massive 100 million plus views monthly) : read morehere (PDF).
The server above uses a content management system called Drupal that can be resource-intensive but server's administrators have optimized it to handle an incredible amount of traffic without noticeable effects on load times. This is an example of the raw performance of a properly-optimized dedicated server.
Managed vs. unmanaged hosting
Dedicated servers plans are typically offered in 2 modes: managed and unmanaged hosting.
A managed dedicated server is one where the server is configured, maintained and actively-monitored by the web host. A client would normally receive features such as software patches and updates, hardware upgrades and overall network management.
This option allows you to leave all technical aspects of administering your web server to the web host. It is suitable for those with little server administration experience or those who lack the time to properly maintain the server on a frequent basis. Managed hosting is typically more costly as it involves the time and effort of the web host to manage the server for you.
Unmanaged hosting on the hand is where the burden of managing and maintaining the server falls solely on the client. The web host only provides the physical hardware as well as some very basic software configurations and it is the client's responsibility to get the server up and running. If you are considering an unmanaged dedicated server plan, chances are that you are already quite knowledgeable about server administration and maintenance.
Dedicated hosting although more costly than most web hosting solutions, can offer numerous benefits :
The main benefit of having your own dedicated server is that you have exclusive use of the it's resources and will not need to share any of it. Similarly, the performance and reliability of a dedicated server will not be subject to the activities of other websites.
Recall that in VPS hosting, the CPU of the host server is split between all the virtual servers hosted on it. If one VPS uses too much CPU, it may still affect the performance of the other virtual servers on the host server.
The availability of customization and scalability options allows you to customize your dedicated server to include any number CPU cores, RAM and disk space to suit the present needs of your website.
Having a dedicated server also guarantees the best possible uptime of any other available web hosting solutions. The only downtime a client will likely experience would be in cases of isolated cases of unexpected hardware failure or network outages by the web host.
Dedicated hosting provides you with root/administrator access to allow for the installation of additional software and configuration of the server's settings.
Root access is usually not available for shared and VPS hosting plans as changing the configuration of the host server by one client may affect the websites of other clients on the same server.
Root access allows for extensive customization of the dedicated server in order to increase its performance on top of its basic configuration. This may involve the installation of performance-enhancing software such as memcached and Varnish to boost server performance and improve website loading times.
Do note that because you only have remote access to the dedicated server (that is you are not able to access it physically at the web host's data centers), you may not be able to restart or reboot the server in the event that it crashes.
That is why you should ideally have some monitoring system in place so that you can view and manage the resource usage of your server and alert your web host promptly when problems arise.
Although most dedicated servers today run on the Linux operating system, there are some web hosts which offer a Windows variant, usually in the form of a slightly more expensive plan. If you are not familiar with administration of a Linux server, be sure to keep this mind when you are comparing between different dedicated plans.
As dedicated servers are typically the most expensive web hosting solutions available, the attendant customer service received from the web host is also an important determinant. Most web hosts provide priority support to dedicated server customers because important high-traffic websites are usually hosted on these servers.
High-traffic websites are a good revenue source for web hosts as these customers may frequently have to buy additional bandwidth when their pre-allocated bandwidth have been used up in, for example during spikes in web traffic.
If unstable uptime is reported and not dealt with promptly, these customers may just move to a more stable web host even if it means paying more and undergoing the inconvenience of transfering to another host. As such, if you want the most responsive technical support on the market, dedicated server plans are unmatched.
Dedicated server hosting also comes with some disadvantages depending on the context. The immediate issue is whether a customer requires a dedicated server in the first place as the costs of operating one can be quite prohibitive. Many high-traffic sites run fine with more affordable VPS hosting plans that have well-coded websites to minimize resource use.
Choosing a reliable web host is equally if not more important than just choosing the right plan. You may be able to get the same performance and uptime from a stable web host's VPS plans than one that provides a cheaper dedicated server plan that is not properly-managed.
Customers also pay costly penalty fees if the pre-allocated bandwidth that comes with their plans have been exceeded. Be sure to read a web host's terms of service and user agreement to determine what happens when you exceed your bandwidth quota and how much you are likley to pay when this occurs.
Do check ourreviewsto learn more about a web host's dedicated server hosting plans that you may be contemplating and how it stacks against its competiton.
Our recommendations for web hosts with solid dedicated server plans presently include :
DreamHost offers a good selection of highly-regarded dedicated hosting plans with excellent customer support. Read ourreview.
Arvixe's selection of dedicated servers come with an extensive list of possible upgrades to meet the needs of the most demanding high-traffic websites. Read ourreview.
InMotion Hosting offers two classes of dedicated servers - a standard range and an incredibly powerful Commercial Class series which are some of the most powerful systems on the market today. Read ourreview.
GreenGeek's dedicated servers come with a monthly 10 TB bandwidth which is more than twice that offered by other similar plans for the same specifications and price. Read ourreview.
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