When choosing a web host, most people don’t even know what server they’re getting. It’s only if you have deep enough pockets and can afford a dedicated server that you do any research—and even then, you’re often in the six figure range. The reality is that you can spend as much or as little on a server as you like. Then again, you get what you pay for. Some servers only cost a few dollars, but is that really the hardware you want supporting your website and business.
The reason so many people opt for virtual private servers is that a server is, well, expensive. So is managing it. With VPS hosting, you get all the perks of a dedicated package (like seemingly having your own server) but at the cost of a basic shared plan. However, what if a server only cost $30? Then everyone could go dedicated! Of course, the experience probably wouldn’t be what you’d expect.
Raid the Couch Cushions!
One of the cheapest servers around is the HP ProLiant ML150 G2 Server with 512 MB of RAM. It retails for about $23, which means just about anyone can afford it. Servers in this price range aren’t really made to host a real website, even if it’s “just” your personal website. Plus, you still need to have systems administrator experience in order to actually manage it. It can be used as a fun side project for techies, but otherwise shouldn’t be touched.
There’s also the Lenovo BladeCenter HS21 XM 7995 Server with 1GB RAM and 3GHz Xeon 5160 CPU. It costs about $39, so it’s a few dollars more than the HP—but not by much. Again, this piece of hardware is for a very niche audience that 1) knows what they’re doing and 2) doesn’t really need a server to host a website. If you start looking in this price range for a server, then ask a pro to manage it for you, you’re going to find out just how quickly you blow those twenties.
A Costly Toy
Bearing in mind that the best servers cost around $200,000, you can immediately tell that the bottom of the barrel isn’t fit for any website. Still, some people learn this lesson the hard way. When it’s so easy to “comparison shop” online, it can be maddening to see just a big price difference. However, comparing servers in this category to six figure servers is like comparing a skateboard to a Mercedes. Technically they’ll both get you there (eventually) but if you’re going any farther than a mile or two, you definitely want the motorized option.
Consider the Dell PowerEdge 2650 Server for about $250, and suddenly you’re not talking chump change anymore. Will this server give you what you need? Definitely not, but throwing away $250 is a lot different than $40. You actually could make use of this money. It’s powerful enough to upgrade smaller hardware pieces, setting up photo editing software for your business, or even hiring someone to design your logo!