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5 Questions You Need To Ask Before Ditching Your Dedicated Server

A dedicated server is one of the most powerful hosting options out there. You’ve got more power at your fingertips than with any other solution, and significantly higher performance as a result. Even better, if you’re using an unmanaged option, you have complete root access – meaning you can control pretty much everything.

As with anything, there are trade-offs, however. Dedicated servers are the most expensive of any hosting plan, and they generally require a great deal more technical knowledge to operate than shared or cloud hosting. With that in mind, when is it worth ditching a dedicated hosting plan in favor of a VPS or a cloud solution?

Is There Another Hosting Plan That Will Better Fulfill My Needs?

The first, most important question you need to ask yourself is simple: do you really need a dedicated server? Unless you’re running a suite of resource-intensive applications, operating SaaS, running a hosting company, storing large databases, or dealing with a lot of multimedia, a cloud server or VPS may fit the bill just as well. Take a close look at the projects you’re managing and the platforms you’re running, and ask yourself honestly if they might not be a better fit for a different plan.

How Much Trouble Am I Having With The Server?

Assuming you’re running with an unmanaged dedicated server, how much of your time and resources are going towards keeping it up and running? Are you finding the learning curve to be more of a cliff? Do you have little or no time for your business because of the amount of work you’re putting into your server?

Unmanaged dedicated hosting isn’t for everyone – it requires a strong knowledge base coupled with a highly technical background. If you lack either of those, then you’re probably better off switching to the cloud, or at the very least, to a managed plan.

What Does My Resource Usage Look Like?

Perhaps the surest sign that a dedicated server is a poor choice for your business is resource usage. Many VPS sellers follow the “6 VPS per core” rule, so if your CPU usage is consistently close to 17% or higher, you can expect a noticeable difference with most VPS hosts. If you are consistently using fewer resources, you may want to consider VPS instead. If you do decide to switch to VPS, be sure to talk to the host about how many VPS are shared on a machine, and find out about their hardware specs.

How Much Money Would I Save By Switching?

One of the key disadvantages of dedicated hosting is the fact that it tends to create a rather heavy burden on one’s bankroll. Depending on what plan you’re eyeing, you could end up saving a great deal in the long run. Of course, you could also end up spending more by switching to VPS if you are using enough resources. You need to take a close look at your finances, as well as what you’re doing with your server, to decide.

How Is My Current Host Working Out?

Last but certainly not least…how satisfied are you with your current host? Are they providing exactly the level of service you require, or are they dragging their feet and causing you a great deal of frustration? Even if your server’s working flawlessly, a bad host can be just as much reason to ditch your plan as anything else.

A Tough Choice To Make

Dedicated hosting isn’t for everyone. Not every business is going to utilize the heavy-duty computing resources they provide, and not every organization has the budget (or technical know-how) to operate one of these juggernauts. If you’ve signed up for a dedicated hosting plan erroneously, it falls to you to select a better alternative – once you figure out what that alternative should be.

After all, you don’t want to be operating a dedicated server if you don’t need it.

“Why,” ponders Ed Bott of ZDnet, “would anyone run their own server if they didn’t have to? Servers are big boxes of stuff just waiting to break and make their administrators’ lives miserable. If I can pay a fair price to have someone else set up, maintain, secure, and support an online service for me that eliminates the need to manage my own server software, I will take that offer every time.”

Image credit: Torkild Retvedt

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Jay Caissie

Jay Caissie

Jay Caissie is Systems Analyst at ServerMania.