In speaking to a group of our clients recently, we noticed a trend: nine times out of ten, businesses that chose to look for dedicated server hosting did so because of a failing on the part of their previous host. What sort of failing? What drives web developers and design agencies to abandon their hosting providers in search of something more? We asked, you answered: reliability. Reliability, really? It’s not the sexiest answer. There’s no flash or sparkle in that word, just a staid, ever-present…sameness. Reliability is not a buzzword that many providers are using in their sales pitches - but it should be. Finding the most reliable dedicated server hosting can mean a world of difference to your business. It can mean better uptime, faster speeds, greater performance, and more efficient resolution to your problems. And all that translates into one thing for your agency: happier clients and increased profitability.
Leave the Pains of Shared Hosting Behind YouYour business has outgrown its shared hosting, and with your intimate knowledge of the company’s IT and hosting needs, you’ve been charged with finding a better solution. The power is in your hands. But with great power comes great responsibility. Many of your team’s day-to-day operations will hinge on the dependability and performance of the service you choose - so how exactly do you find the most reliable dedicated server hosting? No two hosting providers are the same and, like many in your field, you’ve been burned before. Promises of near-100% uptime fell through while hidden fees surfaced. Worst of all, support was practically unreachable in times of crisis, leaving you to face angry clients with downed or compromised sites on your own. You’ve got some battle scars, and you’ve learned the hard way that cost does not equal value when looking for hosting. It's time to navigate the vast field of hosting providers making promises that feel a little too good to be true. It may seem like you’ve been charged with a herculean task, but armed with the right questions, you can succeed at finding the most reliable dedicated server hosting for your business, and earn the gratitude of your clients, managers, and coworkers.
3 Qualities To Look For In the Most Reliable Dedicated Server HostingHere are three key features to look for to determine if the dedicated server hosting provider you’re considering is really up to the task.
1. Hardware - Kick the Tires and Look Under the HoodYou’re shopping for the most reliable dedicated server hosting because your team’s needs have grown beyond what shared hosting can provide. You need stellar performance for high volumes of traffic and total reliability, even in times of crisis. Make sure your provider has the physical hardware to back up their promises of speed and uptime. Look for a provider that can offer you enterprise-grade HDDs or SSDs in a location that will serve your clients or target audience with minimal delays. Don’t be afraid to ask for details:
- Does the provider offer multiple operating systems (i.e. both Windows and Linux at minimum) so that you’re covered for your current and future needs?
- How much RAM/CPU power can they offer? For small, static sites, this isn’t a big concern, but it can be a deal breaker if you’re working with demanding dynamic sites that put a heavy load on your server. Look for third party benchmarks or ask to test out the performance for yourself.
- Do they guarantee bandwidth availability? Even dedicated servers can experience slowdowns under heavy load if your pipeline isn’t up to the task. Ask about guaranteed bandwidth availability, as well as caps.
- What is the available uplink port speed? If your uplink port speed isn’t sufficient to meet the demand of traffic to your site, it will become a bottleneck, and the load-time for visitors will suffer. Some providers will offer a set standard speed, while other will allow you to upgrade. In our case we go all the way up to 10Gbps.
2. Cost and SLAs - Nail Down What's Included in the Price TagWe’ve already established that cost does not automatically equal value, but that doesn’t mean that your clients or company will suddenly decide that money is no object. What’s important is to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck, whatever the final figure you agree on may be. Make sure you read the fine print:
- SLAs: What’s included in your contract? What happens if your server gives out unexpectedly? Hardware replacement guarantees can mean you’re protected when the worst happens.
- Contract Fees: Will you be locked into a contract with this provider? For how long? If you need assistance with setup or migration, will extra charges appear on your bill?
- Extra Costs: What else might a less-than-upfront provider try to nickel and dime you for? Check if there will be extra charges on your account for backup or recovery services, scaling, software licensing, training, or support services, and make sure you factor those into the total cost.
3. Support - Find Out If They'll Be There for YouEven the worst hosting provider will be happy to lavish attention on you while you’re shopping for a new service. Your inquiries will receive immediate responses and no request will be too troublesome. The real test comes when the chips are down and you come back looking for assistance. A true indication that you’ve found the most reliable dedicated server hosting provider lies in their support system. If they’re ready to stand behind you when—not if—things aren’t going as expected, you’ll never be left alone trying to explain to clients why their sites aren’t performing as they should. Take a careful look to see if the provider you’re considering offers any of these support guarantees:
- Around the clock support: Standard business hours only account for one-third of the day, which means that 66% of the time, you won’t have access to service or support! Will you be able to reach your support team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year?
- Quick response times: Some providers promise 24/7 support but don't adequately staff support lines to handle call volumes, meaning you could be left waiting precious minutes (or hours!) for a response when you experience issues.
- Local support team: How often have you called a support or customer service line only to speak to someone half a world away, with a script of potential solutions you’ve already tried but no real way to fix your problem. Look for a team that employs experienced technicians located in close physical proximity to your server, so you can expect real action when you call.