For most of us, a shared web hosting solution may be the most suitable option at the start of our online venture. Why? Simply because it’s an inexpensive alternative to a VPS or dedicated hosting solution.
However, there may be exceptions to this rule, such as when a project is anticipated to experience exponential growth and a dedicated hosting service is chosen right at the start. Even if you do choose a shared hosting service initially, you may realize at one point or another that the demanding requirements of your web site can no longer be satisfied by shared hosting. And if your project now has a steady revenue stream, the cost of migrating to a dedicated hosting platform may appear less intimidating than it did at first.
I’ve conducted research on ten major companies offering entry-level dedicated hosting plans. These include 1&1, HostDime, HostGator, Hostway, InMotion, LiquidWeb, LunarPages, NetHosting, ResellersPanel, and ServePath. An in-depth comparison of these companies has been carried out in terms of all the most important criteria for dedicated hosting, including processor speeds, hard drive capabilities, RAID options, RAM, monthly bandwidth, IP addresses, and a number of other factors. Along with this, I’ve also taken into account the possibility of extending a plan without upgrading, which makes it more flexible since it lets you avoid the need to migrate to a higher level plan.
All the reviewed plans include full root access and a hardware replacement guarantee, along with an uptime guarantee of 99% or more. Furthermore, SSH access is common to all the plans and the uplink speed for the majority is 100Mbps, with the exceptions of ResellersPanel, InMotion, and HostDime.
The major obstacle in comparing all these companies on an equal footing was that in almost all cases, one or more features weren’t specified on the plan description page. Consequently, I contacted these companies by whatever contact method was available, in order to find out about the missing features. I held live chat sessions with most of them, and for those that didn’t offer live chat, I used email or telephone.
Finally, after many days of researching, I was able to gather all the data, which I’ve presented in a comprehensive dedicated hosting comparison table. The unspecified features about which I had to enquire at the hosting companies are italicized in the table. I’ve also done an analysis of the contents of this table, to point out the pros and cons of each dedicated hosting plan.
Now, though, let’s take a look at each of the hosting plans in detail.
The 1&1 Dual-Core XL plan has an edge over other dedicated hosting plans in terms of the hard drive capacity and FTP back up it offers. 1&1 offers two 400GB hard drives as well as 200GB FTP back up, which is more than any of the other web hosts in this comparison. It also offers an included RAID option which makes frequent back ups a breeze.
In terms of the amount of included RAM, 1&1 offers 4GB, which—along with HostGator and ServePath—is the most of any of the reviewed hosts. 1&1 also offers an included software firewall along with an SSL certificate, which may be really valuable for ecommerce web sites. There is no mention of an uptime guarantee on the plan description page. However, our live chat with the host revealed that t1&1 offers an uptime guarantee of 99.99%, which is the second-highest of all the reviewed hosts.
As regards monthly bandwidth, 1&1 offers a generous 3000GB and emerges as the runner-up to LiquidWeb, which has the highest bandwidth offering with 6000GB. However, there are a number of features on which 1&1 appears to be at a disadvantage, such as the processor specification, hard drive upgrade option, RAM upgrade option, and the number of IP addresses offered.
The plan is available at a cost of $199.99 a month, which is on par with ServePath, and slightly more than the lowest monthly price in our comparison (LiquidWeb at $189). The total available discount on 1&1’s plan is $100 for a yearly signup.
HostDime offers a better processor specification than 1&1 in its QC1 plan, and also provides options for upgrading the processor, hard drive, and RAM. The included 160GB hard drive, on the other hand, is one of the lower offerings in our comparison. However, multiple options are available for RAID configurations in this plan.
Although the included 1GB of RAM is the lowest of the plans compared, it can be upgraded to a maximum of 4GB. HostDime offers a monthly bandwidth allowance of 2000GB, which is the third-highest of all the reviewed hosts, with the only better options being 1&1 and LiquidWeb, offering 3000GB and 6000GB respectively. Only four IP addresses are included in the plan, however additional IP addresses can be obtained at a rate of $2 per month, with no upper limit on the number of IP addresses that can be purchased.
