A server runs multiple specialised operations, such as hosting websites, email services and databases, for multiple users. Selecting the wrong server solutions can have a negative impact on the way your business performs. Looking solely at web hosting for now, the vast majority of businesses use an external provider. But which type of server solution is best-suited to your company? Here’s a rundown…
Let’s say that you have a large, highly-active website, with many pages, images and functions. You’re going to need plenty of storage, and plenty of bandwidth too to ensure that you get faster response times and page loading. Solutions such as UK2 dedicated servers ensure that yours is the only website on a server, giving you just that.
Dedicated server hosting gives you greater functionality – for instance, you can choose the programs and applications that are on there, and often the level of security. It does cost more, but for many businesses the benefits outweigh cost considerations. In terms of management, much of the set-up and routine maintenance will be up to you, so you may need webmaster skills unless you opt for a fully-managed service. While it bumps up the price further, it does greatly reduce your hassle.
A good way to think about a shared server is as an apartment block, wherein all of the residents contribute to the building’s upkeep, and receive an equal opportunity to use the garden or pool. With a shared server, several, possibly many different websites, are hosted all on the same server.
While it’s a relatively inexpensive option, and one suitable for businesses that have a largely static and small website requiring little attention, it does mean that you have much less control. The hosting provider will be handling the security and one obvious drawback here is that if there is a company on there sending spam, it could result in the entire server being blacklisted, affecting you.
Your bandwidth and storage will necessarily be reduced as you’re sharing everything with other companies, so if another website has increased demands at certain points of the year, your own website’s speed is going to be slowed. The hosting provider will however be taking care of set-up and maintenance, which is one less thing for your business to worry about.
Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
Think of Virtual Private Servers as a combination of shared and dedicated servers. What this means is that while there are multiple sites hosted on the same server, you are ‘walled-off’ from each other. So although the bandwidth and storage available to you will still be limited, and can be affected by what the other sites are doing, you do have greater flexibility over the various applications you run on your website, as you would with a dedicated server.
Many businesses now prefer to put some or all of the applications into a Cloud-based server instead, accessing everything through a web browser. There are numerous advantages to this, such as there being no need for a major initial capital outlay, or for server maintenance. However, there are also downsides. If your internet connection goes down then you lose access to everything until it is restored, which could mean work grinding to a halt.
A reliable and fast broadband connection is essential, especially if you have large files moving around. And of course, storing your sensitive data off-site can cause privacy and security headaches which you may prefer to avoid.
Some further points to note whichever server solution you go for:
- It’s important that you are able to change your package should you need to expand or contract your business operations.
- Many companies offer trial periods to let you see whether they work for you.
- Look for trustworthy security arrangements and regular backups.
- Look for 24/7/365 support by a range of channels such as messaging apps, phone and email.
- Look for proximity of the server to your business so you can visit easily if required.
Benjamin Campbell is an accomplished and experienced freelance writer who has featured in a number of high profile publications and Web sites. If he’s not reading the financial times you’ll find him listening to live music or at the coast surfing.