Dedicated Server Purchasing Guide – Things You Need to Know When Choosing a Dedicated Server

Choosing

Why do you need a dedicated server?

The very first step in purchasing a dedicated server should be ensuring that you actually need a dedicated server. There are many other hosting options to be considered including shared hosting and virtual servers. At Anchor we see three independent reasons why customers may require a dedicated server, these are:

Performance
Control
Security

Performance
There are two reasons why performance becomes a factor in deciding to go to a dedicated server. The first is that the application has to date been hosted on a shared (or virtual server) environment and the load on the application has proved to be too high – ie – the hosting company has told you that you need your own server.

The second reason is that the application you’re hosting is very dependent on consistently fast response times. In a shared environment by definition you are using a shared resources, sometimes, not often, other users on the server can cause your site to slow down. If this can’t be tolerated then application performance can be a good reason to go to a dedicated server.

Control
If you need control over the server to do things that you can’t do on a shared server then you are often forced into going dedicated. Control is usually in terms of the ability to perform configuration on the server yourself without restriction. If you want to be able to log in as an administrative or root user then you will need a dedicated server to gain this level of control.

Unless you are on a dedicated server, you surrender a degree of control of the server to the hosting company ip booter. This has the advantages of ensuring all changes are made by professional Systems Administrators but there are the disadvantages that if you are a budding Admin yourself, you have to wait for someone else to make changes on your behalf.

Security
While shared servers are locked down to very high levels, the very fact that the server is accessible to other authorised users does introduce increased security risks in respect to host compromises. On a dedicated server you can be sure that any security breaches will only be a result of your own actions and not of somebody else.

Hardware specifications

The first thing that comes to mind for most people when deciding on a dedicated server specification is the hardware. You can see it and touch it so it’s an easy starting point. Choosing the right hardware on day one is critical to make sure that you find that balance between not over specifying and hence wasting money and not under specifying and hence finding you need to do an upgrade too soon.

Every application is different and so the loads that it will place on a server are very difficult to estimate. Pages, hits, visitors, data transfer/month can all act as a guide but the variability in load from one application to another can be so significant (and implementation-specific) that these figures might not tell you much.

Hardware components
Let’s have a look at the core hardware components in your server so you can see which ones warrant consideration when specifying a server. This table only attempts to discuss the components in the context of your ability to upgrade them in future, and the effect of the failure of this component on the delivery of services.

Availability monitoring

Depending on the service you purchase, your dedicated hosting provider will to varying degrees be responsible for monitoring the availability of your service.

If you need to know when services are going up or down it is important that your service provider is able to provide you with these reports. You should check for email or SMS based alert options.

Bandwidth

Most dedicated servers come with an initial data transfer allowance. This can vary anywhere from a few GB’s in Australia through to a terabyte on offer by some overseas hosting providers.

Before you get carried away with choosing the host with the most bandwidth, try to work out how much bandwidth you actually need, then make sure the hosting package you’re choosing meets that requirement.

Providers that offer excessively high bandwidth allocations may not always be the best choice. They may also be attractive to other high bandwidth clients that subsequently cause congestion on the network, or relate to a service that is not providing the same quality of bandwidth as other providers.

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