A wide range of operating systems is available with this plan, including Fedora Core as well as Windows 2003 server. HostDime lets you select either the CPanel and Plesk control panels at a cost of between $25 and $50 per month. The plan also offers optional managed services as well as an FTP backup solution. A free CSF software firewall comes bundled with the package, while a Juniper NetScreen 5GT hardware firewall can be obtained for $100 per month. An SSL certificate is also optional and can be purchased for a $50 yearly fee.
The server is monitored by HostDime, and there’s no setup fee for the plan. The monthly price for this plan is $220, which is the fifth lowest after LiquidWeb, 1&1, ServePath, and LunarPages. HostDime offers a discount of $20 per month for the first server, which amounts to a total available discount of $240 yearly. HostDime does not offer a money-back guarantee.
HostGator offers the Intel dual-core Xeon processor in its Standard plan, which is probably the best processor for server platforms. That said, there’s no processor upgrade option available with this plan. The dual 250GB hard drives offered by HostGator give it a number three rank for storage among all the reviewed hosts. It comes with a RAID configuration and also allows you to upgrade the hard drive to a higher capacity.
Like 1&1, HostGator includes 4GB of RAM with this plan. The RAM can also be upgraded, though there’s no mention of the maximum amount of memory that can be purchased. A total of 1500GB data transfer is allowed in a month, which turns out to be the lowest allotment on offer. The plan comes with ten IP addresses, making it a runner-up to LiquidWeb’s plan, which offers 16 IP addresses. Additional IP addresses can be purchased from HostGator, although there’s no mention of the price associated with each.
A choice of three operating systems, including Red Hat Linux 4, is available with this plan. The only two other web hosts that offer Red Hat Linux are Hostway and ServePath, so if either of these is your OS of choice, it might be a good reason to opt for HostGator. CPanel is the only control panel available, however the good news is that it comes at no extra cost. FTP backups can be performed through WHM. A software firewall is also included with the plan, but the SSL certificate is optional. There is no setup fee, and no money-back guarantee.
The plan comes at a price of $219 per month, which puts it smack dab in the middle of the reviewed plans. HostGator is currently offering a 20% discount that can be claimed using the coupon code “Snowman,” which makes this plan the most cost-effective of all. As shown in the table, the total yearly savings for this plan equate to $525.
Hostway offers two dual-core Intel Xeon processors in its TFS 800 plan. A comparison with the other reviewed hosts reveals that no better processor specification is available. Consequently, this plan seems to be ideal for users looking to deploy power-hungry applications. As far as hard drive capacity is concerned, Hostway’s plan offers two 160GB hard drives, thereby sharing third ranking for storage capacity with InMotion. Hostway also offers flexible hard drive upgrade options, with a maximum capacity offering of 2TB at a rate of $70 per month. RAID 1 also comes included with the plan.
The total amount of RAM offered is 2GB, although there is an option for upgrading the RAM to a maximum of 16GB at a cost of $140 per month. As regards the included RAM, Hostway’s plan turns out to be a runner-up to 1&1, HostGator, and ServePath, which include 4GB of RAM in their plans. Hostway stands in third place on the monthly data transfer comparison, offering 2000GB. In terms of the total number of included IP addresses, Hostway again ranks third with its offer of five addresses, after LiquidWeb and HostGator, which offer 16 and ten IP addresses respectively. Additional IP addresses may be obtained for $2 per month, but you’ll need to provide a technical justification in order to get them.
Hostway also offers a wide range of operating systems, including Windows and Red Hat Linux. It offers a custom control panel referred to as “Site Control,” although there is an option to use Plesk with a ten-domain license at an additional cost. A maximum of 50GB FTP backup is included in the plan, as is a software firewall. An SSL certificate, however, is optional and can be obtained at a cost of $49.95 per year.
There’s no setup fee for this plan. Hostway offers the TFS 800 plan for $219 a month, thereby sharing fifth place for price with HostDime, HostGator, InMotion, and ResellersPanel. It’s also offering a 15% discount or two months of free hosting with a one-year prepayment, which equates to a total saving of $438 for this web host—one of the highest available discounts in this review. Hostway also stands out by offering a 30-day money-back guarantee.