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Is it worth expending $$ on a dedicated server?

 3:09 am on Mar 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have around 15 web sites, 5 forums, over 200K register users in 3 hosting companies and I'm getting tires of unreliable web hosting. I'm thinking on getting a dedicated server on a xx company (that promise 100 uptime), but the difference between the share hosting and the dedicated server is big. The hosting service cost will jump from 4% to about 12% of my income.

My question

Is it worthed to make the change?

Does having a fast and reliable hosting makes a difference on users experience?

Can I gain more users if the server is fast and reliable?

I would really appreciate if you provided your opinion



 3:24 am on Mar 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

One way to test that... provided you are not already having bandwidth problems, is to take one or two of those websites and move them to dedicated for six months and see if there is a difference. If performance and uptime is a critical factor then yes, the extra money is worth it if your ROI can factor that cost and remain profitable.


 3:46 am on Mar 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

What you mean by "unreliable web hosting". Websites are slow? They are going down frequently?
Anyway, my experience is that you should have moved to dedicated 100 thousand users ago. It does make a difference, not only to users, but to search engines as well. The search engine bots are able to spider more pages and more easily, with less errors - what means more organic traffic for you.
However, you also need to think backup and fail over.


 4:08 am on Mar 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thank you for the replies!

Websites are slow?
yes, specially the site running database.

They are going down frequently?
One of the hosting frequently goes down. But I like that hosting, because I can add as many database or sub-domains as I need.

However, you also need to think backup and fail over.
What you mean? back up the files before moving? Yes I'm definitely doing that.

Can one dedicated server handle 15 web sites with about 2M page view a month?


 4:22 am on Mar 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

One more thing, here are the specs of the server:
1 AMD Opteron Dual-Core 1212 HE 2.0GHz Processor
250GB SATA Hard Drive
1TB of Bandwidth a Month


 4:41 am on Mar 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

specially the site running database.

The site running the database is slow due to the fact you have lots of records, and your db runs along with many other dbs in the same server.

One of the hosting frequently goes down. But I like that hosting, because I can add as many database or sub-domains as I need.

How good is to have many databases and many subdomains if they are all down?

back up the files before moving?

When I say backup, I'm talking about daily backups of the contents of your new dedicated server. That doesn't come with it (usually not).

Can one dedicated server handle 15 web sites with about 2M page view a month?

It all depends on what you are running and the complexity (or hungriness of resources) of your applications. 2M pv/month is not a lot for a server, but some applications are hogs. Once I had phpnuke installed (some old version, can't recall it), and it got very slow with only 10,000 users!

In time: you need to be able to manage the dedicated server yourself: security, updates, etc. or do get a managed server; more expensive, but the hosting company takes care of those important (boring) tasks.
I also recommend signing up for dns service with some good dns provider, they are not expensive. Or you can use the dns service provided by your registrar, most usually have them this days. This way you can set up your subdomains as you like :)


 1:26 pm on Mar 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

For me, having my own server became a must once my traffic started growing. Plus I wanted to do all sorts of custom applications and programs that were not being offered on shared boxes... Not to mention the security problems you open yourself up to by sharing a box. If any one of the 100 sites on your shared server get a DDOS attack, or even a huge influx of traffic it can kill the performance of your site(s).

You can start small, there are plenty of dedicated server packages for under $100/month.

One big drawback though, most hosting companies will manage a shared server for upgrading and patching the software on the box, but when you have a dedicated server, most hosts will either charge you for such updates, or you have to do them yourself. So that is an added cost.

The Contractor

 2:31 pm on Mar 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Those server specs are way too low if you are putting all services on one server (mail, database, http, etc). The database calls are probably what's hurting you now...

I would look very carefully at any hosting company that promises 100% uptime as it is "impossible" in a single server environment for the server to be up along with "ALL" services 100% of the time. If you look, I'll bet money they are either basing that on their network/NOC being up, or they refund you "only" for the amount of time the server is down... meaning you pay $200 a month, and say there are 43,200 minutes in a month...they will refund you for the actual time your server cannot serve HTTP traffic for the month and not for the entire month if they do not meet the 100% uptime.

Also, people are easily fooled by pricing. I know a lot of larger hosting companies ROI on a dedicated server as being 4-6 month including server, power, and bandwidth charges with some stretching out as far as 12 months. Even at 12 months, what kind of "server" are you getting at $100 a month? Most of the time you are not...you are getting desktop hardware at those prices and there is a "HUGE" difference between a real server based system and desktop hardware.

