Of the numerous web hosting services available, semi-dedicated hosting is probably the most misunderstood. Sometimes referred to as shared dedicated hosting, most webmasters understand it as a solution that fits somewhere between shared hosting and dedicated server hosting but do not know how the service works. In many ways, it is like a virtual private server, also known as VPS hosting. It is a product offering that can deliver the performance of a dedicated server, but at a lower price, helping businesses grow their websites and meet the resource demands of increasing traffic. But semi-dedicated hosting is not VPS hosting, nor is it a dedicated server.
What is a Semi-Dedicated Hosting
Generally, semi-dedicated hosting is a physical server with dedicated resources (RAM, Storage, Processor Cores, etc.) that is split between several hosted products or sites. Typically, it will host only a few dozen customers compared to shared hosting servers which often accommodate over a thousand.
System resources are allocated and monitored by the provider to ensure that adequate reserves are maintained for all hosted sites. “Semi-dedicated” implies a certain amount of autonomy over your server, but this is not the case. It refers only to the resources that are allocated for your use.
Land of Confusion
Since “semi-dedicated” is not a technical term, many hosting providers take liberties with the definition, equipment, and setup of semi-dedicated hosting.” Providers will typically define and promote them in one of three ways:
- A slightly more stable and reliable version of Shared Hosting
- A hybrid of Shared Hosting and VPS Hosting
- A hybrid of VPS and Dedicated Hosting
As providers may take liberties with what they call “semi-dedicated” hosting, you must know the differences between all the available hosting options.
Semi-dedicated is an ambiguous term. Carefully scrutinize how your provider is defining and selling your server.
Advantages of Semi-Dedicated Hosting
- Operating costs are lower as you are dividing the expense of a single physical server with other sites. Shared expenses translate to a lower per capita cost for each site.
- The host will provide dedicated resources (processing, memory, storage, etc.) to each site on the server. This ensures you will not be affected by other tenants “stealing” your resources.
- Additionally, its packages often include some type of server management. With a “managed” server, hosts will maintain and keep the server running at optimal levels to ensure the health of the system.
- Finally, it is typically provisioned on higher-performance hardware. These fast, robust servers are needed to guarantee reliable resource allocation to its tenants.
Some people express concern about the security of a multi-tenant server, however, semi-dedicated hosting is not intrinsically less secure than their fully-dedicated counterparts. Provisioning is handled by the hosting provider, ensuring complete separation from other customers. This results in a secure environment for your product. Additional security measures should be put in place by the user to prevent external security threats, but there are no inherent internal security risks with semi-dedicated hosting.
Disadvantages of Semi-Dedicated Hosting
- Lack of Control: If you want complete control over your server, and wish to customize it according to your business needs, semi-dedicated hosting is not for you. With your web hosting provider managing everything, you don’t have the level of control that dedicated server owners enjoy. This also limits your customization options to a certain degree. In short, you are completely dependent on your hosting provider for server management.
- Scalability: The pace at which business needs are evolving compels you to opt for a dynamic and scalable solution that grows with your business needs. Unfortunately, that is not what you will get with this hosting. There is little to no room for expandability and you are only left with what you acquired in the first place. To save costs, most web hosting providers will lock the site or application to a specific location, which further limits your option.
- Migration: Thinking about migrating your legacy systems to a new semi-dedicated hosting? Unfortunately, I have some shocking news for you. You won’t be able to do that because of compatibility and other migration issues.