In a previous instalment, I introduced the concept of shared hosting, which is a type of hosting in which multiple websites are hosted on a single server (or computer) bringing financial and convenience benefits to the user, whilst introducing various performance issues. In this blog, I will introduce you to the concept of dedicated website hosting as an alternative to shared hosting. We’ll see some of the advantages and disadvantages of using it, as well as whether or not it would be the right choice for your website.
Dedicated hosting is a form of website hosting where any given physical server is used by a single customer only, unlike shared hosting, in which any given server would have multiple users, or websites. That means the user has complete control over the server and none of the resources are shared, so they are able to optimise it for their unique requirements. Of course, a good hosting provider would still provide all the technical support the user needs.
That sounds ideal, right? Clearly in a lot of instances, this will be the perfect solution. However, it won’t be in all cases. Let’s now take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of this type of hosting, to help you decide whether or not it is right for you.
There are a number of strong reasons why you might want to choose dedicated hosting for your website(s). Let’s take a look at some of the key ones now.
When you’re using shared hosting, your website’s performance is likely to be directly affected by that of the other websites on the same server. For example, if one of the websites suddenly has a lot of visitors, or it has been badly coded (and is therefore very resource-heavy) then the other websites’ performance would likely be impacted.
On the other hand, dedicated hosting means that there are no other users on the same server. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about any of these sorts of issues. Since you’re not sharing resources with anyone else (go on, I know we all like to be a bit selfish once in a while) you’ll get a much faster and more reliable performance. Even better, lots of dedicated servers used improved hardware, such as a solid state drive (SSD) compared to the more traditional hard drive (HDD) which would definitely help your website to load much faster. That’s excellent if you’re looking to provide your visitors with the best experience possible.
With shared hosting, you are unable to change any of the features to suit your needs, as they are managed by the web host and are kept consistent on the server, for all users.
However, when you have dedicated hosting, you have complete control over the server, which means you can change anything you like, such as installing new software, applications or programmes. You’re even able to make changes to the resources, any time you need. That’s perfect for companies or organisations who need to be able to constantly adapt their website in a more dynamic environment.
As you know, shared hosting means you’re sharing a server with other websites. That unfortunately means that you’re also susceptible to their flaws. For example, imagine that a website you’re sharing the server with has some security vulnerabilities and that those are exploited by a hacker, or even just by some malware of some sort. Suddenly, the server could be taken down. That means your website would be down as well, even if it were perfectly secure.
On the contrary, if your website is on a dedicated server, you avoid all of those issues. You won’t be exposed to the security vulnerabilities of other websites. What’s more, you would even be able to take any additional security measures to meet your individual needs. That’s perfect since website hosting really is not a ‘one size fits all’ product.
Most providers of shared hosting services will place limits on the capabilities of your website. By that, I mean depending on the standard of packaging, they may limit certain features, such as the processing power of your hosting (the number of CPUs) or the bandwidth (linked to the number of page and resource views of your website). They may even directly limit the number of unique visitors your website can have. This is all done with some sort of fair usage policy in mind, to prevent the other websites on your server suffering as a result of yours, given that the resources are shared.
With dedicated hosting, these limits are not applied. There is no fair usage policy, since you are the only user of the server. This means you have the freedom to have a potentially unlimited number of visitors to your website. You might be limited by the hardware capabilities if you’re on, for example, a smaller dedicated server, but that’s about it. That means it’s perfect for website owners who know they’ll have a lot of visitors, such as event booking sites. Can you imagine the Glastonbury Festival website using limited shared hosting, whilst trying to take thousands of bookings every second?
We can see there are many reasons why dedicated hosting could be the ideal choice for hosting your website. However, it is important to understand that it isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages, so you can get a complete picture.
It’s important for you to understand that server costs don’t really change much between shared and dedicated servers. The reason why dedicated hosting is so much more expensive than shared hosting (generally speaking, of course) is that the server costs are no longer being shared with anyone else.
Let’s imagine that a server costs £1000 per year to run. If there are 100 users on a shared server, they will each be paying £10 per year for their hosting in the simplest scenario. However, on a dedicated server, the sole user of that server is responsible for paying the full £1000 per year. In reality, the costs will be overall higher than this example, but it should give you a clear understanding as to why dedicated hosting is much more expensive.
The upshot of this is that despite the performance and security benefits, dedicated hosting usually isn’t suitable for small business or start-ups, who may not have the budget of a larger organisation. If you fall into that category, you should still be able to upgrade at any time though, if you find your finances allow.
If you’re starting off on a shared server, you’ll realise just how little technical knowledge you actually need. That’s because the service provider will be looking after the server for you and the others, with whom you share that server.
Dedicated hosting is different. We’ve seen that it gives you much more flexibility with your server to, for example, install any unique software. The issue here is that you generally need the technical knowledge to understand how your server works, so that you can manage it effectively.
However, you usually aren’t left alone by your hosting provider. You can often purchase a management package from your hosting provider, such that they will still maintain your dedicated server for you. That, of course, comes at an additional cost. A really great hosting provider will offer 24/7 complementary technical support, so you may still be able to get the advice you need, without having to pay for a management package. They may also have a comprehensive online directory of information and tutorials, to help you on your way. Either way, whilst dedicated hosting is more complex, you shouldn’t let it put you off, since there’s always a way to get the help you need.
Knowing all of this, you’re now in a position to decide whether or not dedicated hosting is right for you. Generally speaking, if you fall into one of these categories, then it would be a great choice.
Clearly, there are many reasons why dedicated hosting would be the most suitable option. One thing is for sure – you shouldn’t let the price put you off. Even within the realms of dedicated hosting, there is a range. With the right hosting provider, you can always find the package to suit your budget. Some of the most reputable hosting providers are:
Of course, there are many other hosting providers out there. You just need to make sure that you find the right one for you.
At Digital Lychee, I make sure that I tailor all my clients’ website to suit their individual needs. In your initial consultation (free and no obligation, of course) we will discuss your needs in full and I can advise you on the best type of hosting to suit your needs and how you can upgrade it going forwards, if necessary. If you are interested in my services, or you want to find out more about my blog, I would love to hear from you. You can get in touch with me here.