As the intensity of the digital age continues to increase traffic volumes and bandwidth consumption, the hosting infrastructure holding it all up is under acute pressure to deliver. Additionally, consumers now expect a lot more: everything on demand across-devices; accessibility anywhere, anytime; flawless performance, and data privacy.
Making sure your applications run smoothly and content loads promptly, therefore, is critical for maintaining brand reputation, getting ahead of your competitors and delivering a consistent end-user experience.
In this ultimate guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dedicated servers, to help you make a decision when considering them as a new or replacement hosting solution. This includes: what dedicated servers offer and why they might be a good choice as your business scales; how they compare to other hosting solutions; and what options lie ahead for you and your business when reviewing what’s on offer with dedicated server companies.
But first let’s begin with the basics.
Dedicated servers are physical, single-tenant machines dedicated to a single user, company or application.
Being ‘dedicated’ means a server is rented to you in its entirety—none of it is split or shared with another customer—meaning you get the whole server to yourself. This gives you full and exclusive root access to the underlying hardware, enabling you to have complete control over the configuration of the resources on your dedicated servers, without them being shared between other users.
Simply put, more compute power and control. If you’re a business with compute-intensive and latency-sensitive workloads, or have specific security requirements, then dedicated servers are a solid option.
You may also be starting to experience issues with your current hosting, which is impacting the reliability and security of your app.
For instance, perhaps you’ve had a surge of traffic that's revealed some shortcomings in your shared or VPS setup; or maybe your level of control over security on your server is no longer being met with cloud hosting.
Here are the most common reasons to upgrade to dedicated servers:
You’re running processor-demanding and/or disk I/O-intensive workloads and frustrated by the speed of your applications with your current hosting.
Your traffic is growing fast and you need to eliminate any lag when traffic spikes.
Your security needs aren’t being met and you need to minimize your exposure to security breaches and protect sensitive data.
You want to be able to customize your hosting technology with less fuss.
Whatever the issues you’re experiencing, it’s likely that dedicated servers can vastly improve your situation.
Let’s take a look at the high-level benefits and key drivers for how dedicated servers can help you.
Servers.com offers a range of high-powered dedicated servers with cloud flexibility and world-class 24-7 support.
Dedicated servers are considered an upgrade from shared hosting and are known for offering top-of-the-line hosting environments.
They enable you to increase your processing power, install the very latest software, and easily deploy additional dedicated servers in-line with your business needs.
As the sole user of your dedicated servers, you can expect the following overall benefits:
Complete control: One administrator can optimize your dedicated servers.
Advanced customization: Single-tenant dedicated servers offer a more robust, customizable system architecture.
High performance: No sharing bandwidth or compute resources, means more RAM and storage, higher levels of server uptime, improved latency and round-trip times (RTTs), faster response rates and loading speeds, and increased application resiliency.
Robust security: Choose and install your preferred security software and carry out updates yourself; avoiding the potential pitfalls of multi-tenanted server architecture.
Flexibility and simplicity: Save time and money by renting dedicated servers and therefore only managing one provider.
Endless scalability: Greater flexibility to scale up and down. Add extra RAM, storage, and deploy new dedicated servers, as you see fit.
Since you won’t be sharing your server with others, switching to dedicated servers means your business can harness the full bandwidth, memory and processing power of your dedicated servers. The result is more customization and a consistently higher performance.
You’ll no longer need to worry about the impact that other server tenants have on your application performance or security.
The single-tenant environments of dedicated servers are also more secure. A security breach on a shared server can put all the applications hosted on that server at increased risk, which is why they’re usually inappropriate for financial services or apps processing payment information or personal contact data.
Dedicated servers can greatly accelerate the growth and success of the following industries:
Gaming: Lag and glitches are the death of gamer experiences and can lead to player churn.
FinTech: As processors of sensitive data, FinTech services need complete confidence in the security, reliability and quality of their hosting infrastructure.
Streaming: Streaming businesses live and die by how fast they can deliver content. Super low latency and RTT are imperative for streaming success.
AdTech: Slow and unreliable hosting infrastructure that’s badly connected can lead to high network latency and missed bid opportunities.
iGaming: Online casinos and sports betting platforms need to meet complex and shifting industry standards, data privacy and regulatory requirements.
Dedicated servers come in lots of different shapes, sizes and specifications. They’re single-tenancy, so you’ll be renting physical servers for your exclusive use, without the hosting provider needing to use virtualization technology or set you up as one of multiple user accounts—as with shared, VPS or cloud hosting.
The chassis provider (Dell, HP, Supermicro, etc.) and the CPU is usually fixed by dedicated server companies, but you’ll have the freedom to customize and scale RAM, disks, operating system and server-wide applications as you need to. Whilst RAM and Disk within a server is customizable, you’ll need to be aware that each dedicated server does come with a maximum configuration of these resources, so be sure to understand these limitations and discuss with your provider.
The flexibility to customize your dedicated servers in this manner make them the best choice for organizations with critical applications and workloads.
Dedicated server companies pay for many elements that create the overall infrastructure required to offer dedicated servers as an easy-to-deploy solution. Depending on your level of service, these costs are then factored into your monthly fee and typically include:
Data center space, power and cooling.
Data center support staff and network engineers.
Purchasing and maintenance of servers and network equipment.
Purchasing OS licences, alongside installing/upgrading them.
