Having a dedicated server gives you high flexibility and a lot of options for your site. You have root/admin access to the server and you can manage and modify each aspect of the server behaviour - software running, configuration, etc. So if your site needs more than any shared hosting plan can offer or if you have some special requirements then the dedicated server is the right choice for you. When you are on a dedicated server your site is the only one that uses the server resources. Also when on a dedicated server you have no restrictions on the number of websites that you can host, or on the number of mailboxes. The whole CPU and memory is on your disposal. You can install whatever programs and software that you wish.
When do I need a dedicated server? There is no simple answer to that. In general you may need a dedicated server in any of the following cases:
- Security - Being on a dedicated server, you are on your own. You do not share the server with anybody else. Nobody has access to the server. So you can be sure that your data is safe. For example on a shared host in case of a misconfigured server some other users on the server might be able to read your data. When on VPS, there is always a sysadmin that can read your data. When on dedicated - nobody is granted access to the server except you.
- CPU power - When on a shared hosting plan or a VPS you share the CPU, RAM and I/O resources with other users on the same server. As any other shared resources, there might be occasions in which a given user will take all the CPU and/or RAM and the server performance can suffer greatly, a server can even go down. The bad thing is that you cannot do anything about it. When on a dedicated server, the CPU works only for your site. Yeah, your site can bring the server down too, but at least you have more control over the situation.
- Performance - As explained in the previous paragraph, when you are alone on the server all resources are allocated to your site. So a dedicated server performance cannot be compared to the performance of any other type of hosting plan.
The Greatest downsides are that now, when you have a dedicated server you will need to manage it - configure software, apply security patches, monitor uptime, perform backups - all the regular system admin tasks that are being performed by the web host when you are on a shared or a VPS plan. So to be able to run a dedicated server, you must either have the necessary admin skills or have the necessary money to choose one of our add-on support packages to manage the server for you.
Dedicated servers are great. However you need to make up your choice and balance between your budget, skills and your website requirements.