An unmanaged server means the hosting provider only monitors the status of the network, but does not perform maintenance or routine support on the server unless otherwise specified. Unmanaged servers are ideal for system administrators and engineers who want full control over their servers. Even if you are an experienced system administrator or server engineer, you can still select from a variety of options available on both managed dedicated servers and semi-managed dedicated servers.
Unmanaged by default
Most hosting companies offer servers as “unmanaged” by default. Hosting providers give you the option to configure your server the way you want using the hardware, services, and support specific to your needs. You can start with an umanaged server, add a few services to become a semi-managed server, and eventually add an entire list of services for a fully managed dedicated server. The options and configurations are usually flexible depending your requirements.
A semi-managed server is a combination of server management services provided by a team of experienced server technicians and the organization leasing the server. Both parties will share the responsibility of installing software, applying security updates, monitoring, and hardware configuration to keep servers running at peak performance.
Available services on semi-managed servers
The same services on managed servers can be provided on semi-managed servers. With semi-managed servers, you can choose which options you want your dedicated server hosting company to provide. Generally, a semi-managed server hosting company will allow you to select two or more items from a list of services for a fixed monthly cost.
Semi-managed servers are ideal for experienced system administrators. The most poopular services requested on semi-managed servers are remote monitoring and backups. Dedicated hosting companies have the infrastructure, software, and hardware to perform monitoring and backups, which could save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars a month.
You pick and choose
Some semi-managed dedicated server providers offer pre-configured packages with the ability to purchase additional services a la carte. View the What is a managed dedicated server? article for a full list of services available on semi-managed dedicated servers.
A managed server is maintained by a team of experienced server technicians who install software, security updates, monitoring, and hardware configuration to keep servers running at peak performance. Most hosting companies that offer dedicated servers also include managed dedicated server hosting as part of their hosting services.
Available services on managed servers
Managed dedicated server hosting providers offer a variety of features you can customize or purchase as a prepackaged service. Features include the following.
- Managed firewall for added security.
- Operating System reinstall.
- Third party software installation and support.
- Server monitoring.
- Transaction reporting.
- Hardware replacement.
- Consulting advice on how to scale your server farm or server cluster.
- 24/7/365 dedicated support by phone, chat, email and sometimes a dedicated account representative.
- Premium bandwidth.
- Service License Agreement (SLA).
Benefits of using managed servers
There are many benefits to using managed servers. Hosting companies and hosting providers that specialize in managed services, managed servers, and managed dedicated servers, have the resources, infrastructure, and cost-effective means to keep your servers running. Additional benefits of using managed servers include the following.
- Guaranteed uptime.
- Cost effective.
- High availability or maximum uptime.
- Daily management and maintenance.
- Custom built servers.
- Virtual IT department.
- Lower upfront costs.
- Faster deployment.
- Access to certified experts.
Ideal uses for managed servers
Small, medium, and large enterprises take advantage of the benefits of using managed servers. Ideal uses for managed servers include:
- Disaster recovery solutions.
- Mission critical applications.
- Custom applications and websites.
- Hosting sensitive data.
A dedicated server is a machine similar to your home computer or your computer at work (read the What is a server? post). A dedicated server gives you full control including root access.
Types of dedicated servers.
Dedicated server providers offer three types of servers - managed, semi-managed, and unmanaged. People choose one type over the other for many different reasons. Reasons include budget, system administration skill, number of servers required, server’s objective, and more.
Terms you should know.
The following is a list of terms you will see used throughout the web hosting industry and with web hosting providers and companies that offer dedicated server hosting.
- Clusters - Multiple servers connected together to increase capacity.
- Server farm - Multiple servers, but may or may not be connected together.
- Server hardening - Implementing security measures to prevent hacking and data theft.
- RAID - Multiple disks that server multiple purposes (backup, mirroring, load balancing, etc.)
- Disaster recovery - Bringing servers online after natural disasters occur to keep an organization running.
- Backups - Frequent snapshots of server data used to restore servers in case of failure or disaster recovery.
- Mirroring - Real-time duplicate of one or multiple servers used to keep a website or application running in case one server crashes.
- Load balancing - Multiple servers connected together that share resources when traffic gets heavy or more resources are required to sustain uptime.
- Firewall - A combination of hardware and software designed to keep hackers and intruders out of your server.
- High-availability - Server configurations designed for websites and applications that require 100% uptime.
- Monitoring - Both software and data center technicians monitor your server for possible issues, vulnerabilities, uptime, and more.
A server is similar to your home computer. Like your home computer, servers have a hard drive, memory, CD-ROM/DVD-ROM, and a processor. Servers have a few other hardware components specifically designed for serving websites and web based applications on the Internet. Servers can be as powerful as your home computer, but are usually designed with more powerful components needed to run and maintain web based services.
Popular server brands and manufacturers
Like your home computer, servers are manufactured by leading companies such as Dell, HP, and IBM. Some servers are custom built using components manufactured from various brands. There is not a particular brand that’s better than the other, but hosting companies usually prefer one brand over another brand. Generally the brand of server is only important to customers if they plan on managing the server themselves.