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Secrets to Finding the Right Dedicated Server Provider

Secrets to Finding the Right Dedicated Server Provider
April 01
08:54 2020

Just been appointed head of your company’s new IT department?  You’ve just outgrown the current server and equipment?  Need to upgrade from your shared hosting account?  Some of these may be familiar territory when it comes to your own situation.  This guide is designed to help you find and locate the best possible dedicated server provider for your business needs.

To start off, map out a rough outline of what features and services you will need from your hosting provider.   It’s important to have an understanding of what you’ll need prior to going into your search.  This will ensure you find the right solution, provider at the best possible price.   Although this often can be a difficult task, don’t worry!  We’ve implemented the necessary steps, questions and information below to help you through this process.

The Top 5 steps in preparing you for finding the perfect dedicated server provider:

  1. Self or Managed Hosting, how to decide?

Let me first explain the differences between the two.  Self Managed Hosting is essentially a hosting provider who provides the box, datacenter, network and basic network/hardware support…that’s pretty much it!  All other companies who offer the above mentioned services plus support are often referred to as Managed Hosting Providers.

While there is often only one type of self managed hosting providers (no support included), there can be several different types of managed hosting providers.  Managed Hosting services are often based on the level of services included and/or provided with your dedicated server.  The level of options and services provided may change from host to host, knowing the differences between the two will ensure you are taken care of in times of need and/or emergency.

Let’s take this example and place it into three Managed Hosting options:   Your business requires an application installed, configured and supported in order to run your business.

Managed Hosting provider #1
A call is placed directly to your very own dedicated support technician.  You explain what is needed and he takes care of everything….no questions asked!  He installs, configures and provides support to your staff so the application can be utilized at peak performance.

Managed Hosting provider #2
You contact support to later find out they only install and configure third party applications.  They perform the installation and configure it to your needs.  You are then left to support the product on your own which may require you to pay additional support costs from the third party vendor.

Managed Hosting provider #3
All third party applications, installations and support are not included with the Managed Services package include with your server.  This is a common occurrence with lower end hosting providers since its not always possible to have fully trained staff on all third party applications.

The services offered by each managed hosting provider are usually made clear on their website.  If you don’t see the full list of ‘what’s included’ simply ask their sales associate.  You want to be 100% clear as to what is included before making your buying decision.

NOTE: You will see quite a variation in price options between self and managed hosting providers.  You will also see variations between managed hosting providers as the level of expertise provided can be of vast differences.

By understanding which option you should go with (self or managed), you’re going to be narrowing your focus to concentrate on other aspects of your server hosting needs.

  1. Location, Location, Location…….

Why is it important to select the perfect location for your dedicated server?  It’s rather simple when you think about it, you want to deliver your content quickly, effectively and 100% of the time to your customers.

A rule of thumb is to choose a location that is the center of your customers demographics.  This sometimes may not always be possible so choosing a host that offers the better connections for access to all customers is best suited.

A popular emergence of late is dedicated server providers offering multiple datacenter locations.  This option provides you with the option to run multiple servers (one in each of the datacenters) for the one website – demographically targeting your customers for the best performances.

EXAMPLE:  If you have customers residing in Japan, you’ll find a datacenter location is best suited within Los Angeles or Seattle compared to Dallas, Chicago or New York.  Vice versa if you have customers in London and you are looking for the best performance from your server and network.  Anything on the East Cost would perform better.

Location, the network connections provided are critical to ensure you receive optimal performance from your dedicated server.

  1. Deciding on the right server hardware and software?

A large part of selecting a dedicated server provider is what hardware and software is available.  While determining the levels of each may only come by trial and error, the below outline will assist you in determining what areas of a host to look for and determine.

Operating System (OS for short): Windows or Linux?
Applications required to run your website generally determine which OS preference you should go with.  For example, you run a database to collect customer information on your website.  This database is built in the .Net Framework, which will require a Windows OS.  Vice versa should you have applications that requires a Linux framework.
 
Hard Drive: How much disk space is enough?
It’s common to see upwards of 160GB Hard Drives offered with new server equipment, with the option to upgrade to 1TB Hard Drives.  While for some it may be unpredictable to determine what levels you should start with, try asking the perspective host the following questions:

  1. What upgrade options are available? What are the costs and do you offer one-time payments for the upgrade?
  2. How many additional Hard Drives can my server handle?
  3. If I add a larger Hard Drive, will you assist in the migration of my current data to the new drive (may only be available from managed server providers)?

RAM:  What’s a good starting point?
512MB – 1.5GB RAM is generally a good starting point with your server.  Check with the hosting provider to see their upgrade options.  You will often find they offer monthly upgrade options or one-time fee’s should you need to upgrade your servers RAM.

