When Do I Need A Dedicated Server?

Filed under Dedicated Servers | Posted by Gary

I see this question asked quite often in forums and to be honest, it’s a bit like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’.

Lets look at a couple of the most common reasons you might want/need to move to a dedicated server:

Your web host is blocking your outgoing emails because you are exceeding their hourly or daily limit – As sites grow, so does the member base and if you are emailing your members from your site then sooner or later you are going to find that your host is either blocking outgoing emails or notifying you that your email volume is too high and asking you to do something about it. Is this a reason to switch to a dedicated server? On its own I would say no … you would be better off seeking the services of a dedicated mailing list and/or auto responder service such as aweber (www.aweber.com) or GetResponse (www.getresponse.com). Those types of services are set up specifically to handle large mailing lists and they also spend a lot of time on ensuring deliverability. As you probably know, many ISPs and large organisations have fairly aggressive anti-spam measures in place. A professional mailing/autoresponder service should provide a very good delivery rate (assuming you aren’t a spammer of course 🙂 ).

Visitors and/or members are complaining that your site is slow – The first thing to try to work out is whether the slowness is network related or server related. Your site can be slow because there is a large volume of traffic OR because the web server or database server is actually overloaded and struggling to keep up with the amount of traffic. This is also going to vary depending on the number of other sites that are sharing the server resources that your site is using. Shared hosting means shared bandwidth, shared CPU and shared server applications. Some hosts limit the number of sites so that performance is generally quite good. Some hosts are less concerned about performance and tend to overload their servers. Assuming that your host is not overloading their servers you then need to look at what sort of content you are providing and how that would effect the stress level on the server. If you are providing videos and/or online applications then as your membership/visitor numbers grow then it is only logical that your server will slow down. So, are you charging your members? If so, then it’s probably well within your budget to splash out $150 or so per month on a dedicated server and your members will love you for it :). As I mentioned earlier… it is like the ‘piece of string’ question but if you are making a reasonable monthly income from your site(s) then it’s a fairly easy decision to move to a dedicated server.

Other questions you need to ask yourself include:

Is your site monetized? If you aren’t making money then a dedicated server is just an expense. It might be time to start charging and/or looking at other income streams such as affiliate programs or context sensitive advertising (e.g. adsense).

Is your site growing? If you site or site membership is growing then by switching to a dedicated server you are not only improving the service for your members and visitors but also being pro-active by moving to a server that is going to handle not only your current requirements but also your future growth.

This is far from the be all and end all of why you might want to move to a dedicated server but hopefully it has provided you with some useful information that will assist you when you do make your decision to get your first dedicated server.

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