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WEB HOSTING FAQS

Dedicated Server FAQ
By: Rich Smith
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    2004-09-14

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    Learn what to look for in a dedicated host and when you would need to host your site on a dedicated server. Our Dedicated Web Hosting FAQs gives you the answers to the most common Dedicated Web Hosting questions.

    Where can I find high quality Dedicated Web hosting? 
    itsALLnet.com features 10 highly rated Dedicated Web hosting companies offering excellent service and customer support. We limit our listings to 10 hosts per category because our site provides users with quality and not quantity. We display cost, features, support and more on our site so that choosing a Dedicated Web host is easy.

    What is Dedicated Hosting?
    The Dedicated Hosting environment provides an exclusive server or servers devoted solely to your web site. You do not share a server with other customers, as with shared hosting.

    When do you need a Dedicated Server? 
    While simple, text-based sites are better suited for a shared server, enterprise-level web sites operate much more efficiently on a dedicated server because the dedicated hosting environment provides higher reliability, increased performance, greater security and exclusive use of system and network resources. Therefore, those sites that have high traffic, secure information, a high number of visitors or complex applications (i.e. e-commerce, dynamic content, database applications and multimedia applications) are better suited for a dedicated server.

    Why shouldn't I choose dedicated server hosting? 
    Dedicated server hosting is powerful, yet expensive. If your site doesn’t require huge resources or third party applications to operate, you are probably not a candidate for dedicated hosting.

    What are the advantages of Dedicated Server Hosting? 
    Dedicated hosting offers many enticing features such as:

    •You do not have to purchase or maintain your own equipment.
    •Better website performance due to dedicated machine(s).
    •No chance of your website being affected by another website on the same box, as in shared hosting.

    What are the disadvantages of Dedicated Server Hosting?  
    The most disconcerting factor of the Dedicated Server Hosting is the cost but alas, there are other disadvantages such as:

    •The cost is generally much higher than shared hosting.
    •The Web Hosting Provider charges hefty monthly fees as you're paying not just for the physical hosting, but also for the hardware on which the site resides. While in the short run this is cheaper than the large capital outlay required to get co-location up and running, over time this model is more expensive.
    •The server is the property of the service provider, which means all you own is the data you put on the server.
    •Unlike co-location, you cannot simply pick up your server and walk away if you're unhappy with the service.

    What is the difference between a dedicated server and co-location? 
    A Dedicated Server is a server provided by a web host for you to rent. You have remote access to the server and you can customize the server to your own needs. The web host owns the server and you don't have physical access it. Co-location means you store your own server at a facility of a co-location provider. A co-location provider provides an Internet connection to your server and allows you physical access to your own server when you need it.

    I don’t have a dedicated server now. When should I make the decision to switch over to one? 
    You may want to move up to a dedicated server if your needs match or surpass the following:

    • Programs require access by system administrator
    • A backup server is required
    • Multiple IP addresses are needed
    • Daily data transfer becomes excessive
    • Storage capacity becomes excessive
    • Third party software needs to be run on your site

    What is the difference between Managed and Unmanaged dedicated hosting service? 
    Managed Hosting is for customers who prefer to have their web host provider maintain and monitor their dedicated servers, operating system and all supported applications. Companies or individuals who do not have the required system administration resources on-staff commonly choose this option. Unmanaged Hosting is for customers who have extensive system administration expertise to maintain and manage their dedicated servers. This option generally provides customers with full access to their server allowing them to customize configurations.

    What should be my main concerns when searching for a dedicated hosting provider? 
    First, you need to determine whether or not your website is large enough to justify the cost of such an endeavor. That aside, the most common concerns are:

    • The cost
    • Security of Data and equipment
    • Bandwidth Availability
    • The knowledge and integrity of the web-hosting provider
    • Technical support from the web-hosting provider
    • Uptime
    • Hardware maintenance

    Who manages the hardware maintenance?  
    It is the web host provider’s job to maintain the hardware for their dedicated servers.

    How does a web host provider guarantee the hardware? 
    There are many ways the web host may do this. Ideally, the provider will have spare parts on hand to cover the most common problems that may occur with a server. If there are components that are not carried on hand, it is important that the provider has the ability to obtain replacement parts quickly, preferably overnight. Finally, if the web host uses a certain brand or make of computer, it helps if they have a relationship with the hardware provider directly. This ensures top-level support in the expeditious repair of the server(s).

    What exactly should I look for in regards to hardware for my site? 
    Depending on the requirements of your website, there are many answers to this question. Here are some of the most important factors to consider.

