A dedicated server web hosting package provides you with a physical server for your sole use. The server will be maintained in a data centre which has good security, a controlled environment (air conditioning etc.) and secure services (e.g. multiple power sources). Colocation can be similar to dedicated server web hosting. In the former case you pay for space and services so you can put your own server in a data centre. In the latter case you rent the server from the hosting company who are responsible for the hardware and may or may not provide some software management services.
Despite the many benefits of dedicated server web hosting when compared to shared hosting there are two negatives to bear in mind:
1. Cost – The step from shared to dedicated server hosting is quite large in cost terms and you need to be sure this is worthwhile. VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting is an intermediate step that is worth considering as it provides many of the benefits of dedicated hosting at a significantly lower cost.
2. Technical Expertise – The selling points of dedicated server web hosting largely concern the control and flexibility it offers. The negative here is that you need a certain level of technical expertise to take advantage of this. If this is not available you will have to have a managed service which necessarily limits what you can do (and increases the cost).
Some of the advantages of dedicated hosting are:
* Your site cannot be affected by the actions of third parties so its performance and security are improved.
* The dedicated server hardware can be configured to your requirements.
* The hardware configuration can be updated as your requirements evolve.
* You get root access (or full administrative access) to the server so have full control.
* You can load whatever software you want and configure it as you require.
In the case of shared hosting the hosting company looks after everything except your website. Unfortunately the position is not so consistent with dedicated server web hosting. There are unmanaged services and managed services (and degrees of management) but one hosting company’s definition of “management” may differ from the next. It is therefore important to decide what you want to do and what you want your hosting company to be responsible for, for example with regard to:
* maintaining the operating system
* maintaining application software
* monitoring the server
* protection from the internet
* taking of backups
* support and assistance provided.
There are a range of prices for dedicated server hosting and the lead in price advertised may well be an unmanaged service.
Given the options available it is difficult to find the best balance of services and price with a good reputable company. The latter is important as you want a supplier who in likely to in the business for the foreseeable future.
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