Dedicated Servers - Managed or Unmanaged?
There may come a time when you decide that your web site has out-grown any of the shared web hosting plans that are available. Maybe your traffic has grown to the point that your web site is starting to slow down. Or maybe you have a number of web sites, and feel that housing them on one server would be a simpler, more cost-effective solution than having several different web hosting plans. Whatever the reason, you are considering stepping up to a dedicated server.
Having a dedicated server means that all of the resources of a single server - the processor, disk space, bandwidth and so on - are available for your sole use. No other web site will be hosted on that server. You will be able to specify the operating system to be used and also what applications will be installed on the server. However, that freedom comes with a lot of extra responsibility. You will be responsible for the installation of all of the software on the server, and with any needed maintenance of that software, such as the regular security patches and upgrades, necessary to keep the software running at its optimum level. This requires a certain level of technical knowledge and experience, and is not something that should be undertaken by a novice. If you feel that you are up to the task, then all is well and good. However, for those people that are not comfortable with the extra work needed then there is still a solution - a managed dedicated server.
If you opt for a managed dedicated server plan, then you will still gain all of the benefits of a dedicated server - having sole use of the server's resources, and your choice of software and applications. However, instead of bearing the responsibility of installation and maintenance of the software yourself, that instead is handled by your web hosting company.
A typical managed hosting plan will offer you a package that will include the installation of your choice of operating system and software applications, and the ongoing upkeep of that software. The plan should also offer all of the necessary data management needed to keep your web site running effectively, a regular and reliable back-up schedule, and monitoring of the server and web site. Such monitoring will not only allow the hosting company to ensure that everything is working at its optimum level, but will also allow the company to see if any upgrades in server capability or connectivity are needed.
A managed hosting plan should also offer excellent technical support. In many cases, web hosting companies assign managed accounts to individual technical support staff, rather than allowing any available staff to handle the support call. This not only allows the technical support person to become familiar with your web site and your needs, but gives you the comfort and confidence that comes from having someone familiar to contact if needed.
Other things that are common to most managed hosting plans are better than average uptime and service guarantees. Given the higher fees paid by subscribers to these plans, this is not a surprise - most companies will take more care with their better-paying customers, whatever the industry.
As is usual when looking for a web hosting service, do some research before signing any contracts. You will need to make sure that the company you select will be able to fulfill your needs, both in the hardware necessary to run your web site, and in the technical support help you will need to keep the server running at its best.
If you feel that your web site would benefit from the move to a dedicated server, but are unsure if you have the technical knowledge necessary to administer a server, or the time and resources needed to keep a server running at its best, then you may consider a managed hosting plan. Your web site will benefit from the upgrade without you having to make those commitments.
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