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What is a dedicated server?

What is a dedicated server?

A dedicated server, also referred to as bare metal, is a physical, single-tenant machine 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 other users or customers. This means you gain full and exclusive access to the underlying hardware, enabling you to have complete control over the configuration of the processor, storage, and memory of your bare metal dedicated servers, without them being shared between other users.

What does a dedicated server do?

Put simply, a dedicated server enables you to host your data and applications with more robust control over performance, even when your traffic spikes and at peak usage hours.

It ensures a consistently positive end-user experience with your apps, while also improving uptime and availability during peak traffic hours. You’ll immediately feel the benefits of increased performance, scalability and security once you make the move to bare metal.

What makes up a dedicated server?

Dedicated servers come in lots of different shapes, sizes and, most importantly, specifications. Let’s take a closer look at the set-up of bare metal servers via hosting providers, and their commercial model.

The chassis provider (Dell, HP, Supermicro, etc.) and the CPU are typically fixed by the bare metal provider, while the RAM, disks, operating system and network connectivity you need can usually be customized and easily scaled to fit your requirements.

How your monthly fee stacks up with hosting providers

Hosting providers pay for many elements that create the overall infrastructure required to provide dedicated servers. These costs are then factored into the monthly fee charged to customers and include:

  • DC space

  • DC power/cooling

  • DC staff

  • Purchase of network equipment

  • Purchase of dedicated servers

  • Operating system licensing

  • Maintenance

  • Customer support

Most dedicated server providers 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 (the bare metal dedicated server). The contract term rarely affects the billing model, with most customers paying on a monthly basis.

Customers can opt for longer contracts to reduce the monthly price, however this may not be possible for those that require the flexibility to scale up and down at short notice.

Unmanaged or managed dedicated server

When renting bare metal servers, you’ll have the option of providers who offer an unmanaged or managed service, but most good providers will only specialize in one, not both.

With a managed solution, your provider will do a lot of the configuration and bare metal management for you, such as selecting and installing software, backups, and monitoring security threats. Different providers will provide different levels of managed hosting, so ensure you check exactly what is and isn’t covered and make sure it suits your needs

Unmanaged hosting in comparison, comes with less ‘out of the box’ configuration and less built in, giving you absolute control over the hardware and software.

With both options you'll have root access, but with managed solutions you’ll sacrifice control and customization for convenience, and pay more in most cases.

Servers.com offers a range of unmanaged dedicated servers with cloud flexibility and scalability, including 40-min provisioning and up to 40Gbps connection to each bare metal server.

What are the advantages of a dedicated server?

Being able to leverage the power of your own bare metal dedicated server has some key advantages, including:

Control and customization

Being able to harness the full power of a server, as the sole tenant, means that you won’t be forced into sharing compute resources with others.

Bare metal servers also offer more customization than shared or cloud hosting solutions. These solutions only offer fixed packages and don’t allow for customization.

With a dedicated server, you’ll have exclusive use of RAM, CPU, disk space and bandwidth, and be able to customize to your exact specifications and use case. In addition, you’ll have greater control over optimizing your hosting environment to improve load times, security features, and storage.

Bare metal customization options typically include:

  • Installing additional software, OS, or tools.

  • Specifying the RAM and disk storage.

  • Different network connectivity options.

  • Choice of your own control panel.

  • Deploying security and backup.

As your needs change, your bare metal server also enables you to make changes to the hosting setup by adding new components and capabilities, however there are still physical limitations to each different type of server so ensure you speak to your hosting provider to understand this.

Stable performance

Having a consistent experience for users is essential for maintaining brand reputation and revenue. Application performance is more stable and reliable with bare metal dedicated servers, as none of the resources are being used by other organizations.

The server bandwidth, CPU and RAM is yours alone, so you’ll no longer be competing for resources or have to worry about what your neighbor is up to.

Issues with shared hosting that bare metal eliminates, include:

  • Increase in load times during peak usage and traffic times.

  • Slower processing speeds owing to other tenants running bad scripts.

  • Increased security threats and compliance issues.

  • More frequent downtime and crashes.

  • Network congestion and bottlenecks.

  • Performance issues with IT operations owing to resources being eaten up by other tenants.

Robust security

As no elements of dedicated servers are shared, you can enjoy the additional security and ease-of-compliance that comes with being the sole occupier of the bare metal hardware. This makes them a good option if your organization is security conscious.

Shared servers on the other hand are multi-tenant, and if any tenant is hacked or infected with a virus, this can easily lead to server-wide downtime and a breach of security for other tenants on the bare metal server. Malicious actors can even gain access to your data via your neighbors.

The ability to customize your dedicated server also enables you to adapt your security measures, as you can deploy your preferred DDoS protection, antivirus and malware software, set up firewalls, create custom disaster recovery plans, manage user permissions, add encryption and manage your own updates.

Operational simplicity

Compared with running your own equipment, renting bare metal dedicated servers is much simpler in terms of admin. Hosting your own workloads requires business relationships with multiple different suppliers, such as hardware providers, DCs, ISPs and more.

That also means managing procurement, legal processes, and accounting with multiple different suppliers. With rented dedicated servers, you’ll only have to worry about your monthly fee and manage one business relationship with your hosting provider—saving time and money in the long run.

Endless scalability

Dedicated servers are also a lot more scalable than other available hosting solutions. You can quickly enhance the memory, storage and connectivity as your business grows, as well as deploying additional dedicated servers if required.

Good providers will often have a large amount of capacity available to spin up at a moment’s notice—ideal for those moments when you need additional capacity fast, such as for live video streaming events or during the launch of a new game or application.

If required, you can also scale down capacity. Short term contracts with dedicated server providers allow you to spin up and down as needed.

Is a dedicated server worth it?

There are a few key questions to ask if you’re considering why you might need a dedicated server and whether it's worth the upgrade:

  1. Is the speed and reliability of your applications critical to the success of your business now or in the future?

  2. Do you run processor-demanding and/or disk I/O-intensive workloads?

  3. Do you anticipate a significant lift in demand for applications in the near future?

  4. Do you need to decrease load time and reduce lag?

  5. Do you need rock-solid security?

If the answer is mostly yes to the above, then a bare metal dedicated server is likely a good choice.

Ready to upgrade to a dedicated server?

We can provision and deploy a dedicated bare metal server 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.

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