The biggest difficulty when choosing a dedicated server is the wide range of specifications on offer. Off-the-shelf models come with different storage capacities, storage technologies (e.g., HDD, SSD, NVMe), memory sizes, CPUs, cores and port speeds. Getting the wrong spec could mean your server can’t do the tasks you want it to, or you end up paying too much for a machine more powerful than you need. When looking for a server, there are several factors to explore, these include what you want to use the server for, how much traffic you expect, the types of applications you will run, and any budget constraints. To help you get the right spec, we will discuss the key areas you will need to consider.
- Your business needs
The starting point for choosing a dedicated server is to assess your company’s needs. Think of it like a family of four buying a vehicle; a motorbike would be too small, a bus too big, but a four-seater car would be ideal. For businesses, it’s important to consider the website or applications that you are going to run on the server. For example, if you have a large and very busy online store or are a company with hundreds of staff constantly working on multiple resource-heavy applications, then you are going to need a more powerful server compared to a low-traffic site or a mid-sized business.
- Processing needs (CPU)
Getting the right CPU is crucial if your server is to provide the processing power your applications demand. If your website or app gets lots of requests or has to handle multiple tasks simultaneously, then you may need a multi-core processor, like the Intel Xeon E-2236 or Intel Xeon 4210. By having multiple cores and threads, these offer the performance you need for multitasking.
- Memory (RAM)
Your server’s memory or RAM is essential if you want your applications to operate smoothly. Essentially, the more RAM you have, the faster data is retrieved and the more data you can process. If you have a lot of data to process, servers like the Enterprise 4210 10 Core, with 64GB of DDR4 RAM, can offer the high performance you’ll need.
Two essential considerations when it comes to storage are capacity and speed. While it is important that you have enough capacity to store all your data, the read/write speeds of the drive are vital for the performance of your website or application. Traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDD) can offer very large storage capacity; however, few companies choose them today because they are considerably slower than the newer Solid State Drives (SSD). The Professional 2336 6 Core server with 2 x 1TB SSD, for example, provides storage that is both large enough and fast enough for most business needs. If you need exceptional speed, however, then opt for the NVMe SSDs which are significantly faster than standard SSDs.
- Bandwidth and network speed
If you have a website with high traffic volumes or which handles large file transfers, then you will also need to consider bandwidth and network speeds. A server with a 1 Gbit port speed, like the Enterprise NVMe 4210R 20 Core, can provide very fast data transfers and can handle busy traffic.
As your business grows, its IT needs will most likely increase. While you can scale up your server, move to a newer, more powerful model, or even migrate to cloud hosting, these changes can be disruptive, expensive and technically challenging. Ideally, therefore, you should choose a dedicated server that has ample growing room in terms of storage and which can handle the traffic and the processing requirements you expect over the next few years.
- Your budget
Dedicated servers are powerful IT solutions and as such can be expensive, costing between £900 (ex VAT) to upwards of £4,000 (ex VAT) per year. Generally speaking, the higher the specification, the higher the cost. When choosing a dedicated server, it is important, therefore, to make sure you have all the resources you need, with some capacity for future growth, but are not overspending on a high-spec model that you do not need. In other words, don’t buy a bus if you only need to transport a family of four.
Beyond the specification
While getting the right specification is important, you should also consider the services provided by your host. To make the process of maintaining and administering your server easier, choose a host that offers managed server hosting. This will relieve you of dealing with server management and ensure that your machine is performing optimally. You also need a host that will keep your server and data secure, so look for advanced security services, like FortiGate firewalls, intrusion detection, DDoS protection, backup and replication services and so forth. Finally, in case you encounter any issues with your server, it is vital to find a host that provides 24/7 technical support.
With so many options, choosing the right dedicated service can be a burdensome process. Ultimately, it is about ensuring your server’s specification matches the needs of your business so that you have the storage, processing power and networking capabilities to store all your data and run your website and applications. Hopefully, you will now have a better understanding of what to look for when choosing the right dedicated server.
For more information, visit our Managed Dedicated Server page.