Is your website vital for the survival of your business? Would a slow response time or unavailability of your website have a significant negative impact on your brand image? If the answer is yes to either question, you may need a web hosting solution in which a dedicated computer server runs just your website – with nobody else’s website, and no other applications. Examples might include successful e-commerce sites that generate most or all of the sales of a company, or websites that provide an essential service to a community. In both these cases, dedicated hosting can provide levels of performance and security over and above those offered by shared hosting or a virtual private server (VPS).
Think Out the Solution You Want
You need to pick the right options for a solution that meets your needs; but without burning a hole in your pocket. Your dedicated server must provide enough storage space, enough processing power and enough network transmission capacity to speedily serve pages, download files or take orders, as the case may be. Disk space, main memory and processors can often be upgraded or supplemented, possibly with an additional dedicated hosting server. However, network bandwidth may need special handling, especially if your application requires the use of more than one dedicated server.
How Bandwidth is Managed
Dedicated hosting servers are typically provided with a pre-defined maximum amount of data transfer per month. This transfer capacity can be measured in two ways: the total amount of data your server can send out over one month; and the maximum speed of data transmission per second. The first figure (total amount of data) is an average of all the data transmission done over a period of time. The second one is a measure of the peak or maximum data transfer at any given instant.
What is Your Provider’s Policy?
If you are using just one dedicated hosting server, a provider may simply cap the total amount of traffic flowing at any moment. In other instances, the provider may simply check regularly to see if you are within reasonable bounds. In both cases, you are still limited by the total amount of traffic per month. You may be allowed to transmit data over the agreed limit in return for excess transmission charges. If you plan to use several dedicated servers with the same hosting provider however, check beforehand on the provider’s policy about aggregate bandwidth. Some providers allow you to use the total amount of bandwidth as you like. Others continue to apply the same strict per-server limit as before.
Outsourcing Your Server Management
Do you also have to know everything about the care and feeding of your dedicated server? Not necessarily. A hosting provider may also provide different levels of server management. If you prefer to concentrate fulltime on your business or your web service rather than on server technicalities, it may be worth paying monthly management fees. Service levels range from the unmanaged (you look after all the maintenance and the security) to the fully managed (you sit back and the hosting provider monitors, maintains and updates for you).
Return on Investment
Is a dedicated server worth the money? That depends on what the impact would be of your website being unavailable, or unable to meet users’ expectations of performance. To find out whether additional managed services make sense, look at whether you can manage the server yourself, and whether you want to do so. If you don’t have the technical expertise in-house, then a managed solution may be your only choice. But even if you do, it may make more sense to pay for management, and then use your technical resources on other projects to provide better service or grow your business.