The price of dedicated hosting services has really come down in the past couple of years. In fact, prices have dropped so much for the "budget dedicated server" market. While competitive conditions in both the hosting industry and the computer hardware industry have contributed to the reduction in dedicated hosting costs, don't think that prices were that inflated in the first place. Budget servers are fantastic but it takes more than a competitive market to offer services at such great prices.
Much thanks to the great overbuilds of networks, data centers and computer hardware in the dot-com days, companies with a bit of buying power can acquire the hard-resources it takes to provide a good quality un-managed dedicated server for a great price. Finding a dedicated server for $199 a month or less these days is not that difficult. When shopping for your dedicated server, consider more than just price.
Before just lining up the amount of ram, the processor speed, the data transfer and the price ask yourself - what else can this company do for me that I need now, or may need down the road. While there are plenty that do it, a 1 person effort to maintain a mission critical or high traffic server is no easy task. It helps to have others helping look out for your interests as well. Check to see if your host provides managed services such as backups, monitoring, firewalls and intrusion detection. Sometime they may be included in the plan but nearly always can be negotiated in at a reasonable price and can be well worth the investment.
The level of support received with your dedicated services is important as well. Some dedicated hosts offer email only support in order to keep costs down while others flat out charge a fee for a support ticket. Your preferred method of receiving support plus the level and frequency in which you will need it should certainly be considered.
The Quality of Your Network
Most dedicated hosting providers these days have pretty substantial internet connectivity. Nonetheless, it is something you should be aware of. Look for a host that has redundant connectivity via multiple providers insuring as much connectivity uptime as possible. Some of the major connectivity providers these days are Sprint, UUNet, Savvis, AT&T, Qwest and Cogent.
A very cheap server deal does not simply mean you are dealing with an overly generous hosting company or that another provider is ripping you off at a higher rate. While some hosts do price more competitively than others, there are associates costs that must be covered. When shopping for your next dedicated server just keeps in mind you may not always be comparing apples to apples.
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Chief Technology Officer
VIP PowerNet, Inc.