Dedicated server hosting means that your website(s) are hosted on an individual server that is 100% devoted to your needs. Typically, you will rent a dedicated server from a web host, complete with software from an inbuilt control panel. Having your own dedicated server means that your website(s) are not required to share any of the server’s resources with other websites, giving your website(s) their full attention.
All of this sounds mightily impressive, but does your website actually need a dedicated server? This article looks at the key benefits of having dedicated server hosting and the key differences between dedicated and shared servers.
The benefits of having a dedicated server
- Virtually 100% uptime
The best web hosting packages with dedicated servers proudly market themselves as offering virtually “100% uptime”, usually equating to around 99.4%. This means that your server will almost never experience downtime, resulting in 24/7 accessibility for you and your consumers. For an organization that depends on a reliable server to provide around-the-clock services to their users, dedicated servers are hugely beneficial.
- Exclusive use of resources
When you operate a website or multiple websites via your own dedicated server, all of the resources within the server are available to you. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the server’s disk space, RAM or bandwidth, all of it belongs to your website(s). This means that even at peak business hours, your website and the services you provide to your customers will continue to deliver to the best of their abilities. You are the only person with root access to the server. This means that you can configure settings and monitor server logs to your heart’s content, allowing you to install your own software and have things running exactly how you want.
In fact, you even have the flexibility to install a different operating system to the one that your provider traditionally uses. A dedicated server allows you to operate in the most flexible and scalable way possible. In the event you do encounter some problems or technical difficulties running your dedicated server, you can also depend on 24/7 technical support from your host.
- No sharing IP addresses
Dedicated servers mean you won’t have to run the risk of sharing IP addresses with potentially malicious or criminal websites, as you do with shared server hosting. If you do share an IP address with a dangerous website, this could be picked up by Google’s search engine bots, resulting in a downgrading of your search rankings and overall visibility. It’s also worth noting that if you are planning on operating an e-commerce business, a dedicated IP address is vitally important to process credit card payments. SSL encryption for online payments is better with a dedicated IP address, so you won’t be able to offer your customers the most secure online shopping experience via a shared server.
- Zero server congestion
Server congestion is a thing of the past when it comes to dedicated servers. With shared hosting packages, you run the risk of congestion due to traffic spikes on other websites or applications hosted on the same server. Ultimately, if you run a resource-heavy website, it might be more responsible to opt for a dedicated server so as not to disrupt servers of other smaller sites on your shared server.
- Ability to deploy bespoke security features
Having your own dedicated server gives you the freedom to deploy your own anti-virus or firewall tools. If your website is hosted on a dedicated server housed with a land-based data centre , the server itself can also benefit from 24/7 security and biometric authentication.
Given that dedicated servers only permit direct access to you and that your dedicated server can install bespoke security monitoring software, your website and services will be better protected from the threat of malware and hacks, as well as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. In February 2018, developer platform, Github was hit with the most severe DDoS attack yet. Traffic equating to 1.35 terabits per second was attempting to visit the Github website, bringing the website to a grinding halt. The traffic was eventually traced back to “over a thousand different autonomous systems (ASNs) from tens of thousands of unique endpoints”. Data separation techniques are designed to guard against DDoS attacks by isolating your server from your host’s services, along with any data belonging to your own customers; thus, ensuring speedy recovery of data in the event of a back-end exploit.
Differences between a dedicated server and a shared server
- Other sites are hosted on shared servers
With almost every shared hosting package, you will be forced to accept there will be websites of other organizations that will be hosted alongside yours.
- Shared hosting plans are better-suited for website novices
If you have little or no technical knowledge or experience in building and running a website, a shared server makes perfect sense. Your shared hosting company will oversee all of your technical requirements and can even install software such as WordPress and Joomla to help you set up a basic website from scratch in a matter of minutes.
- Shared servers offer limited bandwidth and disk space
Given that other websites are sharing your server with shared hosting, the amount of disk space and bandwidth your website is permitted will be capped. You will usually be charged additional fees if you exceed your allotted bandwidth or disk space. Dedicated server hosting sees no feature sharing, so there are no limitations on bandwidth or disk space.
- Shared hosting sees web hosts manage server security on your behalf
Shared hosting normally sees your chosen web host install firewalls and server security applications on your behalf. This may not suit your organization, particularly if you have an in-house IT team capable of implementing security features to mitigate risks.
Is it worth investing in a dedicated server?
There is no doubt that hosting via a shared server is significantly cheaper per month and per annum than having a dedicated server. If you’re a new business start-up with minimal income generated, you might question the benefit of buying a dedicated server hosting from day one. Ultimately, it depends on what you are planning to do with your website. If you are planning on utilizing your website as a small brochure website to highlight your services, or even as a standalone blog that will take some time to build a readership, a shared hosting package should suffice in the short-to-medium term.
However, if you are planning to operate an e-commerce website or a platform that offers 24/7 online services to customers – drawing significant traffic to your website – a dedicated server is essential to maintain the integrity and reliability of your platform. A dedicated hosting package is entirely scalable too, so if you find that you need more server power or specific software configurations, a dedicated server host can make it happen at the touch of a button.
In summary, if you are planning on generating an income from your website and providing a reliable service to valued customers, a dedicated server should be at the top of your priority list. Only with a dedicated server can you have total control over all aspects of your platform, from security and page load times through to uptime and functionality. On the flip side, if your website is more of a hobby than a profession and uptime guarantees don’t really mean a thing to you, a shared server will suffice.