What is a Dedicated Server?

The Basics of a Dedicated Server

Learning dedicated server basics might seem confusing at first, but it’s really simple once you understand the vocabulary.

You’ve probably heard of computer servers before, but did you know there’s a difference between a normal server and a dedicated server? Both types of servers perform almost the same function. They both connect computers and transfer information. However, a server typically needs a host to be able to work, and that’s what sets them apart.

What is a Dedicated Server?

A dedicated server is exactly what it sounds like: a server dedicated entirely to your website and its needs. Unlike a shared server, all of the power and resources are yours alone and no other websites have access to them.

This leads to increased speed, reliability, and security. In addition, you have full control over how the server gets set up, including hardware configuration and custom software options.

Why Do You Need a Dedicated Server?

A dedicated server is known as one of the highest-performance hosting options. We like to think of a dedicated server like owning your own house. No one will bother you and you can do whatever you’d like. Whereas a shared server is much like living in condo where you have to share everything.

Dedicated servers allow for:

  • 24/7 uptime
  • Faster connection speeds
  • Less risk of virus attacks
  • Maintenance on the fly

Dedicated servers aren’t specifically designed for one purpose. They can be used to host websites, game servers, or anything that requires a place for multiple computers to store and read files.

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What Are the Benefits of a Dedicated Server?

Anticipated Growth and Increased Traffic

If you have upgraded to a dedicated server you may have upgraded because of a prediction of the growth of your business. This may include having increased traffic, more products to display, or simply more functionality that you need to provide through the server to your customers.

The dedicated server provides you the flexibility to adjust to increased traffic on your website while also having a positive impact on your page loading times. This may come at a premium cost, but you get more power for your money and more satisfied customers.

Security and Control

One of the first main benefits that a dedicated server takes care of is security. If you are in a regulated industry and are charged with maintaining the privacy of customer’s data and information, you absolutely cannot share a server with another company. This is because you cannot allow for the possibility that one of these other companies might be able to access your server’s data and customer information.

If you are on the same server with a spammer or malicious website meant to spread viruses or other malware, this can open your website up to security issues. Your website may even be shut down indefinitely if the authorities seize the server hardware because of another malicious site on the same server. If your website handles credit card transactions or other data that needs to be encrypted and closely guarded, you are better off with a dedicated server.

Each server has a unique IP address. Therefore, if you’re on a dedicated server, your website has its own IP address. But if you are on a shared server, your website will share the IP address with the other sites hosted on the shared server. And if one of those other sites is known to be a source of spam, your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking may be negatively impacted because of its connection with suspicious content. Your website may even be blocked from search engines.

As a means of maintaining server security, you will be able to install the highest level of security available to you.  Not only will your data be secured, but also your applications and your customer database. One aspect that makes this so appealing for business owners is that you will have total control over your site, without having to bend to the needs of other businesses on your shared server or the configurations of your web hosting service.

Managed Hosting

InMotion Hosting provides Managed Hosting services that you can take advantage of, which help you set-up the server to your requirements and help with regular maintenance and updates.

No Shared Resources

With a shared server, you are at the mercy of the limitations placed by having to share resources. This means that the CPU processing power and RAM are all distributed (and not evenly) with the other sites on the server.

If a website on the server is running bad scripts that eat up lots of memory, then it can impact your website’s performance. The same is true if your server neighbors have a spike in website traffic. This can eat up the bandwidth on the server and slow your website down significantly. Additionally, shoppers may associate slow load times with lower quality. If your website takes too long to load, consumers may seek out your competitors’ sites instead.

With a dedicated server, however, you don’t have to share resources. The full capacity of the server is at your disposal and you won’t have to worry about someone else slowing down your site.

Increased Site Speed

With more resources available, elements can load faster. In addition to this, site speed yields several other benefits.

Improved SEO: It is well-known that site speed is one of the ranking factors Google uses to determine search engine ranking. Further, research has shown that they may be using “time to first byte” as the official means of measurement. What does that mean? In simple terms: a fast website will help you show up higher in Google search results, while a slow website will likely make you show up lower.

Your bottom line: Site speed has a direct impact on conversion rate, revenue, and user experience in the following ways:

  • A slow site is less likely to get a lot of return traffic
  • Every additional second added onto your load time results in 7% fewer conversions
  • A one-second delay in response time can result in 11% fewer page views and a 16% loss in customer satisfaction
  • 46% of people who abandon their shopping cart cite slow website speed as the reason
  • Greater customization options: Having an entire server’s worth of resources to yourself means that you can likely add a lot of custom features (like video streaming or MP3s) without impacting your site’s speed. And your highly customized site will not only look great but will be memorable to visitors and create a great user experience.

