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Dedicated or Shared

Posted on 2004-10-07
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Last Modified: 2011-09-20
I am moving my site off Earthlink because of timeouts and email account limits, and I am considering a dedicated web server.  But I'm not a tech person (I did not even put my original site up myself), so I'm concerned about the tech knowledge needed.  Is dedicated an easy choice?  I just want fast page serving, and big email accounts.

Bryan
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Question by:bryanfarrish
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by:periwinkle
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Dedicated in general is not an easy choice, particularly since if you need the servers managed for you, it won't be a very inexpensive proposition.

Here's a discussion that I've given before on the merits of colocation and dedicated servers over hosting inhouse;  the information gives a lot of the benefits of dedicated and co-located servers:

 You have a number of options:

(1) You can host inhouse
(2) You can host on a shared server
(3) You can host on a dedicated server
(4) You can host on a colocated server

While it may appear 'cost effective' to house inhouse, some of the disadvantages of (1) include:

. You must maintain Hardware
. You must provide all security, redundancy, etc.
. It could be a legal liability if your server is broken into and used to hack or spam other servers.
. If you have ADSL (asynchronous DSL), your download rate is much faster than your outgoing rate, and your hardware will appear very slow.

Let me explain why I usually recommend to recommend to people that they use a dedicated server over an inhouse server - this will help illuminate the problems with inhouse hosting.

A dedicated server solution is similar to a co-located solution where a server sits on another person's network, but for a dedicated server (sometimes known as a managed server), the server hardware is leased to you, and 100% maintained by the data center.  Coloction will provide you with similar features - see the notes at the end.

 A dedicated server will give you:

*  Security.  Dedicated servers are most often located in a locked down facility (your cost: uncertain!)  that specializes only in dedicated servers, and that is monitored 24/7/365 (your cost: sleep, or the cost of employees).  Most likely, only server farm administrators are allowed in the area that houses your server.  The server farm will have hardware and software firewalls in place (your cost: > $300), and will monitor against hackers and other drains of unusual bandwidth (your cost: once again, sleep!)

*  Reliability.  The server farm places each server on a UPS (your cost: $200 - $1000 and up, depending upon the number and quality), may be located on multiple power grids (! I have no idea of the cost!) and often has an emergency power generator in case of power outages (I would expect this to cost $1000 and up, depending upon the size of the generator).

*Bandwidth and Redundancy.  The server farm is located with high speed direct connections  (usually T1, DC3, OC3, etc.) to multiple backbones on the Internet - if one of the main routers at Sprintlink.com goes down, your service is rerouted transparently. (Your cost: it varies, although smaller ISPs that I've talked to that only have 2 or 3  links report monthly  costs of > $10,000).

* Fully outsourced hardware support.  The hardware and network are monitored and maintained by server farm staff (your cost: cost of initial server hardware, support and maintenance contract, plus hourly rates to get things replaced and/or fixed)

*  Scalability.  The server is easily upgraded to meet increased usage needs, from both a software and a hardware point of view. Components often cost less to add (as the server farm will buy in bulk) than it will to add to your own server, not to mention the hours of labor incurred.

If you bought and co-located your own server, you'll still have a rental fee (often similar in price to the dedicated server lease costs).   You also lose the outsourced hardware support advantage, and sometimes there are actually tax advantages to leasing over owning.  Generally, the cost of buying a large pipe to your facility usually cannot be justified, until you are running a facility with a good sized support staff.

I would still recommend colocation over hosting inhouse - you gain most of the advantages of the dedicated server, but be prepared - if your hardware goes down, it will stay down until you fix it!

Finally - you haven't mentioned how sharp your system administration skills are.  The responsibility of having your own server means that you need to keep up on all the latest security patches, and understand fully what you have opened to the internet.  Depending upon your skill set, you might be better off securing good shared hosting that allows you to resell accounts, and leave the security issues to the sys admins at the facility.

...

My feeling is that unless you'd like to invest a good amount of time into learning and performing server administration, you'd be better off finding a large hosting account somewhere, or a semi-dedicated (virtual dedicated) server.  Then, someone else will be responsible for keeping the server software up to date, and you can concentrate on your web site!

There are some good choices out there with rather large accounts associated with them, and some are fairly reasonably priced as well.  You didn't mention what technologies you require, but some that you might wish to check out include:

1and1.com
apollohosting.com
fluidhosting.com
hostm.com
hostingmatters.com
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by:bryanfarrish
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Well I guess that means no dedicated for me.  I just want to upload the site, and go.  I have about 10,000 hits a day, and 3000 incoming emails a day.  I was originally steered toward dedicated because "it allows unlimited email account size", and that was what I needed.  But I'm sure there are some shared accounts that give unlimited email accounts too.

b.
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periwinkle earned 125 total points
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ApolloHosting has a solution that might work well for you - a virtual private server:

http://www.apollohosting.com/virtualprivateservers/
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