Procuring a dedicated server

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.netThere’s so much more to consider when procuring or upgrading to a dedicated server versus selecting a shared web hosting provider or VPS as there are numerous options – that if procured or set up incorrectly could cost your business or organization thousands of dollars in lost revenues, or untold setbacks in your branding efforts.

Here are some items you should address when researching which provider to go with

Longevity

How long have they been hosting solutions? What do online reviews reveal about their operations? Are they favored on web hosting forums, or do members habitually complain about them? Is their pricing competitive, or seem just too good to be true (which is actually not good)?

Familiarity

Are you familiar with their personnel? Doing business with someone or a firm that you know, like and trust is a big plus. Are they a one or two-man show? What’s their average time to resolve support tickets? We’re not talking about response time here as what good does great response time do you if your issue isn’t resolved for days or weeks. Believe me, that happens in this industry. And as a note – providers with lots of support techs isn’t always a good thing as quite often, smaller providers strive 10 times harder to keep their clients happy.

Terms of Service

Have you read their Terms of Service? These vary from provider to provider, and some contain language that you ought not glaze over. Pay close attention to what they allow on their servers and how they’ll react to possible DMCA notices. We’ve seen this numerous times on web hosting forums where a member receives notice that their services have been terminated without recourse due to a DMCA notice, valid or not.

Bandwidth policies

What’s their policy on bandwidth overages? Sure, most folks don’t come close to exceeding their quota, but it can and does happen. We’ve read of providers charging thousands of dollars in overage fees on a $50 server. Here’s a tip – don’t ask for unlimited as that doesn’t exist. Unmetered is an entirely different animal though. Simply ask each prospective web hosting provider what their bandwidth overage policy is, and compare that to their TOS. If the two differ, ask why?

Cancellation policies

What about cancellation policies? Will they prorate that promo offer you signed on with once you’ve been with them beyond their guarantee? On day 31 of a 30-day money back guarantee, are you out of luck should you change your mind? We’ve read of providers seemingly dragging out service tickets to intentionally prolong clients beyond their money back guarantees. I’m not so sure I believe a lot of these complaints on various forums, but some providers have proven to be underhanded time after time, and seemingly have no remorse.

IP addresses

Every so often, we’ll see someone ask for a Class C block of IPv4 addresses and when asked why, they’ll respond it’s for Search Engine Optimization. Sorry, but large quantities of IPv4 addresses have to be justified and SEO does not qualify.

The most asked for reason is email broadcasts, but no one wants spammers on their network, so some providers won’t allow mailing applications at all while others restrict what they permit. That could be zero tolerance, or a limited number of complaints per time frame. If you’re planning on running email campaigns, ask first. Verify what is permissible.

Pricing is also a big variable, even on IPv6 addresses. With IPv4 addresses becoming harder to procure, prices are going up. The issue with IPv6 addresses is availability, but not because of shortages, rather some providers not offering these as alternative solutions.

Managed versus unmanaged

If you’re unsure how to manage a dedicated server, that’s clue number one that this should be best left to the professionals. Servers need to be hardened so that they’re secure, and optimized to ensure your applications run smoothly. If the provider’s maintenance plans seem overpriced, you can always contract with a 3rd party vendor. Always ask what these managed services include, and how your server is monitored.

We’ve seen large numbers of members on the forums who purchased unmanaged servers, yet still expected a high level of support from their provider, even when those were budget servers. The web hosting industry is no different than other industries. Good support technicians demand higher wages. When you purchase a budget server, something has to give, either the quality and specs of the hardware or the support. Those budget providers still have to turn a profit, so buyer beware.

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Steve

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