Website Hosting - Is
a Dedicated Server Worth What You Pay?
In reviewing web hosting plans, many web site owners are faced
at some point with the decision of whether or not to pay for a dedicated server. A dedicated server is one
which holds your site(s) exclusively. It's not shared with other sites. You then have the option to put one
site or many on that piece of hardware.
But the decision is never easy. There are multiple
considerations to take into account, far beyond just the higher dollar outlay that inevitably accompanies a
dedicated server option.
Performance is (or should be) a prime consideration for the
majority of site owners. Studies show that when a page doesn't load within about 10 seconds or less, almost
everyone will give up and go elsewhere. The delay may be caused at any of a hundred different points in the
chain between the server and the user. But often, it's the server itself.
In any case, it's important to eliminate the server as a
possible bottleneck, since it's one of the few points over which the site owner can exercise some
That need for control extends further than just performance,
however. Other aspects of the user experience can benefit or suffer from server behavior. Security is a prime
example. With the continuing prevalence of spam and viruses, a server can easily get infected. Having only
your site(s) on a single server makes that issue much easier to deal with.
With fewer sites on a server, there is less likelihood of
getting infected in the first place. Also, since you will place a higher value on security than many others,
it's easier to keep a dedicated server clean and your site well protected. You can use best practices in
security to fortify your site. Having other sites on the server that you don't control raises the odds that
your efforts are for nothing.
One way your efforts can get watered down is through IP address
sharing. Less sophisticated hosting services will often assign a single IP address to a single server and
multipe sites. That means your site is sharing the same IP address with other domains. That leaves you
vulnerable in several ways.
Virus or spam attacks may target a particular IP address. If you
have the same one as another site, one that is more likely to attract hostile intentions, you suffer for and
with someone else.
In other cases an IP address range is assigned to the server,
with each site receiving its own address from within that range. Though better than the one IP:server
scenario, this still presents a vulnerability. Many attacks try a range of IP addresses, not just a single
But even legitimate sources can give you trouble when you share
an IP address or a range. If another site engages in behavior that gets it banned, you can suffer the same
fate if they ban the address or range. If the miscreant that shares your server/IP address or range is
himself a spammer for example, and gets blacklisted, you can inadvertently be banned along with him. Using a
dedicated server can overcome that problem.
There's a certain comfort level in knowing what is installed on
the server you use, and knowing that you alone put it there. But a dedicated server option may require
increased administration on your part. If you're not prepared to deal with that, you may have to pay still
more to have your dedicated server managed by someone else.
All these factors have to be weighed carefully when considering
a dedicated server plan with your website hosting
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