[thelist] dedicated server hosting

David Kaufman david at gigawatt.com
Wed Jul 27 22:28:25 CDT 2005

Tim Burgan wrote:
> What's the difference between:
> a) RENTING dedicated server hosting, and
> b) OWNING the server and having it stored/connected at some place.
> What are the advantages/disadvantages to both of these?

Well, for one: a) is called dedicated server hosting because they 
dedicate their server to your exclusive use.  As it is their server, 
they are responsible for maintaining it and fixing hardware problems, 
paying for replacement drives and so on.  This costs more, but many 
consider the value well worth it, since you are guaranteed never to have 
to buy a replacement for a failed drive unexpectedly or drive out to a 
data center in the middle of the night, on a weekend, in the rain, to 
install it.  They do that as part of the service.  Which is nice.  But 
then they also may charge you double retail or more for voluntary 
upgrades that you *request*, since its their server, they choose the 
parts and vendor, and they set whatever prices they like.

b) is called colocating a server (or collocating it, depending on who is 
doing the speling).  You pick the machine, you buy it, you walk in with 
it (or ship it to them), and all they do is provide rackspace, an 
ethernet drop and power.  Some allow you in to work on it yourself, some 
charge you to install the server and/or perform hardware service.  Some 
charge you a lot for simple small administrative tasks such as reboots, 
some offer some of that for free.  Some have 24 hour access, security 
guards, biometric door locks, halon fire suppression systems, backup 
diesel A/C generators, raised floors, cleanroom air conditioning, 
multi-homed networks connected to multiple OC48 lines to redundant 
Tier-1 providers and NORAD-like NOC control rooms full of bored 
sysadmins and network engineers sitting in front of big screens wearing 
headphones like they're NASA rocket scientists re-computing re-entry 
orbits in their head (but are actually all deeply engaged in a massive 
employee Quake tournament).  Other colo's may be in the closet of a two 
bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, where a Qualified Network Engineer 
provides 24 hour service, but only if his mom doesn't wake up and make 
him go back to bed.

If you like to pick nice equipment, find bargain hardware, fix and touch 
your own machines, you'd want to colocate (assuming you live close 
enough to a colocation provider to make the trip there when necessary). 
Otherwise paying extra for dedicated hosting really buys you a lot in 
terms of peace of mind and least surprises.  You still have to babysit 
the O/S and applications and configurations and security issues, but 
that is all do-able remotely.  Resolving hardware issues at least is 
someone else's headache, someone who is there to do that, 24-hours a 
day.  Which is good because that's what time it always seems to need 


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