As your website grows in popularity & visitors, you may feel down when your website is in a shared server. Resource limitation may affect your website performance & user experience. You may think of moving to a dedicated server.
You may not even be aware that you are surpassing resources of the shared hosting. In the mean time, you may have got an email from your hosting provider that it’s time to move your website to a dedicated server.
Whatever the factor is, you can think of going for a dedicated server and you there are some things you should look for in a dedicated server provider. Technical factors are very important as well as you have be sure that the hosting company can meet your needs as a customer.
Where you can get information about a good dedicated server provider?
Now-a-days, forums like Web Hosting Talk are a great source of information about hosting providers. You can get a clear information, reviews, pro & cons and even promotional information the forums. The discussion is really helpful for the users. Take information gleaned from Web Hosting Talk with a grain of salt. Be wary of anything too enthusiastic, or multiple people raving about a new or unknown company.
Ask as many questions as you can
A great way to you can do when trying to determine which company will provide the best dedicated server hosting for your site is to talk to them. The most effective task to talk to their technical support department but in the most cases, you can’t reach them until you are their customer.
You can talk to them via live chat if they have. If no live chat, send an email or submit a ticket. Try to discuss about your website to as many people from various departments as you can. Ask every question you can think of. This discussion will give a sort of idea how responsive and informative the company is.
Your site’s reputation is on the line, after all. And you’re spending a good amount of money for a premium service. So talk to them. If a company isn’t responsive in its sales channels, what are the chances their support will be any better?
What is a Dedicated Server?
Okay, so now let’s dig deep into the technical side of dedicated servers.
You may have heard about VPS just like dedicated. But VPS (virtual server) is not same as dedicated server. VPS is a physical portion of server hardware t hat is separated into many independent “virtual” servers. It may seem to you like shared hosting. This is something like this but VPS is something bigger & has it’s own environment. With a VPS, you have the advantage of using a different operating system or configuration than the other VPS on the same machine. But you’re still on the same physical piece of hardware, so if there’s some catastrophic failure of another server on the box, theoretically, it shouldn’t affect your site. But in reality, it can.
A dedicated server is an entire physical server dedicated to one site or customer. You buy, lease, or pay a monthly fee for a server, and you can do whatever you’d like with it as far as configuration is concerned. No other users are on the server, just you. In most cases, you are responsible for server security and maintenance.
Management is crucial factor in server maintenance whether it a VPS or Dedicated. If that’s not your expertise area, you may go for a managed service where you don’t need any technical expertise to manage your server. Your hosting provider will do everything about server management on behalf of you. Server management is a premium service. So the price is, understandably, higher than that of a dedicated server that you manage yourself.
How to Choose the Right Dedicated Server for You and Your Site
Choosing a dedicated server provider is really a crucial part of your business or website. But before going on that part, again I am focusing on the previous discussion about Managed vs Unmanaged.
If you are actually confident about server management, if you have previous experience about running a server or you team have a guy who has the expertise on that, you can go for an unmanaged dedicated one. But if you are not that type or if there is no one to do this kinda job for you, Managed service is a must for you. Try to be realistic when evaluating your own skills and proceed accordingly.
Dedicated Server Technology
While you are purchasing a pre-configured dedicated server, you will be asked for choosing some technical specs and technology of the server like processor, memory, storage, operating system and some additional features.
The other spec you may have control over is the amount of bandwidth your server can use. That isn’t generally a server feature, but a provider function.
Processor and Memory
They will determine how much power (and as a result, speed) is available to your site. Most dedicated server hosts will offer servers pre-configured with certain processors and amounts of memory. As the available processor speed and memory increase, so does the price of the server.
It isn’t always possible to change the configuration of your server once you’re using it, so it’s often better to choose server configuration that somewhat exceeds what you think your needs will be. That allows you room to grow before you have to migrate to a more powerful server.
The OS you choose will depend on the technology your website uses. The vast majority of dedicated servers will support various open-source, Linux-type operating systems.
But if your site uses .NET technology or Microsoft SQL Server, you’ll want to make sure you choose one that supports the Microsoft IIS operating system.
Hard drive storage has a couple of details to pay attention to. One is solid-state drives (SSD) vs. traditional disc-based hard drives (HDD). For speed and performance, SSD is far superior to conventional HDD. But of course, as with all things computer-related, the faster, better version comes at an increased cost in some cases. But if performance is critical for your site, the expense may be justified.
