It has become increasingly apparent over the last year that for a business to succeed then it needs to be online. Shops, boutiques, producers, and businesses across almost every sector have shifted more of their focus online over the last 12 months and this trend is expected to continue as the world continues its digital transformation.
Business owners today understand that they need a website, whether that is for sales of products, services, or tickets for events, or just a leaflet site to highlight what they offer. Most understand the value of contracting a web designer/developer to build their website, to make sure that it looks great across all devices, works well, and is well-optimised for SEO, but with many hosting companies trying to tell business owners they can host their website for under £5 per month it can be tough to explain why shared hosting is not enough if you are trying to compete online. Nonetheless, if they really want their website to succeed then they will need to look at a VPS or even better a cheap dedicated server where their website can have the resources it needs to load pages process transactions quickly.
Shared vs VPS vs dedicated servers
Shared hosting is the cheapest option to get your website online, and whilst it is fine for very small websites it means that your website will share a server’s resources with hundreds of others, which mean that if any of them get a traffic spike or are breached by hackers then your site could be affected.
A VPS of virtual private server is the middle ground between shared hosting and running your own dedicated server. Your website will still share a server with other sites, but often only a dozen or so websites, but your site has dedicated resources on that server and you have the flexibility to run your own software, such as your own version of Linux, Open Litespeed server and the PHP extensions you really need.
A dedicated server is exactly as it sounds, you have an entire server to yourself and you can use all the resources as you wish – all the hard disk space, all the RAM, and all the CPUs – and you can run any software you like. It is a truly customisable solution and with all the server resources at your disposal, your site should run speedily, which is great for both user experience and SEO. Dedicated servers can be expensive, but it is an increasingly competitive market and you can now pick up a cheap dedicated server for under £60 per month.
If you just want to host a basic WordPress site, then it is pretty straightforward no matter which hosting option you choose, but if you need something a little more customised or expect higher levels of traffic, then a dedicated server gives you the ability to build the exact stack you require. Some applications have specific dependencies and with a dedicated server you can make sure you have all the tools you need installed.
Aren’t dedicated servers more difficult to maintain?
Traditionally, a dedicated server may have been a challenge to maintain, but today the situation is different with tools like Runcloud and Gridpane making it simple to setup and maintain dedicated hardware wherever you have your server. These tools help you manage a dedicated server as easily as you would any other digital service, with intuitive UIs and helpful support if you do ever need it.
As with any web-facing application, security should be a major consideration with a dedicated server. In theory, as your server does not share anything with others websites and web apps, it faces fewer threats, but always make sure that you have the right security services installed and are prepared for a DDoS attack using a service like Cloudflare and/or OVH’s built-in DDos protection.
Unique IPs are better for SEO
When you share a server with hundreds of other websites, it is likely your site is also sharing an IP address with these sites, which can cause problems with search engine optimisation. There are ways around this, and many hosting companies will offer dedicated IP addresses per website for a few dollars per month, but with a dedicated server you will likely get your own IP address by default and included in the price.
No hardware to purchase or maintain
You could buy a server, set it up and connect it yourself, but for most people this process is better done by a hosting provider. Yes buying your own hardware and hosting it internally does give you even more control, but hosting providers will generally have faster network connections, specialised knowledge, and better prices. Critically, when you pay for a dedicated server, you generally only rent the hardware and any hardware failures may be covered in the deal, so even fewer things to worry about.
Don’t forget to backup!
Setting up and maintaining dedicated hardware is simple, but just like with shared and VPS hosting, problems can occur and it is critical to do regular off-site backups. Most control panels and server management platforms offer a simple and effective way to perform backups both automatically and on-demand, but it is up to you to make sure these backups are reliable and saved in a different datacenter so you are always ready for every eventuality.
Should you choose dedicated hosting?
As we have shown above, dedicated servers offer a variety of benefits. However, they are not for everyone – shared hosting can be a good way to get a site online quickly and cheaply if you do not expect much traffic, and a VPS can be a good middle ground in terms of resources and price. However, if you rely on your website for your business or you’re planning a multifaceted site for a larger enterprise, then a dedicated server could very well be your best option and they have never been better value than right now.