[edited by: The_Contractor at 2:47 pm (utc) on Mar. 8, 2009]


 3:43 pm on Mar 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

If I was in your shoes I would certainly be moving to a dedicated server. My suggestion on the approach would be a phased migration to the dedicated server carefully monitoring resources as you do it. Maybe a week or two between adding sites. This will allow you to make sure everything remains quick.


 5:23 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks guys!

It looks like I'm definitely moving to a dedicated server, but I have to research more on my server options.


 6:05 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'd definitely upgrade the RAM from 1GB to 2GB provided it's not too expensive.

Also keep in mind that if you mess something up on the server and it stops responding then ALL of your sites are going down.


 6:09 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm actually thinking of going the other way round! My 2 dedicated servers are getting on a bit; and as traffic increases you end up spending more and more time managing them - once you've learned how!

In particular, as you mention a very high traffic forum, you will need to make sure that MySQL is setup optimally etc. - watching what is being logged, where it is being logged so that you don't wake up one morning and find your server has run out of disk space.

What about backup of your sites and data? Most dedicated server companies provide a backup service; but it's little more than just an FTP account off on another server in the building - you need to figure out how to export everything, regularly and automatically - and know how to restore it should the situation arise!

It all takes a lot of time, so i'm currently looking into cloud hosting. OK, I know it's just a posh name for shared hosting; but the way it works appeals to me - in particular the way the virtualisation works as compared to regular shared hosting - which is important to me as some of my sites have support scripts which need to run some quite intensive database work!


 6:21 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm actually thinking of going the other way round!

I use the best of both worlds: I use shared hosting for new websites, email and redirection. When (and if) the new websites pick up, I move them to a dedicated box. This way I don't waste much time managing them.
Actually I have a set of dedicated servers connected via private lan, but I don't use those servers for any website, as mentioned above, only the "biggies".
I was also looking into "cloud", but I found it more expensive and it gives you less control. I do like windows with Remote Desktop, as it saves me a lot of time in servers management. And yes, mysql and php (with fastcgi) run pretty well on IIS 6.


 7:30 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I moved to a dedicated server (managed) about a year ago as I felt traffic increase was tailing off, and I often couldn't access my shared hosting. Took a server with the same hosting company and found no improvement - I still couldn't access my sites from time to time. I ended up believing this was due to overloaded routers in the London area.

I selected a new dedicated server - took recommendations from a forum and I monitored a few sites in the same datacentre for a while to ensure the connection was good.

With the new dedicated traffic has started back on the exponential ramp it had before and I don't get complaints from forum members about timeouts any more.

Incidentally, I moved from Apache to a Windows 2003 server running PHP on fastcgi because I wanted to run a windows application. Very happy with it, though if I hadn't needed to run the application I'd probably have stuck with Linux. Remote desktop is handy though.

Lucked out on my new host too - can't believe he's so helpful when I try to do daft things like add dongles to the server and mess with executables and batch files. Last bunch had a ticket system powered by offshore types which was a source of great annoyance for me.


 8:37 am on Mar 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

How about a VPS server?



 11:38 am on Mar 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'd take a different approach.

Getting a dedicated server isn't the solution, it's the band-aid, and you're not going to want to move a bandwidth hog over there anyway. If you do and your business continues to grow you'll have the same ratio of bloat as you do now.

I would hire one or more extremely knowledgeable people to evaluate your current setup, perhaps only for your biggest site, and see how much you can optimize the code/database/template. You may still need a dedicated server but you'll be moving a lean and mean site onto it from the start.

With 2 million impressions a month i'm sure you realize that optimizing one image that gets repeated many times can turn into a HUGE savings in bandwith. There's a reason the user profile icons on webmasterworld are so small!


 11:33 pm on Mar 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Getting a dedicated server isn't the solution,

Shared host with heavy database usage certainly isn't going to be good. Why do you think it's just a band-aid to move to a dedicated server?

I would hire one or more extremely knowledgeable people

How many years of hosting costs whould that eat?

[edited by: phranque at 12:07 am (utc) on Mar. 17, 2009]
[edit reason] fixed quoting [/edit]


 3:55 pm on Mar 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would hire one or more extremely knowledgeable people

How many years of hosting costs whould that eat?

By "hire" I believe JS_Harris meant pay for a few hours of a consultant's time, not hire full-time IT staff. The upfront cost should certainly NOT equal a few year's worth of hosting, but the long-term savings should more than pay off in the end.

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