When is the Right Time to Move from a Cloud Server to a Dedicated Server?

Cloud servers are excellent options for small to mid websites that need good pricing, decent power, and excellent scalability. If you aren’t sure whether or not your website is going to be big but you want to give it the best possible chance to be–cloud hosting is the place to live. However, as you start to scale, you might wonder when it is the right time to move from cloud servers to a dedicated server. It’s the natural step, but you don’t want to move too soon otherwise you’ll be wasting money on a hosting plan that you don’t need.

Cloud Servers and Dedicated Servers

Cloud servers use an underlying physical structure of servers to create a virtual environment with data for tons of websites to share. It is powerful, dynamic, and scalable, offering a great small to mid solution for hosting. Some clouds are even built for enterprise solutions, but these are generally private clouds. Dedicated servers are single physical servers which are rented holistically, providing a powerful, stable, private, and secure way to run a site.

Move to a Dedicated Server If:

In logic, “iff” means if and only if, and can be used to designate a result or conclusion that is valid if and only if all of the conditions obtain. That is the kind of thing that we are looking for with a move from a cloud server to a dedicated server. While it isn’t a pure if and only if, you should be looking for a few conditions to justify the cost of moving.

First, let’s think about the risk of moving from a cloud server to a dedicated server. What are you giving up if you shift from a cloud server to a dedicated server? Well, you are generally paying more money. It could almost double the cost of your web hosting services, if not triple or quadruple it. But additionally, you’re giving up scalability. Remember, we tend to think about scaling as scaling up, but there are actually two components to scalability. Websites may need to scale up and down as traffic fluctuates. Cloud hosting packages often have ways for you to scale up and down that will save you money. Dedicated servers don’t usually allow you to scale–you pay a lump sum for the hardware, and in order to save money on hosting, you’ll have to shift to a lower-cost plan.

So here are the conditions in which moving from a cloud server to a dedicated server is probably the right call:

01You’re growing and are projected to continue growing.

The main motivation for jumping from a cloud hosting environment to a dedicated server environment, for many users, will be continued growth. If you are going to continue to grow your traffic beyond what you currently have and will need more power than the public cloud environment that your hosting company offers, then moving to a dedicated server might be the right move. But then again, growth may not be a problem for your cloud. Some cloud environments, like the one offered by Amazon Web Services, aren’t really constrained that much by resource amounts. Such a cloud could still support your site, even with runaway growth.

This means that for most users, growth will need to be coupled with some other consideration. Of course, owning a physical server or network of physical servers with a load balancing server can be an efficient way to run a website. That would bring us to #3, which is benefiting from the environment of a dedicated server. You might benefit from the environment through customization or some other means.

02Available resources and price are bumping against ceilings.

Some cloud hosting solutions have nearly unlimited resources to offer you and will keep scaling up the price to meet your demands for resources. But resources in cloud environments, at certain higher levels, might cost more than simply purchasing a dedicated server. Keep in mind that if you move to a managed, rented dedicated server, you’ll have a month over month cost. But if you are able to purchase and house your own servers, that cost will be a one time charge and then maintenance costs might be lower.

Alternatively, the cloud hosting solution offered by your company might have a relatively low ceiling on the max number of resources and max price of an individual user. If this is the scenario, then obviously you’ll need to look into moving before things get dicey on the service end. Saving a little bit of money over a couple of months is proably not worth sacrificing the user experience of your site for those couple of months if things slow down. If the resources that a cloud hosting company gives you are reaching peak and you’re continuing to grow, it’s time to consider dedicated hosting.

03You would benefit from the environment of a dedicated server.

Finally, this is the one that should be a huge factor in any move. Because cloud hosting is a really good solution in many cases, realizing that you benefit from the specific environment that a dedicated server or dedicated servers offer would be a huge motivation to get off the cloud and onto bare metal. A couple considerations that might motivate you to move would be security and customization.

Some industries or company policies require that data, records, or information is stored in a single-tenant environment. That basically means that you can’t store certain kinds of data, for legal or policy reasons, on certain kinds of servers. Cloud servers, as a shared solution, might violate this. If your company grows to a point where security of sensitive data, especially consumer or financial information, becomes important, then you may want to shift to dedicated servers.

Secondly, customization. While cloud environments often offer virtual servers with high amounts of customization, there are still limitations. You will not be able to make hardware modifications, you might be limited by operating system, and some kinds of security and software will be unavailable. If you can optimize your site by customizing further through a dedicated server, then this might motivate you to move.