So your business has a website, maybe several. The shared or VPS hosting bill is certainly reasonable enough, maybe $10 per month, perhaps $50 per month.
But then your IT guy sends you a memo, telling you that you really should get a dedicated server – at a markedly higher cost. Whether he just expects you to trust his expert judgment or explains his reasoning in terms you don’t understand, you may be left with the same basic question you had before you read through the memo: why get a dedicated server?
Here are the basics: a dedicated box is more powerful, more responsive, more customizable, more secure and more upgradable than a shared or VPS hosting plan. Need some specifics? Let us give you a little help.
Is your website running slow, returning error messages to visitors, or unresponsive at times? Once your IT guy has made sure there aren’t problems with the site’s code or scripts, most likely you need more resources and power than a shared or VPS hosting plan can offer. These types of problems are common with lower-level hosting, because shared servers usually don’t offer as many resources as dedicated machines, and you’re sharing those resources with every other client on the box. Dedicated servers have more computing power and storage available – and it’s all yours.
It may be (and this is a good thing) that you’re getting a lot more visitors than you were when you first set up the site, and your hosting plan can’t handle the traffic. It could be that you’ve added resource-intensive elements to the site, like video delivery. Or it might be that other clients on the server with busy websites are hogging the resources, not leaving enough for you.
No matter the reason, a slow or unresponsive website is going to cost you money – a lot more than you’d pay to upgrade to a dedicated server. And if your traffic keeps increasing, you’re going need that extra power and speed.
Performance isn’t the only potential problem with a shared or VPS server. You may be as vigilant as possible against potential hackers and security risks, but that doesn’t mean all of the other clients on your server will be as careful. If one site on the box is compromised, that puts all of your websites and data in danger.
With a dedicated server, there are no other clients to worry about. When you lock your box down and regularly update all of your software and patch all holes, you’ve taken control of your security the way you never could in a shared environment.
Some complicated e-commerce or scripted websites are difficult to set up, and configuring a web server to run the required software properly is normally not allowed on a shared account, or even on a VPS. You need full server access and control to do that, and you’re only given those permissions on a dedicated server.
It’s not just sites with bells-and-whistles where that’s an issue, though. Some simple applications or WordPress plugins require certain versions of software that isn’t installed on shared hosting, and many of those hosts are less-than-accommodating for lower-level clients. With dedicated servers, you can install any software or apps you need, and fine-tune them just the way you want.
As your traffic and business both grow, it’s likely you’ll need even more resources than you get with an entry-level dedicated server. There are limits to what’s available if you want to upgrade with a shared or VPS account, but there are none (within the limits of a computer) when you’re on a dedicated machine. You can add RAM, a faster processor, hard drive space, bandwidth – configure everything the way you want – and if you outgrow the server you can just add a second one to share the load.
Hope that answers your question – now, it’s time to get that dedicated server!