A hosted dedicated server is basically a physical server that the hosting company sets up and maintains in one of its datacenters and rents out to a single customer.
Advantages of hosted dedicated servers compared to onsite servers include less IT management hassles, lower upfront costs, and no long-term commitments. Advantages of hosted dedicated servers compared to hosted virtual servers include better performance, reliability, customizability, and compliance.
A server is basically any computer that is used to perform processing operations or store files for other computers, though the term “server” most commonly refers to a type of computer that is designed to be used in the role of a server. Depending on their form factor, these physical servers may look like larger-than-average PC towers (tower servers) or TV DVRs (blade or rack-mountable servers). Blade servers are the types of servers that you usually see in pictures of datacenters—they’re stacked either vertically or horizontally into tall, rectangular server racks, and these server racks are organized into rows.
Physical servers are most often used by businesses to host applications, virtual desktops, and email. Hosting IT solutions on servers makes the solutions easier to manage than if the solutions were individually installed on each employee’s device, and can increase performance, security, and reliability and reduce IT costs and hassles.
A hosted server is a web-based IT solution that performs the same as a physical server, and that like a physical server can be used to host other IT solutions, such as applications, virtual desktops, and email. Hosted servers are set up and maintained by an IT hosting company, which rents the servers on a per-minute, per-hour, per-week, or per-month basis.
Most hosted servers are either hosted virtual servers or hosted dedicated servers. A virtual server is an IT solution that performs the same as a physical server, though instead of being a unit of hardware with a finite amount of processing, memory, and storage resources, it’s a software-defined computing environment that can be as small as you want—for example, it can be just a small portion of a physical server, consisting of one CPU core, 1 GB RAM, and 20 GB of storage, or it can encompass all of the resources of an entire physical server.
Multiple virtual servers can be hosted on a single physical server. IT hosting companies usually host their virtual servers this way, often hosting the virtual servers of different customers on the same physical servers, though in such a way that customers can only access their own virtual servers and not the servers of anyone else located on the same hardware.
A hosted dedicated server, in contrast, is basically just a hosted physical server—a physical server that the hosting company sets up and maintains in one of its datacenters and rents out to a single customer. This single customer does not share the physical server, or any of its resources, with any of the hosting company’s other customers.
A hosted dedicated server is preferable to a physical server that you purchase, set up, and maintain yourself at your office (or an onsite physical server) because:
It’s more accessible. Hosted servers can be accessed from anywhere via the Internet by default.
You don’t have to set up or maintain it. The setup and maintenance of the server is handled by the hosting provider. You also won’t be charged if the hosting provider ever has to repair or replace your physical server.
It doesn’t have any large upfront costs and isn’t a long-term investment. A decent physical server can cost you thousands of dollars upfront, and you’ll have to replace it every 3-5 years. Also, if there’s a change to your IT requirements and you don’t need the server anymore, you can’t just return it and get a refund on your initial investment—you’re stuck with it until the end of its lifespan. A hosted dedicated server, in contrast, doesn’t require any large upfront costs, doesn’t have any replacement costs, and can be paid for on a month-to-month basis.
It’s faster and more secure and reliable. IT hosting companies operate 24/7/365, have knowledgeable and experienced employees that specialize in IT hosting, and can afford to use the latest and best IT hosting technologies. As a result, very few in-house IT departments can match IT hosting companies when it comes to maximizing the performance, security, and reliability of servers.
Hosted dedicated servers are usually more expensive than hosted virtual servers, since you’re paying for the entire physical server rather than just a portion of it. However, hosted dedicated servers have several advantages over hosted virtual servers that can make them worth the extra cost. These advantages include:
Better performance. Dedicated servers usually perform better than virtual servers due to the simple fact that they possess a full physical server’s worth of CPU and RAM, while virtual servers can only utilize a fraction of a physical server’s total processing resources. Even when a virtual server has the same amount of processing resources as a dedicated server, though, they still tend to be slower than dedicated servers, due to such factors as their additional layer of virtualization and having to share aspects of the physical server with other customers’ virtual servers.
Better reliability. Dedicated servers are more reliable than virtual servers, since virtual servers can experience outages as a result of the failure of other virtual servers on the same physical server.
Increased customizability. You can customize any aspect of a dedicated server you want, including the hardware, the software, and the higher-level settings. Virtual servers are much less customizable in comparison.
Better compliance. There are regulations that prevent businesses in certain industries, such as healthcare, finance, and retail, from storing their data on non-dedicated hosted servers, because of the perceived security risks of sharing the same physical server with the hosting company’s other customers. Dedicated servers allow businesses to ensure compliance with these regulations.