Dedicated Server Hosting: the Pros and Cons

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Dedicated Server Hosting: the Pros and Cons

This article is part of a series created in partnership with SiteGround. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

The range of hosting options has become bewilderingly complex during the past few years. The basics are simple: a computing device has software installed which can respond to a network event such as a request for a webpage. How that hardware and software is installed, configured, organised, packaged, promoted and sold is the primary difference between all hosting options. A dedicated server is the easiest option to comprehend. Imagine you bought a PC from your local store, connected it to your home network, installed web server software and configured the DNS appropriately. That device would be able to run your website and serve requests from all over the world. But could it cope with system crashes, surges in traffic, unexpected power loss, theft or security breaches? Someone compromising that device could gain access to everything on your network. Web hosts such as SiteGround provide dedicated servers which solve these issues. You effectively own (or lease) a server which sits in a rack at the host’s data center. Levels of management vary but most hosts will provide a pre-installed operating system and the software you require. More demanding operations may require multiple devices with load balancers and separate back-end databases.

Ease of Use

Hosts often provide some level of assistance but you’re largely on your own. Technical expertise is necessary to connect, install and configure the software required for your system. Dedicated servers are regularly chosen by larger corporations with unusual or higher-than-typical requirements. They may have a team responsible for day-to-day server operations.


Dedicated servers offer ultimate flexibility. It’s your device: you can install whatever you like whenever your need it. Do you need PHP3, Node 8 and the latest beta of MariaDB? No problem.


The device’s capabilities are limited only by budget. You can choose the fastest processors, gargantuan quantities of RAM and multi-petabyte hard disks. You could add further servers and eventually have your own server farm.


The device’s full processing capability is yours and your alone. You have full, unrestricted access to the whole hard disk and all processing resources. If that’s not enough, you can replace or add further components. It’s often more cost-effective to throw extra hardware at a system than spend many weeks optimizing the software. Bandwidth is still limited by the data center’s capacity but a dedicated server remains the ultimate performance option.


Your server is only as reliable as the hardware. Processors, RAM disks and other components eventually fail but most hosts will offer some level of monitoring. RAID0 (redundant array of independent disks) options will prevent most data loss.


“With great power comes great responsibility.” Your host will normally offer back-ups and monitoring services but it’s your server and you can do what you like. There’s nothing to prevent you logging in and running rm -rf / to delete everything.


Hosts will provide advice but security is largely your responsibility. You will need to install and configure firewalls, virus scanners, SSL certificates and other options as necessary. Humans are often the weakest point of any system. Someone could access the full system if your sysop team fails to adopt strong password and security policies.


Dedicated servers are normally the most expensive hosting option – expect to pay a few hundred dollars per month for an entry-level system with minimal management. Hardware upgrades and support may be extra. Don’t forget you’ll also require additional staff costs to install, monitor and maintain that server.

Who Should Choose a Dedicated Server?

Dedicated servers are typically chosen by larger corporations with unusual or demanding mission-critical systems. To be cost-effective, a website would require a few hundred thousand visits per month.

Cloud Hosting

Dedicated servers have fallen from favor recently. Cloud-based alternatives offer hosting in a similar way to utilities such as electricity. The more resources you use, the more you pay so costs may vary from month to month. Cloud options differ but most offer a scalable virtual machine. The OS is effectively a disk image (file) which can be moved and replicated anywhere without being tied to any underlying hardware. This increases reliability and back-ups become simpler. That said, dedicated servers remain the best choice where performance is critical.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Dedicated Server Hosting

What is the Difference Between Shared Hosting and Dedicated Server Hosting?

Shared hosting is a type of web hosting where multiple websites share the same server and its resources. This is a cost-effective solution for small websites or blogs. However, the performance of your website can be affected by other websites on the same server. On the other hand, dedicated server hosting provides you with a server solely for your website. This means all the server’s resources are dedicated to your website, ensuring high performance and stability. It is ideal for websites with high traffic or those that require high-level security.

How Does Dedicated Server Hosting Improve Website Performance?

Dedicated server hosting can significantly improve your website’s performance. Since all the server’s resources are dedicated to your website, it can handle high traffic without slowing down. It also provides faster loading times, which can improve user experience and SEO rankings. Moreover, you have the freedom to customize the server settings to optimize performance for your specific needs.

Is Dedicated Server Hosting Secure?

Yes, dedicated server hosting offers a high level of security. Since you’re not sharing the server with other websites, the risk of cross-site contamination is eliminated. You also have full control over the server, allowing you to implement your own security measures, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems.

What are the Benefits of Managed Dedicated Server Hosting?

Managed dedicated server hosting is a service where the hosting provider takes care of all the server management tasks. This includes server setup, software updates, security monitoring, and technical support. This allows you to focus on your business without worrying about server management. It is ideal for businesses without a dedicated IT team or those who prefer not to deal with server management tasks.

Can I Upgrade My Shared Hosting to Dedicated Server Hosting?

Yes, most hosting providers offer the option to upgrade from shared hosting to dedicated server hosting. The process is usually straightforward and can be done with minimal downtime. However, it’s important to plan the migration carefully to avoid any potential issues.

How Much Does Dedicated Server Hosting Cost?

The cost of dedicated server hosting can vary widely depending on the hosting provider and the server specifications. It is generally more expensive than shared hosting due to the resources and services provided. However, it can be a cost-effective solution for businesses that require high performance and security.

What is the Difference Between a Dedicated Server and a VPS?

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a virtualized server that shares physical hardware with other VPSs. However, it operates independently, much like a dedicated server. The main difference is that a dedicated server provides you with the entire physical server, while a VPS only provides a portion of the server’s resources.

What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing a Dedicated Server Hosting Provider?

When choosing a dedicated server hosting provider, consider factors such as server performance, security features, customer support, pricing, and scalability. It’s also important to consider the provider’s reputation and customer reviews.

Can I Host Multiple Websites on a Dedicated Server?

Yes, a dedicated server can host multiple websites. This can be a cost-effective solution if you own multiple websites. However, it’s important to ensure that the server has enough resources to handle the combined traffic of all your websites.

Do I Need Technical Knowledge to Use a Dedicated Server?

If you choose unmanaged dedicated server hosting, you will need a certain level of technical knowledge to manage and maintain the server. However, if you choose managed dedicated server hosting, the hosting provider will take care of all the technical aspects, so you don’t need to have technical expertise.

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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