5 Best Dedicated Server Hosting Companies of 2017

A review of the best dedicated web hosting providers. Learn about dedicated servers & how to find a suitable dedicated hosting plan for your website.

Best dedicated server web hosting

Choosing a dedicated server that will fit your needs is an important step for any business. In this article, we’ll cover the best dedicated server hosting companies we'd recommend leasing a server from, some of the benefits you can expect when purchasing a dedicated web hosting plan, and some tips on getting started with your new dedicated server.

The Best Dedicated Web Hosts at a Glance

Here's a quick overview of our top choices for dedicated web hosting with a short description of what each one is best suitable for:

Web HostStarts at:Recommended for:Learn more
InMotion Hosting$99.99/moHigh performance dedicated servers for businessesView Plans
Liquid Web$79.98/moPremium Linux or Windows servers with A+ tech supportView Plans
A2 Hosting$99.59/moCustomizable unmanaged & managed servers for developersView Plans
HostGator$119.00/moBrand name with solid hardware & performanceView Plans
iPage$119.99/moFully managed dedicated servers for growing sitesView Plans

Rack of servers in a data center

What to Look for in a Dedicated Web Host?

When making a decision on leasing a dedicated server, the choice of the server hardware factored by the cost of the plan on a monthly or annual basis, is the most important requirement. However, server architecture is largely viewed as a bulk-rate commodity in the web hosting industry because of the wholesale prices available to companies who make large purchases from suppliers. Because dedicated server clients will be responsible for the remote systems administration and configuration of the computers personally, they are purchasing the hardware primarily because of the data center facilities which surround it. This makes the quality of the data center operations of the hosting company, including the fiber optic cabling in the LAN/WAN infrastructure, as important as the hardware itself in making a decision between long term hosting plans.

Dedicated server CPU benchmark testing scores

QUICK TIP: Independent benchmark testing of CPU processing is an invaluable research tool for determining which dedicated server will provide the most value for the money in a web hosting plan.

Features to Consider for Any Dedicated Server Hosting Plan

When evaluating between dedicated server web hosting plans, there are a number of issues which should be considered as primary and used as a checklist to distinguish between the various service provider accounts available online. Some of the main issues to compare are:

  • CPU Benchmark Performance: the difference between the Xeon, Atom, & Opteron product lines
  • The Different Types of RAM Memory: primarily DDR3 vs. DDR4 & DDR4 ECC
  • Disk Drive Storage Solutions: HDD (SCSI, IDE/ATA, SATA, & Raid) vs. Solid State Drives (SSDs)
  • Bandwidth & Data Center Issues: Internet Backbone Network Speeds, Power Supply, & Cooling
  • Operating Systems: Windows vs. Linux & Choosing between the various Linux Distributions
  • Control Panels: cPanel (WHM), Plesk, Webmin & Virtualmin vs. Command Line Administration
  • Server Extensions: the LAMP/WAMP/LNMP stack + Databases & Programming Languages
  • Account Extras: what bonuses, perks, free offers, etc. are bundled with a new account
  • Technical Support: the ability of the data center staff or hosting company to support clients

These issues should be considered before signing up for a new dedicated server account and as part of the process of reading the fine print on hosting company websites in order to determine the specifics of the plan on offer. By paying close attention to these features of dedicated hosting plans, a more efficient cost to value analysis can be done which takes both industry standards and server hardware into account when comparing web hosting company prices.

CPU Benchmark Performance

Independent CPU benchmark tests can be used as a valid way to compare server hardware and determine the performance differences between CPU series versions. The most common rack-mount server hardware in use across data centers currently is based on the Intel Xeon and Atom processing chips or the AMD Opteron series. It is important to distinguish between early model Xeon servers (X series) and the more recently produced models (E series). The major differences are the number of multi-processing cores available (single, dual, quad, & octa core) and the amount of RAM that can be installed per unit. The multi-processing cores enable more concurrent threaded processes per CPU.

The Intel Atom series of processors are intended for low energy usage and not recommended for high performance web applications. The AMD Opteron chipsets (x86 processor) can also compare favorably with the Xeon in web server benchmarks at a lower price per unit. Most Opteron servers are based on the 6000, 4000, & 3000 series versions. The Opteron processor family also includes higher performance X series versions and a System on a Chip (SoC) ARM-based line of low energy processors similar to Atom. Paying close attention to the SKU of the dedicated server being offered in an account plan and accessing independent benchmark tests is a good way to find the best prices in data center technology.

RAM Memory Differences

The difference between DDR3 and DDR4 RAM is a determinant between elite web server performance and can also lead to a consequential discount for users willing to lease older technology. It is important to know every detail of the dedicated server that is being leased in order to accurately compare server benchmark performance vs. the available company prices. In technical specifications:

  • DDR3 (400-1066 MHz): 0.80-2.13 GT/s Transfer Rates / 6.40-17.0 GBps Bandwidth
  • DDR4 (1066-2133 MHz): 2.13-4.26 GT/s Transfer Rates /12.80-25.60 GBps Bandwidth

DDR4 ECC RAM has an extra chip in the design which is used for “Error Correcting Code” (ECC) which leads to a slightly higher total cost per unit. Because DDR4 ECC RAM essentially double checks every server process, it is viewed as more stable but benchmarks at about 2% less speed on average than standard DDR4 RAM. Considering that a RAM error could cause server failure and database information loss, some users view the ECC version as a type of insurance for data integrity in extremely demanding technical applications.

