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At what point do webmasters move their sites to dedicated servers?

 1:23 am on Jun 16, 2009 (gmt 0)


My web host is pressuring me to move my site to a dedicated server. They are working with me at the moment in order to optimize my site. I would like to ask those of you who moved from regular web hosting to dedicated servers, at what point did you do it?

How many uniques per day do think would justify the pressure from web hosts to move to dedicated servers?



 2:42 am on Jun 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

My former hosting company also employed me on a freelance basis to do SEO work. The owner had me convinced that I needed to be on a dedicated server because of the traffic to my site. It gets as many as 750,000 visitors a month, 1.5 million page views, and 60-70 GB of bandwidth.

The owner had me convinced that I had to do $400 worth of SEO work for him each month to cover hosting. When I realized he was scamming me, I found an extremely good hosting company with more reliable service for $40 a month.

My point is that you should make sure you really need a dedicated server. How much downtime does your site have?


 4:15 am on Jun 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thank You for replying dickbaker.

My numbers are not even close to yours and I am being pressurized. I'll provide some numbers and you can see if there any merits to their demands.

My site is fairly new and went live Feb 09 but by the end of March I was averaging 500 uniques per day. The traffic has increased to between 3k-4.5k uniques per day now. I was only at 1.5k on June 1st though, so I have seen a great increase over the past week or 10 days.

My Web Host actually took my site offline and posted a message to contact them. My site didn't go back up until I spoke with them over the phone. When I did they informed me that my CPU usage was running above 300% normal usage. I was advised to either upgrade to a dedicated server or cache my site. So I cached my site but when seeking reassurances about my efforts they basically said we'll see.

To sum it all up: I'll probably have a website with 100K unique visitors, 500K Pageviews and about 150-175 GB bandwidth transfer by the end of the month. Are these #'s so demanding that my site would require a dedicated server?

And is there any justification for my webhost to take my site offline (until i contact them) because of these traffic/cpu #'s ?

You asked me how long is my site offline, It was offline more than 30 minutes until I spoke to them on the phone. Suppose they do it again, when I am out? I don't know but they did tell me It could happen again. They were very straight forward about it.

How does this all sound to you?


 4:49 am on Jun 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ask yourself how much you make per month and how much you expect traffic to increase. Just make sure the next move you make is the correct one, DNS changes are annoying and you'll need to plan ahead or you'll face significant downtime.


 4:59 am on Jun 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

This sounds very bad, the pageviews are not at all high (3600 pages a day is one every 24 seconds, on average - nowhere near one a second at peak). Unless you have incredibly complex pages you will be using very little in the way of resources.

It all sounds as though they are wanting you to pay them more - and they didn't even have the decency to contact you before putting you offline. I'd be looking at another host, pronto.

As for when you need dedicated... it's difficult to say, most people do so because of one or more of the following:

To have more security (nobody else on the box)
To get more processing power to yourself
To avoid other people's mistakes taking tyour site down
When you are making enough off the site for a small amount of downtime to be a problem
When you want to install any software that isn't supported by your host

There are loads of reasons - I'd say you are not there yet from a traffic point of view, but we have sites on dedicated boxes (with expensive hosts) that could be run in a shared environment (we have them dedicated to speed up page response, as the server never gets hot under the collar, and we know that the site easily pays for the 'luxury' of decent hosting).

Your choice now is whether you want to move more than once. Depending on your niche, the visitor levels may be making you very little right the way through to many times the monthly cost of a decent dedicated server - depending on that and the amount of other resources you are putting into the site (how much time?) you may decide that going dedicated makes sense, but some very successful sites can easily run on good value shared hosting (note that cheap and good value are not always the same - time to look for reviews of hosts)


 7:39 am on Jun 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

I am also on the edge of moving to dedicated hosting, but i think your stats are far too low to justify it.

I have around 10k pageviews, with about 3k to7k uniques a day, and a monthly bw of 90gig. All my pages are php off a db, and the host say its the cpu usage that concerns them.

I think your webhost is out to make money off you. I currently pay about $US150 a year for hosting. I would really look around for a new shared server host.

[edited by: netchicken1 at 7:42 am (utc) on June 16, 2009]


 9:00 am on Jun 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

You could consider a VPS hosting plan. I would have thought that would eat your requirements and maintain good performance because although you would be sharing a server with other sites, you would have your share of the Processor and RAM Ring-fenced and Burstable.
A verrrry cost effective stepping stone on the way to a dedicated server.


 9:58 am on Jun 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Uniques per day isn't the only issue, if your site burns a lot of CPU and/or causes substantial disk thrashing you are degrading the service of everyone else on the server.

If you send any bulk mail to customers or tend to be a spam magnet, that too causes problems with email services on that server impacting everyone else.

I moved to a dedicated when I hit about 10K/day but it was the other members of the shared server impacting my ability to do business that caused me to move, not my impact on the server itself.

Personally, moving to a dedicated server was the best thing that ever happened to me and my site, downtime is almost non-existent now and revenue spiked almost immediately.

