Shared, Virtual and Dedicated Server

There are three main types of server:

Shared Server – A shared server has many different domains hosted on it. All of the servers resources are shared by many websites. Think of it like a filing cabinet with several folders in each drawer. On a shared server you have control over your folder and everything within it. Other website owners also have their own space, separate from yours, but sharing the resources of the same server.

Hosting on a shared server is by far the most popular option, mainly because of price. You can pay as little as a few dollars per month and there are some hosts that even provide free web space on shared servers.

Virtual Dedicated – Also known as a ‘Virtual Private Server’ or VPS, this is the next step up from a shared server. If we use the filing cabinet example, it would be like a filing cabinet with several drawers and each website would occupy a drawer. Whilst the resources are still shared, there are not as many websites sharing the server, and we have greater control over our space on the server. The server is configured in such a way that it looks and feels like a dedicated server.

Hosting on a virtual dedicated server is a popular option for busier web sites. It is difficult to define ‘busy’ as it varies greatly depending on what sort of services you are providing on the web, but most commonly, web site owners will upgrade to a virtual dedicated server when they find that their existing server is getting quite a lot of visitors and the volume of visitors is starting to slow the website down.

Dedicated Server – A dedicated server is like having control over the whole filing cabinet. It is not shared with any other website or domain. In most cases, when you request a dedicated server, the web hosting provider will have your new server installed and configured within 1-3 days. With a dedicated server you have the entire server to yourself. You have full control over all of the servers resources and can use the server in any way that you wish, provided it does not violate the web hosts terms of service.

Hosting on a dedicated server is suitable for very high traffic websites. You have full control over the server and its resources and can request upgrades such as additional hard drives, additional memory and a faster processor.

Gary Smith has been managing internet servers since the mid 90’s. He also provides security and general maintenance services to dedicated server owners at The Dedicated Server Doctor

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