If your site doesn’t get huge amounts of traffic and you don’t need any custom settings or software, budget hosting service may be all you’ll ever need. A few dollars, and you’re all set.
But what happens when your site starts seeing a lot more traffic? What if you need special server settings or to run a large web application? If there is even the slightest potential that this could be you now or down the road, it may be time to look into having your own dedicated server.
In this article we’re going to cover all the bases: we’ll be reviewing our top five best dedicated server hosting providers as well as look through some tips and tricks. Like what exactly dedicated hosting is, what it gets you, and features and specs to look out for when choosing a hosting provider. So let’s roll!
Founded in 2001, InMotion currently hosts over 300,000 domains and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. They offer a money-back guarantee for up to 30 days. InMotion is one of the best dedicated hosting providers for tech support.
Prices start at 105.69/mo with a 1-year contract. Two hours per month of server management are included with all dedicated hosting plans, and more hours are available at $75/hr.
Basic servers include a 4 core Xeon CPU, 8 GB RAM, and a 500 GB SSD or 1 TB HDD. 6 TB of monthly data transfer is allowed, and the server comes with 5 free IP addresses. All servers run Linux. Windows is not available.
Their $519.49/mo high-end package boasts a dual Xeon 16 core CPU, three 1 GB SSDs with hardware RAID 5, 15 TB data transfer, 4 hours of server management, and 15 free IPs.
RAID means you have two identical hard drives that are each written to at the same time, so that if one drive should fail, you have instant access to the same data on the second drive.
InMotion boasts excellent tech support, though at $75/hr beyond the included 2 hours, it can get expensive. Their basic dedicated hosting plan is a good value for a powerful server, if you don’t need to run Windows. Their high-end plans include twice the server management time and very impressive hardware.
Hostwinds has been offering web hosting services since 2010, with offices in Tulsa and Seattle. They back their services with a 60-day money back guarantee and offer a 99.999% uptime guarantee as well.
Dedicated server plans start at $106/mo, and include a 4 core Xeon ES-1270, 1 TB HDD, 8 GB of RAM, and 10 TB of monthly data transfer. Hostwinds’ dedicated servers are fully managed, making this an attractive price, and you have a choice of Linux (with cPanel and WHM) or Windows (with Plesk).
On the high end, $288/mo gets you a dual Xeon server with two 1TB SSDs and RAID, and 128 GB RAM.
A fully managed dedicated server with decent specs for $106 is an excellent value, as is their high end plan featuring specs not found elsewhere for such a low price. Hostwinds is definitely worth a look.
1&1 has been in the hosting business for decades, and they’re one of the largest hosting companies with 7000 employees in 10 countries.
They’re known for offering some of the most inexpensive web hosting around, while still maintaining excellent customer service. No wonder it’s trusted by many regular users and enterprises all around the world.
Their dedicated hosting plans start at only $59.99 per month, with a one-time $49 setup fee. For that price, you get a 4 Core (non-Xeon) CPU, an impressive 12 GB of RAM, and 1000 GB of RAID 1 HDD storage. This is a feature usually only found on much more expensive dedicated server packages. You can choose to run either Windows (costs extra) or Linux on your server, and unlimited monthly data transfer is included.
$599/mo gets you a 10 Core Xeon, 128 GB RAM, and 6 TB of HDD storage with hardware RAID 6.
1&1’s low-end dedicated servers are impressively inexpensive with decent specs and RAID storage, though these servers feature fairly low-powered CPUs. For users who need a dedicated server but have a limited budget, this is a great deal.
GoDaddy is one of the better-known web hosting providers in the world due to their extensive advertising. They’re also one of the largest hosting companies with 6000 employees and over 55 million domain names. GoDaddy offers very competitive pricing, but still maintains good customer service and tech support.
Many people will think of GoDaddy as a provider of cheap shared hosting but they also offer some of the best dedicated server hosting. Plans begin at only $69.99 per month but do require a 2 year commitment. The package includes a 4 Core Xeon CPU, 4 GB RAM, a 1TB HDD, free SSL certificate, and unmetered monthly data transfer. Plans are semi-managed (simple patching and updates), though you can also opt for a full-managed plan for $120/mo. This price is for Linux, but cPanel and WHM are standard. Windows is also available at an extra monthly cost of $30/mo.
If you want a high-end server, GoDaddy offers a fully-managed dedicated server with 32 GB of RAM, 2 TB RAID storage, and unmetered bandwidth for $249/mo.
If you can commit to a two-year contract and can get by with only a semi-managed plan, GoDaddy’s low end packages offer good specs at an attractive price.
Founded in Lansing, MI in 1997, Liquid Web has over 250 technical professionals on staff whom the company calls “The Most Helpful Humans In Hosting.” They guarantee replies to support tickets within 30 minutes, and replacement of faulty hardware within 30 minutes.
Liquid Web’s dedicated hosting packages start at $199/mo with no contract necessary, for a 4 Core Xeon CPU, 16 GB of RAM, a 500 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD backup drive. The base price is hefty, but it does include pretty impressive specs. A downside is it only includes a 100M uplink port. Gigabit speed is $50/mo extra. Linux and Windows are both available.
The base package does not include full server management, but that can be added for only $20 extra.