Disk Storage Solutions

With data storage solutions on dedicated servers, the main standards are SCSI, SAS, NL-SAS, IDE/ATA, & SATA for hard disk drives. SCSI is practically redundant and not commonly found in most current data centers, though sometimes still used for remote data back-ups on older systems. Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) and Near Line SAS (NL-SAS) have replaced SCSI in enterprise storage because of speed and reliability for “big data”. Nevertheless, the vast majority of consumer dedicated server storage options are based on SATA drives with the main difference the SSD vs. HDD performance and cost differentials.

Raid storage options on dedicated servers are used to mirror data on two disk drives and provide a back-up function separate from the root drive containing the OS. In the current environment, many hosting companies are offering free upgrades to solid state drives because of user demand and web server performance benefits. In summary, research the technical data on dedicated server hosting accounts for each available configuration, then choose a SSD when available for best performance, a RAID system for automated data back-ups, and secure a price discount if the web server uses older HDD technology.

Bandwidth & Data Center Issues

Some data centers give users the ability to choose the bandwidth provider on a dedicated hosting account. For example, HostGator servers offer the choice between ATT, Comcast, Global Crossing, Level(3), & NTT. Other companies offer pricing based on the bandwidth rates made available to the account, with dedicated ports ranging from 1 Gbps to 40 Gbps. For comparison, an “internet backbone” connection to a data center will transmit at speeds up to 40 Tbps. Best practice is to make sure that the hosting company has a Tier 1 data connection and to evaluate the various hosting plans for bandwidth speed differentials. Many dedicated server accounts also include limits on data through-put per month.

Other data center issues to consider are the commitment to “green” energy that each company pledges, meaning that a certain percentage of the electricity consumption will come from renewable resources like solar, wind, fuel cell, and hydropower. On-site power back-ups at the data center is also considered a mandatory requirement for ensuring continual uptime of hosting accounts.

Data center fiber optic connection

QUICK TIP: The data center fiber optic connection and internal LAN/WAN infrastructure is also an important aspect to consider in addition to server hardware configurations when evaluating between web hosts.

Operating Systems & Control Panels

Most web hosting providers offer dedicated servers for both Windows and Linux platforms. It is essential to make this decision in the architecting stage of web development, well advance of any dedicated server purchase. Usually these accounts are similarly priced, but some users will prefer to go with specialist companies employing knowledgeable systems administrators for better technical support. The Linux version will usually be up to the user to install and configure, though many dedicated server plans will come with a pre-installed version like CentOS, Ubuntu, Debian, RedHat, or FreeBSD.

CentOS and Cloud Linux both offer cPanel support with WHM, which makes server configuration and multiple domain hosting much easier to manage. Custom development solutions will use the command line, Plesk, Webmin, or Virtualmin for server configuration on other Linux frameworks. Having a development preference for one Linux distribution or an enterprise need for licensed Microsoft servers can make a difference in the choice of a data center and the particular dedicated server plan chosen. Look for a Linux server with a free cPanel and WHM license to save money on over-all costs.

Server Extensions & Account Extras

Server extensions refer to programming languages, database frameworks, and email services that are added to the LAMP/WAMP stack for custom programming requirements. These aspects are one of the main reasons that developers building web and mobile applications use dedicated servers. It is important to plan ahead and choose the hardware configuration that is most optimal for the development environment needed to host a website. Nginx, Varnish Cache, and other cloud load balancing or page caching extensions can dramatically improve webpage performance in high traffic production sites. All of these solutions will require an experienced systems administrator and web development team to manage effectively.

Account extras like Google AdSense credits, software licenses, admin toolboxes, and data analytics platforms are commonly included with hosting accounts using CentOS and cPanel. In comparison to the costs of a dedicated server and the custom development required to manage it effectively, these add on features are not a critical element influencing the decision to purchase a particular plan. Dedicated server users should focus on optimizing the most hardware and data center resources from the account plan and not be overly concerned with third-party offers or special promotions.

Rack mount servers

QUICK TIP: Rack-mount servers have become a wholesale commodity in the web hosting industry due to overproduction, planned obsolescence, and mandatory platform upgrades. Search for Tier-1 data centers with the latest hardware for best performance at the lowest available prices.

Technical Support

In making a decision between web hosting companies, the quality of customer service and level of technical support provided by the data center staff is invaluable. Many companies now offer a certain amount of “1 on 1” time with the in-house systems administrator who will be managing the particular dedicated server that an account uses for the hosting plan. While this may not always be necessary for experienced users, it does help when the company provides quick turn-around on support requests rather than canned email replies. Similarly, it can waste a lot of time if a company's support telephone always requires a long wait to talk to a customer service agent. It pays to search out specialists in the field who can assist particularly with platform specific issues with expert, trained staff who are friendly, courteous, and helpful. Many times large companies provide worse technical support than smaller, start-up managed hosts who specialize in platform development.

Final Thoughts on Choosing a Dedicated Server

In summary, the data center and server architecture issues are the most important factors to consider when choosing a long-term dedicated server web hosting plan. The data center should have a Tier-1 internet backbone connection and provide the latest server hardware at an industry competitive price. Website owners and IT departments making planning decisions around a dedicated server plan for high traffic applications will have custom requirements that need to be confirmed with the web development team. An experienced systems administrator is essential to managing a dedicated server account effectively, not only for the operating system installation and server extension configuration, but also for the day to day security maintenance of the environment. Site owners should search for elite server performance at the lowest rates and avoid special promotional offers in favor of data center excellence.