It allowed me to massively grow the site from my initial low end server with 10K visitors/day to the point I finally made it to 40K visitors/day (1M/month) last year.

I'm now using dual Xeon Quads, so it literally takes 8 CPUs to handle the load today, next step a mult-server configuration.

VPS might be OK for a baby step, but again, it's still a shared server and anything running on the box could cause problems.

Sometimes saving money on hosting services can hobble your growth more than the short term savings helps your pocketbook, besides, it's a business expense, it's a write off.

Decide, massive growth potential or low budget stagnation.


 9:42 pm on Jun 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

At what point do webmasters move their sites to dedicated servers?

When you grow weary of

- slow serving, or even frequent down times
- no or very slow response from support
- constant brush offs "it's something wrong with your site, not our server" when you've tested in another environment fine
- confrontations with disk space issues, such as server logs hogging up your "allotment"
- Unexplained errors or other phenomena affecting your sites; no one has an answer but it keeps happening
- If you are aware that *any* site on this machine has been hacked
- slow email responses, due to your mails passing through the same spam filters as the other 300-600 domain owners on the machine
- If you ever hear "unsupported" even once, and are aware that it's only "unsupported" because it's not built into the automated management or billing system
- If you want control over many of the issues you have to wait around for support to "get to": creating email accounts at will, configuring your own server spam filters, enabling/disabling server modules/services
- If you ever want command line access for ANYTHING
- If you have more than a single web site
- If you want control over proper email setups (spf) and DNS setup

But by any means . . . never through an "upsell" by a customer service rep . . . no thank you.

Per the VPS/VDS, I agree it *is* still shared to an extent but many of my customers have gone with a VPS and have had no issues, and nothing but raves ("Why didn't you make me do this years ago?") It seems to me VPS customers would be more conscious of creating problems when it involves their wallet.


 5:57 am on Jun 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

My site didn't go back up until I spoke with them over the phone. When I did they informed me that my CPU usage was running above 300% normal usage. I was advised to either upgrade to a dedicated server or cache my site.

Some CMS, for example Typo3 are rather performance-demanding, even when you do not have much visitors.

And is there any justification for my webhost to take my site offline (until i contact them) because of these traffic/cpu #'s ?

There might be, it depends on what you pay for. I guess that somewhere on the website of the hoster there is a description what is included in your hosting package, regarding bandwith, CPU time, RAM.

However: You do not necesseraly need a dedicated server. Perhaps you just need to upgrade your shared hosting package or go to another webhosting provider.

My webhoster for example has different shared hosting packages for different needs. Going from 5/month to 40/month. When you choose the 5 package you will be on a shared server with hundreds of others. You will have a maxiumum of 25 MB RAM for sripts, 10 CPU-seconds, and a maxium script execution time of 30 sec.

With the 40 package you are on a server with only 8 other websites and have 50 MB RAM for scripts, 20 CPU-sec., max script execution time 90 sec.

If you want to run a CMS like Typo3 on a 5 webspace - this just won't work. It will however on the 40 package.

So the answer is: No. You do not necessarily need a dedicated server. You need a webhosting package that suits your needs.


 6:39 am on Jun 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

And is there any justification for my webhost to take my site offline (until i contact them) because of these traffic/cpu #'s ?


An old Vulcan philosopher said it best:

"Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few"
- Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn


 7:35 am on Jun 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

As to moving to VPS. I remember reading something about VPS security flaws some time ago...



 7:18 pm on Jun 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

We had to move to dedicated hosting when our ad server was running too slow, and often stopped showing the ads. It was not the traffic numbers, but protecting our bread and butter and that is selling ads on the site.

We can't have our advertisers emailing us why the ads are not showing on our site. So we really had to move to a dedicated server.


 9:07 pm on Jun 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

We can't have our advertisers emailing us why the ads are not showing on our site. So we really had to move to a dedicated server.


That's why most of us move to DS is because the site is making serious money and you can't afford to be offline.

If you can't afford a DS for a business site, less than $99 for a low end server, it's not much of a business IMO.

[edited by: incrediBILL at 9:11 pm (utc) on June 17, 2009]


 9:20 pm on Jun 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

I made the move to a dedicated server because I had a lot of slow loading pages. Sometimes my website would lock up and the admin would have to reboot the server. I had 3000-5000 uniques per day. My website was my sole source of income and I could afford the dedicated server. Now I have a Dedicated webserver, database server, and a Google mini search appliance.


 9:41 pm on Jun 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just got off the phone with our host who is offering dedicated servers for around $159 per month with 1000 gig off band width up and down per month P4 processor with 2 gig of RAM. Prices are definately coming down!


 9:55 pm on Jun 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yes, it is wise to shop around.

So the answer is: No. You do not necessarily need a dedicated server. You need a webhosting package that suits your needs.

We put our new service on server farm that advertised itself as being "the cloud" because we wanted to impress our web clients that we had "heavy industrial" hosting without having to pay for big iron. It helped us control our costs.


 10:04 pm on Jun 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just got off the phone with our host who is offering dedicated servers for around $159 per month with 1000 gig off band width up and down per month P4 processor with 2 gig of RAM. Prices are definately coming down!

