All companies need to store data. This includes, for example, customer data, business transactions, correspondence, e-mails, reports, analyzes and many more. In most cases, this data is stored on hosted servers. From a purely technical point of view, a server is a piece of high-traffic computer hardware designed to exclusively host websites, data, and applications. A dedicated server is a physical enterprise-class server with high computing power. This server is used to host data and applications that can be accessed by client programs. Dedicated servers are often used to host high-traffic websites.
The most common hosting infrastructures are shared hosting, VPS hosting, cloud hosting, and dedicated hosting. The main characteristic of a dedicated server is that this computer is a hosting environment for a single tenant. Most hosting options share a server with multiple users. Cloud hosting platforms, for example, distribute the resources of a physical server over several virtual machines.
With a dedicated server, all resources that the server has to offer are available to the user. For this reason, dedicated servers are the most powerful option when it comes to hosting; hardly any other option offers more performance and flexibility.
Such servers are sometimes called bare metal servers. The term bare metal suggests that the user is close to the metal of the physical hardware. In contrast to a cloud server, which contains a hypervisor layer, users of a bare metal server can use all of the hardware. A dedicated server means the same thing as bare metal, so you can think of the two things as identical.
Dedicated server hardware
A dedicated server is essentially a computer like the desktop computers that you use at home or at work. Each server contains processors, memory, storage, network hardware, and buses to connect the components together.
However, dedicated servers don’t look like ordinary computers, they don’t contain all of the same components. Unlike the consumer components of the average PC or Mac, dedicated servers contain enterprise-class hardware that is more reliable, less error-prone, and much more powerful.
Examples: RAM and CPU.
RAM of a dedicated server
Enterprise-class servers typically use Error Correcting Code (ECC) RAM, which is both more reliable and more expensive than the RAM in the average laptop or PC. ECC RAM contains special hardware that prevents many of the most common causes of data corruption. Errors occur for all sorts of reasons, from electrical interference to cosmic rays. ECC-RAM is able to recognize and correct errors.
This bug fix makes dedicated servers more reliable than regular computers. Reliability is particularly important when it comes to business-critical applications. Dedicated servers run around the clock for years without any problems. This is possible because they are built with high quality components.
Dedicated servers can also accommodate more memory than the average computer: it is not uncommon for a dedicated server to be equipped with 512 GB of memory and more.
As expected, dedicated servers have the most powerful processors available on the market. Most chip manufacturers develop processors that are specially designed for server operation. At Intel, for example, this is the Xeon series, which is designed for reliability, optimal speed and scalability.
With dedicated servers, scalability is directly related to the number of processor cores that can be installed on a server. Powerful servers have 40 or more processor cores and are able to process huge amounts of data.
Dedicated servers differ from non-server machines in another noticeable way: they don’t look the same. Dedicated servers are designed to be mounted in data center racks, taking up as little space as possible, and at the same time providing optimal cooling for devices that can generate a lot of heat.
The other components in a dedicated server are of the same quality, from the most reliable storage to the fastest buses, all designed to get data to the machine as quickly and reliably as possible. Since dedicated servers are the best hosting option, dedicated server hosting plans also get the generous provision of bandwidth compared to other hosting options.
What are dedicated servers used for?
According to polyhobbies, companies use dedicated servers for a variety of purposes. Most use cases share some similarities, such as the need for high performance and custom environments. For some, the need for privacy is the deciding factor. Common hosting use cases for dedicated servers are:
- a well-engineered website with consistently high traffic
- resource-intensive applications
- business critical databases
- High performance computing
- Streaming services
- VoIP applications
- private cloud
Some companies choose to segment their dedicated server and split it up across multiple websites or services. Other companies bundle dedicated servers in order to achieve even more performance, availability and scalability.
Types of dedicated servers
There are two types of dedicated servers, depending on whether the provider or the customer is responsible for server management:
- managed dedicated server
- unmanaged dedicated server
With a managed (managed) dedicated server, the provider takes over all technical tasks. The customer is only responsible for the hosted applications and their code. However, the user can still configure the server, usually from a server control panel.
Setting up an unmanaged dedicated server requires the client to manage the server without the help of the provider. The provider is only responsible for the administration and protection of the hardware, so the customer’s internal team needs expertise in:
- Install scripts
- Manage updates
- Solving compatibility problems
- Creation of security logs
- Network management
- Create disaster recovery plans
Unmanaged dedicated hosting is usually the financially cheaper option as the provider bears less responsibility. However, these options should only be favored if your own IT team has the technical know-how to keep the setup in good condition.
How does a dedicated server work?
The client has complete hardware and software control over a dedicated server. The only limit is the server capacity. The user can scale the usage limit up or down, which the monthly price allows. Users pay for the total capacity whether they use it to the full or not.
While the hosting provider only rents out the dedicated server, the user has to fully manage the computer. When setting up an unmanaged dedicated server, the user is responsible for:
- Determination of the hardware specification
- Setting up operating systems
- Integration of tools into ongoing operations
- Establishing a security infrastructure
- Optimizing performance and resource use
Using a managed dedicated plan streamlines the above tasks. However, administrators still need to make configuration, tool, and integration decisions. Once set up, the dedicated server runs in the provider’s data center and the client can control the computer through unrestricted root access.
The advantages of a dedicated server
Using a dedicated hosting server offers a number of advantages over a shared hosting server.
Although shared hosting solutions also value reliability and good uptime, the resources available are still shared by a large number of websites and users. The situation is different with a dedicated server, where all resources are fully geared towards your needs.
Dedicated servers typically come with large amounts of RAM coupled with SSD storage devices. The Solid State Drives offer data access speeds almost 100 times faster than normal hard drives. Additionally, most dedicated server hosting plans also offer a choice of 4-12 CPU cores, with the option to opt for more if needed.
Control and adjustment
Dedicated server hosting gives users full or root access to the servers. This means that you can adapt the configuration to your needs. After all, an e-commerce platform needs a different configuration than a social networking website. This level of control is not available on a shared hosting server.
Securing a server involves applying updates to all installed software, deploying and configuring firewalls, using anti-malware, software, and more. With a shared hosting server, these tasks are handled by the hosting provider. However, on a dedicated server, users must ensure the security and integrity of the server.
With a dedicated hosting server, users can easily plan the growth of their business and website. Since control of the server is in your hands, you can quickly adapt the server to your changing requirements, be it in the form of the provision of new applications or the modification of existing applications.