Fixing server firmware issues and sometimes DDoS protection.
They then factor these costs into the monthly fee charged to their customers.
Most dedicated server companies offer their services on different contract lengths. These are typically: daily, monthly, 12, 24 or 36+ months.
The contract length defines how long you’ll be fixed to that piece of hardware, and you’ll usually pay on a monthly basis.
You’ll likely be given options to opt for longer contracts to reduce the monthly price, however this may not always be possible if you require the flexibility to scale up and down at short notice.
Servers.com offers a range of dedicated servers with cloud flexibility and scalability, including 40-min provisioning and up to 40Gbps connection to each server.
Every business is different. Therefore various hosting solutions have emerged over time to suit these varying business needs. Shared hosting, VPS, cloud and dedicated servers all work differently and are deployed in different ways; serving different purposes and offering something different in terms of performance, customization, and cost.
Whether it’s shared, a VPS, or public cloud hosting, any type of shared server hosting works in a similar way–the hosting provider divides up a server and its resources among multiple customers. Here’s a quick summary of how they each work.
Shared hosting: Hosting providers create separate user accounts on one physical machine, without isolation. This is usually good enough for low-bandwidth users, but soon starts to crack under the weight of applications with high volumes of traffic.
Main features / drawbacks of shared servers…
You’ll be sharing with potentially hundreds of other server tenants.
More suited to smaller organizations but with poor performance. You won’t be able to configure much and there’s a lot of potential for security problems, slow load speeds and lag, depending on how overloaded the server is by its many tenants.
VPS hosting: Uses a special virtualization technology called a hypervisor to “split” the server into multiple virtual machines (VMs) that behave as independent accounts on the physical server. Each VM has its own OS and cannot interact with any other VMs on the server.
Main features / drawbacks of VPS
Your application will have its own space, blocked off from others, with better performance than shared and with slightly more flexibility.
You are still sharing the underlying resources of a physical machine and whilst virtualization does a good job of splitting these resources, it is not perfect in protecting you from ‘noisy neighbors’ that could use up your resources.
Public cloud hosting: Cloud servers provide the same OS, functionality and resources of a traditional physical server, but like VPS, also use a hypervisor to divide and deliver server resources to multiple virtual machines and remote customers.
Main features / drawbacks of public cloud hosting
Similar to VPS in that your application will have its own space, isolated from other server tenants.
You’ll benefit from the flexibility and scale of cloud, but as it's still a shared hosting option, you’ll still not have the performance or security control that dedicated servers can offer.
With all shared options, even if you have isolated instances with virtualization, you’ll still be sharing server infrastructure with multiple customers—opening yourself up to the potential performance issues and security mishaps associated with multi-tenant hosting.
When renting dedicated servers, you’ll also need to consider whether you‘d like to fly solo with an unmanaged solution or pay for more extensive support and go for managed dedicated servers. This is something to consider before researching dedicated server companies, since most good hosting providers will only specialize in one, not both.
Managed and unmanaged dedicated servers offer different levels of service and different benefits. Here are some things to consider:
Unmanaged dedicated servers: Dedicated server companies will…
Take responsibility for purchasing all related equipment, routers, switches, servers and storage.
Offer you service level agreements (SLAs) on hardware replacement, power and network.
Offer you options to have the operating system (OS) of your choice pre-licensed and installed by the provider.
Managed dedicated servers: All the services provided for unmanaged dedicated servers, plus the hosting provider will…
Install and maintain the OS for you.
Install and maintain standard applications such as PHP, .NET, Apache, NGINIX.
Offer you a more bespoke set up, with more overall management of your dedicated servers.
Managed dedicated servers will suit businesses that:
Lack in-house expertise / resources to configure a dedicated server.
Need on-going support to maintain the OS and potentially applications on the server.
Don’t have specific needs.
Unmanaged dedicated servers will be preferable for businesses that:
Have sufficient in-house expertise to confidently configure and maintain dedicated servers.
Have the resources to manage dedicated servers and conduct regular updates.
Those running input / output intensive applications, or those handling sensitive data, that require optimized performance and security.
Your choice will inevitably come down to how much of the server environment you want to manage.
With managed dedicated services, you'll receive extensive support services like server administration and maintenance. While unmanaged dedicated servers will remove the hassle of maintaining the hardware and components yourself. However, you’ll also be left to your own devices in terms of overall server management.
Both options give you root access, but with managed solutions you’ll sacrifice control and customization for convenience, and pay a lot more in most cases.
Dedicated servers are a premium hosting option for businesses that demand fast loading times, low latency, consistent performance, and enhanced security. It’s therefore the go-to hosting solution for organizations whose success depends on the high performance and reliability of their applications.
This solution is also ideal for applications that experience high volumes of traffic, receive thousands of concurrent requests for content on-demand, or handle sensitive data. These types of applications are extremely resource intensive, so it’s prudent to scale up to more powerful dedicated servers with the option to add more as your needs evolve.
Although you’ll typically pay more for dedicated servers, the exact amount you pay will depend on several factors. There is no one-size-fits-all, so think carefully about your precise requirements when reviewing dedicated server companies.
We can provision and deploy dedicated servers in any of our global data centers in 40-minutes or less. You choose the model and configuration of a server and we’ll do the rest. For more information, or assistance with specific requirements, contact our team.