Renting or Colocating a Dedicated Server: What’s Right for You?

August 2016

You have a number of options to choose from when it comes to server hosting for your website. For companies who choose to have their hardware in a data center for a number of reasons, two of the most popular options include colocation and dedicated server hosting. By understanding the primary differences between these two options, along with the potential advantages and drawbacks of each, you can ultimately make the decision that’s right for your needs.

What’s the Difference?

Both colocation and dedicated server hosting fill the need for your data and server to be hosted at an off-site location (not at the same location as your business).

For colocation, you rent out space within a data center and you purchase your own physical server and hardware/software licenses. This requires buying the parts to build your own server and setting it up on the racks at the data center.

dedicated server colocation

Colocation gives you direct access to the data center’s features and the ability to access your hardware at any time. You are renting space at the facility, but are responsible for everything else including physically maintaining the hardware.

With a dedicated server hosting, on the other hand, you’re renting the server and hardware from another company. You don’t have physical access to your hardware and cannot take it with you if you switch providers. This is also partially true for your software licenses, depending on the type. You might be buying into the hosting company’s license by paying monthly (ex – for an operating system) or paying to own it yourself (ex – cPanel). The first type is available to you as long as you host with your chosen company, and the second is yours regardless of your location.

When renting/leasing a server,  your hosting company provides all the necessary maintenance, security, data centers, temperature controls, etc. Both options have their potential advantages and drawbacks.

Pros and Cons of Dedicated Hosting

The major benefit that many people enjoy with dedicated hosting is that it’s all-inclusive. There’s no need to worry about going out and purchasing your own server and hardware/software, then going somewhere else to host it. Instead, you pay a monthly fee that includes everything you need to keep it running reliably.

Even for experienced server administrators, dedicated hosting alleviates the headache of constantly monitoring your server hardware and having to physically repair or change it when something goes wrong. This can be a “con”, if you prefer building and maintaining your own hardware.

Pros and Cons of Colocation

With colocation, you have greater flexibility when it comes to both your software and hardware, which is ideal for those who prefer having more control over these aspects. Still, colocation tends to be significantly more expensive and will require more work on your end to keep your hardware, software, and other aspects of your physical server up-to-date.

Depending on the data center, colocation may require a minimum number of servers. If your business relies on a large amount of servers, this can also get you better pricing because you’re going to the source for your hosting needs.

Colocation is a lot of work, but the perks are direct negotiation with the data center and the ability to use your own hardware. This will require staff including data center technicians and network technicians, unless you are willing to pay the data center for these services.

Which Option is Best For You?

There is no universal answer as to whether a dedicated server or colocated server is the best option for any particular situation. However, in most cases, people tend to lean toward dedicated server hosting because it’s more affordable, and requires less work and (sometimes) less knowledge of server hardware or administration, making it ideal for the average web-facing business.

Are you currently exploring hosting options for your site? If so, we invite you to contact us at ReliableSite today so we can help you make the right decision for your website’s needs and your specific budget.