What Is A Dedicated Server And Why Do I Need One?

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Paul Wheeler

Should you consider getting a dedicated server?

So you’ve figured out you want to build a website for yourself. Congratulations!

Whether it’s an individual portfolio, a launching pad for your new company, or a stepping stone for an already established business, a well-built and designed website can do wonders in terms of advancing your goals.

But while many people focus on elements like layout, branding, features, and other public-facing elements of a web presence, the technical components behind the scenes can play a significant role in the success of the window dressing you design. One such component is the hosting option you select, which brings you the question; do you need a dedicated server for it?

Do You Need A Dedicated Server?

What if you’re an established company looking to grow or a fledgling company that has grown faster than expected? Which of these choices makes the most sense? The answer might be none of the above. Instead, you might want to look at using a dedicated hosting service.

A dedicated server is one that you and your web property exclusively use. You won’t need to share bandwidth or storage with any other website, which gives you an optimal level of control as you construct, design, and modify your site.

The primary downside of using a dedicated server is pricing. You can find several shared hosting services for less than $5 a month without additional security features. You can even find a good amount of VPS services for less than $20. However, if you’re opting for a dedicated server, you may be looking at prices that start around $80 a month.

A growing business might balk at the jump in price between using a shared hosting plan or dedicated server hosting. There are many reasons growing companies choose to select a dedicated server.

5 Things You Can Get From A Dedicated Server

1.  High-level Security

If your company collects, leverages, or stores any kind of personal or sensitive information from visitors, dedicated hosting can be crucial. Shared hosting-and even VPS-can create significant security gaps.

The problem with shared hosting and even VPS is that the hardware involved is accessible to any other paying user on that plan. This creates vulnerability. Should one website owner fail to secure their site appropriately, all websites using that server may have sensitive data exposed to malevolent actors. This can not only complicate operations for your business but become a PR nightmare.

2. Brand Protection

Another significant concern when using shared hosting is the potential downside for your search engine optimization.

In a perfect world, your organization would provide keyword-rich, high-value content that search engines would gladly point out to potential consumers looking for information.

If, however, one of the websites using the same server as you under a shared hosting plan is engaging in spammy or otherwise concerning behavior, the common IP address could cause search engines to penalize your website, as well-regardless of the value of your brand or content.

With a dedicated server, your IP address is yours alone. This means your brand and standing in the eyes of major search engines is yours to manage.

3. Better Page Rank

Even if you gamble and end up lucky with a shared hosting option that isn’t explicitly associated with a website of ill repute, your choice of host can significantly impact search performance.

Google, in particular, takes into account the provider used to host your website. While selecting a hosting provider with a common name does not automatically send your website to the bottom of the pile in search results, algorithms do take into consideration the technical infrastructure of a site when determining brand authority.

A dedicated server indicates significant financial investment. In the eyes of the computers, determining brand relevance on particular search phrases may indicate a level of gravitas that improves search traffic.

4. Resource Sharing

Maybe your web property isn’t about branding, traffic, or conversions. Perhaps you have built a web property to manage your team and their efforts better. In these cases especially, having a dedicated server makes all the sense in the world.

It’s one thing to share things like Google documents among a handful of people. However, when resources need to be efficiently accessed among dozens of people, you will likely need the organization of an application to ensure easy access.

In these cases, having a dedicated server can ensure that you can implement optimal UX design for ease of access and improved productivity.

5. Excellent Speed

It can be difficult to conceptualize how hosting service selection impacts your website, so let’s use the idea of a drive-through restaurant.

If you’re a standalone restaurant, everyone who comes through the drive-through orders items from your business alone. But imagine if multiple restaurants were using that drive-through window. The person looking to order off your menu might have to wait behind five other customers ordering off different menus to get to you. This can create a less than optimal customer experience.

That’s a crude way of explaining how wait times (or page loading times) can impact your operations and brands. Your potential customers are probably (hopefully) not waiting ten minutes to get to your menu.

The premise, however, is valid. With shared hosting, you run the risk of multiple sites experiencing traffic surges at once, limiting your access to bandwidth. With a dedicated server, your drive-through window-so to speak-is open 24/7 without any other menus in play.

How Do You Get Started With Dedicated Server?

To be frank, the best way to get started with a dedicated server for hosting is to prepare for the transition.

While transferring web properties from shared hosting to a dedicated server is absolutely possible, and many hosting providers offer services to make the transition easier, transitioning at all can create unforeseen complications while requiring you and/or your team to learn an entirely different style of web management.

