This post is second in an ongoing series of posts about dedicated servers. I recently got my first dedicated server with Blacknight to host my personal websites (which get millions of hits a year and have several eCommerce businesses attached to them). It’s something I put a lot of thought into and something that was encouraged greatly by my colleagues at Blacknight.
I won’t mention the name of my previous host, I bear them no ill will, and I left for lots of reasons, but the major ones were cost and control. The managed WordPress hosting I used since 2011 was simply too expensive for the level of business my websites were generating. The other was control, which is something I’ll talk about in more detail later in this post. But basically, I was paying them a large sum of money a month to have them tell me on more than one occasion that I couldn’t use a particular piece of software or to stop doing things they didn’t want me to do (like small volume email sending).
So, before I go on, what exactly is a dedicated server? In the simplest terms, it’s a powerful computer, in a rack, in a data centre managed by a host like Blacknight. My new server is located in the Tier 3 Blacknight Dublin Data Centre. This ‘computer’ is optimized to do one thing: be a web server. E.g., serve your websites, host your email, and overall manage the IT end of your business. The biggest thing a dedicated server brings you is flexibility. You have almost unlimited options in what you can use it for.
If you’ve been running websites for years, you are probably using shared web hosting, cloud hosting, or a virtual private server (VPS). Why would you make the jump to a dedicated server, which is inherently a more expensive and hands-on proposition?
Your Website Keeps Going Down, but it’s not YOUR fault
Uptime is the lifeblood of an online business. If your website is down, you’re not making money. Shared hosting plans are just that – shared. You’re sharing one server with thousands of other websites. This means that if any other website in the shared environment gets a traffic spike or a technical problem, it can take down your website too. On a dedicated server, the only websites on the server, are yours. Managed well, it will be more likely to handle traffic spikes and high-intensity CPU tasks.
Your Host Keeps Telling You What Software You Can and Cannot Use
Some shared web hosts will restrict what you can install and run on your server – or their shared hosting software packages are limited and don’t include the tools you need to run scripts like Nodejs, Ghost, or Chevereto. Application-specific web hosts for example, which just host WordPress sites, will restrict certain WordPress plugins because of the server load they can create (or they’re insecure). In your own environment, you can run whatever you want (and take risks with software that may be insecure – though you shouldn’t!).
You’re Getting Regular Traffic Spikes
This is when your website keeps going down, and it’s YOUR fault. Traffic spikes will overload a shared server; it’s not fair to everyone else on your server, and it’s frustrating for you. Especially since many traffic spikes can’t be predicted. If your article, video or meme goes viral, your site can go down in minutes. A dedicated server has more capacity than a single or a few dozen websites needs, so it’s ready to handle any traffic spikes. Bandwidth isn’t an issue – especially with Blacknight – so when the internet hordes come to your website, your server is ready for it. Some web hosts also charge overages when you exceed your traffic quota. This can lead to surprise bills.
Your Site Has Grown Massively in Size
When you run a website for many years, it becomes bloated simply by attrition. For example, when I moved one of my websites from my previous host to my new Blacknight server, there was 50gb of data (the site was founded in 2007). Not only does that hog space on a shared server, but it affects performance (site load time and server resource usage). If your website has been around for a while and generates thousands of hits a day, then a dedicated server gives you space to breathe – and crucially – to grow.
You need more than simple Webhosting, like email or app/database hosting
Having a dedicated server means you can do more things than just run your website. You can run your intranet. You can run your own email (rather than rely on a third-party service like Google Apps, Outlook, or Zoho). You can run any software that strikes your fancy that you might want to test out. As long as it’s supported by the Operating System you pick, you have unlimited possibilities on things you can do with a dedicated server (for some ideas – check out this article I wrote a few weeks ago).
You Want More Security
Having your own dedicated server means you have complete control over your security and the privacy of your data. It’s not shared with anyone, because you completely control it. You can block whoever you want, manage security, add two-factor authentication, etc. You’re in complete control. It also makes your website more secure in that you’re no longer sharing a server with thousands of other websites that may not be keeping their software as up to date as you are. If your business is regulated, has special compliance requirements or you have concerns around overall server security then a dedicated server may tick some important security boxes.
You Want Your Own IP address That You Control
Shared hosting means a shared IP address. Controlling your own IP means no one else can do anything bad with it. You are no longer sharing the same IP with someone who might be doing something they’re not supposed to based on their host’s terms of service. It’s also easier to maintain your DNS records if your IP never changes. A dedicated IP is your permanent address on the internet.
You want your websites to be faster
Most web servers have more power than the average website needs. This means that even resource-intensive sites can move lightning fast. Mostly because there are not thousands of other websites using the server’s resources at the same time. My former host’s biggest selling point was their speed. But in all honestly, once I moved to Blacknight, my websites became noticeably faster, especially on the backend, which is usually more top-heavy on the server’s resources. Consumers can get frustrated with slow loading websites and eCommerce cart abandonment is higher the slower your website is.
You have more websites/domains than your host allows
Most shared hosting plans will limit the number of websites and domains that you can host. Adding more requires a higher hosting plan. Cut out the higher cost, and with a dedicated server, you can host as many websites and domains as you like. You pay a fixed cost with Blacknight – monthly, quarterly, or annually. If you’re sick of hitting the unrealistic traffic quota that some hosts charge, then a dedicated server will set you free.
You Need More Overall Control
Control of your business, your brand, and your reputation is so important these days. And with a dedicated server, you have complete control of all aspects of your online business. A dedicated server is a more hands-on solution, and it’s not for everyone, but if your business is in the right position, then it could be the right move for you. Having a dedicated server with Blacknight means your websites are hosted safely in an EU country governed by strong data-protection laws.
If you want help in deciding what would work best for you, get in touch with the Blacknight Sales team, and we can evaluate your current setup and how a dedicated solution will improve it. And if you’re intimidated about managing your own dedicated server – do not worry about that – we have a certified team of engineers who can manage your dedicated server for you and provide round-the-clock support.