What is a Dedicated Server? How Do They Work?

May 10, 2021 Jeremy Sorensen

When launching a new website, one of the first choices you’ll need to make is selecting the right hosting solution for your business’ operational needs. While site owners who run low-traffic blogs or small businesses typically opt for shared hosting servers due to reduced costs, webmasters that are preparing for site growth or increased traffic demands need a hosting solution that provides more flexibility, security, and performance. Enter: dedicated servers.

If you’re new to the world of dedicated servers, this guide is here to help orient you so you can make the best decision for your website’s needs. Below, we will break down just what a dedicated server is, the different types of dedicated web hosting plans available, and the unique benefits of choosing a dedicated server over a shared hosting solution. 

What are Dedicated Servers?

A dedicated server provides your website with its own individual server, which means you do not have to share the same server resources with multiple sites or applications. This allows websites with intensive traffic demands to provide end users with a consistent and reliable user experience (UX), even during large traffic spikes. Dedicated servers also give you full control over your server’s configurations, such as what software it runs on and its security infrastructure

What is Dedicated Server Hosting?

Dedicated server hosting provides you with individual access to a remote server. Supplied by a hosting provider, this server is completely dedicated to you and your website, which means you’ll have full control over server configuration and access to all of your server’s resources (typically, hosting providers also supply server technical support when needed). While dedicated servers can share network access with nearby dedicated servers in a colocation data center, they do not share the same hardware with other servers.

Different Types of Dedicated Web Hosting Plans

When choosing a dedicated web hosting plan, you can select from managed vs unmanaged dedicated servers:

  • Unmanaged Hosting: You or your sysadmin are in full control of your dedicated server and its software while hosting providers ensure your server’s hardware infrastructure runs smoothly. Unmanaged dedicated web hosting typically requires internal expertise with installing scripts, managing updates and compatibility issues, and establishing security protocols. With unmanaged hosting, Liquid Web can still assist with managing the hardware, power infrastructure, and network your server is attached to.
  • Managed Hosting: Dedicated web hosting providers take on server responsibilities, including appointing engineers to monitor, configure, secure, and handle your dedicated server. Managed dedicated server hosting plans can range from self-managed, core-managed, or fully managed dedicated hosting. Managed hosting usually consists of a server control panel, such as cPanel, to help manage your server and the websites it hosts.

The type of dedicated web hosting plan you choose should be based on your experience. When taking full control of your dedicated server with an unmanaged plan, you also take on the technical responsibilities associated with it. With a managed plan, however, you will gain access to a team of expert engineers that can monitor and manage your server while you focus on other areas of your website or business.

benefits of dedicated servers

Benefits of Dedicated Servers

Without the constraints of a shared server, dedicated servers provide you and your end users with multiple networking benefits. Opting for a dedicated server for your website allows you to:

  • Handle intensive traffic demands.
  • Optimize site speed and performance
  • Gain full server control.
  • Implement advanced security measures.
  • Increase storage space.

Handle Intensive Traffic Demands

Whether your site is currently experiencing increased traffic demands, or you predict it will grow in the future due to marketing initiatives or promotions, a dedicated server ensures you stay prepared for traffic spikes. Due to constrained bandwidth with shared server hosting, a large traffic spike could lead to poor site performance or site crashes, higher bounce rates, and lost revenue. 

Optimize Site Speed and Performance

With a dedicated server, your website doesn’t share server processing power, bandwidth, or memory with other sites. This means you can optimize your page uptimes and overall site performance by controlling where your server’s resources are being used at any given time.

Gain Full Server Control

Unlike using a shared server, hosting your website on a dedicated server gives you full control over server configurations, including Root or Admin access to the server. This allows you to optimize every aspect of your server, including server software, hardware specifications, and the server’s operating system (OS). 

Implement Advanced Security Measures

If your business handles sensitive information—including customer data, credit card numbers, and more—a dedicated server can help you enhance your website’s security measures. Using a dedicated server, you will have your own Internet Protocol (IP) address and the freedom to establish customized security measures for your site’s specific requirements. 

Increase Storage Space

Many dedicated web hosting plans provide separate storage drives within the server for site data, archiving, and performing backups. This helps your server provide optimal website performance for end users by freeing up memory on the actual server. 

Dedicated Web Hosting Costs

The price of a dedicated web hosting plan varies based on the provider you choose, the server configuration you require, and the length of your contract. In general, lower-priced dedicated server hosting plans come with fewer resources, while higher-priced plans feature more bandwidth, storage capacity, and room to grow.

Additionally, choosing a managed plan can also increase your monthly costs, as your business will gain access to a support team that can assist you with technical issues or takes on server responsibility entirely. On average, you can expect to pay $169 or more a month for a dedicated server hosting plan.

Who Should Choose Dedicated Servers?

If you operate a small, low-traffic website, shared servers can help you keep costs down while providing your site visitors with a uniform user experience (UX). However, if you run a large website—such as an eCommerce business—shared servers will have a difficult time keeping up with traffic demands or spikes. With a dedicated server, webmasters who own high-traffic websites can provide a consistent and reliable UX for end users while maintaining higher levels of site security.

Virtual Private Servers vs Dedicated Servers

A virtual private server (VPS) is a type of website hosting service that combines shared hosting with dedicated hosting. Using virtualization technology, a VPS installs a virtual layer on top of a dedicated server’s OS to divide it into separate segments. Each dedicated segment is then assigned to an individual website, giving the site a more robust, configurable, and consistent hosting solution than a fully shared server.

This makes the optimal use cases between VPS vs dedicated servers quite different. A VPS is best for medium-sized websites that don’t expect large traffic spikes, whereas a dedicated server is best for large-scale, high-traffic sites that intend to grow with a hosting service.

Cloud Hosting vs Dedicated Servers

Cloud hosting is a website hosting service that utilizes a virtual server. This server harnesses cloud computing technology to distribute data among several connected servers in multiple areas.

While a dedicated server is a great hosting solution for large-scale websites, configuring one often requires technical know-how from a webmaster or IT department. With cloud hosting, you can take advantage of many features associated with a dedicated server without many of the technical roadblocks. Additionally, cloud hosting makes it even easier for a website to scale up or down its server resources. 

Optimize Your Website’s Performance with a Dedicated Web Hosting Solution

As a business owner, it’s important to make a website hosting decision that reflects your site’s unique requirements and your budget. If your site is experiencing exponential growth or increased traffic demands, opting for a dedicated web hosting solution will provide you with more agility than sharing a server with other websites.

With a dedicated server, you can easily optimize server configurations, stay prepared for network traffic spikes, and establish robust security standards that meet your business’ unique needs. If you’re ready for high levels of website performance and security, try a managed dedicated server plan from Liquid Web today.

About the Author

Jeremy Sorensen

Jeremy Sorensen started his career with Liquid Web eight years ago and has never looked back. As a product manager for Managed Hosting, Jeremy has accumulated a wealth of knowledge via his past roles in sales and training in web hosting. He also has a deep passion for technology, especially in hosting, and offering the best solutions to meet business needs is what excites him most. In his free time, you can catch him gaming, exercising, traveling, or taking some drone photography. And his most favorite pastime is spending time with his dog, Rex.

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