The other thing to note or ask about is the RAID disk array. You want to avoid any array of hard drives labeled RAID 0. This is because the configuration doesn’t provide any protection against data loss in the event of a single drive failure. You aren’t likely to run into a RAID 0 setup on a pre-configured dedicated server, but it’s something to be aware of.
While RAID 1 and 5 offer some redundancy and protection against data loss, RAID is not a replacement for backups. You should have an external backup system in place. That applies no matter what kind of server your website lives on. Your host may perform their own server backups, but you should not rely on those backups for your own disaster recovery.
Your bandwidth needs can be difficult to accurately estimate unless you have historical website data. Luckily, most hosts can accommodate increased bandwidth needs even if a certain amount of bandwidth is associated with your server.
Remember when I said RAID is not a replacement for backups? Well, what I meant to say is nothing is a replacement for backups. Backups are the most critical element of your server setup that you will hopefully never need to use.
If you have the technical ability to set up a server backup system that backs up to a separate server (meaning a separate piece of hardware, not a partition or VPS on the main server) or storage service like Amazon S3, you should consider a cloud backup service.
While any remote service running on your server can introduce security issues, a reputable cloud backup service can be a lifesaver in the event of a server failure.
Companies like Carbonite or Backblaze can do full server backups. For what it’s worth, I tried half a dozen cloud backup services and found Backblaze to be the fastest and most unobtrusive, so that’s what I use.
Does It Make a Difference Which Datacenter My Dedicated Server Lives In?
If you have a choice of geographic location, you may feel better having your server closer to your home or office. If your site has a worldwide audience, as most do, geographic location is less important than the quality of the backbone connection that the datacenter or dedicated server provider offers.
Some dedicated server providers will tell you about their data centers and backbone connections on their websites. If they don’t, you can always ask them. But if you choose a well-known, reputable provider for your server, you’re probably not going to get stuck with a server that’s running out of a garage or someone’s basement.
Fifteen years ago, I would have advised you to do a lot of research about the data center. But in all honesty, that’s not the issue it used to be. Most servers live in data centers now and are adequately connected and sufficiently secured.
But it doesn’t hurt to ask your prospective host about where the servers live.
Should I Choose a Host Based on Uptime Guarantees?
Let me tell you a little secret. It’s just us here, right? No one else is listening? Uptime guarantees are meaningless. They’re meaningless for a couple of reasons, mainly because on most networks, failure is unpredictable. So there’s no way, aside from performance history, to provide any uptime numbers.
Secondly, even if your host is on the ball as far as doing all they can to ensure the best uptime in the industry, when there is a failure or downtime for any reason, a guarantee doesn’t bring your website back online.
All the standard uptime guarantee does is reimburse anyone who complains about the outage. That reimbursement is often a relatively small amount based on the number of minutes your site is unavailable (check the fine print that you agreed to when opening the account).
To be clear, I’m not saying that’s bad or malicious behavior by the hosts. It’s just the reality of how guarantees work for most services. So an uptime guarantee shouldn’t really tip the scales one way or another when you’re looking for a dedicated server host.
The exception to everything I just said is a host that offers DDoS protection as part of an uptime guarantee. DDoS protection is a valuable service, and if you have reason to believe your site may fall victim to DDoS, or if you’ve been DDoSed in the past, the protection should be part of your configuration.
Listen What People Say
Customer reviews have pretty much revolutionized the way we buy everything, and dedicated servers are no different. I mentioned sites like Web Hosting Talk right at the outset, and they are an excellent resource for unvarnished customer reviews and information.
There are probably more web host review sites than there are web hosts, but a few of them are reliable and unbiased. Look for sites that have done their own independent testing. It’s a bit difficult to find independent tests of dedicated servers, but there are some out there.
If you keep your skepticism dialed up to 10, you can find some useful review sites. Just be aware that affiliates run many of them (check for affiliate IDs on links), and in some cases, by the hosts themselves. An affiliate is going to recommend whichever host has the largest payout, and that’s not necessarily an indicator of service quality.
So Who Is the Best Dedicated Server Provider?
VernalWeb, of course
It might not be surprising that I would say that. But I do believe in the VernalWeb team because I know them, and I know that they care about what they do.
The reality is there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to who the best dedicated server host is. What’s best for your site might not be best for mine. But hopefully, I’ve armed you with some useful information that will help you make an educated decision, and your needs will be not only met but exceeded.
Jacob is the affiliate manager at VernalWeb. His primary goal at VernalWeb is helping grow our client base through affiliates and strategic partnerships. It is all about statistics analysis, communication with our affiliates, working on various campaigns, searching the web for trends and generating ideas for future projects.