According to research, the bulk of the websites on the Internet are hosted on shared servers. Shared web hosting these days packs a real punch – servers are fast and have masses of resources available to them, and for the average website, shared hosting is always going to be enough. However, if you have aspirations towards your website becoming a real success, sharing resources with other websites just isn’t going to be sufficient.
What is a dedicated server?
Dedicated hosting is as the name implies, a server with all the resources dedicated to a specific user – CPUs, memory, etc., they are there for you to use exactly as you wish. You rent the machine and you add as many (or as few) websites as you wish.
It all depends on how many websites do you have? What type of sites are they? How much traffic do they get? If you have a lot of websites that use a lot resources (for instance, sites that need a lot of graphics or videos) have a lot of users, you might as well need a dedicated server. Do you need a dedicated server for a single site? Again, it depends on the type of site it is and the number of visitors you receive. It might prove that a Virtual Private Server (VPS) account that limits the number of websites that can go on a server and shares resources equally among accounts might well be enough for a moderately successful site.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Sharing server resources with other websites might be detrimental to your website. You might even get suspended by a host for using too much of the available resources, and this is bad for SEO. If you want your website to run successfully, it has to be seen on Google, and to be seen on Google, it has to be super efficient.
In 2010 Google started to take into account the speed of a website as a ranking factor in its algorithm. This means that websites that have slow loading pages languish in the low ranks, while websites with pages that load quickly are at the top of the listings. With a dedicated server and masses of resources at your disposal, pages should (if designed well) load quickly and your website might (depending on a huge number of factors that change on a regular basis) move into the top spots. People moving from shared to dedicated hosting often note an increase in the number of visitors they receive almost instantly.
If your website is making money, then it’s going to be in the spot light. Especially if you are storing credit card numbers, your site could be attacked by hackers. Shared hosting isn’t the place for this type of website – you definitely need a safe, secure dedicated server, whatever the cost. Make sure there is an ongoing regimen of backups taking place to safeguard your and other people’s data.
When do you need a dedicated server?
If you are making money from your website(s), you can’t afford to be suspended by a host or experience downtime for any other reason. As a general rule of thumb, if your site is regularly making 10 times the cost of a dedicated server, switch to dedicated. If you are making less than that, stick with shared hosting (or VPS if you can afford it) – regardless of whether your resources are being eaten up and you need dedicated hosting. Wherever your budget permits, go for it.
Can you manage a dedicated server?
If you have the requisite skills to run a dedicated server, then it is an advantage for you. With a pure dedicated server, you rent the hardware and the space at the data center, and that is it. You do everything else. Managed dedicated servers are operated by the person you rent the server from. If you need additional software, they will do it for you. If you need to reboot the server, all you have to do is just to send them a note. Obviously, this is going to be an expensive option – it’s a bit like having a member of staff on hand to manage your server.
If you can manage a dedicated server you might well have the skills to create your own scripts and programs. If you need to use such dedicated software, you need a dedicated server.
You control the server and its network connection. But regardless of whether you share a server or if a server is dedicated, if it doesn’t have good bandwidth available, then it is not going to be of much use. Good bandwidth is essential for visitors to be able to access your site. 1 TB can handle most content, including videos.
An average $100 per month server would carry 2 TB of bandwidth. Prices can go up to $200 per month and beyond, depending on the server. Speak to end users about their experiences before you make a decision.