So, you know that you need a hosting solution, but you don’t know exactly what you need. The first thing to note is that there are two main options to choose from – a cloud server or a dedicated server – but what’s the difference between dedicated and cloud servers? Let’s dive into what a dedicated and cloud server is, the pros and cons of each, and how to decide whether to choose a cloud or dedicated server for your needs.

Why do you need a server?

Before we dive into the differences between dedicated servers and cloud servers, it’s worth understanding why you need one of these in the first place. After all, there are many types of servers such as:

So why should you get a server to begin with? If you have an application, website or bespoke software, you’ll need to host it somewhere. Think of it as a home where it can sit, be managed, updated, kept secure and run as fast and efficiently as it should.

Plus, if your business grows, a decent server will accommodate for the increase in traffic. This is incredibly important because if your server can’t handle the incoming traffic, you’ll lose site visits and new business.

As we already established, this post will look at two incredibly popular (yet differing) server options – cloud servers and dedicated servers. Let’s dive into what these are now.

What is a dedicated server?

A dedicated server is a single-tenant space within a data centre. Essentially, this means you don’t share the server with anyone else. Dedicated servers are also physical servers that don’t use any type of virtualisation to simulate hardware functionality into a virtual (and remote) server. Due to being yours (or the business’s) alone, you won’t have to deal with the “noisy neighbour” effect and can enjoy a server that keeps your site, or multiple sites running with optimal performance.

Dedicated servers are a popular choice for larger businesses that also handle extensive amounts of data and platforms which house said data, and require a high level of capacity and security to operate.

Learn more: What is a dedicated server?

What is a cloud server?

A cloud server is an instance of a virtual machine running in a hypervisor environment, which is managed by your server provider. When we talk about a virtual machine, we mean just that – your resources are stored virtually in a non-localised data storage environment.

Cloud servers can be public or private – both of which have their pros and cons. In some cases, a hybrid cloud model can be utilised by businesses who want the best of both worlds, or, they can simply subscribe to multiple public clouds to adopt a multi-cloud approach. We discuss all of these models in our Private vs Public Cloud article, which can help you decide on which type of cloud you wish to use for your needs.

Learn more: What is a cloud server?

Dedicated servers vs cloud servers: Which is best?

When it comes to choosing between a dedicated or cloud server, the two servers, it’s all about figuring out which best suits your business and its individual needs.

The benefits of dedicated servers

If you opt for a dedicated server, what can you look forward to? Let’s run through a few of the benefits.

1. Performance

One benefit of a dedicated server is that because all of the power is allocated to you, and you alone, meaning you get full-root access to everything. That means nothing can slow you down, and you will really notice a significant boost in performance.

Let’s say you get a ton of site traffic due to a successful campaign, or your brand organically builds in popularity. You’ll need a server that can handle this surge in traffic. With the power behind dedicated servers, you’ll feel rest assured that it can handle your site visitors. Plus, you can choose between Intel or AMD dedicated servers, giving your flexibility to pick your preferred CPU.

2. Control

With a dedicated server you have the ability to control what happens on your server. For example, from a web browser, you can easily check the status of your server, perform quick updates or even do hardware reboots. Plus, they can be configured to your liking and business needs. So if you want to run specific tools or software, assuming you have the IT knowledge to configure this yourself (or have access to this), you can!

3. Hosting multiple sites

A dedicated server has the ability to host lots of different sites with ease. That means all of your website projects can be housed under one roof. This saves you from having to invest in multiple servers, which can be costly. With a dedicated server, you can really utilise its performance to host multiple sites at once.

4. Customisation

Here at Fasthosts, we offer two Dedicated Server options, AMD and Intel. This gives you more control over your server, its performance and its features. Plus, you can choose whether to have your dedicated server on Linux or Windows, and pick from various add-ons, such as:

  • Plesk Obsidian
  • Cyber Protection
  • IPv6 and IPv4 addresses
  • SQL
  • SSL certificates for your sites

5. Security

The benefit of having a dedicated server all to yourself is that you have an extra layer of security and peace of mind. This is especially important if you are dealing with sensitive information or payments through your sites.

As mentioned previously, you won’t deal with noisy neighbours, meaning you won’t have to worry about sharing a partition of your server with other tenants on the same server.

The disadvantages of dedicated servers

On the flip side, there is a downside to choosing a dedicated server. Let’s dive into the disadvantages of choosing a dedicated server.