Shop around.

My host is one of the best in the industry and you can get more horsepower on a Dell PowerEdge server and 4x bandwidth at the moment for less money.


 11:09 pm on Jun 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

One thought that came to mind reading your story was "I hope he has a backup of his site somewhere".


 12:07 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

This has already been alluded to but... Your (the OP) traffic numbers are so low that the only reason the host could be complaining about CPU is that you have either some extremely inefficient scripts running or you're doing something that requires a huge amount of resources (large uncacheable database queries for instance).

You should be able to solve the problem without moving to a dedicated by optimizing your backend.

When looking for problems keep in mind that "CPU Load" when spoken of in terms of the apache web server actually refers to waiting processes. In fact it's rarely the CPU itself that gets overloaded, using too much memory or hard disk I/O will cause a load increase as well.


 12:09 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just wanted to add... even if you decide to move to a dedicated (anything but a P4!) you should still look at optimizing your code. Otherwise down the road you're going to be paying $1000's a month for a server farm you don't really need.

[Edit: Typo]

[edited by: IanKelley at 12:17 am (utc) on June 18, 2009]


 12:33 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

One thing to keep in mind is the shared hosting plans are pretty much bait, it's marketing gimmick to attract new site owners. Hobbyists etc. They offer ridiculous amounts of resources like disk space and bandwidth knowing that most sites will use a tiny fraction of what they are offering. The hidden limits never mentioned in the literature is the CPU limits.

The few sites that may actually have some small success will find themselves hitting resource limits like the CPU and/or the host trying to get them to upgrade to another plan because it's no longer profitable for them even if they are under the limits. I really think they have no interest in hosting longer term customers with smaller sites with minor success. The profits lie in getting them to upgrade and those that can get by with the smaller resources near the limits aren't making them anything.

Having said that do your research carefully and look to find either a VPS or truly high powered shared hosting plan (rare, not cheap, but available). I moved to VPS about 1.5 years ago and couldn't be happier but I researched for weeks before deciding on a host.


 12:54 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Numbers vary greatly by site, site design and host. I get 3.5 million visitors a month on mostly static pages with hosting a little under $100 a month. Haven't had any problems for years. Never pressured to do anything else and it works fine.


 1:09 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

I moved to a dedicated server for the speed. It was well worth it.


 1:17 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Consider a VPS. I've had experience with several, all have been great and for the most part you solve all the issues that come along with shared hosting.


 1:18 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

150-175Gb bandwidth a month indicates to me that you either need a high-end shared hosting service, a good VPS server, or a basic dedicated server. It is unlikely that your bandwidth use is evenly distributed; peak times on that amount of traffic are likely to be a significant impact on the server performance as a whole.


 1:30 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Try [2 major web hosting providers] both offer server for around $75-$90. If you talked to sales person they might even take down server setup fees or you can get additional 1gb ram or 10GB free backup space.

Keeping in mind that, most DS comes with no support i.e. unmanged box. You need to learn configuration, security and command line. On other hand you can install CP such as cPanel to automate lots of tasks. To secure box take help of host or 3rd party server management company.

[edited by: phranque at 4:53 am (utc) on June 18, 2009]
[edit reason] hosting specifics [/edit]


 1:50 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

My website only gets around 60,000 unique IPs per month. However, I manage my own server in a top notch datacentre in Singapore (my audience is in Asia).

The reasons were:

* I expect to grow the site considerably
* My website is now the fastest, most responsive in my niche and my visitors appreciate super fast page loads
* The server is a very useful learning tool for me i.e. I'm learning hands on
* I can configure the server however the heck I like
* Downtime?... what downtime?


 3:02 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

My site delivers up to 1.5 million page views per month, mostly editorial pages with text and photos. I use a shared server at an industrial-strength hosting service with redundant power backup, multiple Internet backbone connections, fire-suppression systems, onsite + offsite data backup, and 24/7 tech support. The hosting service claims 99.9% uptime, and I believe that, because I haven't detected or heard reports of an outage in nearly eight years with the service. Maybe I'll need a dedicated server someday, but in the meantime, I'm not going to mess with a winning formula--especially when the shared server supplies everything that I need for less money than Comcast charges for my home Internet connection.


 3:21 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

"At what point do webmasters move their sites to dedicated servers?"

I think the larger issue is necessity and not a 'point'. A server should handle a great amount of traffic particularly if apache is serving dynamic content and static content is off loaded - furthermore apache will tend to fail at peak times and rather irregularly as you overload it. If it was an emergency to move I think one would know.

The reason I use DS's is to facilitate configuration of the machines. Installing php with the extensions my sites necessitate is well worth $200 a month when the alternative is rewriting significant portions of code.

Hosting and servers are ridiculously cheap these days if you look around. I have four or five servers - top of the line when purchased - that run about ~$200 a month ea. (there was a buy down of ~1k-2k per machine). But the hosting company is poor - god forbid I go down on a weekend because that machine wont be online till monday...afternoon...

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