Bandwidth:  What’s the max?
1,000GB – 2,500GB Bandwidth per month is a common inclusion with dedicated servers.  While 10MBPS and 100MBPS ports are also common features included with the server (10MBPS port can provide you with a maximum of 3,300GB/month) check to see if 1GB uplink ports are also available or included as well.

The larger the port the faster and more bandwidth your website/server can generate or deliver.

Some key questions to ask your hosting provider regarding bandwidth are:

  1. What uplink connection do you offer (10mbps, 100mbps and/or 1GBmbps)?
  2. How much bandwidth is included with your servers, does it differ from one server to the next?
  3. How much do you charge per 1GB of overage?
  4. Do you offer bandwidth upgrades/downgrades during a given month? What are the costs and how much is included per upgrade?

Control Panel:  Should I get one and what are the advantages?
A control panels provides you with all the tools to automate the applications, services and features required to run a single or multiple website on your server.

Two of the leading control panels offered by hosting providers are: cPanel and Plesk.

While the populist would agree cPanel is more widely used, Plesk sure does make it easy for those new to running their own server (setup and configuration of cPanel can be a daunting task for most newbies).

IP’S:  How many should I get?
Your web server typically comes with 1-5 IP’S.   You can run multiple websites from the 1IP now so its not always a requirement to have one for every website.

Here are some questions to ask regarding IP’s:

  1. How many IP’s are included with the server?
  2. If I need to purchase more, do you offer them in single’s or in blocks?
  3. How much are the additional IP’s?
  4. Do you require ARIN IP Justification on additional IP’s purchased?

ARIN is the governing body over IP allocations.  With limited number of IP’s in today’s market, they have placed restrictions and guidelines to obtaining more than what is needed.  A general rule that most dedicated server providers go by is ARIN IP Justification, this means they will ask you what the additional IP’s are being used for.  If they are for website SSL, physical server or anonymous FTP you should have no problems in obtaining more IP’s.

The above mentioned list provides you with an informative base to make your informed decision.  Should you go through each option with your perspective hosting provider, you’ll find a wealth of information that will ensure you are making the best choice.  As a failsafe, continue reading to see what can be done should you outgrow your server and/or provider.

  1. What’s next when you outgrow your server?

Growth is a good thing for your business although as a administrator can provide you with some daunting tasks (if not prepared).  Here are some key tips on what to look for prior to selecting your dedicated server provider plus what you can do if it happens to you.

The most important question you should ask your perspective hosting provider is: What upgrade options if any do you offer should I need to upgrade from one CPU to another?  If X server is available for CPU upgrade to Y, how much is the cost and what downtime would we be looking at?

This type of upgrade is not supported by many, so be sure to ask and see if its available.  It will save you from having to buy a new server and migrating over to it.

Additional upgrade options that you should become familiar with are: Hard Drives, RAM, Bandwidth, IP’s (all mentioned above).  These are relatively easy to upgrade since there is no server migration required.

A rule of thumb:  cPanel and Plesk control panels provide you with the necessary tools to migrate from one server to another.  It’s easy and be sure to ask your server hosting provider if they provide this service free of charge.

IMPORTANT:  Before any upgrade, migration or change in hardware is performed make sure you have a offsite and if possible online backup of all content, settings, applications and databases.  You can query your hosting provider to see what backup solutions are available prior to making your purchase.

  1. Got Any Discounts?

If there is one thing dedicated server hosting providers do well, its offering customers with great deals and discounts.  Don’t’ be afraid to ask the sales team for any non-published specials or discounts.  You can often find better deals that aren’t out there for the general public.  These can often come when you’re ordering in bulk, less than brand new servers, multiple servers configurations, higher level of managed services, upgrades, etc.

Not always published, a majority of the dedicated hosting providers will offer a lower monthly payment if you pay a higher setup cost.  If you don’t see this option, ask to see if its an option as it may save you some $$ in the long run.

I hope this guide helps narrow your search focus in order to select a quality hosting provider for your business needs.  If we can of any assistance please don’t hesitate to contact us at sales@findmyhost.com.

Useful Resources:

FindMyHost Approved Host Guarantee
Dedicated Server Guaranteed Host Marketplace on FindMyHost.com
Managed Hosting Guaranteed Host Marketplace on FindMyHost.com

About Author

FindMyHost Editor

FindMyHost Editor

The 'Web Hosting Blog' at FindMyHost.com was established to provide the web hosting industry with the very latest in news, technology, interviews, event information and more. About FindMyHost.com: Launched in January 2001 to protect Web Host Consumers and Web Developers from making the wrong choice when choosing a Web host. FindMyHost.com showcases a selection of web hosting companies who have undergone our Approved Host program testing and provides reviews from customers.

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