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The Switch To A Dedicated Server

A question commonly asked in hosting forums concerns the switch from an everyday shared hosting platform, to a more expensive dedicated server solution.

For the needs of completeness it should be noted that there’s an interim step between the 2, a Virtual Private Server (VPS). While this solution may be very similar in characteristics (albeit less powerful) to the dedicated server solution this article assumes that a VPS isn’t a suitable solution for either security or performance reasons.

What follows is a lot of key areas that you must think about when considering the move. Hopefully there’ll be no less than one in every of them that makes you concentrate on a topic you hadn’t considered before and leads to you making a more informed decision if and when you make the proverbial leap to a dedicated server.

Expense
It should be noted that gaining exclusive rights to a physical server normally comes with significant cost. Typically a number can sell a server many times over to hundreds (or thousands) of clients; selling the same spec server to 1 client therefore will always be less profitable to the provider, and so the fee relative to the client is much higher. The magnitude of this difference is dependent upon the specification of the server, the environment during which it’s housed and the additional resources that come included with it, for instance bandwidth, I.P. addresses and support.

There has been a relatively recent trend towards cheap dedicated servers lately. Personally I believe it is worth bearing in mind the old adage “You get what you pay for”. Bargain basement server companies are making cuts SOMEWHERE to cut costs. You should know where, or if they’re going to charge you for “extras” that other companies include.

Performance
In certain businesses, it is imperative that a response is generated within a certain timeframe, or that the system operates even during peak periods. If your site responds slowly would your visitors be adversely affected? Performance is the most common reason for considering the move to a dedicated server yet people consistently overlook the all important detail.

Hardware Specification
How high a spec server are you actually getting on your money? As of going to print (Mid 2009) try to be expecting Dual Quad Core (8 Core) 2.5 GHz CPU’s or greater, at the least 4 Gig of RAM and SAS hard drives. Do not buy legacy stock! Old equipment is a foul place to start, especially when you intend on getting a number of years use out of your server.

Hardware Redundancy
If you’re moving to dedicated hardware, you need to eliminate as many single points of failure as possible. Look for RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) hard drives; RAID 1 is nice for the Operating System (OS) and databases, and RAID 5, 6 or 50 is ideal for files. Dual power inputs, from separate battery backed-up UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supplies) provides continuity in case of a black-out or power spike on one phase.

Network
The most typical hardware component to fail is the Network Interface Card (NIC).
Does your server have greater than 1?
Are you single or multi-homed to the network, and the Internet?
How over-subscribed is the datacentre’s bandwidth?
A word of warning here; a well-liked tactic, especially amongst the cheaper hosts, is to provision hardware that is not able to fully realizing its potential. For instance, 100Mbps unmetered bandwidth servers often come with a single SATA hard disk or a weka CPU or small amounts of RAM that cannot actually fill the connection!

Flexibility
The facility to make your individual choices is probably the second hottest reason for choosing to go dedicated; your personal server gives you autonomy. If you have specific operating system requirements, kernel tweaks, custom libraries, bespoke software applications or plug-ins it’s likely that a shared server environment will decelerate or forbid deployment of these. Make sure to check that you’ve full root access and might run the server the way you wish to before committing.

Data Security
Data protection concerns are the third most typical reason for dedicated server purchases. How valuable is your data? When you have personal or business sensitive data that might damage your brand or reputation if leaked then a dedicated server offers significant benefits. It’s extremely rare but servers might be root compromised through another users account. In these cases the hacker can get all the information off the machine. If it’s your server, with only your website on it then you can have all but the essential ports on the machine shut down, restrict access by IP and know that you are the only one on the server. Some providers will have the ability to provide you with a dedicated hardware firewall, often for added cost, which supplies you further piece of mind.

Support
Do not take out a contract with any company that doesn’t offer a full Service Level Agreement (SLA) to cover outages and problem resolution.

An example SLA might include:-

A technical support response, often guaranteed within a certain timeframe.

touch switchA hardware replacement policy; whose responsibility is it if something breaks and needs replacing? How long will it take?

Remote reboot, again possibly with a time guarantee.

Connectivity to both the network and the Internet is usually guaranteed in % availability, search for at least “4 nines” (99.99%) uptime, don’t buy into 100% uptime, if something’s too good to be true…

Look for a company that’s willing to be held accountable for the quality of service they supply, you have to know that they are serious about keeping your server running.

Conclusion
In summary, weigh up carefully whether the need to move to a dedicated server is warranted either on the grounds of performance, flexibility or security (or some or all of those reasons). Naturally it has to make financial sense too, but when it does then it’s highly likely you won’t look back provided you pay close attention to the hardware and company you might be committing to. Treat the process like selecting a partner, and also you and your server will have many happy days and long nights together! Author Box Nick V Webb has 1 articles online
Krystal Website hosting are uk dedicated servers specialists. For more information visit Krystal Website hosting

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