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An Introduction to Dedicated Servers and Their Configuration Options

When it comes to web hosting, your choice of plan can be just as important as your provider. Most people tend to stick with shared hosting, but in some cases, those plans may not offer you all the resources you need. This can stifle the growth of your site.

As your site begins to expand, chances are you’ll need to consider upgrading to something more robust, and that’s where dedicated servers come in. Yes, they might be more expensive, but you usually get far better performance (and more resources) for your money.

In this article, we’ll offer an introduction to dedicated servers and why you should consider using one. We’ll also discuss three factors to think about when configuring yours. Let’s jump in!

What Dedicated Servers Are (And Why You Should Consider Using One)

For a website to be accessible, it needs to be set up on a server that is connected to the internet. In most cases, web hosts set up multiple sites on each server to keep costs down. You get access to hosting at reasonable prices, and your provider can reach out to even more clients. That is what we refer to as ‘shared’ hosting.

One of the downsides to shared hosting is that, in most cases, you get access to a limited share of resources, which is logical since yours isn’t the only site using that server. That’s fine for many websites, but others require a server all their own – a dedicated solution. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. Access to more resources. A dedicated server means that you don’t have to share resources with other users.
  2. Better performance. Dedicated servers typically provide better loading times than shared hosting.
  3. Improved security. Hosting several websites on a single server can be a liability.
  4. More customization options. Many dedicated solutions enable you to customize your server’s configuration. This might involve things like its location and Operating System (OS), both of which we’ll talk about more below.

As you might imagine, access to all these features comes at a premium. Dedicated servers tend to be far more expensive than shared hosting plans. However, if your site has grown enough to warrant the move, the cost is probably well worth it.

3 Factors to Consider When Deciding on Your Dedicated Server Configuration

Before you upgrade your hosting plan, there are a few factors you should take into account. After all, one of the best parts about opting for a dedicated server is being able to configure it to your liking. Here are the three main factors you need to consider while configuring yours.

1. Your Server’s Location

The physical location of your server may be one of the last things on your mind while looking at options, but it’s actually a big deal.

An example of data center locations.
Your location options will depend on your web host. For example, we have data centers in Asia, the USA, and Europe.

Location is an extremely important factor when it comes to loading times. The further a visitor is from your server, the longer it’ll take for your website to load, and the more frustrated they may become.

These days, high internet speeds have made it so that location isn’t as critical a factor as it once was, but it’s still worth considering. If you’re going to opt for a dedicated server, you need to keep an eye out for the locations that your web host offers. You can then make your choice based on proximity to your core audience.

2. The Server’s Operating System (OS)

Just like any other computer, you need an OS to interact with your server, configure it, and get things up and running.

A web host that offers Linux hosting solutions.

When it comes to web hosting, Linux is the de facto solution. It offers more control over the entire system than Windows does, and it also tends to be more secure. It goes without saying that security is paramount when it comes to hosting solutions.

Despite being the most popular option for servers, Linux isn’t the only game in town. Windows also offers dedicated server OS solutions, which are arguably more beginner-friendly thanks to an intuitive interface.

However, if you don’t plan on tinkering with your server at a system level and would rather focus on running your site, chances are you shouldn’t concern yourself with choosing the perfect OS. Just go with your web host’s default option and let them configure things for you (which brings us to the next factor).

3. A Managed or Unmanaged Hosting Plan

When it comes to dedicated servers, there are two main types of plans: managed and unmanaged. The one you go with will determine how much access you have to configuration, settings, and other elements.

Several hosting plans, both managed and unmanaged.
At A2 Hosting, we offer both managed and unmanaged dedicated server plans.

A managed solution is when your hosting provider makes sure that your dedicated server is running smoothly at all times. You won’t need to configure things, tweak your server’s settings, or worry about security issues – your provider will usually take care of all that.

Unmanaged hosting, on the other hand, is the perfect solution for users who want full control over their hosting experience. It means you’re free to configure and use your dedicated server as you would any other computer. Think about it as the online equivalent of taking off the training wheels. It’s not for everyone, but if you know what you’re doing it might be the best option.

Aside from that, you’ll also want to take cost into consideration. Managed solutions tend to be more expensive, but they can be worth it if you want to ensure a smooth experience without having to learn how to take care of a server.

Conclusion

When choosing a hosting plan, cost is often a major factor, and an inexpensive shared hosting solution can seem very attractive. The problem is, at some point your website may simply need more resources than shared hosting can provide. If you’re in that boat, you should definitely consider looking into a dedicated server solution.

In this article we’ve provided an introduction to dedicated servers and reasons you might want to consider using one. We’ve also covered three of the most important factors to consider when it comes to configuring your dedicated server. Let’s recap those quickly:

  1. Server location: Your server’s location will heavily influence loading times, so keep that in mind while setting yours up.
  2. Operating system: The prevailing wisdom is to stick with Linux servers, but Windows can also be a viable option in some cases.
  3. Managed or unmanaged: The idea of having your own server can be intimidating, but if you’re unsure how to handle things, you can always opt for a managed plan.

Do you have any questions about dedicated servers or their configurations? Ask away in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.

About Corey Hammond

Corey has been directly involved in the web hosting space since 2010 and leads marketing for A2 Hosting.

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