How To Get A Dedicated Server

Regardless of where you start, though, you’ll need to consider your approach to using a dedicated server. That means deciding whether you will rent, buy, or build a dedicated server.

Renting a server

Renting a dedicated server might seem like the best option for those dipping their toes in the waters of dedicated server hosting. In theory, it allows for experimentation during a short timeframe to determine the ROI of using a dedicated server.

In many cases, this also incorporates active third-party management of your dedicated server. A managed dedicated server means the hardware component is taken off your plate, and you may receive guidance on best practices. Long-term, however, the costs of renting a dedicated server can dwarf the alternatives.

Buying a server

So why not just buy your own dedicated server? Depending on the size of your company, the associated pricing might not be in your budget at the moment. Another concern dovetails with the notion of renting a dedicated server. If the company you rent or buy from encounters choppy waters, the integrity of your web property may be in danger.

Building a server

Of course, it is entirely possible to build your own dedicated server. This is not without risks, though. While it grants the greatest amount of control over the security and performance of your properties, it is also a far more expensive option.

Not only will your organization absorb the hardware costs, but you will be solely responsible for the maintenance of the server, which often requires the hiring of well-qualified (and expensive) staff. There are excellent reasons that (usually) only huge companies or companies with significant security concerns opt for this route.

How Should I Choose the Right Dedicated Server Hosting for Me?

If you’re ready to jump into a dedicated server, then you need to consider a few factors:

Upfront costs

At the very least, it’s important to consider the impact on your company’s budget before selecting a dedicated server hosting option regardless of whether you’re renting, buying, or building your own server. Depending on available cash flow and current needs, a shared hosting option might suffice in the short term.

Technical requirements

You also need to consider the technical requirements associated with a dedicated server. Shared hosting plans, VPS plans, and cloud servers all typically come with technical support from the owners of the physical servers-ranging from systems and processes that make set-up and management easier to real-time interactions with experts.

With a dedicated server you build yourself, you should probably have at least one staff member dedicated to setting up and managing your web properties and applications.

Your potential ROI

Finally (and most importantly) it comes down to potential ROI. Do dedicated servers offer better security, bandwidth, brand authority, and more? That’s undeniable.

However, what makes sense in terms of budgeting relative revenue and projected growth is more complicated. The needs of a business doing a few thousand in sales or managing a team of six are very different than that of a company employing 500 people and processing thousands of orders per day.

It all boils down to the bottom line: where are you, where do you expect to be, and where do you want to be? These are all questions answered with dollar signs. Your best bet in answering them is to research individual providers and speak with individuals at those companies about their services.

Other Server Options For You

If you’re still not convinced of getting a dedicated server for your website, here are other server hosting options that can be more appropriate for your business and budget.

Shared hosting

The most common option is shared hosting. This means the company you opt to work with will host the data associated with your website on a server along with the data of many other websites.

The drawback is that when a site attracts enough traffic, its bandwidth is shared with other websites on the same server. Should enough sites on that server attract enough attention, there may not be enough power in the background to provide sufficient loading time, at a minimum, leading to a poor visitor experience.

In some cases, this might not matter. If the website you’ve built isn’t oriented around creating conversions, generating ad views, or other money-making endeavors, you might not care. However, if the bottom line is your bottom line, the potential hiccups that come with shared hosting could matter quite a bit.

It’s also important to note that conversion can drop from about 31 percent to less than 14 percent after two seconds of loading time on a given page. If this is a big problem for you, the alternative is to actively manage your sharing options.

This means the bandwidth used by sites on a shared server should be monitored, with available resources and computing power shifted to meet demand. While this doesn’t entirely eliminate the risks associated with shared hosting, it may offer some confidence.

Cloud hosting

Another option is using a cloud server. In theory, it operates the same way shared hosting does, but instead of using one piece of hardware to manage multiple sites, multiple pieces of hardware are involved. Think about it like teamwork. The benefit here is that, should your site’s traffic surge at the same time as someone else’s site on the plan, the means of shouldering that traffic will be split accordingly.

Virtual Private Server (VPS)

There’s also an option to use VPS or virtual private servers. In this case, your website is allocated a dedicated amount of space and bandwidth on a given server, regardless of how much you use. This power is not up for grabs for other websites using that specific server, so you can be confident of what you’re able to handle. It is, however, a more expensive choice that can become increasingly expensive should your website grow rapidly in a short time.

Whether or not your need a dedicated server for your business is completely up to you, and your future needs. As early as now, it’s important to consider these factors so you’ll be able to weigh out your options and manage your expectations. If you need help in finding out which hosting is best for you, you can check out our full website hosting reviews.