How to choose a dedicated server

Growing an online business can be seen as a daunting task that takes a lot of time and resources in order to make it work. You might think that you have it all figured it out when you see the traffic growing with new visitors daily and the monthly revenue increasing substantially.

But what happens when your shared hosting package can’t handle all the newly gained traffic? There is only so much that a 5 dollar hosting can do.  Pressed by time and the thought of losing revenue, most webmasters tend to make a rapid decision that is only influenced by the price of the dedicated server.

But making the right decision will pay off in the long run, especially if you take into consideration the following factors:

Price

There are several costs associated with a dedicated server, and you will have to take all of them into consideration in order to comprehend the Total Cost of Owning a dedicated server:

  • Monthly price – check the monthly fee that you pay for the server. This usually includes the rent of the server, electricity and an included bandwidth package.
  • Setup price – some hosting providers will charge you a fee at the beginning in order to configure and setup your server. Here at Host.ag, we have no setup fee with any of our dedicated servers or hosting solutions.
  • Software licensing prices -To use a proprietary operating system like Windows Server 2016 or Red Hat Linux, you will have to pay a monthly fee that is usually included in the price of the server, but most hosting companies allow you to purchase and use your own license directly from the software company.  Some of the best web hosting control panels available, like cPanel, Plesk or DirectAdmin, are also closed source and have a monthly fee. There are many free great open source alternatives, but keep in mind that you might encounter compatibility issues with themes, plugins or other software that you might use to host your websites or applications. Most of these free open source alternatives do not offer live support and you will have to search on google for an answer to your problem, but not all problems are solved on google. The paid alternatives usually have the advantage of a dedicated team to which you can resort in case you encounter issues with the software.
  • Price of upgrades and hardware parts – When you first order a dedicated server, you might not really know what are the hardware requirements your websites require. Take into consideration that you might need to upgrade your CPU, RAM or storage to meet the growing demands of your infrastructure. Some companies also charge an installation fee for any hardware upgrade so be sure to be on the lookout for any hidden fees.
  • Price of extra bandwidth – In case you need to upgrade your bandwidth, take into consideration the port speed and the total monthly bandwidth needed, as incremental upgrades are usually more expensive than a prepaid bandwidth package purchased at the beginning of each billing period.
  • Migration and cancellation price – Although most of the hosting providers offer free migration and cancellation, you really need to read the fine lines of your contract before signing the next contract so you will not have any unpleasant surprises either at the beginning or at the end of your collaboration.

Management and Support Services

Now that we have gone through the costs of owning a server, you need to take into consideration the time needed for you, your staff or the technical staff from the hosting provider to:

  • Install – While the majority of the hosting providers will install an operating system, web control panel and other web hosting tools needed for you to run your websites, the default configuration is not secured or suited for a live production server.
  • Configure – You will need a trained specialist that can ensure you a secure and optimized web hosting environment. While some webmasters configure their dedicated servers, there are a lot of business owners that would rather focus on growing their business and employ people trained to handle this.
  • Deploy – When going live, you need to make sure that all is working as suited. In case that something goes wrong when the migration takes place, someone should monitor the situation and fix the issues on the go.

After making sure that everything is working as intended, you will need someone to manage and maintain your infrastructure for critical security updates, optimization of your software, zero day bugs or any other problem that may arise on a regular use of your server.

  • Managed Servers – Some hosting providers offer Managed Web Hosting Services, which means that their staff will handle everything related to the well functioning of your websites and web applications and maintain a 100% uptime. Depending on your needs and requirements, usually these managed servers have a limited number of working hours per month attached to the web hosting package (like 1 hour, 2 hours, 5 hours, 10 hours of working hours on your server per month). At Host.ag, we offer 2 packages of management services of either 2 or 5 working hours monthly, on which we will administrate, manage and optimize your dedicated servers, ensuring your customers a smooth experience. You can always purchase more hours in case you need it.

Technology

When trying to assess the technological requirements needed to run your website, take into consideration the following factors:

  • OS – If you are looking to host a MS SQL Server, use Microsoft IIS or looking for an OS with a graphical interface, you need a dedicated server with Windows Server 2016. If you wish to use LAMP or another open source stack, Linux is the best choice. When looking for stability and the best performance available on the market, Linux is the OS of choice for 95% of the websites on the Internet.
  • Web Server or a Database Server – Depending on the stack, if your infrastructure is power hungry, you will need a server with plenty of RAM.
  • Performance – In case you need to run multiple processes like a chat server, virtualization and MySQL databases, you need a multi-threaded CPU, such as a dual Intel Xeon CPU.
  • Network – If you plan to host images, videos or bandwidth consuming applications, you should choose an unlimited bandwidth package with at least 1 Gbps port speed. If most of your traffic comes from text and low-bandwidth files, then a 100 Mbps connection should be enough for most small and medium websites.
  • Uptime – If you run crucial applications and every minute of downtime means lost money, you need to find a hosting provider that can offer an uptime SLA of at least 99,95%, which corresponds to a monthly downtime of 21 minutes. In case they are a serious host and have a downtime bigger than what they guarantee, they will pay you for the lost time and the damage inflicted to your business.

Customer Experience

When running a business that is tied to a niche market, you might have custom requirements that only apply to you:

  • Location – When most of your customers come from the same geographic region, you need to find a hosting provider close to them in order to optimize the browsing experience for the majority of your users. If you are a company from USA, but most of your traffic comes from Europe, an European hosting provider is the best choice.
  • PCI compliancy – If your business needs to comply with multiple international quality control and privacy standards, you need to find a hosting provider that can ensure your data is kept in a secure and reliable location with security standards in place.
  • Disaster recovery – In case of any natural disaster that can cause downtime, you need a disaster recovery plan to ensure that your websites are back online as fast as possible. Some hosting providers have dual data centers, meaning you can host a dedicated server in another location ensuring high availability to your infrastructure.
  • Back-up – Because nobody is protected against bad luck, it is crucial to have a backup system in place in case your dedicated server will break or suffer a data loss. Some hosting providers offer an off-site backup system for their customers that automatically backups all your infrastructure.
  • DDoS Protection – Today, your service can be disrupted by various rogue agents that want to harm you and your business. For this, they send a lot of traffic in the form of a DDoS Attack and knock your dedicated server offline. Most hosting providers today provide a DDoS Protection plan that can handle traffic spikes, while on Host.ag we offer free DDoS Protection with all our dedicated servers that can protect against attacks up to 100 Gbps.

24/7 Support Team

In case you encounter any issues or questions with your dedicated server, you need to find a hosting provider that can ensure a 24/7 support service. Mostly overlooked when choosing a dedicated server because customers generally do not realize the importance of a great support service until they need it, the support team is the guardian angel of the dedicated server, being there to ensure that all is going according to plan and they react fast and efficient when a problem arises. Here at Host.ag, we pride ourselves with one of the best support service in the industry and we really believe that a fast and efficient support team can make the difference between a good and a bad host.

Contact a Web Hosting Specialist

In the end, there are many factors to take into consideration when choosing a dedicated server provider, but we tried to shed some light on the most common factors that influence the decision when choosing a dedicated server. If you have more questions, we suggest that you contact one of our web hosting experts for further guidance to the perfect web hosting experience. Our experts are reachable on our website via live-chat or ticket support system at any time of the day or the night.