Thinking of upgrading from shared to dedicated server hosting? Chances are, you’ll want to get a good price on a server that meets your business’ requirements for some time to come. What you’ll find, however, is that there’s often a wide cost differential between tiers and providers of dedicated server hosting, and it’s not always obvious why this is or what the implications are for your business.
Below, we explore some of the factors that can affect the cost of a dedicated server so you can make a more informed buying decision.
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Managed vs. unmanaged
If you’ve only used shared server hosting in the past, you’ll have never had to worry about the day-to-day upkeep involved in running a stable, high-performing and secure server environment. This includes installing updates and security fixes, configuring software and services running on the server, and monitoring and troubleshooting any issues as they arise.
It’s up to you whether you want to be responsible for this with a dedicated server, as most providers offer their services in both managed and unmanaged flavours. A managed server will come in at a higher price point, though both options have their own unique advantages and disadvantages to consider.
For more, see our blog: Should you use managed or unmanaged dedicated server hosting?
Software licence fees
If you want to run your own server rather than host your data in a shared environment, you need to pay to cover your own software licences. As such, anticipate a higher price for dedicated servers running Windows than Linux, as well as for optional software such as cPanel and SQL Server.
Quality of infrastructure
Once you’ve accounted for service tier and licence fees, another factor that can influence the cost of a dedicated server is the quality of hardware and supporting infrastructure. If you want the peace of mind that comes from having decent server hardware in a purpose-built UK data centre, you should expect to pay a little more than you would for unbranded equipment somewhere out in the wilds.
A substandard setup can have a tangible impact on the overall performance and reliability of the service, so do your research: what looks like a good deal may turn out to be a costly burden once you factor downtime into the equation.
Cost of support
Regardless of whether you go down the managed or unmanaged route, consider your support needs and whether your provider will offer this on an inclusive basis or as an additional cost (such as pay-per-ticket). The latter may be less expensive up front, but this can be a false economy if you run into problems with your dedicated server that aren’t trivial to fix.
Expect also to see some correlation between cost and quality of support, and check that a prospective provider’s support SLAs and help desk hours are a suitable fit for your business and budget.
Cost of scaling up
Finally, if you’re shopping around for a dedicated server in 2018, it’s not all that unreasonable that you may consider cloud server hosting as a possible alternative. A cloud server will function identically to a dedicated server, with the difference that you won’t be tied to specific hardware - which can have significant implications when it comes to cost efficiency.
The ability to scale up is a great example. If your business outgrows your dedicated server and you require more CPU, memory and storage to meet demand, you don’t have much option other than to deploy a second server - which means you double your costs and go from having too little capacity to too much. With a cloud server, you can simply provision what you need, when you need it, and with minimal disruption along the way.
On the flipside, you may have a more consistent demand profile and therefore not need the extra scalability of the cloud. Therefore, it may be more cost-effective to get a long-term lease on a dedicated server than take your business down the cloud hosting route. Either way, it pays to think ahead: a good deal today may turn out to be an albatross around your neck twelve months down the line, so consider how your requirements will change over time and plan accordingly.