Dedicated servers are the luxury penthouse of website management. Having a whole server to yourself is somewhat more expensive than the usual options of shared hosting or VPS, but is necessary for enterprise-level businesses or any website where large amounts of bandwidth is needed. Going with a fully dedicated server is a big step, so you want to check around for the best features and make sure you’re getting the best-needed value.
The biggest reason to get a dedicated server is to speed up your website. Dedicated servers are already much faster in response times and traffic volume than shared servers. In addition, you’ll want to find options with the following features:
- Top processor – Currently dual Intel Xeons are the industry standard, but you want to go with whatever the latest model happens to be.
- Bandwidth: This can vary by need, but you should expect about 50GB as the baseline and not worry about more unless you’re getting around 30K+ page loads per month.
- RAM: You can never have too much. Your baseline should be 16GB at the least, scaling up for more traffic and media-intensive sites. 64GB isn’t out of the question at all.
The above is a very rough thumbnail sketch of the specs you should be looking for, based on average server specs. Variables for your individual needs might include:
- Page size: The average web page is 1-2 MB.
- Media: If you’re serving lots of media files, your requirements of the above multiply.
- SaaS sites: These can be so detailed that you might have specialized needs, depending on your application and user base.
- Traffic: Running a meme site that’s bound to get many short visits from social media? You’ll need to scale a little there.
Disks and Operating Systems
Disk space is a factor, although raw hard drive storage is so cheap now that this cost will be almost negligible. The more important part of the disk space equation is redundancy, in the form of RAID. A RAID setup will also help a little with speed, but the main point is to have a backup when things go wrong, even if it doesn’t result in permanent data loss.
Operating system and software stack is the last thing to consider, but this is going to be the easiest choice. If your technology depends on Microsoft IIS, ASP.Net, MS-SQL, then you’ll want a Microsoft server. The rest of you will want Linux, in the all-star formula of a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP).
Netcraft’s server rankings do show some third and fourth choices for the once-dominant Sun system and the background lurker nGinx, so there’s that small chance that you might choose to go with that option. In the market share of all active sites, according to those Netcraft graphs, Apache is so far ahead of the competition that you have to have a good reason not to want it.
Your server is out there on the web answering the request of any device on the Internet from anywhere in the world, so your security had better be the best. When examining your server host’s security measures, look for these features:
- Support for OS updates and security patches
- Power uptime guarantee
- Backups and monitoring
- SSL, firewalls, and DDoS protection
- On-site security (physical access to machines)
On the subject of security, if you’re going for Microsoft IIS, you will want to be extra cautious about the security measures. Linux and its Unix-like cousins have security baked into the system itself, and extra-hardened versions exist all the way up to meeting US Department of Defense standards. You’ll also need to pay extra attention to security in eCommerce, SaaS deployments, and other scenarios where you’d be liable for your users’ data.
Author | Emily Forbes
An Entrepreneur, Mother & A passionate tech writer in the technology industry!