    BrandName brand computers are very desirable when it comes to hosting business critical applications, such as web sites. A name brand normally constitutes a reputation for reliability, as well as a dedicated support channel for solving hardware problems. A web provider who uses name brand equipment is normally more sought after than a provider who builds their servers from generic parts.
    CPUsObviously, the speed of the CPUs of your server will affect its ability to serve your website. Depending on the size of your site, and its load on the system, it may be beneficial to have multiple processors available to better accommodate the workload.
    MemoryFor the most part, web servers are inherently very memory intensive. This means that memory is a valuable commodity when it comes to hardware requirements. If your dedicated server runs on a windows platform, then much additional memory must be allotted for, since the windows operating system itself is very memory intensive.
    Mirrored DrivesTo ensure data redundancy, most dedicated hosts offer drive mirroring, which in essence keeps two sets of hard drives in sync with all of the data for your website. In the case of a drive failure, the system will experience no downtime since it has an immediate backup it can use until the broken drive is replaced. This is an excellent add-on feature for dedicated hosted sites.
    Multiple ServersDepending on the requirements for your website, it can sometimes be very beneficial to host your site on more than one server. For example, if a website includes an integrated database it would be recommended to host the database on it’s own server. Separating the processes will enable one server to concentrate on processing web requests, while the other concentrates on database activity. This kind of segregation has immediate impact on the performance of a website.

    Is it possible to have the ability to remotely control my server?  
    The ability to remotely administer your web server and its associated applications is usually available, depending on the web host provider. Tools such as PC Anywhere and VNC are excellent tools when working with a dedicated Windows server, while shell access is generally used to administer Unix and Linux boxes.

    What are some good questions to ask a dedicated hosting provider before I sign up? 
    As described above, some good questions to ask your prospective hosts are:

    • What brand computers do you use?
    • If something breaks, do you have spare parts to fix it immediately?
    • What kind of maintenance plan do you have with your hardware provider?
    • What are the hardware specs you have available (CPU speed, drive size, memory, etc.)?
    • What kind of connection to the Internet do you have?
    • What management methods are available for me to administer my server?
    • What kind of backup options do you offer to save my data?

     


    Glossary of terms: 

    Co-location
    In general, co-location is moving or placing things together, sometimes implying a proper order. On the Internet, this term is used to mean the provision of space for a customer's telecommunications equipment on the service provider's premises. For example, a Web site owner could place the site's own computer servers on the premises of the Internet service provider (ISP). Or an ISP could place its network routers on the premises of the company offering switching services with other ISPs. The alternative to collocation is to have the equipment and the demarcation point located at the customer's premises.

    IP Address -
    In the most widely installed level of the Internet Protocol (IP) today, an IP address is a 32-bit number that identifies each sender or receiver of information that is sent in packets across the Internet. When you request an HTML page or send e-mail, the Internet Protocol part of TCP/IP includes your IP address in the message (actually, in each of the packets if more than one is required) and sends it to the IP address that is obtained by looking up the domain name in the Uniform Resource Locator you requested or in the e-mail address you're sending a note to.

    Mirrored Drives
    Drive mirroring (also known as RAID-1) is the practice of duplicating data in separate volumes on two hard disks to make storage more fault-tolerant. Mirroring provides data protection in the case of disk failure, because data is constantly updated to both disks.

    PC Anywhere
    PC Anywhere is a software program available for the Windows operating system that allows a remote computer to take virtual control of another computer, as if the user were sitting at the remote computer itself.

    Shared Hosting
    Shared hosting is Web hosting in which the service provider serves pages for multiple Web sites, each having its own Internet domain name, from a single Web server. Most web hosting companies provide shared hosting. Although shared hosting is a less expensive way for businesses to create a Web presence, it is usually not sufficient for Web sites with high traffic.

    Uptime
    Uptime is a computer industry term for the time during which a computer is operational. Downtime is the time when it isn't operational. Uptime is sometimes measured in terms of a percentile. For example, one standard for uptime that is sometimes discussed is a goal called five 9s - that is, a computer that is operational 99.999 percent of the time.

    VNC
    VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing. It is, in essence, a remote display system which allows you to view a computing 'desktop' environment not only on the machine where it is running, but from anywhere on the Internet and from a wide variety of machine architectures. In essence, VNC is a freely available application that offers similar capabilities of PC Anywhere. VNC is available for several platforms, including Windows and several flavors of Unix and Linux.


    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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