Many small business start out with their website hosting on a shared web hosting account. It’s cheap and easy to setup. However, usually sooner than later they outgrow the shared web hosting account and need to move their website to a dedicated server to keep it up on the Internet. That is often the moment things start really going downhill because the lack of knowledge in this field is immense. A small business usually does not have any dedicated IT staff nor does it possess the knowledge to do all the work related to leasing a dedicated server.
The following questions often arise when it comes to the moment of moving a website to a dedicated server:
1) Which provider can I trust without being ripped off?
2) What is a fair price for a dedicated server?
3) What kind of hardware (memory, CPU, disk, etc.) do I need?
4) How can I manage the server (administration, security, backups, etc.)?
5) How do I move our website and domain to the dedicated server?
Each of these questions might pose a significant problem that needs to be addressed as otherwise things can go wrong and it becomes expensive to fix them.
There are thousands of providers for dedicated servers out there. Some are good and some are outright bad. How shall a small business know which one to choose? The best choice would be to follow a recommendation or referral to avoid a negative surprise. I often recommend Liquidweb as this provider is a) reliable and b) their servers are fully managed and c) prices are very fair and reasonable.
What is a fair price for a cheap dedicated server? “It depends” is the answer. It depends on your needs in regards to dedicated server hardware and what extra services you need. I usually order some backup services with my dedicated servers. One dedicated server web hosting provider that I have used in the past – The Planet – even offers offsite backup services (or offsite replication) which moves your data from your dedicated server into one of their other data centers. This is an ideal solution in my opinion as it gives you extra protection in case disaster would strike. However, the setup is a little more complicated and somebody without the proper experience or knowledge easily gets lost. And of course it is also a price question as all these little extra services can add up fast. However, my recommendation would be to not go too cheap as it will pay to have high quality hosting.
Depending on what backend your website uses, you need to spec out a dedicated web server properly and leave room for growth. There is no one answer here. If you have less than 25,000 visitors per day you are might be Ok with a 2 GB RAM server and a normal Dual Core Processor. However, you might want to consider an upgrade to 4 GB to have room for growth and peace of mind. Talk to the web host you are going with for your cheap dedicated web server and let them help you.
As mentioned, some web hosts (e.g. Liquidweb) offer fully managed dedicated servers. Other providers charge extra or you can completely go off the record with this and hire an external service provider for server management. Again, pick someone that you maybe know from a referral. Ask around. Don’t ignore this topic because if your dedicated web server does not get properly configured and secured, it will get hacked. You would be surprised how many port scans and attacks an Internet facing web server has to go through every day. You want your system hardened and firewalled from someone who knows what they are doing. My favorite are the guys from ConfigServer. They offer great service and have their own custom software that they use. I always felt protected after they secured my dedicated servers. And they are inexpensive, too.
Moving a website is usually not too difficult, however it really depends on how complex your website is. Your web designer can probably help or you outsource this task to whomever manages your web server. Your domain name should be registered with a provider that is not your webhost at the same time. I recommend NameCheap or Enom as they have great prices and are independent. You will have full control of your domain name and cannot be held hostage by a web host.
This article only scratches the surface about dedicated web server hosting and leasing. Definitely spend time researching this process before signing up with a provider. It also pays to get an independent opinion from a 3rd party on your plan and your needs. If properly executed the move from shared web hosting to a dedicated web server should be fairly smooth. However, please do not go cheap as it will come back and bite you. You can get dedicated servers for less than $50 per month, but you get what you pay for. Depending on your needs and requirements a number of $175/month to $450/month sounds more reasonable to me.
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