When it comes to finding the best dedicated hosting for your project, you’ll probably find yourself face to face with a choice – dedicated servers or bare metal servers?

It’s a confusing topic at the best of times, as these two types of servers are so similar that they’re often referred to synonymously. So we thought we’d have a look at the core differences, and help you to make the most informed decision possible for your project.

But before we get started, it’s important to note that every provider offers their own bare metal and dedicated server plans, meaning that the differences between them will vary from company to company. With that in mind, this article breaks down the differences between bare metal and dedicated servers, as they’re provided by Fasthosts.

What is a dedicated server?

A dedicated server is a physical server that’s run with its own operating system and is dedicated to a singular user. Because you have your own server, you don’t have to worry about competing with other websites for resources when there are spikes in traffic.

Learn more: What is a dedicated server?

What is a bare metal server?

On the face of it, bare metal servers and dedicated servers are very similar. A bare metal server is also a physical server dedicated to a single user. But while dedicated servers have a simple interface that’s straightforward to use, bare metal servers can also come with a range of sophisticated tools and features, so they’re sometimes a better option for users with more technical knowledge.

Hardware

From a hardware perspective, both our bare metal and dedicated servers can be decked out with the same, industry-leading hardware, including the latest generation of AMD and Intel CPUs as well as DDR4 RAM, and large HDDs, with some packages offering up to 8TB. But while bare metal servers usually have these as a prerequisite, dedicated servers sometimes offer these as optional add-ons.

Both bare metal and dedicated servers also provide complete admin control with root-level access to fully manage your server’s configuration in any way you need to for your project. So, you can control everything, right down to whether you want to use Windows or Linux operating systems.

Are bare metal servers the same as dedicated servers?

Okay, we'll admit it. From a purely technical point of view, bare metal servers and traditional dedicated servers can look quite similar. They’re both single-tenant physical servers, so any resources like the processor, memory or storage aren't shared between users.

Ultimately, both types of servers allow you to make the most of having your own private hardware and dedicated resources – you can leave behind the worry of “noisy neighbours” making a dent in your performance. But they’re not completely the same.

What’s the difference between bare metal and dedicated servers?

For Fasthosts, the main differentiator is that Bare Metal Servers are supported by our CloudNX infrastructure, which means they have additional networking tools and features which aren't available to those using our Dedicated Servers.  

1. Creating a private cloud setup

Bare metal and cloud servers are completely different types of hosting, but they’re by no means mutually exclusive. In fact, when you opt for bare metal, you’ll have the option to create a private cloud setup. Using our CloudNX platform, you can run a bare metal server directly alongside multiple VMs, which can make them more powerful and versatile than traditional dedicated servers.

A private cloud setup also gives you even more flexibility in terms of customisation, and enables you to use load balancers to spread out traffic, preventing server overload.

With this in your locker, you gain new functionality which can help your project to cope with situations that demand the performance of dedicated hardware, and the scalability of virtual machines. This is especially useful for industries that have regular peaks and troughs in traffic, like a website for a ticket vendor. When the inevitable surge in demand takes place, your online shop can be scaled up with VMs, and when it dissipates it can be scaled down again.

As you can see, a bare metal server can provide the extra capacity you need during traffic-spikes, or take care of the back-end database processing, while still being fully integrated with load-balanced VMs. Not bad.

2. Scalability

Both bare metal and dedicated servers have the capacity to scale horizontally, depending on whether you’re running high-traffic websites, managing intensive applications or hosting online gaming. But, the process of doing this varies in line with server type. So while dedicated servers require more time and personnel resources, bare metal servers can be easily scaled.

Our Shared Storage add-on is an efficient alternative to vertical scaling, and available for both our Bare Metal and Cloud Servers. Shared Storage enables you to create virtual disks in our Cloud, which you can then access with your Bare Metal Servers.

3. Storage

In terms of storage, bare metal servers can be equipped with the latest NVMe solid-state drives (SSDs) that provide superfast loading speeds (far superior to standard SATA SSDs and hard disks). However, these specs aren’t available as add-ons for dedicated servers, which impacts their suitability for larger, more ambitious projects that require this kind of advanced setup.

That said, both new bare metal and dedicated servers can be rented with a superfast connection – 1Gbps, to be precise. This means you’ll be able to get every last bit of performance from all the great hardware you have.

The increased flexibility of scaling and storage offered by bare metal servers make them a more popular choice amongst larger companies that require added features and increased power. But by contrast, SMBs are often content with the features and scalability that a dedicated server can provide.

4. Pricing

Functionality aside, perhaps one of the biggest differences between these two types of servers is the pricing and contract terms. If you choose to rent a Bare Metal Server from us, you’ll have a flexible, pay-as-you-use contract which is billed by the minute. So you can run our Bare Metal Servers on demand for as long as required, with the flexibility to start, pause and stop whenever you need to, and only ever pay for what you use.

Instead, dedicated servers are billed monthly or annually, with longer-term contracts to match. This makes them popular with companies that have a strict tech budget, who need to know the total cost of this server from the outset - but they’ll be bound by more contract terms too.

Which type of server is best for you?

So, we’ve established that bare metal servers have more features than dedicated servers, but this comes at a higher price. What remains to be determined is, what’s best for you?

Ultimately, this comes down to what you plan to use the server for, and whether or not you’re willing to trade some flexibility for a cost-effective solution. The two types of servers tick different boxes for a range of use cases and customers.

Dedicated servers provide hosting resources that can be used consistently over a longer period of time, while bare metal servers can be launched or shut down with the touch of a button, and can sometimes be activated for mere hours. This makes bare metal servers a great choice for projects that experience spikes in traffic for short periods, like one-off or seasonal sales events.