A dedicated server is an Internet-connected computer devoted entirely to one customer. As your Web site grows, you may begin to wonder whether you need a dedicated server. There isn't a single indicator that your Web site and/or you are ready for a dedicated server. Often several factors drive the decision to move to a dedicated server.
Signs You're Ready for a Dedicated Server
One of the most difficult signs to interpret is a slowdown in performance. This might mean that your Web site is ready for a dedicated server, or it could signal another issue, like buggy PHP or CGI coding. Once you've ruled out the alternatives, here are some signs you may have outgrown your shared Web hosting plan:
- Page loading times are increasing
- Database requests are causing error messages due to high volume
- Pages aren't being served because the server is overloaded
To see if you have any of these problems, monitor your Web site traffic and visit your site at peak traffic times. You should experience any performance issues yourself. You can also check your error logs to discover what problems visitors encounter.
Your Server-side Software Needs Have Grown
Customization is the most compelling reason to move to a dedicated server. Shared Web hosting plans include a defined list of software, but you must wait for the Web host to add an updated version because the change affects every Web site on the server, not just yours. Upgrading and adding new software can cause downtime, so it's not fair to the other sites on the server if your host makes those changes just for you. A dedicated server is all yours, so you can install any software you want.
Your Web site may be ready for a dedicated server, but are you? If you're confident in your ability to install and upgrade software along with the latest security patches, you're ready to maintain your dedicated server. You might consider an unmanaged plan or colocation.
Don't know how to install software on a server? You can get a managed dedicated server and pay your Web host to take care of these requests. If you don't have the technical know-how, but you need a dedicated server, this is the best way to enjoy all the benefits without risking your Web site to the errors of inexperience.