When you want to bring a website to life, you’ll need a place for it to live. When you want to access a website, you’ll need a place to get it from. Servers provide a location for websites to live and allow people to access those websites. When you want to build a website or a blog to share your great business or content with the world, you’ll need a place for that website to exist. Hosting solutions use servers to bring websites to life.
There are a number of different ways to utilize servers to host websites. There are dedicated servers, which use a single physical server to handle a single website. This is the most traditional way of building and managing a website. There are virtual private servers, which is a hosting solution that uses a single physical server to give a number of different websites a place to live by splitting the data and memory of the server into a number of virtual private servers. These virtual private servers function a lot like dedicated servers for most practical purposes. Cloud hosting solutions use a number of different physical servers to create a single cloud network that can run a variety of websites.
Each of these hosting solutions is offered at various price points, and have various pros and cons. In this article we’re going to look at cloud vs dedicated hosting so that you can see what might be right for your website.
Cloud Server vs Dedicated Server: Quick Summary
When choosing between a cloud vs dedicated server, you’ll have a lot of different things to consider. The main difference between cloud and server options is the way that the physical space connects to the virtual environment. In a dedicated server, there is a set physical environment that your company or website owns, and this physical environment stores the data that creates your website. In a cloud hosting solution, there are a number of physical servers that create a single cloud environment shared by a number of different companies and websites.
When it comes to cloud versus dedicated server hosting options, you’ll need to consider price, the value of security and speed, and scaling:
- Price: Cloud options are always going to be cheaper than setting up your own dedicated server solution.
- Security and Speed: However, dedicated servers offer you the ability to have higher security and better speed.
- Scaling: Dedicated servers can be scaled relatively easily, but the cost is still high to do so. Cloud options allow you to scale without biting off huge chunks of change.
The bottom line will be simple: if you don’t need top of the line security and the best possible speed, go with the cloud hosting. If you do need those things, it might be time to invest in dedicated servers.
What is a Dedicated Server?
A dedicated server is a single physical server that can be used to host a single website or single company’s websites. In comparing a cloud vs dedicated server, we’re looking at the way that the virtual environment connects to a physical server space. A dedicated server is a one to one correlation. There is one physical server that is used to create a single virtual environment.
Dedicated servers are a much more expensive way of hosting a website. Servers cost a lot more money than a cloud or virtual private server solution, because you’re actually purchasing the physical server. If you house it at your company, you’ll have to power it and create a secure space for it to reside. The high cost makes a dedicated server generally a poor solution for most companies and websites.
Of course, the high prohibitive cost of the dedicated server is its biggest drawback. And after than one major con, we’ll look at some great pros that a dedicated server will give you access to. The first of these is security.
A dedicated server is the most secure web hosting solution that you could get for your company. You aren’t sharing your data or physical server with anyone else. There’s no cloud where your data floats around, and no physical weak points in a cloud to be taken down. There’s no other virtual private servers running on your physical server which could cause a system failure. There’s no different website or different host for people to hack through to reach your data.
If you really value security and need to create an online environment where security is valued, a dedicated server is by far your best option. Many companies with highly sensitive data and financial records will opt to house their own server for these reasons.
Speed and Customization
While virtual private networks and cloud hosting solutions can give you most of the speed and cusomization you can ask for, there are some companies that want to have maximum control over their speed and options.
If you’re a company that is built entirely off your own web solutions and web performance, you may want to invest in a server. You’ll control your own destiny in this case. You won’t have to make any phone calls to any other companies. If something breaks, your in-house team can fix it as fast as they can.
You can also perform any customizations and adjustments on the hardware that you need to, easily purchasing more equipment if you need more speed, security, or options. With a cloud solution, your speed and customization is limited to that of the cloud. Different hosting solutions might offer different amounts of these things.
While having your entire website tied to a single server or cluster of servers can be really advantageous for usability and security, it can also pose a functionality threat. If you’re running a smaller operation that doesn’t know much about tech, having your servers go down can be a costly and stressful technical difficulty. If you don’t have in-house service which can handle server failures and backup data, it might be risky to get your own servers.
What is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting is a system where a bunch of physical servers are all linked into a single virtual cloud that can power a number of virtual servers. Through cloud hosting, you can provide a great amount of computing power to a number of different web services simultaneously, adjusting the amount of power given to each by the traffic of the websites. Cloud hosting makes scaling easier for this reason, and pools the resources of a bunch of companies to create a single hosting solution.
Here’s where cloud hosting is generally head and shoulders above most other kinds of hosting solutions, especially dedicated servers. The cost is generally much cheaper than other kinds of hosting because of the flexibility of the resources. While it can be expensive to get the servers to set up a cloud, it can be easy to move data around within it. Plus, scaling is super easy. If you need more data in a given month, you simply pay a bit more for it. Depending on the hosting solution you use, getting more data might require buying a new server or a different machine. That can be far more costly than just bumping up your network plan a bit.
While not as secure as having a cabinet full of servers locked away in the basement of your company, cloud solutions do a good job of separating out resources so that there is not a single weak point. Still, it is always more dangerous to have your resource in the hands of someone else. Cloud solutions can still be susceptible to certain kinds of attacks which can come through someone else’s website. Furthermore, some of the physical data locations can present vulnerabilities, because it can be difficult to know exactly where your data is stored.
Functionality is actually where cloud gets a couple of points back. When you have a dedicated server, your entire online environment is tied to that single server. If the server goes down, your website and data is down as well. You have a single weak point in your entire online solution.
With cloud, on the other hand, you don’t have this vulnerability. If a single server goes down in a cloud hosting solution, you still have all the other servers. The network is still intact. The solution still runs. If one server goes down in a cloud environment, your website stays up.
If you really need security, a dedicated server is probably the best option. It’s also the easiest thing to explain to investors and shareholders. It’s your best solution. But if you want to keep your costs down and avoid massive technical nightmares that can come from running and maintaining your own servers as a smaller company, a cloud solution should do just fine.
While dedicated servers are more secure than cloud options, cloud options aren’t inherently unsecure. Cloud options are cheaper, offer much of the functionality of the dedicated options, and allow you to scale easily without purchasing expensive additional servers.