For customers needing a more robust server, $599/mo will get you a 24 Core Xeon, 32 GB RAM, two 500 GB SSD drives with RAID 1 and a 4TB backup HDD. 10 TB monthly bandwidth is available.
Liquid Web’s prices are definitely higher than comparable plans from other providers, but they also boast some of the best tech support around. If you’re willing to pay a premium for quality support and good hardware features, look at Liquid Web.
Benefits of Dedicated Hosting
On regular website hosting, your site is on a shared server, often with hundreds or thousands of other sites. The cost of such services is low because you’re sharing the hardware with other customers.
Dedicated hosting means having an entire web server devoted to just your site. There’s a server located in a facility whose only job is sending your site to visitors. All the server’s resources are available to you at all times. You’re also free to customize the server to your specifications, since those changes only affect your site.
Think of it like carpooling. One car can take multiple coworkers to the office—saving gas, maintenance on multiple vehicles, etc. It’s more efficient, and the cost is lower for each person because they can split the cost of gas.
The drawback is flexibility. If one person is running late or someone needs to stop by the store on the way home, everyone else gets delayed too. Everybody also has to agree on the same radio station and air conditioner settings.
Being on a shared server means your site slows down when other sites are getting traffic. If one site is using a lot of bandwidth, there’s less for all the other sites. It also means a one-size-fits-all configuration that all sites on that server are limited to. Because of the shared environment, you aren’t able to make changes to server’s software or hardware.
A dedicated server is your own car, where you can customize it to your liking, without being limited or delayed by other passengers. As we spoke in our post on what is dedicated hosting, it gives you ultimate freedom. Which is great, for most of the time.
With Freedom Comes Responsibility
Moving to a dedicated server gives you more resources and flexibility, but at a cost. In general, dedicated hosting means two different levels of user responsibility: managed and unmanaged dedicated hosting.
Unmanaged means you’re responsible for most of the administration and maintenance of your server such as software updates, making user accounts, and other server admin tasks. For users not as tech-savvy, there is managed hosting, where these kinds of responsibilities are taken care of for you.
Managed Dedicated Hosting
“Fully managed” means the hosting company will take care of all aspects of running your dedicated server for you. You get all the benefits of having your own server, but don’t have to worry about things like security, software updates, or crash recovery. In our carpooling analogy, it would be like having a personal car and chauffeur. You have all the legroom and you can put on any radio station you want. Of course, chauffeurs don’t work for free, and neither do the techs at the hosting company who will manage your server.
Not surprisingly, it costs a lot more to have a whole server to yourself than to share one with others. However, when you compare things like the disk space and bandwidth you get with a dedicated server to a shared plan with comparable specs, the price difference may not be all that great.
Do you even need dedicated hosting if you’re not experienced in server management? Depends on what your website does – if it’s constantly receiving a huge influx of visitors, it may be a good choice. Alternatively, you may want to consider cloud hosting providers as well.
Unmanaged Dedicated Hosting
You can expect unmanaged hosting to be cheaper simply because no one is managing your hosting for you. While your host is still responsible for maintaining the network and server, you are at the helm when it comes to software updates or installations. You get root access and can essentially run the server as you wish.
If you know what you doing, it’s a perfect choice, combining customizability, resources, ultimate freedom and good price.
What to Look For In Dedicated Hosting
If you’ve decided it’s time to step up to a dedicated server, you’ll need to shop around. There are tons of hosting companies out there, all with different features, quality, and pricing. Below are some key features to look for.
Price. Is it monthly? Is it yearly? Do you have to buy for a year in advance, or is it pay-as-you-go? Often, you may be asked to pay a setup fee before even starting. In hosting, prices are not always what they seem, so consider discounts, renewal prices and many other things.
Managed / Unmanaged. What level of free tech support is included? Will techs handle every aspect of your web server, or just basic software updates? Do you need to pay for an hour of expert support, or is it included indefinitely?
Included Bandwidth.Hosting plans usually have a limit on how much data can be transferred to and from the server per month. Some companies offer “unmetered bandwidth”, but there are still usually limits listed in the fine print. Clarity is important here, so demand hard details.
Hardware specs (CPU, RAM, storage).The more powerful and resource-rich the server, the more traffic you can handle and your visitors will enjoy faster speeds.
Security features.Malware protection, firewalls, intrusion detection, and software patching are some of the security features available with different plans.
Uptime percentage and guarantee.Make sure the hosting provider has a good uptime rating, and guarantees near-100% uptime. Look at what’s contractually promised for you if that limit is not met.
For the vast majority of websites, inexpensive shared hosting is all that’s necessary. But when your site outgrows sharing space with others and you need more capacity and the ability to control all aspects of your server, dedicated hosting is your best bet.
When shopping for the best dedicated hosting service, price only tells a small part of the story. Always compare features, look for hidden costs, and find a company with a history of quality customer service—it will save you when you’re in a pinch. Hopefully this guide has helped you begin your search for the best dedicated hosting provider while also has given some insight as to what you can expect a quality provider can offer.
Jessica Cotzin is a freelance writer, web developer and avid traveler. Born and raised in South Florida, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Multi-Media Journalism from Florida Atlantic University, and currently reside in Miami Beach. Her passions lie in reading great literature and traveling the world, bumping blindly into new and fantastic people and events.
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