Customization Possibilities

With a shared server, you have a “one size fits all” mentality when it comes to server configurations. But with a dedicated server, you can specifically configure your server to work best with your website. This can include configuration for a Content Management System (CMS) platform such as WordPress, Drupal or Magento for eCommerce.

Additionally, as you rent your own dedicated server and do not buy one, it is easier to upgrade as your website outgrows your current home. You don’t have to worry about paying for the server equipment, software, or for upgrades nor will you have to pay for IT to run the server.

Common Dedicated Server Pain Points

Dedicated Server Privacy 

Hosting Provider Transparency

One of the most important considerations for any dedicated server is privacy. When storing your sensitive data online, it is important to know that you can trust your hosting provider to protect your data from prying eyes. Look for hosting features such as two-factor authentication, robust firewalls, and regular security updates to make sure your server is private and secure. 

In addition to securing your data from hackers and malware, you also want to make sure that your hosting provider is transparent with how your data is stored and deleted. This information can generally be found in the Terms of Service within your hosting agreement. When reviewing the Terms of Service, pay attention to details such as how long your data is retained after cancellation of your hosting services, what type of backup services are offered, and whether or not they comply with industry security standards.

Meeting Privacy Standards  

Users looking to process credit card transactions or medical information through their dedicated server will need to ensure that the server itself is compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI) or Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards. These standards typically involve custom configuration of server security protocols to limit exposure to potential security risks. Before committing to a hosting plan, you may want to make sure your provider can meet these standards.   

Performance Throttling

What is Throttling?

In addition to privacy concerns, another potential dedicated server pain point is the concept of throttling. Throttling involves the deliberate slowing of online services in response to increased system demand. For example, an internet service provider may throttle the services of a particular user or group of users if they are exceeding a certain usage threshold or if there is too much overall strain on the network. The end result is slow internet speed, which means slow-loading websites, frequently buffering videos and other connectivity-related issues. Understandably, throttling can be a frustrating experience for everyone involved.  

Avoiding Throttling: Know Your Limits

To ensure that your online service never degrades due to unexpected throttling by your web host, review the Terms of Service for any hosting provider you are considering. The Terms of Service generally outlines the limitations that exist for your dedicated hosting plan, particularly when it comes to bandwidth. Bandwidth is the maximum rate of data transfer via a given network pathway, which means the higher the bandwidth, the more internet traffic your server can handle without experiencing service degradation. Having state-of-the-art dedicated server hardware means nothing if you don’t have the bandwidth to match. As such, it is vital to pay attention to bandwidth capacity when signing up for a dedicated hosting plan.  

Data Migration

Moving to Your New Host

Another common dedicated server pain point is the matter of migrating data from previous hosting solutions to your new dedicated server. Many hosting providers charge expensive fees, even for relatively simple data migration efforts. In addition, data migration can take some time depending on the amount of data being transferred as well as what type of data is being transferred. For example, a cPanel account can be transferred in relatively short order while a complex non-cPanel site can take days or longer to completely transfer.  This means moving to a new dedicated server may result in unexpected additional costs and delays. 

Another dedicated server pain point to consider is the fact that some hosting providers make it difficult to access your website data, increasing the amount of time involved in the migration process or preventing some aspects of the site from being transferred. While data migration teams often make a best-effort attempt to migrate site data, security features and software compatibility issues may prevent a complete 1:1 migration of all site data. 

Free Migration Services

To avoid this, look for hosting providers that provide free or low-cost data migration services. These services typically include transferring website data such as web pages and images as well as any corresponding databases that may be attached to your sites. In some cases, email accounts can be transferred in their entirety, meaning your website and email can be transferred and ready to go with little-to-no effort on your part. The scope of migration services varies from provider to provider, so be sure to review the specifics of any data migration service you wish to use. 

Prohibitive Costs of Dedicated Hosting

Another common dedicated server pain point is the fact that dedicated servers are generally more expensive than virtual private servers or shared servers. This can be prohibitively costly for some users, while others may be unable to justify the expense of purchasing a dedicated server. Unexpected fees and additional costs can quickly sour even the most positive of new user experiences. 

To avoid wasting valuable financial resources on lackluster dedicated hosting, thoroughly review the specifications and configuration of any dedicated servers you purchase to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth. Look for current generation hardware, industry-standard transfer rates, and other common metrics for hardware and software performance. By familiarizing yourself with modern data center infrastructure and web hosting technologies you can ensure that your money is not going to waste with your dedicated hosting plan.  

Avoiding Dedicated Server Pain Points

Through proper research, it is possible to find a web host that can help you avoid these common dedicated server pain points that many users experience when signing up for a dedicated hosting plan. Moving to a new server or signing up for web hosting for the first time can be stressful and overwhelming at times, but with the right hosting company and adequate preparation, you can get started with a dedicated server painlessly and begin your web hosting journey.

