At what Stage Should I Upgrade to a Dedicated Server?

When should you Upgrade to a Dedicated Server?

In business it is always a big move to move to a dedicated server from shared hosting. The right stage to move to a dedicated server depends on quite a few factors. There is no one answer that fits all and ultimately you have to decide for yourself if it’s worth the move.

The first step to answering this question is to articulate the benefits shared hosting brings, so that you can compare it against the increased monthly cost.

Benefits of Dedicated Servers

  • You get more security and you won’t be affected by the mistakes of anyone else on a shared website hosting plan.
  • You get a significant boost in processing power.
  • You get superior uptime.
  • You can install software that is not supported by the host.
  • You can handle large volume of traffic
  • You get command line access
  • Faster email response

These benefits are not exhaustive, and there are more benefits of moving to a dedicated server. However, you can still run a successful website on a good shared website hosting package, but good shared hosting is rarely very cheap.

Ultimately, the question boils down to issues that are difficult to put a number on: for example, the amount of traffic that is too much for shared hosting. The question is difficult to answer because shared hosting services are not all built the same.  A lot of successful websites run on good shared hosting.

In terms of traffic, for example, a good shared hosting service should be able to handle at least 10,000 visitors per day, unless your website burns a lot of CPU or causes substantial disk thrashing. These issues can degrade the service of others on the shared hosting. Also, some content management systems like Typo3 are resource-demanding, even with relatively small traffic volumes.  

However, there are profitable businesses that get far fewer visitors than this, and may not need lots of visitors. For many of these businesses, the website still requires dedicated hosting, to ensure security, shell access, or for any number of other reasons.

In terms of downtime, a lot of shared hosting packages offer excellent uptime. The question is: how costly is downtime to your business? If your websites brings in substantial revenue that could mean a loss of significant revenue if your website was down for even a  short time. In this scenario a move to a dedicated server makes sense.

If you ever need access to the command line or need to install software and keep getting the “unsupported” message, then it’s time to upgrade to a dedicated server.
Your web host will often warn you when you start using more resources than you are allotted on a shared hosting. When you start getting frequent messages or increased downtime, it may be time to move to a dedicated server.

Unfortunately, some dishonest web hosts may use unsavory tactics when you are on a shared hosting plan, such as taking your website offline or alerting you of excess usage, just to get you to upgrade. Ans sometimes this is done even though other good web hosts would be able to handle your website needs on a shared hosting package.

Other reasons you should upgrade include:

  • When your web pages start taking too long to load
  • When you start getting increased error messages from the database due to high volume.
  • Poor website performance, especially during peak hours. You should visit your website and analyze performance during peak hours.
  • Email response can be quite slow on shared hosting because emails pass through the same spam filters as the other 300-plus domain owners on a shared hosting. If you need faster email response, then you may want to consider upgrading.

A dedicated server has many benefits, but for most webmasters what determines if it’s time to move to a dedicated server depends on if it makes business sense. When a website is making a lot of money, you can’t afford to be offline. When a shared hosting, or whatever hosting package you are on, can’t serve you needs anymore, it’s time to upgrade your technology.