Author Topic: Managing Your Own Dedicated Server  (Read 445 times)


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Managing Your Own Dedicated Server
« on: September 25, 2013, 02:55:55 PM »

There comes a time when a shared housing account or virtual private server may no longer have the necessary technical capabilities needed for the purpose intended. A multitude of reasons may exist for this situation, ranging from a simple lack of web space to a need for the ability to handle significantly larger amounts of traffic. Many people choose to make the transition to a self managed dedicated server and, unknowingly, set themselves up for what could become a very challenging situation.

Understanding Your Need for a Dedicated Server

Before we go any further, let’s discuss your need for a dedicated server. Firstly, do you even need one? Many people make the transition from an effective shared solution/virtual private server to a dedicated server prematurely, adding unnecessary stress and growing pains before they’re due.

Next, are you fully prepared to make the transition? If you’ve determined that your current hosting solution is insufficient for your immediate or future needs, the next step is to ensure that you’re really ready to proceed. Ensure that all of your content is backed up and ready for upload, as well as having all of the software you’ll need and the respective licenses purchased/renewed.

Once you’re ready to go in that respect, it comes down to the single most significant decision you’re likely to make regarding your future dedicated server: managed or unmanaged.

Managed vs. Unmanaged Dedicated Servers

The argument regarding managed vs. unmanaged dedicated servers has been raging since the inception of the web. Unmanaged servers give you complete control over every detail, and initially appear to be more cost effective versus their managed brethren. Managed servers, on the other hand, are typically ready to go out of the box and require much less maintenance from you. If you’re a stickler for cost savings, unmanaged servers seem to be a ”no brainer” solution.

Alas, it simply isn’t that simple. Unmanaged servers may look more appealing from a cost perspective initially, but those without the required back-end support quickly find themselves shelling out money hand over fist to keep their server running reliably. The costs can quickly add up as well: operating systems, software licenses, updates for said software licenses, storage and physical maintenance of the server, technical staff to run the server, and all of the equipment and utility bills associated with running the server.

Unfortunately, many of those expenses are unavoidable and long-term. The required staff to run the server, for example, can be a high three-figure/low four-figure per month expense, and the utility bills racked up by a server can be quite surprising. This is why managed servers are so popular, and why they are likely the best option for so many business owners.

A managed server offers a host of benefits, including:

Removal of almost all of the physical costs associated with the server. Typically, a fully managed server is housed in a server rack with other managed servers. This means that you are not responsible for the power and climate costs. Not having to pay to power the server could save you roughly $600 a year on its own.
Better server reliability and performance. Unless you are an experienced system admin, or have one on staff, it’s almost guaranteed that your unmanaged server won’t be as optimized or as efficient as a fully managed server. This is because a fully managed server is constantly updated and optimized as new versions of software and security patches are released. This means that your server remains safe and secure while also performing at its best.
Efficient technical support and emergency response. Servers go down. If you are managing your own server, the onus is on you to get it back up again when it does go down. With a fully managed server you can rest easy knowing that your server is covered 24/7. If your server decides to take a dive at three in the morning, how willing are you to get up and get it back online?
Bottom Line

If you have the technical capability and willingness to run your own support for your server, then an unmanaged server may be a viable option for you. After all, you may save a little bit of money in support costs. However, if you are like most of the population, an unmanaged server may not be the best option to consider.

It is strongly recommended that you use a managed server for the reasons listed above, as well as for the fact that it will simply make your life a little bit easier. If you have the need for a dedicated server – it usually means that you are already dealing with plenty of bandwidth, traffic volumes, and web space. Rather than complicate your life by putting a server online, updating its software constantly, and always being on-call in the event that it goes down – it makes much more sense to go with a fully managed solution.