Do you need a dedicated server?
By Michael Moncur (November 16, 2004)
If you run a busy web site, you may find it starting to outgrow its hosting account. A dedicated server may make your life easier, but before you take the plunge, you should be sure it's worth the price and that you can manage the server. Read on to decide whether a dedicated server is right for your site.
How Busy is Your Site?
Your first step in determining whether you need a dedicated server is to evaluate how much of the current host's resources your site is using, and how close it is to the host's limits. The following are the main resource a site uses:
A dedicated server will have limits on these resources as well, but usually offers greater amounts for less money. In the case of processor speed, you will be guaranteed the full use of the CPU rather than sharing it with the host's other customers.
Do You Need Special Features?
Even if your site is running comfortably within its existing host's resource limits, you may want to move to a dedicated server for the other benefits it offers. Here are some potential benefits of having a server to yourself:
Can You Manage It?
While a dedicated server offers many benefits, it also presents a challenge: you will take on some of the responsibility for managing the server. How much you are responsible for depends on the type of server:
Unmanaged servers are the cheapest option, and by far the most popular—but many customers quickly find themselves out of their depth managing a server with little or no help from the host. You shouldn't consider an unmanaged server unless you're an expert or are ready to spend a few months learning the ropes while trying to keep your site running.
Can You Afford It?
If you've determined that a dedicated server would help your site, the next question is whether you can afford the cost. Unmanaged servers are becoming very competitive, typically $99 a month or lower with a very low setup fee, but you may need more service than these basic offerings provide.
If your site is a labor of love, this comes down to whether you're willing to open your wallet. For a site that makes money or hopes to, you'll need to consider the cost more carefully:
Keep in mind that hosting accounts can become expensive with a busy site, especially when you are nearing the limits of their capacity. When I moved my busiest site to a dedicated server, it actually saved me money each month—but I spend far more time managing it.
Dedicated servers are essential for large sites, and often can save money for smaller ones. If you decide to make the leap to a dedicated server, be sure your site will benefit and can cover the costs, and make sure you choose the right type of server for your needs.
(c) 2003-2005 by Michael Moncur. All rights reserved. No content may be reproduced without explicit consent.