When looking at web hosting options, what exactly is a dedicated server? Who’s a dedicated server right for? Give us five minutes and we’ll answer all those questions (and more) in this edition of Web Hosting 101.
Just a few years ago, a dedicated server was far too pricey an option for most people. It could easy run you hundreds of dollars / month. But times, like everything else have changed. That means you’re in luck, because prices have dropped. Well, sort of.
So what exactly is a dedicated server?
A dedicated server is private server specifically dedicated to your website and your website alone… nobody else’s. You don’t want to share your server, do you? In contrast, a shared web hosting solution is shaky, flakey and your web can be shut down by someone’s else’s problem or screw up (spike in traffic, bugs, etc). None of that is an issue if you’re just getting started and want to keep your costs low, but as you grow, you need reliability.
What are the pros of having your own personal dedicated server?
Nothing is without it’s upside, so here are the pros. The biggest one, of course, is reliability. When you start a blog or website and it starts to grow, reliability begins to really matter. With a dedicated server, you never, ever have to worry about someone else’s traffic spike bringing your site down. That’s because you never have to share resources with other people on your dedicated servers, it’s all yours. Also, if you have a dedicated server and you find yourself experiencing a traffic surge there’s no need to sweat it, as you won’t bring other websites down.
Yes, a huge surge in traffic will dramatically increase your CPU usage (or bring your server down altogether) but having a dedicated server means you never get charged for the increased use of resources, as you would if you went the shared web hosting route. And that can wind up saving you a pretty penny, and who doesn’t like saving money?
What are the cons of a dedicated server?
Well, first and foremost, as we mentioned is Cost. A dedicated server may be more affordable than ever, but it’s still not the cheapest way to go. You’re buying a whole big box up-front that you may never use. Who knows if you need all that space and processing power on a server? And even today, you’re still looking at $150/month for an entry-level dedicated server.
Let’s not forget, that one server is where all your stuff is. It’s never a good idea to put all one’s eggs in one basket, yet that’s exactly what you’re doing when and if you go the dedicated server route.
Also, any kind of hardware failure can bring down your entire box. You’re offline and being offline in the web business is a fate worse than death, but you knew that already, right? Point is, that’s a risk you simply can’t afford to take.
When you’re the only one on that server, your web hosting provider is much less likely to notice a problem. However if you’re on a big server with some neighbors, well, you know how it is… someone’s always quick to complain, so the squeaky wheel gets fixed pretty fast.
Also unless you get into the $1,000/month range, dedicated server don’t get even close to the quality and reliability of equipment of shared web hosting and VPS.
All that said, for us, personally, we know a dedicated server solution would not be a good option. We’ve gone that route and it failed miserably as we slowly outgrow it. We really feel that the negatives far outweigh the positives, though after reading this edition of Web Hosting 101, you may still feel a dedicated server is right for you.
Are there any better web hosting options?
That really depends on you and what your needs are. If you’re just starting out and have a small amount of traffic, keep your costs low and go with a solid, reliable, and cheap shared web host. Just be careful to not go with a flaky one. (Here is the only shared web host we personally recommend to our own friends and family).
Truth be told, once you outgrow a shared web host, we prefer the Virtual Private Server (VPS) route. We’ve really found that it’s a much more effective more cost-effective, if and only if you get a reliable provider.
A VPS, as we’ve mentioned before, is the love child of a dedicated server and a shared web hosting solution. It’s a combination, the best of both worlds, really. We like to think of it as a “high-end” shared web hosting solution. You don’t share with as many people and it still has many of the benefits of a dedicated server. It’s like working out at a high end chain gym, like Equinox.
So who do you go with if you’re in the market for a VPS (Virtual Private Server)?
There are a lot of providers out there. We’ve researched options tirelessly and we’ve personally tried a bunch of them, and most of them tend to oversell their server resources which makes them flaky. On the bright side, after all that research, we’ve found one that doesn’t suck. In fact they’re awesome.
To find out which one we recommend, check out our “web hosting resources“. There you can find our personal recommendations for a Virtual Private Server provider as well as a whole hosts of other recommendations that may be of interest to you. I wonder how many of our recommendations you are going to adopt and how fast you will adopt them.
Be sure to check out the rest of the Web Hosting 101 series, where we’re going to dig a little deeper for you…