How Do You Set Up a Dedicated Server?

Dedicated servers can be set up by yourself or by a third party. They’re typically more difficult to set up by yourself since they can require multiple downloads and a lot of preparation on your computer.

By going through a third party, you’ll receive dedicated server basics which typically include features like:

  • Maintenance teams for your server
  • The ability to customize it
  • An online interface
  • Stable uptime

How To Choose the Right Dedicated Server Plan

When it comes to choosing the right hosting plan, you must first understand what your needs are and what you’ll be using it for. For instance, a stand-alone blog would require far different resources than a thriving eCommerce store. Some reasons to choose a dedicated hosting plan include:

  • Your website experiences very high traffic levels
  • You plan on using lots of custom features, like streaming video or high-resolution images
  • You have an increased need for security
  • You anticipate a lot of growth in the near future

Once you’re certain you need a dedicated server, it’s time to choose the right plan. Here are some of the factors you should take into consideration:

  • How powerful do you need your processor to be? In general, the more resources your site will need for features like custom applications or video-transcoding, the more powerful your processor should be.
  • How much bandwidth do you need? If you anticipate a huge volume of traffic on a regular basis or you plan to use HD pictures or streaming multimedia files, you’ll need more bandwidth.
  • How much memory do you need? Even if you don’t require a huge amount of memory for what you’re currently doing with your website, you really can’t have too much. In a nutshell, having more RAM helps your site load faster (and speed is always a good thing).
  • Do you need a specific operating system? Many website owners don’t really care either way, but if you have a strong preference for either Windows or Linux, know that each one requires a different OS. You will also need a Windows dedicated server if you plan on hosting Microsoft IIS, MS, SQL, or ASP.NET.

Other Uses for Dedicated Servers

Hosting A Podcast

The marketing effects of a successful podcast is very tempting. Imagine thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of listeners engaging with your content every week. The low production costs of creating regular audio recordings entices newbies and professionals alike to get their piece of the action. 

There are expensive podcast hosting solutions on the web that charge you a high fee for basically storing your audio files and syndicating your episodes. But you can do all of that for a fraction of the cost, and get all the bandwidth and space you need, on a dedicated server running WordPress. All you need to do is install a few plugins and your WordPress site will syndicate the episodes for you to whatever platform your listeners are using.

Be Your Own Web Host

Every business needs a website. What if you could earn money by selling hosting space? As an agency you can manage thousands of clients’ websites from within one dedicated server. Likewise, reselling hosting space is a great way for designers and developers to supplement their income and better manage their customers.

All of the InMotion Hosting reseller hosting plans come with cPanel and WHM. But if you don’t want to use cPanel or have custom scripts and apps you want to install, a dedicated space can grant you more control. This is not possible at the Reseller level, but opening up to Dedicated Hosting grants you root access to make all the changes you need.

Create a Private Git Repository

You might be thinking, I could just use GitHub–it’s free, and now you can create private repositories (repos). But, keep in mind GitHub recommends keeping repos under 1GB and enforces a hard limit of 100GB. The purpose of this hard limit is to avoid large files clogging up their servers. But what if your project has a lot of large media files? 

With your own dedicated server, space is not an issue. For example, InMotion Hosting’s introductory dedicated hosting package starts out with a 500GB SSD drive. And if you fill that up you can easily upgrade to double that space.

Before space even comes into account, security factors should take center stage. Even large-scale projects on Github have let a password slip and had to rush to mitigate possible security threats. Why risk it?

How to Choose a Dedicated Server Hosting Provider

Choosing the right dedicated hosting provider can be just as difficult as choosing the right dedicated server. Before making any decisions, you have to be sure that the services they offer fit your needs. Some factors to consider include:

  • Server Stability: this is the measure of overall performance, accessibility, and usability. Bottom line? You want to go with a service that offers uptimes of at least 99.95% to minimize the chance of costly outages.
  • Customer Support: look for a dedicated server host that offers 24/7 customer support with a variety of contact options (such as telephone, email, and live chat). You will need someone to be available when you have a problem with your server (which you will) and the response time needs to be fast.
  • Customization: does the hosting provider offer both Linux and Windows options? Can you partition hard drive space as you wish? What type of hardware options are available?
  • Security: Dedicated servers are inherently much safer than any of the shared options, but that doesn’t mean you’re 100% safe from hackers. To help ensure your site’s security, look for a provider that offers built-in security features.

Our Dedicated Hosting guarantees better performance and more storage. With state-of-the-art data centers and a dedicated server hosting team to monitor your machine, we promise you’ll get more flexibility, scalability and reliability. We also feature a 99.999% uptime guarantee, one of the best in the industry, that will give you peace of mind that your website is always up and running for your customers and clients.

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