Unmanaged servers: more flexibility for less money?

By: Sally Tomkotowicz

Date: 8 August 2013

Busy street - unmanaged hosting{{}}

As your website traffic grows, an unmanaged server can help you cope

A dedicated server is a powerful form of web hosting that gives your business an entire server to call its own. You rent the server from a web hosting company, then can use it for whatever you wish.

The most common use for dedicated servers is to host websites.

A server with room to grow

Many start-ups and growing businesses require dedicated servers. As their website's traffic grows, this is the only type of hosting that can maintain sufficient speed, usability, functionality and security.

There are two main types of dedicated server - managed and unmanaged:

  • With a managed server, your hosting company will take responsibility for many of the tasks involved in keeping a server running smoothly. These can include installing software updates and running backups.
  • With an unmanaged server, those tasks are your responsibility. Unmanaged servers usually cost less, because the monthly fee doesn't have to cover all the management tasks.

Here are the top four things to consider when choosing an unmanaged server:

1. Reliability

An unreliable server is no use at all. If it goes down, so does your website. Reliability is the key thing to look for.

Use review sites and forums to evaluate the reliability of potential suppliers and be sure to speak to the company's sales team. Also make sure your server is covered by a service level agreement.

2. Flexibility

It's a good idea to opt for flexible product and service plans where possible. Make sure you can upgrade as your business grows. A plan that suits you now could be limiting in six months.

Most managed servers will have a minimum contract period (usually a year). However, rolling contracts can be the most sensible option for rapidly-changing firms.

3. Storage

Businesses now generate more data than ever before, which means it's important to make sure your server has enough storage for your needs now and in the future.

Big ecommerce websites with lots of product information can grow over time, as can customer databases and files. If you're using your server to replace a traditional network server then it's even more important to consider your data needs.

Some servers are also available with solid state storage. You'll pay a premium for this, but it can dramatically reduce the time it takes to find the data you need.

4. User-friendliness

Finally, it's important to be aware that although your web hosting company will set up your server and install the operating system, after that it's down to you.

You must install and configure the software you need yourself. It's likely your web host will only be responsible for the hardware and internet connection.

This means it's important you have good IT personnel who know how to run and set up a server.

Assuming you do have this expertise in your business, unmanaged hosting offers considerably more flexibility, allowing you to choose the software you want and optimise the server to fit your business needs.

Sally Tomkotowicz works for names.co.uk, a company offering domain names, web hosting unmanaged servers and more.

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