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Servers: Dedicated or Virtual - What are they?

Posted on November 21, 2019 by Archie Kennedy

Server racks with locked cabinets to prevent physical tampering

Image: Taylor Vick

Millions of people access the internet each day, without really knowing the complicated processes that are happening in the background as they scroll through cute pictures of puppies or book their next holiday.

Well, all of those web pages have one thing in common: servers.

What is a server anyway?

A server is a lot like a waiter in a restaurant - when someone makes an order the waiter serves them a burger or a glass of wine. With a server, a user visits a website and is served an image or webpage.

Types of servers

Broadly speaking servers come in two types: dedicated and virtual.

Dedicated servers

A dedicated server, also known as a 'bare-metal server', is simply a computer sat in someone's basement (or in our case a nice climate-controlled data centre).

The kind of servers Psand use are specifically designed for performance and reliability.

Virtual servers

A virtual server behaves like any other server, in fact, it doesn't even know it's "virtual". So, what is a virtual server?

Basically, the physical hardware of a dedicated server is expensive to set up and look after, as you have to visit the data centre to install and upgrade it. So someone came up with the cracking idea of using a single dedicated server to run multiple, less powerful virtual servers.

These virtual servers don't have to worry about what hardware they run on, as it's all 'made up' by the real server. If things get busy on a virtual server, they can get given a bigger share of the real server's 1s and 0s.

This shared setup is cheaper and more flexible, but what's the catch? Performance - since these machines have to share the physical hardware, no one server is going to be as efficient and powerful as the real McCoy.

So what's this "cloud" thingy?

Angry man in newspaper shaking fist at cloud, with headline 'OLD MAN YELLS AT CLOUD'
Image source: 20th Century Fox.

Alright, you might be thinking, now you've got to be making this up! What has the weather got to do with websites?

Let me explain. Even though it seems like everybody and their dog is either moving - or talking about moving to The Cloud, it's actually nothing new.

When a company says it uses cloud hosting/servers they are really talking about virtual servers and usually a lot of them. These servers might have to share their performance with other customers - that's why Psand use dedicated servers instead of relying on cloud-based, third-party providers.

Psand's dedicated servers

Phew, that was a lot to take in! So what does that mean for me, the aspiring Psand client?

Well, we have our own dedicated servers in the UK and US. This means we have full control of the physical hardware that host our websites, and we can run our own virtual servers on them. This allows us to provide a secure and reliable service to our customers, without the need to rely on a third-party hosting provider.

Our servers are nice and safe in their data centres, protected from the elements, fires, locusts, and even from balaclava-wearing crowbar enthusiasts!

Find out more about our hosting and support services here or get in touch via our contact page.

Get in touch

Call us on +44 (0)117 325 1055