How To Select A Dedicated Server Provider

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 30, 2009
Updated • Nov 26, 2017

I'm currently evaluating the option to switch dedicated server providers. The dedicated server that Ghacks is currently running on is totally self managed, which can be a real burden if it happens to go down at four in the morning. The reason why that is the case is that Ghacks is a small site and cannot afford to have a system administrator on its payroll (or anyone for that matter).

There are basically two types of dedicated servers for customers with lots of sub-types in between.

Managed dedicated servers are largely maintained by the hosting company. The minimum that they usually do on their own are security updates, regular backups, server monitoring and hardware replacements.

The system administrator is responsible for most of this on a self managed server which are usually cheaper than managed ones. While cheaper, time is dedicated to these processes which means that you pay with your time instead.

The first step in finding a good dedicated server provider is to make a list. What exactly do you need? Do you want to run a Windows or Linux dedicated server? How much hard drive space and computer memory should the server have? What about the processor, how much bandwidth should be included, what networking interface should the server use?

A few factors cannot be fully answered at this time but some can. If you plan to migrate a website you know the requirements of that website. You also know if it is a high traffic site or uses lots of system resources like computer memory, hard drive or processor at the old site.

You may also want to consider the possibility that traffic may pick up, so upgrades should also be supported and, at best, be applied without any down time.

Dedicated servers are usually a good choice if the current hosting situation, may it be a VPS or a shared hosting account, limits the growth of the site or the user experience. Shared solutions have lower bandwidth and resource limits than dedicated servers.

Requirements like computer memory or cpu are harder to judge. High traffic sites benefit from lots of computer memory and a fast CPU but there is also chance for overkill. Running a blog with 100 visitors a day does not justify a high end dedicated server with 16 Gigabytes of RAM and Intel Dual Harpertown processors unless you estimate that traffic will pick up considerably in the future. A very populated forum on the other hand would benefit highly from that setup.

The most important process in the selection of a dedicated server is the choice of the hosting provider. Quality and services differ widely, and extensive research is suggested before making the selection. It is not enough to compare hardware and prices alone, other factors are of even bigger importance.

What good is a dedicated server that is unreachable for most of the day because of overselling or poor infrastructure? What if that cheap server is made possible by cheap or understaffed support?

You can try and find an answer on so called hosting review websites but they usually are more interested in sending you to those dedicated server hosting companies that give them the biggest cut if you decide to order a server there. The best way to research potential dedicated server hosting companies is to search and post in webmaster forums. Not everything is golden and shiny in there and there have been cases that hosting companies have posted on such forums praising their own services but it usually results in a handful of dedicated server providers that are recommended.

Some webmaster forums where you can find such help and information are:

You can start by searching for general terms. These forums on the other hand can deliver great results for specific hosting companies as well. Once you got your list of suggested dedicated server providers you should perform a search on the Internet. Suggested search terms are "name of company" problems, "name of company" reviews and so on. This will give you more insight if the provider is as good as it should be.

Comparing Dedicated Servers

It is now time to compare dedicated server plans and services offered by the hosting providers that are still on the list. Prices range widely from about $20 to $600 per month and more depending on the setup and provider. Many providers do offer customization of the server hardware and software. It is possible to add additional computer memory, a better processor, increase free traffic limits or use a better connection to the Internet.

Ghacks for example has been running fine on a Debian 4 dedicated server with an AMD Athlon X2 Dual Core processor and 4 Gigabytes of computer memory. The hardware requirements do however largely depend on the site that has to be hosted there. One interesting option if you are unsure about the requirements would be to contact the hosting providers asking for their assistance. The email should include questions about:

  • Suggestions on needed hardware
  • If hardware upgrades are available after setup and the costs of those
  • If special bargains are available. Bargains are usually servers that use slightly older hardware but it could also be new servers that they want to sell as soon as possible)

It is also a good idea to ask the same question in webmaster forums or other places with proficient users who can give you a good answer. Compare the results to get a better idea of what server you might need.

Many factors are important when comparing dedicated servers, some are:

  • Raw hardware meaning cpu, ram, hard drive capacities
  • Software that is included (e.g. Cpanel, firewall, management software)
  • Connection options (sftp, ftp, ssh..)
  • Services that are included (e.g. assistance in server migration)
  • The connection speed of the server (usually 10, 100 Mbit or more)
  • The included traffic limit of the server (how many Gigabytes can be transferred without additional costs)
  • Usage restrictions (which sites are not allowed)
  • Contract period
  • Server uptime
  • Managed or not. Knowing Linux in and out is not the only skill needed to administrate a dedicated server but it is one of the most important ones. A managed server on the other hand usually comes with a web interface like Cpanel that takes lots of the burden away from the user.

Dedicated Server Providers

My research has revealed a few companies that get recommended more often than others, they are:

Yes there are more out there but those four are definitely among the top. The most important step is research. You need to find a totally reliable dedicated server provider that is offering great network uptimes, hardware and services for a good price.

Article Name
How To Select A Dedicated Server Provider
The guide discusses important aspects of finding the right dedicated server provider for your personal situation and requirements.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. mukesh said on July 10, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Now pricing is reduced a lot for dedicated servers. Its easy to get intel i7 server between 75$ to 100$.

  2. bikash acharya said on January 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    respected sir,

    I have a web site , i want to upload movie , games and many rar file, i will upload more than 6000 GB . which server is good for me and what is the cost of this server ? ,,,How long time my file are storage in the server ,,,,,server are remove the file or not ,,pls give me every detail

    1. mkj said on July 10, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      6000 GB?
      Its huge, you can buy 2dedicated servers for such huge data.

  3. jiji varghese said on February 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    server provider

  4. tony eboh said on March 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I need a dedicated server that facebook will be able to use, becous are company is looking on sitting up an interractive webb site. Thank you

  5. Arun said on November 21, 2009 at 11:11 am

    We are interested for server for Tally.ERP Centralization please guide me on my email

  6. francis said on April 7, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    I think the biggest thing you should look for is the support level a dedicated server host can provide you. Mostly since most companies are going to managed solutions now you are getting a server with support. Take my host Server Intellect they manage the server, run malware scans, update the server and keep the default server and software running properly. Even provactively most times. Thus allowing us to work on other aspects of our sites and services. Support over anything else is what you want to base your purchase on.

  7. Everton said on April 4, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    I’d agree with Daniel and add Liquidweb to the list

  8. Daniel said on March 31, 2009 at 12:03 am
    Reply is a good option too and the support is very fast.

    Greetings from México

  9. joe said on March 30, 2009 at 9:26 pm
    Reply is the best i’ve found, after going through several hosting services. they are the cheapest, have great uptime (my site hasn’t had unscheduled downtime since 2007), good remote tools including APC, and friendly support.

    i can’t recommend them enough, if nothing else just for their low prices.

  10. Daniel Pataki said on March 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I was just looking into this yesterday, thanks for the tips, I will look into all of them :)

  11. Squealing Rat said on March 30, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I would suggest for your blog. Leo Laporte loves it and has moved all of his blogs over. If you visit, you can get 10 percent off!

  12. Rarst said on March 30, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Talks about giant powerful servers are always so charming. I’ll go dream about time when I actually need one. :)

    1. Martin said on March 30, 2009 at 10:44 am

      Rarst the time will come. I started on a shared hosting account as well and had to move after my site was blocked by that hoster because of its resource usage. Yes, those were nice times with little to no sleep :)

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