1. Scaling resources

Unfortunately, dedicated servers don’t work in the same way as cloud servers. As a dedicated server is physical rather than virtual, if you need more space, you have to invest in more servers or better hardware. This means you’ll need to be very specific about your requirements and plan ahead, which can be difficult if you’re unsure of what you need.

2. Cost

Dedicated servers aren’t the cheapest servers on the market, so if you have a smaller budget, this server probably isn’t your best bet. While they’re a fantastic investment, you may find that another type of server will fit your business better, especially if you don’t need to utilise all the resources that come with a dedicated server.

3. Complexity

Dedicated servers are also slightly more complex than others, so you may have difficulty using them. They’re probably more suited to those with extra tech knowledge. If you have a dedicated IT team, or know someone with the knowledge, then this is great. However, if you’re alone or need to get a server up and running quickly, then a dedicated server may not be the easiest to configure right away.

The benefits of cloud servers

What are the advantages of opting for a cloud server? Let’s dive into it.

1. Cost

In general, cloud servers are cheaper than dedicated servers, and also work on a pay-as-you-need basis, which makes them a very popular choice. This is especially true depending on the type of cloud you choose.

For example, you may wish to have access to computing resources for your own environment by subscribing to an IaaS model. Alternatively, you may wish to have a space for web dev work, in which case a PaaS cloud server may be more appropriate. If you want something that’s already got everything you need, then a SaaS model is great if you wish to access software on the cloud for specific business needs, without the requirement to develop these tools yourself.

2. Scalability

If you originally allocate too much memory or storage, then CloudNX gives you the advantage of scaling your package up – or down – so that you’re only paying for what you’re using. Plus, you won’t need to pay for someone to build the entire infrastructure (unless you want a Private Cloud solution).

3. Ease-of-access

You’re running a business, so we know that you’re far too busy to sit at your monitor adjusting sliders, but with cloud servers this can all be done on the go on your mobile device. Easy, right? This also allows for greater productivity due to the collaboration potential with people around the world. As long as you have an internet connection, you can connect to a cloud server with ease.

4. Redundancy

One great benefit to cloud servers being completely virtual is that there is no way to physically damage it, as cloud servers typically private disaster recovery in the form of regular backups. That means all of your hard work can’t be wiped out by a flood, fire, hardware malfunctions or cyber attacks.

The disadvantages of cloud servers

There are however some drawbacks to opting for a cloud hosting solution.

1. Reliant on internet connectivity

No internet = no access to your cloud server. While everything is on the internet these days, you may just be in a position where you have no way of connecting. This is why a dedicated server can sometimes be better because you don’t necessarily have to have an internet connection to access it.

2. Multi-tenant approach

A major disadvantage of cloud servers is that they use shared resources. As a user, you’ll share your resources with other people on the virtual machine. If they’re using a large amount of the CPU/RAM – it will slow you down. This is especially true with disk IO, if someone else on the cloud server is sending a lot of write requests to their own virtual machine, your own performance could suffer.

3. Vendor lock-in

If you ever want to switch cloud server providers, this can sometimes be difficult. Perhaps there’s a fee to switch, or the data you need to migrate is so large, that it’s going to be troublesome to do so.

4. Security concerns

While public cloud providers do their utmost to provide robust security and updates, their multi-tenant approach can cause security concerns. That’s why some businesses opt for a Private Cloud. However, Private Clouds can pose their own security risks if they aren’t configured correctly, leaving them vulnerable to attacks.

Dedicated server vs cloud server: which should I choose?

So the ultimate question is – which is better and which should you choose?

This is when budget comes into play, if you have a bit more cash to splash, then a dedicated server will give you more bang for your buck. But, on the other hand, a cloud server is almost just as good, and is cheaper. So how will you decide?

It all comes down to resource demand. A dedicated server is ideal when your demand is predictable, when you basically know what you’re going to need. Plus, it’s a single-tenant approach to storage, data management and other business functions that need to be housed in a server. This is especially important to note if your business required critical security measures.

Cloud servers have the advantage that if something drastically changes, you can scale it up or down to fit the new demand. With a cloud server, you have the advantage of not investing in a load of wasted space. If you choose a public cloud provider, check their credentials and look into their uptime too, so you can know the level of security and service you can expect to receive.

Ultimately, it all boils down to what level of resources you need, and your budget. Once you figure that out, then you’re golden.

With our dedicated servers we boast a 99.99% uptime guarantee, and with our fully resilient and redundant cloud servers we go 0.009% of a step further with a 99.999% uptime guarantee. In the event that anything goes wrong, it’s good to have peace of mind. Talk to our expert sales team and take your business to the next level today.