Switching to a dedicated server will require you to make several decisions. It is critical for you to know how to determine your dedicated server needs before you choose a dedicated hosting provider. In this Web Host Ranking article we will look at the different features and options involved so you will know how to determine your dedicated server needs. Choosing an operating system, determining bandwidth needs, choosing software, evaluating backup needs, price, and security are just a few of the things to consider when determining your dedicated server needs.
Determine Dedicated Server Needs – Operating System
The first fundamental decision in determining your dedicated server needs is to choose an operating system. There are a few things to consider when choosing Linux or Windows for your dedicated server. Price: Linux is generally significantly cheaper than Windows. Because the Linux platform is open-source the licensing is free so web hosts can offer it a lot cheaper than the Windows operating system in which they have to pay a licensing fee. Script support: Linux supports php, MySQL, and Perl languages; Windows support .NET, Microsoft SQL, Microsoft Access and other Microsoft products like Frontpage, SharePoint and others.
Aside from what you can afford, your familiarity with Linux or Windows scripts and software will be a major deciding factor. If you have used any Microsoft products previously the learning curve for a Windows dedicated server is relatively small. For those that have no knowledge of the Linux system the learning curve can be much steeper. Another benefit of choosing Linux is the fact that it is open-source. Because there is a whole community of people working on Linux projects all the time, problems and patches are typically addressed and fixed much more quickly than on Windows where they have to wait on the Windows development team to address the issue and find a solution.
Choosing a Dedicated Server – Resources
Determining the resource needs for your dedicated server shouldn’t be too hard if you can get some basic statistics from your current web hosting account. You will need to know approximately how much bandwidth your site is using, and how much hard disk space you will need. You will also need to figure out what kind of processor you want to use and determine what other resources are available to you, and the cost of each. Other resources to consider are software options, security, backup options, firewalls, etc.
Dedicated Server Datacenter and Hosting Provider
After getting a basic idea of what you want, you will have to determine which web hosting provider and/or datacenter will best serve your dedicated hosting needs. If you will be leasing the dedicated server through a dedicated hosting provider you want to make sure you choose a hosting service that is dependable, has been an established business for a few years, has excellent customer support, and has a reputation for providing quality services. Along with these factors you will need to find out where the datacenter is located. Datacenter location can greatly affect load times of your website if most of your visitors are in areas that are very far away from the datacenter. Also, be sure to find out about what monitoring, security, and hardware replacement guarantees are offered. If your server has a problem you want to know that the provider will notice the problem and get working on it right away to prevent any prolonged outages.
Managed or Unmanaged Dedicated Server Hosting
Once you have made the basic choices about hardware requirements, the platform you want to use, what resources you need and the datacenter and provider you want to use, you will have to decided whether you want to use managed or unmanaged dedicated server hosting. Most dedicated server pricing listed is for unmanaged dedicated hosting, choosing a managed plan usually costs extra. So how do you know if you need managed or unmanaged dedicated server hosting? If you have no experience with managing a dedicated server, you will probably want some level of management. Some web hosts will offer different levels of management so that you will give you some flexibility in handling the things you are comfortable with but have the peace of mind knowing that the host will take care of those things that you are not comfortable managing. Some of the functions that users may want managed include:
- Application monitoring and updates
- Hardware monitoring
- Firewall, spam, and virus services and updates
- Security audits
- Backups and restoration
- Disaster recovery
- Software installation and configuration
As mentioned previously, many hosts offer different levels of dedicated server management. Choices may include fully managed, managed, self-managed, or unmanaged. Talk with the individual dedicated hosting provider for specific details on the type of dedicated server management they offer.
After considering all of these things, if you determine that you don’t really need a dedicated server just yet you might want to switch to a VPS (virtual private server) for a while. A good VPS service will provide the same basic benefits of a dedicated server at a much cheaper monthly rate. If you anticipate continued growth or plan to add additional websites then sign up with a VPS hosting service that also offers dedicated servers and let them know ahead of time that you plan to upgrade when you outgrow the VPS plan.
If you have good, solid information about the resources your site(s) is currently using and what your plans are for the future, you should be able to get a fairly close estimate of what you need now and what will give you some wiggle room for the next year or two. If you feel that you will eventually end up on a dedicated server then be sure to find out about upgrade options. If you are ready for a dedicated server now but want the ability to add additional resources late on, be sure to talk with your host about the different options that will be available.