What is a dedicated server?

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Hosting a website involves carefully weighing a great number of disparate factors, such as search engine optimization (SEO) and security, in addition to the amount of expected visitors per month, the type of content hosted on the website, etc. Choosing the right web hosting package is crucial in ensuring that your website performs properly, and can handle the visitors.

Shared hosting is one of the most common and popular hosting packages. In such a setup, the resources of a single server are split across multiple users. The obvious advantage of such a setup is low cost, but this is at the expense of performance of your own website. The large demand on the resources of the server means more downtime and other problems as well.

If you value stability, reliability and performance, your only recourse is to opt for a dedicated hosting server. In a dedicated hosting environment, the entire resources of the server are utilised by a single tenant, instead of being spread across multiple users or hosted websites. This means that your website can leverage the server's full CPU, RAM, bandwidth, and storage resources, as it doesn't share them with other sites. The benefit from a singular use of such resources to a hosted website cannot be overstated.

For one, being a single tenant gives you far greater control over how the server is configured. You can also add and remove software at will, perform updates and other maintenance at your convenience, and even tweak settings to get the maximum mileage from the available resources.

But the superior advantage of a dedicated hosting server, over shared hosting comes at a rather noticeable pinch on the pocket.

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Types of dedicated servers 

Keeping the server running in prime condition is the job of a system administrator. In a shared hosting server, many of the tasks of the system administrator, such as applying updates to core software, cleaning logs, etc. is handled by the hosting provider. If you want all the advantages of a dedicated server, but with the managerial comfort of shared hosting, you should opt for a Managed Dedicated Server. While you still retain a degree of control, the maintenance of the server is handled by the hosting provider, and you can also tap the company for any assistance you may need.

This is in contrast to an Unmanaged Dedicated Servers, which are designed for more experienced users, who prefer, and have the technical expertise to manage and maintain the server without requiring any hand-holding from the hosting provider.

You should opt for an Unmanaged Dedicated Server only if you have the requisite system administrator knowledge, or have someone on staff who can responsibly use the unrestricted root access to properly configure your server.

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Advantages of a dedicated server

There are a large number of advantages of using a dedicated hosting server, over a shared hosting plan.

1. Reliability

Although shared hosting solutions also value reliability, and boast of good uptime, the available resources are still shared across a large number of websites and users. The situation is quite the opposite with a dedicated server, where all the resources are committed entirely to your needs. So, should your website experience a surge in visitors, or traffic spikes, the performance on your website remains unaffected. With a dedicated hosting plan, you never have to worry about sudden spikes in traffic or visitor volume bringing the site down, or slowing it down to a crawl.

2. Performance

Dedicated hosting servers are usually equipped with vast amounts of RAM, anywhere from 8-64 GB, coupled with SSD storage devices. The Solid State Drives boast of almost 100 times faster data access speeds than regular hard disk drives. Not only that, most dedicated server hosting plans also offer the choice of anywhere from 4-12 CPU cores, with the possibility of opting for more, if needed. With all these resources available at your disposal, a dedicated hosting server ensures high performance, in comparison to a shared hosting server.

3. Control & Customization

With dedicated server hosting, you get unrestricted, or root access to the servers. This means that you can tailor the configuration to your needs. After all, a e-commerce platform needs a different configuration than would a social networking website. This degree of control is unavailable in a shared hosting server.

As a lot of the configuration, and the attendant maintenance on your website is in your hands, you must have the requisite technical expertise to make the most of the control that’s available to you.

4. Security

Securing a server is a fall time job, and involves applying updates to all installed software, deploying and configuring firewalls, using anti-malware, software and more. All these tasks are handled by the hosting provider if you opt for a shared hosting server. But, on a dedicated server, you are tasked with ensuring the safety and integrity of the server.

Most dedicated hosting server plans include a variety of security provisions, such as DDoS protection, and you get the freedom to deploy additional tools to safeguard your websites from attackers, snoopers, malware, etc.

5. Scalability

With a dedicated hosting server, you can easily plan for the growth of your business, and website. As the control of the server is in your hands, you can quickly adapt the server to your changing needs, be it in the form of deploying new applications or modifying existing ones.

When to opt for a dedicated server

Choosing a hosting server for your website is an important decision. The correct package will allow your website to perform with the optimal speed and performance.

If you’re a small business, operating on a budget, expect low traffic, and lack the technical system administrator expertise, a shared hosting server would make sense.

With dedicated hosting, you have a lot of power and flexibility to tailor the server to your needs. But this must be done responsibly, to ensure optimum security. Dedicated servers are aimed at users who want exerting control over their server deployment, and don’t want to share resources with potentially hundreds of other users.

You might also want to check out our many hosting guides:

Shashank Sharma

Shashank Sharma is a trial lawyer in Delhi, India. Long before his foray into the world of litigation, he started his career by writing about Linux and open source software. Over the years, Shashank has also written various articles and reviews for TechRadar Pro, covering web hosting providers and website builder tools.